Bend Oregon is home to several different species of trout. Rainbow Trout, German Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Bull Trout and Brook Trout are the primary species caught within a short drive from Bend. Almost all lakes and streams in Central Oregon contain Rainbow Trout. The Deschutes River is world famous for it trout fishing. It begins in the Cascade Mountains Southwest of Bend.
It is the source of water for Crane Prairie Reservoir and Wickiup Reservoir. It runs through the middle of Bend and eventually flows into the mighty Columbia River. Crane Prairie Reservoir is known for its large trout ("Cranebows"). It is about a one hour drive from Bend. It was flooded in 1928 with most of the timber left standing. It is a relatively shallow lake with the deepest sections about 15-20 feet deep near the channels in the spring.
The water level drops steadily all summer during the irrigation season. The Cranebows spawn in the upper Deschutes in early spring and then return to the reservoir and are scattered around the shallower water. As the water warms in early summer the fish start congregating around the channels. Twenty to thirty inch rainbows are common.
All methods of lake fishing work on this strong fighting fish. Fly fishing is very popular once the fish move into the channels. Trolling flies, spoons or spinners is a popular method early in the season. Early summer brings on weed growth which makes it difficult to troll without fowling you lure. There are numerous campgrounds and one resort on Crane Prairie.
The resort provides rental boats, licenses and anything you might need for trout fishing. The owners are always helpful in pointing new anglers to where the fish are biting the best. It is difficult to fish here without a boat.
The Deschutes flows out of Crane Prairie and a few short miles into Wickiup Reservoir. Wickiup has large Rainbow and German Brown Trout as well as a large population of Kokanee Salmon. The Kokanee and Browns are the primary targeted fish.
Early spring brings out the die hard Brown Trout fisherman. They concentrate near the dam and generally troll Rapalas or similar minnow type lures. Ten pound fish are common in the early spring. Since Brown trout are nocturnal you'll find the serious fisherman on the water at first light. Wickiup is best fished by boat but some large browns are caught from shore along the dam in the spring.
During the summer the Kokanee start congregating along the river channel. Jigging, bait fishing or trolling are the preferred methods for catching the Wickiup Kokanee. The Kokanee spawn in the fall with the Browns following them up the Deschutes channel.
Early morning and late evening is the best time to target the large Browns. Wickiup only has one improved boat ramp which is located at Gull Point. There is not a boat dock so it makes it somewhat difficult for launching and boarding your boat. There are a couple of improved camp grounds as well as many unimproved places to camp.
The Deschutes River continues below Wickiup dam and flows through Bend. This section contains some smaller Rainbows and some nice sized German Browns. It runs through the Deschutes National forest. There is a good drift from the dam down to the Pringle Falls area. Pringle Falls is dangerous and cannot be drifted.
Watch for signs and be prepared to take out above the falls. This is a beautiful drift. The river from Pringle Falls to Bend has several different water falls that cannot be drifted. Check the numerous books available that discuss this section of river in detail.
The section of river that runs through Bend does not produce many fish as it is not stocked with hatchery fish and receives substantial fishing pressure. The Deschutes flows from Bend into Lake Billy Chinook which is located between Redmond and Madras. Lake Billy Chinook is actually a reservoir that is backed up by Round Butte dam.
"Round Butte" reservoir is filled by the Deschutes River, Crooked River and the Metolius River. Lake Billy Chinook is known for its native Bull Trout population. Bull Trout are close to extinction in many parts of Oregon but not in Lake Billy Chinook. The state record Bull Trout was caught here in 1989. It weighed 23 pounds and 2 ounces. Ten to fifteen pound fish are still common with several being caught every year.
The best time to catch a large Bull Trout is in March and April. The Metolius arm of the reservoir boarders the Warm Springs Indian reservation and is closed from the end of October to March 1st every year. Early in the season the larger trout come into the shallows (10-20 feet) to feed on the abundant Kokanee salmon.
If you find the Kokanee you will find the Bull Trout. A boat is necessary to catch these fish. They are caught by casting the shore line with silver minnow plugs, trolling plugs, fly fishing with a sink tip line or jigging the deeper water if the fish have not moved up into the shallows yet. If you are interested in pursuing Bull Trout check the authors' web site for more helpful information, links and pictures. The trout fishing in this article is all located within a one hour drive from Bend. There are many other lakes, reservoirs and streams within an hour of Bend that are not mentioned in this article.
Bend Oregon is a great place to live if you like the outdoors. There are many good trout fishing spots close by. The lower Deschutes below Bend is world famous for its Salmon Fly hatch but that is the subject of another article.
Jim Johnson CRS is a real estate expert who has lived in Bend Oregon since 1981. Call 541-389-4511 or see his web site www.BendOregonRealEstateExpert.com or Search the Bend Oregon MLS