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Time to cast a line

Trout fishing is heating up on the Cascade lakes

by: SCOTT STAATS SPECIAL TO THE CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Anglers try their luck on Diamond Lake with Mt. Scott in the background.


   Lava Lake
   Fish biologists report a consistently good carry over each year and tout Lava Lake as the most consistently productive fishery in the Cascade Lakes area. The fingerlings stocked last year (67,000 Cranebows) are about 10 to 12 inches this year. Sampling in Lava Lake shows that fish are in good condition and have good growth rates; they grow quickly in the rich, spring-fed lake.
   Most anglers have no problem catching their limit of five trout. If you want to catch the most fish, the best technique is a worm and chartreuse marshmallow. Look for fish in about 20 to 25 feet of water anywhere from the boat ramp to the north end of the lake. The worm-and-marshmallow technique floats the worm about three to five feet off the bottom since the fish tend to concentrate in the deeper, cooler water.
   These fish can be finicky and the best technique of bringing them in after getting a hit is to put the tip of the rod down, give two cranks on the reel then set the hook gently and bring in the fish.
   Power Bait works well for many anglers while others troll spinners and a worm, or small spoons. A meal worm and a bobber near shore can also work. Fly fishing is popular on the lake with float tubes or 1-person pontoon boats. Most fish measure between 11 and 15 inches, but anglers occasionally catch fish six pounds or more.
   For more information contact Lava Lake Lodge at 541-382-9443.
   Paulina Lake
   The current state record brown trout came out of Paulina Lake in 2002. The 28-pound, 5-ounce brown was caught on a 7-inch AC Plug in a rainbow pattern while trolling just before dark. The big brown measured 37 ½ inches long.
   The best bet for browns is trolling large lures such as AC Plugs and Rapalas along the shore in about 20 to 25 feet of water. Anglers have luck with rainbow trout between the red and black slides in the northern section of the lake and in front of the resort in about 20 to 50 feet of water. Troll with flashers or use worms, eggs or PowerBait.
   For more information call the resort at 541-536-2240.
   East Lake
   Flyfishers love East Lake for rainbows and browns. The current lake record for a brown is a 22 1/2 pounder taken in 1981. Best bet for browns is to fish in the morning or evening because they’ll move into the shallow water.
   Top three flies for the lake are a Callibaetis nymph (size 12 and 14), a Hare’s Ear Parachute (size 14 and 16) and a Carey Special (which can motivate some of the big bruiser browns to strike – size 6 and 8). Best set up is a 12-foot leader, 5X tippet and fluorocarbon line.
   Most sections of the lake produce fish. Target anywhere within 200 yards of the shore where most of the weed beds form in less than 20 feet of water. That’s where the bulk of the hatches occur. The Callibaetis hatch usually lasts from about 10 in the morning until 2 or 4 in the afternoon. Good areas include the entire east side of the lake and the area around the white slide. The hot springs boat ramp is another good area. Rainbows average 12 to 17 inches. Anglers have caught browns that go 23 inches.
   For more information contact East Lake Resort at 541-536-2230
   Wickiup Reservoir
   Anglers target Wickiup Reservoir for a chance at big rainbows and browns. The reservoir could even produce the next state record brown trout. Fishing will improve as the weather warms up. For those interested in catching big browns, try trolling early and late in the day with lures such as Rapalas in the main part of the reservoir and in the Deschutes and Davis arms. Trout will also hit dragonfly nymphs, worms, PowerBait and a variety of flies.
   According to ODFW, Wickiup has natural production for both kokanee and redbands (rainbow trout). For brown trout, the state has been stocking about 6,000 fingerlings each year.
   For more information on access and fishing call Twin Lakes Resort at 541-382-6432
   Crane Prairie Reservoir
   Crane Prairie Reservoir is making a comeback in the past few years in terms of angler success. According to Brett Hodgson, regional fish biologist with ODFW in Bend, there are three main reasons that fishing has picked up.
   The state has started releasing bigger fish (eight to the pound, compared with past releases of 25-33 to the pound). The fish now have less competition with the stickleback minnows for zooplankton and are less vulnerable to be eaten by the bass in the reservoir.
   Secondly, ODFW has developed a Crane Prairie brood stock called “Cranebows”, which may be better adapted to conditions in the reservoir than the older Oak Springs rainbow trout stock. Hodgson said that early indications are that this stock is performing well.
   “We are also shifting from a spring hatchery release to a fall release,” said Hodgson. “The thinking is that there will be less competition with the other fish species that time of year and less predation from bass.”
   The 90,000 rainbow fingerlings stocked last fall should be 10 to 12 inches right now, Hodgson said. Most anglers are catching either legal-size released fish last spring or those from two years ago. He has heard of many fish in the 5- to 7-pound range being caught.
   “Fishing was pretty good two years ago,” Hodgson said, “but it was just off the charts last year. It was the best fishing we’ve seen in Crane Prairie in 15 years.”
   Anglers are having luck spin-fishing with dragonfly nymphs and bobbers. Fly anglers are using chironamids in size 8 and 10.
   For more information call Crane Prairie Resort at 541-383-3939.
   Diamond Lake
   Not only is the fishing good at Diamond Lake but so is the scenery and the accommodations. Lots of fish have been stocked in the last few years and ODFW estimates there are 500,000 trout in the lake right now, ranging in size from 11 inches to over 20 inches. Last year anglers caught some fish that weighed about seven pounds.
   Most sections of the lake provide good fishing. The resort recommends the south end of the lake in 15 feet of water or less. Power Bait in chartreuse and rainbow work best, with yellow corn-flavored Power Bait also drawing bites. When in doubt, simply look for a gathering of boats that marks where the trout are most likely hitting. For those wanting to troll, try Ford Fenders with a chunk of night crawler on a red Wedding Ring. If you’re after big fish, F-4 frog colored Flatfish or red #2 Needle Fish trolled on a flat line along the eastern shore usually bring luck.
   If you don’t have your own boat there are several options. The resort rents 16 and 18 foot aluminum boats equipped with motors. The 24-foot charter boat holds up to 10 guests and includes guide service, bait and tackle. Another great option is one of the patio boats that can hold the whole family.
   The resort offers 40 two-bedroom guest cabins, one deluxe four-bedroom family cabin, 38 motel rooms, 10 housekeeping studios and one deluxe Jacuzzi suite. For more information call 800-733-7593.