My wife had planned an extended weekend getaway for Crater Lake and central Oregon. Two places I’ve never visited but after spending some time there definitely need to get back there to investigate some of the good fishing opportunities that I’ve read or heard about from others.
Since Crater Lake is a national park there isn’t a local fishing license required and there are no limits imposed on how many fish can be kept. In reading the history the seeded the lake with rainbow trout along with Kokanee salmon. Fishing however can only be done via hiking down the 1 mile Cleetwood trail near the north entrance of the park. This is pretty steep hike down with sand and loose surfaces not intended for the meek.
Crater Lake is supposedly the cleanest large body lake in the world. There are no streams or rivers that feed the lake thus the clarity of the water is impeccable with Secchi disk readings averaging 102′ with the deepest reading at 144′. The deepest part of the lake is 1940′ deep and the color of the lake is a deep blue with turquoise edges. Trout can be seen cruising the shoreline but insect hatches were bare to minimal with small midges being visible. The lake does support healthy populations of crayfish and newts, perhaps what the larger trout end up feeding on as I can’t imagine those larger trout got that way from eating midges.
Since I only had an hour or so to give it a try I armed myself with my Redington Classic Trout series pack rod with the Cortland clear intermediate line and olive and black rabbit fur micro leeches. Within my first few casts the line stopped and had my first Crater Lake rainbow trout at the end, nothing spectacular, only 5″ and not significantly different than any other trout you’d see from a local lake. After a few more tugs and only smaller fish to show for it, seemed clear that targeting the larger fish would require crayfish patterns and having the time and ability to scramble around the perimeter of the lake in search of cruising fish.
I didn’t have my iPhone with me so limited on the photos I took, but the scenery and the side hikes we did were amazing. Will have to download the photos from my DSLR to share later.
Sunday we drove to La Pine, which is about 30 miles south of Bend to stay at the Diamondstone Bed and Breakfast. Gloria and Doug Watts run a nice operation with Doug also running MotoFantasy, a motorcycle rental company for folks visiting from near and far wanting to spend time touring the wonderful scenery of central Oregon. I was drooling when he showed me his garage with range of BMW sport and touring bikes, Ducati, Harley, vintage Honda CBX, amongst others.
Doug shared with me some knowledge of the local fishing and indicated that nearby Paulina lake held the Oregon record for largest brown trout back in 2002 with a 28 lb whopper that came out. Although I didn’t have time to fish it, my wife was understanding enough to let me scope around. The lake reminded me of Roche lake in BC. Definitely need to swig back though and fish Crane Prarie, Hosmer, Paulina and Davis lake in the near future.
When we got to Bend on Monday mid morning, I stopped by the Orvis store to see the casting course and get some info on the fishing since the Deschutes river cuts through the Old Mill district and there are trout that fill the fertile banks. Although the temp was expected to soar into the low 90s, it didn’t deter me from wetting a line. I walked on the west side of the river passing by the Colorado street bridge and further southwest to another footbridge. The banks were mostly lined with a lot of vegetation and the river moved like a spring creek.
I didn’t see much good holding water that was wet wadable until I walked back north east towards the east bank of the Colorado bridge and found a nice slot where the depth, speed and location screamed out: ‘trout live here’. I gazed into the run and saw fish working the seams and currents searching for morsels. I cast my rig: Stimulator dry with unweighted hares ear nymph dropper. I didn’t see much if a hatch going on for big stone flys that the Orvis salesperson indicated I should buy, but nonetheless used the dry up top as an indicator for the hares ear nymph below.
Within my first cast the Stimulator stopped, I lifted up and a little trout took my dropper. I brought the colorful Rainbow to hand, flipped the hook and sent it back to its seam. A few more casts and few more fish later I was content. Since I had my 2.5 year old crying in the stroller it was time to pack up and grab some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and load up for the long drive back to Seattle.