Fishhawk Lake, Oregon, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Oregon - The Coast -

Also known as:  Fishhawk Lake Estates or Fishhawk Lake Recreation Club

Fishhawk Lake is a rare find in the Oregon Coastal Region. The lake is private, a reservoir developed expressly for pristine lakefront living amid some of Oregon’s prettiest scenery. The Fishhawk Reservoir was built in 1967 to serve as the focal point for a residential development near the small towns of Birkenfeld and Mist. When the dam was built across Fishhawk Creek, such developments didn’t yet exist in this part of Oregon. In fact, Oregon didn’t even have a regulatory structure to accommodate Homeowner Association-type developments. Originally called Fishhawk Lake Estates, the lakefront community became the Fishhawk Lake Recreation Club when it reorganized to meet new state requirements. And living at Fishhawk Lake truly is a recreational dream come true for its approximately 150 households. Fishhawk Lake brings together the best of nature, with myriad walking trails, plentiful wildlife and the lovely small lake providing a fantastic assortment of highly-desirable fish of the kinds fishermen travel many miles to catch.

The small lake, fed by Fishhawk Creek and several springs, is an electric motors only lake. The solitude and unhurried atmosphere is conducive to relaxed lakefront living, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, rowboats and small pontoons. Most lakefront residences have their own docks, and many have a family swimming hole. Eagles and fishhawks (ospreys) are regularly sighted, and the shoreline is home to such childhood delights as frogs, turtles, salamanders and minnows. Deer come down to the water’s edge to drink, and a variety of waterfowl-some migratory, some residents-can often be seen on the lake’s surface. River otter occasionally frolic in the lake, feeding on young cutthroat trout. And, once in awhile, an elk will be sighted near the lake-a rare treat.

It is the fish that engender the most outside interest. The lake holds a few pan fish, mostly introduced, but the real stars are the cutthroat trout, steelhead salmon and coho salmon. The lake is designated ‘catch and release’ so there are no ‘keepers’, but the thrill of angling for these wily fish is something many anglers can only dream of. Since there is no public access, and only residents and their guests can launch boats on the lake, the few who find out about the great fishing spend their time trying to wangle an invitation to Fishhawk Lake! Fishhawk Creek is one of the migratory streams for these prized game fish. A 200-foot fish ladder at the dam facilitates their migration inland from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. A spawning program operated by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Dept. assures a steady supply of coho by restocking the lake every three years with the offspring of its own native fish. Adults preparing to spawn are trapped and transported to the hatchery, where they propagate in captivity, are reared in water from Fishhawk Lake so that they identify it as ‘home’, then released back into Fishhawk Lake. In this way, they will return to Fishhawk Lake after spending three years in the ocean. During spawning season, these adult fish are so numerous in the local creeks that they form a mass shoulder-to-shoulder, a sight that delights fishermen and naturalists alike.

The creeks may be crowded with migrating salmon, but the lake itself in never crowded. Only 305 lots are plotted on the 300 acres of Fishhawk Lake Recreation Club. Some of those lots belong to the association as a whole, providing access for back lot owners. A clubhouse, playground, picnic area, horseshoe pits, volleyball and tennis courts, swimming beach, two docks and boat launch area are provided for the use of residents. The nearly 3-mile shoreline, although mostly private homes and cottages, is heavily treed, imparting a feeling of natural solitude. Nearby Birkenfeld, although small, provides most groceries and necessities, with an added bonus of live entertainment: a popular cafe/country store offers live music acts regularly that attract an audience from among the college students in Portland.

Besides activities at the lake itself, numerous old logging roads in the area offer great surfaces for hiking and bicycling. One favorite destination for the serious hiker is Lee Wooden Fishhawk Falls Park, 21 miles downstream. Here a couple of picnic tables, a few trails and a lovely waterfall delight the day trekker. The development is bounded on the west by the Clatsop State Forest, with its own hiking and nature trails, camping and recreational activities. Only 17 moles away, the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area offers an elk reserve, where visitors can join an elk feeding tour in winter to see these magnificent animals up close. Sea fishing is available less than an hour away along the Pacific coast. Portland is an hour to the east, with all of the big-city amenities necessary for a night or weekend on the town.

Fishhawk Lake is so secluded and private that there are few reliable statistics available. No official state lake surveys exist. Surface acreage is alternately shown as 50 acres and 100 acres, with some maps showing 75 acres. Elevation above sea level is also debated as being from 675 feet to 800 feet. Google Earth’s GIS mapping however, shows the ‘glory hole’ spillway at 544 feet, so the lake level cannot rise above that. Equally confusing statements about the depth of the lake exist: some reports list the lake’s maximum depth as 20 feet, others 30 feet. Probably the best estimate comes from a local realtor who says the lake depths vary from 4 feet at the Fishhawk Creek inflow to 30 feet at the spillway. The only true official figures for any lake statistics come from a report on the dam and its condition as part of a watershed study performed by Portland State University.

A few private rentals exist on Fishhawk Lake, but there are no organized rental lodgings along the shore. Several hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and inns exist within 10 miles, mostly north toward the Columbia River. Camping facilities can be found in the Clatsop State Forest, and a few commercial RV parks can be found nearby. Real estate exists for sale on Fishhawk Lake, both as existing homes or cabins or as undeveloped property. For those looking to purchase either a home or vacation property, Fishhawk Lake may offer the best setting available for all-around outdoor fun. Certainly there is nothing quite like Fishhawk Lake in this part of Oregon. Take the time to come look it over next time you’re in northwest Oregon. You’ll fall in love with Fishhawk Lake.

Things to do at Fishhawk Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Forest
  • Playground

Fish species found at Fishhawk Lake

  • Coho Salmon
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Salmon
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Trout

Fishhawk Lake Photo Gallery

Fishhawk Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Fishhawk Lake Recreation Club

Surface Area: 100 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 544 feet

Maximum Depth: 30 feet

Water Volume: 982 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1967

Drainage Area: 18 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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