outdoors

Fishing opener in Central Oregon

This past winter’s ample snowfall means many popular fishing lakes remain inaccessible

By Mark Morical, The Bulletin, @MarkMorical

For more outdoors columns by Mark Morical, visit w ww.bendbulletin.com/outdoors , and follow on Twitter @MarkMorical.

Eager anglers might have to wait a bit longer to fish their favorite Central Oregon lakes this spring, as heavy snowfall this past winter will keep many of the region’s high-elevation lakes inaccessible for a few more weeks.

While there is no longer an official opening day for high Cascade lakes season, Crane Prairie and Wickiup reservoirs, located southwest of Bend off Cascade Lakes Highway, officially open for fishing Saturday. Both of those reservoirs are ice-free and accessible for this weekend, according to resort owners. Twin Lakes, adjacent to Wickiup, are also accessible.

Crane Prairie and Wickiup remain closed until late April each year to protect the native rainbow trout in those waters, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Most other lakes in Oregon became open to fishing year-round starting in 2016, as part of the ODFW’s simplification of sport fishing regulations.

Tom Shamberger, operations manager with the Deschutes County Road Department, said his crews have been hard at work clearing snow and opening sections of roads in anticipation of fishing season. Cascade Lakes Highway is currently open from the Crescent Cutoff north to the junction with Forest Service Road 42.

Cascade Lakes Highway remains closed from Mount Bachelor to Road 42, and Forest Service Road 40 from Sunriver to Cascade Lakes Highway also remains inaccessible, Shamberger said. He added that his goal is to open the entire Cascade Lakes Highway by Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile, anglers seeking to reach Wickiup and Twin Lakes can take Forest Service Road 42 from Sunriver to Cascade Lakes Highway. Those seeking to reach Crane Prairie can take Road 42 to Road 4270.

Lava Lake remains inaccessible due to snow, according to Lava Lake Resort owner Joie Frazee. He said he is hoping for the lake and resort to be accessible by May 6.

Among other high Cascade lakes that remain inaccessible are Todd, Devils, Sparks, Elk, Hosmer and Cultus lakes.

Farther south, Crescent, Odell and Davis lakes are ice-free and accessible, according to the ODFW.

East of La Pine in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina and East lakes remain inaccessible as the gate remains closed at 10-Mile Sno-Park, according to Shamberger. The gate will be opened sometime in mid- to late May, he added.

For updates on road openings and closures, check the Deschutes County Road Department website at www.deschutes.org/road and click on the “news, info, and closures” tab.

High lakes that will be open and accessible this weekend or are already open and accessible should provide lots of opportunities for anglers.

Erik Moberly, Bend-based fisheries biologist for the ODFW, said that both North Twin and South Twin lakes were on the ODFW’s stocking schedule for this week. Those lakes were each due to be stocked with 2,500 rainbow trout.

“Plus there’s the holdovers from last year, which should be pretty good,” Moberly said.

Twin Lakes Resort is set to open on Friday, according to co-owner Kate Dunn.

On Wickiup Reservoir, the hot early-season catch is kokanee. Anglers are allowed to harvest up to 30 kokanee per day on Wickiup.

Most anglers jig or troll for kokanee, whose average size in Wickiup is a whopping 18 to 22 inches.

“The water is still cold so the kokanee are bunched up in schools,” Moberly said. “Once the water starts warming up they kind of spread out, and so that’s why a lot of people target those kokanee early in the season. When you find them on your fish finder there’s usually a school of them, so you can catch more than one or two.”

Other species that anglers target on Wickiup are brown trout and rainbow trout.

On Crane Prairie, the main catches are rainbow and brook trout. Rainbows in Crane Prairie average about 14 to 18 inches long, and many are in the 4- to 10-pound range, according to the ODFW. Anglers can also fish for kokanee and largemouth bass in Crane, Moberly noted.

Crane Prairie Resort is set to open on Friday, according to owner Pat Schotz.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

16973828
This image is copyrighted.