Central Oregon High Lakes Trout and Kokanee Outlook

The sun shines on Diamond Peak that sits above Crescent Lake and the large expanse of the Diamond Peak Wilderness. (Troy Rodakowski)

By Troy Rodakowski 

Lake fishing season is upon us once again. Oh yeah baby…….crisp morning air, warm sun, great camping, barbequing and lots of fish for the cooler. That’s what many of us anglers look forward to come June. A few of us enjoy this time of year when we can get out of town, forget the daily stresses of work, and wet a line in the Cascade Lakes of Central Oregon. The 2017 season looks to be quite good with action peaking possibly a few weeks later than normal. Snowpack was above normal this season with many storms showing up well into the month of May. This year, anglers will need to keep a close eye on snow melt as well as boat launch and campground openings.

The Lake Review:

Crescent Lake is predicted to be slow early this year with some of the best catches of kokanee in June. Kokanee here will have better size than most other lakes around with most averaging in the 10 to 14 inch range. Of course, there is also some good lake trout fishing to be had here if an angler is patient and fishes some of the drop-offs near the bottom.

According to district fish biologist Eric Moberly of Bend, Oregon (541-388-6145) “Kokanee and trout fishing should be good during the 2017 season at Odell Lake.” The best time to fish here for kokes is at dawn and dusk. Most fish will range from 11-13 inches in size. Lake trout fishing should also be good here although Moberly is quick to point out, “Be careful when identifying the difference between lake trout and bull trout. Lake trout have a deeper forked tail with spots on their dorsal fins with white and cream colored spots on their bodies.” He advises to play it safe and release all fish without spots on their dorsal fin.All bull trout are federally listed as threatened since their numbers are extremely low. Any bull trout that are caught must be released unharmed. Also, be advised that fishing has been closed within 200 feet of the mouth of Odell Creek to protect these fish.

Lake trout are a popular species found in several of the high Cascade Lakes. (Troy Rodakowski)

When fishing at Wickiup Reservoir it would be smart to go after brown trout here. Kwik fish, Krock lures, Rapala’s, Wedding Rings, and flashers all work well at Wickiup. I prefer the willowleaf blade style in these locations. The lake is at 100 percent of capacity right now with most of the large browns are caught fairly early in the season. There are also some very nice sized rainbow trout available in Wickiup. “Target shallow water flats early in the season and river channels once the water begins to warm,” says Moberly. Kokanee numbers should be fair this year with many fish scattered early in the season. They will begin to school up near the creek channels once the weather warms in early June.

Even though brown bullhead have taken over many sections of the southeastern part of the reservoir largemouth bass can still be found amidst the many willow flats. Bass fishing should improve once the weather warms. There is no size or bag limit on warm water game fish here. Wickiup is located off of the Cascade Lakes Highway (NFR 46).

The author shows off a few kokanee and a brown from Paulina Lake. (Troy Rodakowski)

Paulina Lake is located in the Newberry Crater off of Highway 97 near LaPine. This lake provides a great opportunity for brown trout of all sizes. The best fishing for them is late in the day around the edges in more shallow water. Paulina is also a great lake for Kokanee with the early mornings usually providing the best action. These fish range in size from 9-12 inches. There is a five trout daily limit which includes kokanee of which one trout may exceed 20 inches.

East Lake, also located near Highway 97 and the Newberry Crater provides some very interesting opportunities for anglers. The lake is kokanee, rainbows, and brown to keep anglers busy. Fair to good catches of rainbows usually occur early in the season because of planting efforts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Rainbows are stocked intermittently throughout the year, as well.

Rainbow trout are targeted by anglers throughout the Cascade zone using many methods. Fly fishing is one of the most effective. (Troy Rodakowski)

Finally, Crane Prairie Reservoir will offer great fishing for rainbow trout, brook trout, and largemouth bass. It is advised to limit your harvest of wild trout in this fishery. Hatchery fish are clearly marked with either a clipped adipose fin or left or right ventral clips. Fish will be scattered early with the best brook trout fishing available both early and late in the season. Moberly is also quick to point out that there are some very large kokanee here if an angler puts in some time with the right gear. Of course, dawn and dusk are the best times to fish for kokanee in Crane. Using small spoons and spinners work quite well here. Also, wet and dry flies have produced some good results for rainbows as has fishing night crawlers on the bottom. Anglers looking for bigger brookies should concentrate on working structure. There are also a few largemouth found here in the willow areas especially early in the season when the water first warms up.

The River Review:

Deschutes River, from Behman Falls upstream to Wickiup Reservoir should be fair for brown trout. Moberly points out, “that there will be good opportunity for hatchery stocked bows in the upper stretches.” From Billy Chinook Lake upstream to Behman Falls anglers should see fair fishing. Browns and red band trout are the fish found in this stretch of water. Look to fish in locations where springs enter the river. Anglers should have some of their best results from Steelhead Falls downriver.

The Crooked River below Bowman Dam has had some excellent fishing for red band trout the past couple of years. Numerous overnight and day use areas are available on BLM lands. The Chimney Rock segment of the Wild and Scenic Crooked River  is located about 15 minutes south of Prineville off of Hwy 27. With recent high water levels I expect the Crooked to fish better during the months of June and July after the flows drop down.

Most of these lakes and reservoirs have resorts available with several amenities including campgrounds, boat rentals, restaurants, and lodging. I highly recommend checking with the local resorts prior to heading to your final destination.

If you’re lucky enough to get into the Kokanee here’s one of my favorite all time recipes for cooking them up:

One of my favorite Kokanee Recipes (See Below)

Uncle Bob’s Grilled Kokanee

-Start grill on medium low to medium heat.
-Use cookie sheet lined with a layer of foil.
-Place Kokanee on foil.
-Set cookie sheet on grill. (The foil is to insulate the bottom of the fish from too much heat.)

Mix together the following……
20 % olive oil
40 % Teriyaki sauce
40% honey bbq sauce.
Stir.

-When Kokanee have cooked a few minutes, slip fork under skin, and remove top layer only. Do not disturb the bottom.
-Drizzle sauce mixure liberally on exposed fish.
-Shake on a little Johnnys seasoning and lightly pepper.
-Continue to grill at low-medium temp until fish is done.
-Serve promptly while warm.

Troy Rodakowski
Outdoor Line Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle

Storm Introduces Self-Tuning Crank Bait

All I can say is…Finally!

Storm’s new Arashi crank bait could definitely be a game changer. The Arashi comes with a self-tuning eye that eliminates the need to gently bend the eye to the right or left to achieve the proper action. If you’ve ever done this you know how finite the bend needs to be to get some plugs to run true. With the new Arashi plug all the fine tuning has been eliminated.

A friend in the industry tells me that they’ve tested the same technology on deep diving bluewater plugs and they are achieving speeds of up to 15 miles per hour without any rollover. That’s a game changer my friends!

Here’s a look at the self tuning eye of the new Arashi plug.

Crank baits are an essential item in any smallmouth anglers arsenal here in the Northwest and with any luck we’ll start seeing some steelhead and salmon colors in theses plugs soon. For backtrolling in heavy and fast current for both salmon and steelhead the new Arashi plug could be just the ticket.

There’s a complete color chart for the Arashi crank baits on the Storm website…Arashi Crank Baits.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a couple of these to test out on fall kings and coho here real soon!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

 

 

Northwest Outdoor Report

Kokanee Bite Taking off on Lake Samish
Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington says the kokanee bite on Lake Samish has been heating up the last few days. He’s talked to several anglers who have been limits of kokanee up to 17 inches on the lake. The hot rig has been a Sling Blade dodger with a Wedding Ring spinner behind it tipped with shoepeg corn and a pink Berkley maggot. Kevin says the larger fish are being caught 20 to 30 feet deep on the downrigger and the best fishing has been occurring in the middle of the lake directly in front of the boat ramp.

Bass Tourney on Lake Washington This Weekend
The American Bass Association is hosting two tournaments on Lake Washington this weekend with separate tourneys running on both Saturday and Sunday. Larry Williams from ABA expects between 20 and 30 boats to turn out for the event. With the smallmouth bass recently moving up onto their beds he expects fishing to be quite good and thinks it will take a 22 plus pound limit to take top honors in both events. Williams says the best technique for catching smallmouth bass on Lake Washington this time of year is a drop shot rigged with either a Snyper or a Yamamoto bait.

Halibut Opener Most Productive Around Port Angeles
Anglers couldn’t have asked for better weather on the halibut opener last week. Anglers got flat seas, sun burns, and there was some good fishing at least for those in the Port Angeles area. WDFW fish checkers in Port Angeles checked 141 boats with 146 halibut on the opener last Thursday. That’s an average of more than one halibut per boat. Last year the average out of Port Angeles was around .3 halibut per boat. Port Townsend and Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island kicked out a few halibut, as well, while the fishing elsewhere in the eastern Strait and the northern Puget Sound was pretty spotty for halibut. Halibut opens in Neah Bay and LaPush this weekend and anglers are once again getting excellent water to fish for halibut offshore.

Neah Bay Halibut Opener Slower Than Expected
Mike Jamboretz from Jambo’s Sportfishing said they had to fish longer than usual to get their limits of halibut on the Neah Bay opener on Thursday. Jamboretz said the ling cod were so thick on most of 72 Square that it was hard to get to the halibut. He had to move quite a bit to find areas with good halibut numbers and finally found some better fishing on Blue Dot. Most of the fish averaged around 30 pounds and their biggest fish was 45 pounds on the opener. Neah Bay and LaPush are open again today for halibut and Jambo says they’ll have “canoe weather” offshore for fishing again.

Special Hunt Permit Deadline Drawing Near
Hunters should be aware that the deadline for special hunt applications is May 22nd this year. Hunters can apply for special hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey in Washington thru the special hunt process. The drawing for special hunts takes place in late June.

Two Beaches Open for Clamming
Razor clam digging will be open Friday and Saturday on the Long Beach Peninsula and Twin Harbors beach will be open through Tuesday. Copalis and Mocrocks beaches are closed for the season because harvest guidelines have been met on those beaches. Low tide is at 8:12 a.m. today and digging usually starts a couple of hours before the low tide.

Florida Cops Enlist Alligator to Capture Fleeing Criminal
St Petersburg, Florida – A suspect who fled from Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies after a routine traffic stop was attacked by an alligator and later found at a local hospital being treated for puncture wounds to his face, arm, and armpit area. According to the police report the suspect, Bryan Zuniga, ran into the alligator at a nearby water treatment plant where it attacked him. He had no choice but to check himself into the hospital and of course…that’s where the police caught up to Mr. Zuniga and arrested him. If you run from the cops in Florida…you probably don’t want to wander too far off the beaten path.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com

Northwest Outdoor Report

Lake Chelan Still Tops for Kokanee
Mike Campbell from Lowrance Electronics lives in Chelan and says the kokanee fishing on Lake Chelan is the best he’s seen in over 30 years. He described the fishing as “wide open” on the lake right now. Campbell says the kokanee are averaging  between 16 and 18 inches and  he recommends using a Luhr Jensen Triple “000” dodger and a Kokanee Killer tipped with shoepeg corn to catch them. He says the best fishing has been occurring in 60 to 105 feet of water around Rocky Point and Minneapolis Beach. Campbell says that once you find a school on your electronics it’s important to stay on them.

Smallies Hanging Deep in Lake Stevens
Greg Rockenback at Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens says there’s been some nice smallmouth being caught on the lake in 30 to 40 feet of water. Greg recommended using football head jigs in any pattern that resembles a crawfish. Lake Stevens holds more smallmouth bass than largemouth’s and Rockenback says the smallies will go up to 6 pounds in the lake. He says the water temperature is about 45 degrees right now and he’s hoping with the warm weather it will jump start the kokanee bite soon.

Washington Halibut Seasons Announced
The halibut season in Puget Sound will be shortened a bit this year to compensate for exceeding last year’s quota. This year’s halibut season was reduced by five days in the eastern strait and nine days in Marine 5 because of last year’s quota over-run. The southern Washington coast will see a slight increase in its halibut season. Managers have moved the fishing days from Thursday thru Saturday to Friday thru Sunday to accommodate an extra weekend day to allow more anglers to harvest halibut. For more on the upcoming halibut season in Washington be sure to check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

Wenatchee Wolf Pack Confirmed
After being wiped out as a breeding population in Washington in the 1930s wolves have been making a comeback here in Washington State recently. Since 2008 wolf packs have established themselves in Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Kittitas, Stevens, and now Chelan County. The Chelan County pack was confirmed recently by trail cam photos sent from a resident in Pitcher Canyon just south of Wenatchee of two wolves feeding on a dead bull elk. State biologists say that wolves are rarely a threat to humans but they have been known to attack pets, especially dogs.

Springers Still Slow on the Columbia
Only 13 percent of the springer quota had been caught on the Columbia River through last Sunday. The season is set to close on April 6th, but officials are meeting on Wednesday to review the run to date and decide whether a season extension is warranted. Many think an extension of the springer season will occur on the Columbia. The season is scheduled to end on the lower river April 5, but with such a small percentage of the quota having been caught by anglers it’s likely that the season will be extended. Oregon officials are meeting on Wednesday to decide whether a season extension is warranted. The annual NSIA derby is on the river today, which will be a good gauge of how the fishing is.

Walleye Limit Increased
WDFW just increased the walleye limit on Lake Roosevelt, the San Poil River, and the lower Spokane River to 16 walleye per day with no size restriction. Officials are trying to control the population of walleye to reduce predation on native species and produce more quality walleye for future fishing opportunities.

Kokanee Seminar at Three Rivers Marine April 10th
Don’t miss the free Kokanee Seminar on April 10th at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville. Capt. Ryan Bigley’s seminar will kick off at 7:00 p.m. and mini-clinics start at 6:00 p.m.. Kokanee are just starting to bite in our local lakes and now is the time to learn where, when, and how to catch these great eating fish. Three Rivers Marine will have free hot dogs and pop as well as a ton of raffle prizes including a Jared Johnson edition Lamiglas kokanee rod to give away. Get ahold of Kent Alger at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville for more details.

Renew Licenses for 2013
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to remind fishers and hunters that licenses are good thru Sunday, March 31st. Fishing licenses, hunting licenses, and Discovery passes will all need to be renewed on April 1st for the coming year. License fees will remain the same across the board for 2013.

Man Arrested for Shooting a Deer in a Walmart Parking Lot
Indiana Gazette, Pennsylvania – At the Resort Plaza Walmart in Indiana, Pennsylvania people can save a dollar and apparently waste a buck, as well. Arcangelo Bianco Jr. was doing some banking at the Walmart back on November 26th when he spotted a huge 10 point whitetail run around the corner of the store and across the parking lot. He quickly jumped out of his truck with a handgun and began firing multiple rounds at the animal. After successfully harvesting the big whitetail he loaded the deer in the back of his truck and took it to a local processor. In addition to having a parking lot full of witnesses the incident was also captured on Walmart’s surveillance cameras. The game officer working on the case said it was the nicest buck he’s seen come out of Indiana County in the last three years. A preliminary hearing for Bianco is scheduled for May 1st.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com