Where to avoid crowds/traffic to fish during the eclipse

CENTRAL OREGON

• East Lake

• Paulina Lake

• Fall River

SOUTHERN OREGON

• Fish Lake

• Lake of the Woods

• Upper Klamath River

Those planning a fishing trip in Central Oregon this week might want to think twice before heading out onto the crowded roads before, during and after the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

For those who absolutely must drive to go fishing, head south of Bend, advises Brett Hodgson, a fisheries biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He recommends Paulina and East lakes east of La Pine or Fall River south of Sunriver as places to fish away from the crowds.

The path of totality — those areas where the sun will be completely eclipsed by the moon — runs through Jefferson County and the town of Madras.

“You want to be south, not north,” Hodgson says. “I think Lake Billy Chinook (west of Madras) is going to be … chaos. Billy Chinook on a weekend is chaos anyway. We would never want to discourage people from participating in angling, but I would advise people to be mindful of the traffic and the conditions that are going to be out there. For those people who are passionate about angling and they just need to get out there, I would choose locations that are further away from the path of totality.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation is estimating that some 200,000 people will converge on Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties for the eclipse. The ODFW and other agencies are chiefly concerned about the fire danger being exacerbated by out-of-area travelers who may not be particularly savvy outdoors types.

“So they may not have a clue of what to do or what they’re supposed to be doing, and it’s a bit nerve-wracking,” Hodgson says.

He adds that it might be an opportunity for local anglers or other outdoor-minded folks to educate visitors from out of the area.

“I would say that for those people who are out and about and participating in angling, if they encounter other people that are out there and aren’t familiar with (fishing) regulations, that they be helpful and inform people what regulations are,” Hodgson says. “No need to be contentious or confrontational, but it’s an opportunity to be an educator out there.”

Hodgson added that ODFW offices will remain open on Aug. 21, though staff is being encouraged to work from home or take the day off.

“We don’t want to contribute to the traffic problem,” Hodgson says.

Noted local outdoorsman and author Gary Lewis says Aug. 21 might be a good day to go fishing. “Because if you’re going to be stuck somewhere,” the longtime Bulletin fishing and hunting columnist observes, “it might as well be on the water.”

Lewis explains that the approximately two minutes of total darkness along the greater path of eclipse totality that morning will be sandwiched by an abbreviated dusk/dawn effect, during which the bugs that fish feed on will be more active. For anglers who intend to cope with the crowds, Lewis recommends fishing Haystack Reservoir (rainbow trout and warm-water species), Prineville Reservoir (bass and crappie), Ochoco Reservoir (rainbows and crappie), Walton Lake (rainbows), or the middle and lower Deschutes River for summer steelhead and rainbows.

“Expect a bunch of caddis flies struggling on the surface when the light starts to go down at 10:19 a.m. (the beginning of total darkness in Madras),” Lewis says.

Lewis’ top pick for fishing in the path of totality is the John Day River for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth, Lewis explains, orient to the surface when the light is low because they are less vulnerable to predation from above, making them easier to catch with a dry fly or a popper.

“On each side of the moment of eclipse there is a lowering of light and then a gathering of light,” Lewis says. “It is admittedly a short time, but the effect should be the same. And the bugs that are photosensitive (react to light) will probably be more active at that period as well.”

For those anglers who would just as soon stay away from the largest crowds and the worst traffic, Lewis recommends heading well south of Central Oregon to Fish Lake, Lake of the Woods or the Upper Klamath River.

“If everyone is going to ­Madras, I’m going somewhere else,” Lewis says. “I saw the eclipse in 1979 and checked that box.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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