Fern Ridge reservoir is one of thirteen flood control reservoirs owned and administered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the Willamette River drainage. The reservoir was created in 1941 as a flood control and irrigation reservoir with later developments to accommodate recreation and wildlife management programs. The Army Corps of Engineers administers a total of 12,716 acres within the Fern Ridge Project.
The dam is located near the confluence of the Long Tom River and Coyote Creek. Amazon Creek flows into the lake from the east and smaller drainages such as Inman Creek and the West Fork and Middle Fork of Coyote Creek also feed into the reservoir.
During the summer months the reservoir is maintained at “full pool” with a surface area approximately 5 miles wide and 5.5 miles long covering about 9,360 acres with a shoreline length of 32 miles. During the winter months the reservoir is drawn down to a “low pool” level to serve as a flood control reservoir. Beginning in early October the water level slowly recedes to expose a wide mud flat around the perimeter of the reservoir. Water levels fluctuate considerably during the winter months base upon the intensity and duration of incoming winter rains. By early April the reservoir is filled to full pool.
Fern Ridge Reservoir is nestled in the Coast Range foothills 15 miles northwest of Eugene. Fern Ridge is the southern Willamette Valley’s largest impoundment at 9,000 acres. The lake is quite popular with sailors from Eugene and beyond, offering some of the best fresh water sailing in the Pacific Northwest. Anglers will find largemouth bass, cutthroat trout, crappie and catfish, with excellent fishing in the spring.