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Weekly Recreation Report: Central Zone

April 18, 2017

 Central Zone Fishing

The Deschutes River
Fishing the Deschutes River
-Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Anglers and would-be anglers can enjoy a weekend of free fishing on April 22-23. On these two days, Oregonians and visitors can fish, crab and clam for free anywhere in Oregon without a license, tag or endorsement. This is the first of eight free fishing days in Oregon this year. Additional free days are June 3-4, Nov. 25-26, and Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
  • Spring is in the air on the lower Deschutes River. Trout should start getting active and feeding, generally in the middle of the day when air and water temperature peak.
  • Bull trout and kokanee fishing has been picking up on Lake Billy Chinook.
  • Trout stocking is well-underway in the Central Zone. Check the reports that follow for a location near you.

Ice-fishing safety

The moderating weather conditions have been having an impact on ice conditions in many areas. With ice thinning and starting to pull away from shore, anglers should be increasingly cautious when stepping out on the ice. Take the following precautions: use the “buddy system,” wear a PFD in case of thin ice, carry a throw-rope, and use a heavy metal staff to check for thin-ice. REMINDER: The state of Oregon does not allow human-made ice holes larger than 12-inches in diameter or length.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It could be the area is closed, inaccessible due to mud or snow, or currently offers limited fishing opportunities. These water bodies will return to the recreation report when conditions change. If you believe something is missing, contact us and we’ll find out why.

Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your own fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports -- the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the weekly Recreation Report.


The road to the reservoir is still blocked by snow and the reservoir may still be covered in ice. The ice would not be in good enough condition for ice fishing. Trout fishing should be excellent this year once accessible as the reservoir will fill, creating ideal conditions for the fingerling, legal and trophy-sized fish that will be stocked.

BEND PINE NURSERY: rainbow trout, bluegill, bass

Anglers may keep two fish per day.

BIKINI POND: rainbow trout

The pond has been stocked and should be good fishing. Great spot to take kids.

CRANE PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, kokanee

Closed to fishing for the season.

CRESCENT LAKE: rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout and kokanee

Open to fishing all year.

CROOKED RIVER BELOW BOWMAN DAM: redband trout, mountain whitefish

Trout fishing has been poor as the flows are still high and the trout population is low. Fishing will remain poor until the flows subside and stabilize, and the fish population increases. As a REMINDER, bait is no longer allowed on the river and all trout over 20-inches are considered steelhead and must be immediately released unharmed.

Flows below Bowman Dam

CULTUS LAKE: rainbow trout, lake trout

Open to fishing all year.

DAVIS LAKE: largemouth bass, redband trout

Highway 42 and southern end of Cascade Lakes Highway has been cleared of snow. Open to fishing all year. Restricted to fly-fishing only with barbless hooks. Catch-and-release for trout. No limits on warmwater fish.

Redside Trout
Redside caught in Deschutes River near Maupin
-Photo by Rick Hargrave-

DESCHUTES RIVER, MOUTH TO THE PELTON REGULATING DAM: summer steelhead, redband trout, whitefish

Spring is in the air on the lower Deschutes. Trout should start getting active and feeding, generally in the middle of the day when air and water temperature peak. Trout anglers are reminded the section from the Northern Boundary of the Warm Springs Reservation upstream to Pelton Dam re-opens this Saturday, April 22.

District staff recently completed the fourth consecutive year of sampling to evaluate the relative health of redband trout in the river. The data collected has been similar to historic date collected in the 1980s, generally indicating a stable, healthy redband population in the lower Deschutes River. The sampling also indicated favorite trout foods have been stonefly nymphs and crayfish.

Unfortunately, due to expected low returns of spring Chinook in the Deschutes basin, spring Chinook fishing will remain closed in 2017. By permanent rule, Chinook fishing will re-open on Aug. 1.

Anglers who catch a tagged hatchery steelhead with an orange anchor tag, are encouraged to report catch information to ODFW at 541-296-4628. Anglers catching a tagged wild fish should release it immediately without recording any information.

Counts at the Sherars Falls salmon and steelhead trap. The trap is only in operation from July to the end of October. Trapping has ended at Sherars Falls for the season.

Lake Billy Chinook to Benham Falls: rainbow trout, brown trout

Open for trout all year. Fishing restricted to artificial flies and lures. No size or limits on brown trout and no harvest of bull trout.

Benham Falls upstream to Little Lava Lake:

Closed to fishing for the season.

DEVILS LAKE: rainbow trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year.

EAST LAKE: rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee

Snow gate at 10 mile Snow Park closed. Open to fishing all year. Wild rainbow trout must be released.

Elk Lake
Elk Lake
-Photo by Jessica Sall-

ELK LAKE: brook trout, kokanee, cutthroat trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year.

FALL RIVER: rainbow trout

River will be stocked with rainbow trout this week. Anglers report good fishing during warmest part of day. Open to fishing all year. Restricted to fly-fishing only with barbless hooks.

HAYSTACK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, kokanee, largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill

The gate to the boat ramp on the west shore is now open. Fishing should be good this year. The reservoir will be stocked with 9,500 legal sized trout and 75 brood fish. Warmwater fish are plentiful but tend to be on the smaller side.

HOOD RIVER: winter steelhead

Bright winter steelhead are still entering the river. The river is clear and fishable. No recent reports on angler success.

HOSMER LAKE: brook, rainbow and cutthroat trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year. Restricted to fly-fishing only with barbless hooks. Catch-and-release for all species.

LAKE BILLY CHINOOK: bull, brown and rainbow trout, kokanee, smallmouth bass

Bull trout and kokanee fishing has been picking up.

Anglers are reminded there are small numbers of spring Chinook, Sockeye Salmon and summer steelhead in Lake Billy Chinook as part of the reintroduction effort. Please release these fish unharmed.

LAKE SIMTUSTUS: bull trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass

Fishing should be good this year as the reservoir receives 30,000 legal-size rainbow trout. There is a good population of smallmouth bass and fishing should start to pick up as the water warms.

LAVA LAKE (BIG): rainbow trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year.

2017 Family Fishing at McNary Ponds
Fishing with family
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

LAVA LAKE (SMALL): rainbow trout, brook trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year.

METOLIUS RIVER: redband trout, bull trout

Anglers report fair fishing for bull trout. Closed to fishing above Allingham Bridge. Fishing is restricted to fly fishing only upstream of Bridge 99.

NORTH TWIN LAKE: rainbow trout

Highway 42 is now open but side roads may still be snow covered. Open to fishing all year.


Fishing will be difficult in the high, fluctuating flows. There are usually some nice-sized trout in the creek during the spring.

Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures only; two trout per day with an 8-inch minimum length. Trout 20-inches and greater must be released unharmed.

OCHOCO RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, black crappie, smallmouth bass

The reservoir is nearly full, which further restricts the already limited bank access. Boat anglers can do well trolling slowly. Fishing should be excellent this year as there are good numbers of large trout and abundant warmwater populations. The reservoir is stocked annually with 50,000 fingerling trout that grow well.

ODELL LAKE: lake trout, kokanee, rainbow trout

Open to fishing all year. All tributaries to Odell Lake are closed to fishing. All bull trout must be released unharmed.

PAULINA LAKE: brown trout, rainbow trout, kokanee

Snow gate at 10 mile Snow Park closed. Open to fishing all year. Wild rainbow trout must be released.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow caught in Pine Hollow Reservoir, Wamic, Oregon
-Photo by Rick Hargrave-

PINE HOLLOW RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, largemouth bass

The lake has been stocked and fishing has been good, especially for trophies.

PRINEVILLE RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie

The reservoir is nearly full and the fish well-dispersed. Fishing should be good this year. The reservoir is stocked annually with 150,000 fingerling trout, and the warmwater fish populations are abundant.

PRINEVILLE YOUTH FISHING POND: rainbow trout and largemouth bass

Fishing should be good for the recently stocked trout.


The lake is full of water and has been stocked, should be good fishing.


Open to youth only (17 years and under) and disabled anglers. Limit is two fish per day.

SOUTH TWIN LAKE: rainbow trout

Highway 42 is now open but side roads may still be snow covered. Open to fishing all year.

SPARKS LAKE: cutthroat trout

Cascade Lakes Highway snow gates closed. Open to fishing all year. Fly fishing only, barbless hooks required.

SUTTLE LAKE: brown trout, kokanee

Open to fishing all year. 25 kokanee per day in addition to daily trout limit. No size limits on kokanee.

TAYLOR LAKE (Wasco County): rainbow trout, largemouth bass

The lake has been stocked and fishing should be good.

THREE CREEK LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout

Snow gate is closed to lake. Open to fishing all year.

WALTON LAKE: rainbow trout

Walton is open to fishing year-round, but the lake is still covered in ice. The condition of the ice does not allow for ice fishing. Fishing should be excellent this year for large holdover trout once the lake is fishable, and for fast growing stocked fish once stocking resumes in May. The gate is closed this time of year so anglers will have to walk to the lake.

WICKIUP RESERVOIR: kokanee, brown trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass

Closed to fishing until April 22. Beginning on April 22, 2017 anglers may only harvest 5 trout per day which includes kokanee. The “25 kokanee bonus bag limit” has been removed from the Wickiup regulations. More information.

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  Central Zone Hunting


Wolves and coyotes can look alike

Most wolves in the state today are in northeast Oregon but a few have dispersed further west and south. Wolves are protected by state and/or federal law and it is unlawful to shoot them. Coyote hunters need to take extra care to identify their target as wolves can look like coyotes, especially wolf pups in the mid-summer and fall. Please report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to ODFW using the online reporting system.

Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt.

White River Wildlife Area

A parking permit is now required to use/park on the White River Wildlife Area along with other ODFW wildlife areas. Camping is allowed only in designated areas.

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Bear: Controlled spring bear season for the White River Unit opened April 1st. Look for sign of bear along closed roads in timbered areas and on open ridges where they have been digging wild onions, tubers, and grasses. Hunters will have the greatest success glassing in the early morning and just before dark. All bears must be checked in at an ODFW office within 10 days of being killed, please call ahead to schedule your appointment.

Turkey: Opening weekend harvest is up from last year, but hunter numbers are up as well. Turkey hunting on the Wildlife Area is a popular sport making it very important to be sure of your target. Be careful when using decoys and make sure that you are shooting in a safe direction.
Cougar: Cougar season is open Jan. 1- Dec. 31 or until Zone Mortality Quotas have been met. Calling with distress calls or cougar vocalizations can be effective. However, locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success.

Coyotes: Populations are good throughout Wasco County. Pair bonds have formed and calls mimicking coyote vocalizations are most effective. Be aware that bobcats and cougars may respond to predator calls, and separate licensing and season limitations exist for these species.


Turkey season opens April 15th. Turkeys can be found on forestland in the Ochoco, Grizzly, and Maury WMU’s. Turkey numbers and distribution in the district are gradually increasing, with groups scattered throughout the national forest. There is still significant snowpack at higher elevations and north-facing areas of the forest, so travel will be limited. Slight green-up is starting to occur at lower and mid-elevations, and turkeys will likely be found in these areas. Hunters should contact both the Ochoco National Forest and Prineville BLM offices for road conditions and motorized access restrictions. Motorized restrictions remain in effect year-around in the South Boundary Cooperative Travel Management Area (TMA) along the southern boundary of the Ochoco National Forest. Maps of the area are available at entry portal signs, and at ODFW and Ochoco National Forest offices in Prineville.

Cougar are present throughout the Maury, Ochoco, and Grizzly units. The Maury and Ochoco units are recommended because of their greater amounts of public lands and better accessibility. Cougars must be checked in at an ODFW office within 10 days of harvest. Please consult the synopsis for all required parts and be sure to call first to make an appointment.

Coyotes can offer an exciting challenge. Both the Maury and Ochoco have sizeable areas of public lands that provide hunting opportunities. Hunters should use caution, be properly equipped and prepared for whatever the weather might bring.


Coyotes: Try calling for them from open fields, meadows, and pastures. The best areas to find them will be near farm grounds on the eastern boundary. Look for them in early morning or evening and pay close attention to wind direction.

- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar: Cougars can be found in the same areas as deer and elk as they follow them through their migration routes.

Hunters are required to check-in the unfrozen hide and skull, with proof of sex attached to an ODFW office within 10 days. Hunters are also required to provide the reproductive tract of harvested female cougars. See pg. 42 of the regulations for details. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

NEW: The Wildlife Area lands north of Forest Road 27 are closed to the public from December 1 through March 31, except by access permit issued by ODFW.

A parking permit is now required to use/park on the White River Wildlife Area along with other ODFW wildlife areas. Camping is allowed only in designated areas.

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 Central Zone Wildlife Viewing

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
-Photo by Cathy Nowak-


Red-tailed, rough-legged and ferruginous hawks, northern harriers, American kestrels, prairie falcons and golden eagles can be found throughout Crook County and are usually associated more closely with open/agricultural areas. Bald eagles and osprey can be found associated with water bodies. Northern goshawks can be located throughout the Ochoco National Forest.

Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area: The Prineville Reservoir Wildlife Area offers access to view a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, otter, beaver, raptors, shorebirds and waterfowl. Maps of the wildlife area are available at the Prineville ODFW office, at Prineville Reservoir State Park office and the ODFW website. Note: The exterior gates will be opened for the season on April 15, after being closed all winter to protect wintering mule deer. Vehicles must remain on open roads, designated by a green dot, and cross-country motorized travel is prohibited.

Deschutes County

Most of the lower elevation sites in Deschutes County are snow free, and some mountain roads are accessible by vehicle, however, the high country still has lots of deep snow. The Cascade Lakes Highway west of Mount Bachelor and highway 242 west of Sisters remain closed for the season. Neither highway is plowed and both will be closed until the snow has melted. If you’re planning a wildlife viewing trip, we recommend visiting ODOT’s Trip Check site for the most current conditions before heading out.

With snow absent from mid and lower level elevations, small mammal activity is abundant. Tree squirrels and chipmunks are common in forested habitats and forest edges that transition into open areas. One such area on the Deschutes National Forest is located at Lava Butte, a few miles south of Bend and west of Highway 97. Cottontail rabbits and black-tailed jackrabbit can be found in areas where sagebrush abounds. A good area to look for all of the mammals mentioned here is on BLM land either side of Highway 20, east of Bend where hiking trails can take you miles into a mixture of sagebrush and juniper/pine woodlands.

Although warm days have been few and far between so far this year, conditions have warmed enough to encourage reptiles out from their winter slumber. Western fence lizards can be found in the mornings on rocky outcroppings soaking up the sun’s rays, and several snake species are now active in a variety of habitats usually associated with water.
Amphibians, such as the ubiquitous tree frog are busily breeding and the eggs of some early breeders, such as Long-toed salamanders, have already begun to hatch. Soon many of the area ponds and wetlands will be alive with small tadpoles and salamander larva.

This is an excellent time to view raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawk, American kestrel, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles sitting on power poles and fence posts scanning open spaces for a potential meal. Scan the skies for a glimpse of large birds with a “V” shaped wing pattern and you are likely to be looking at turkey vultures that began returning to Deschutes County in early March. Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne is a great place to see both Bald and Golden Eagles. Nesting pairs of both species are easily seen gliding over the magnificent hills and slopes within the park. Camp Polk Meadow Preserve near Sisters, is an excellent site to see white-headed woodpecker’s and recent birding reports from the Deschutes River in Bend include sightings of Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded and common Merganser, Bufflehead, Canvasback, American Goldfinch, Northern Flicker, American Crow, Western Scrub-Jay, and Great Blue Heron to list but a few. Other birding destinations to consider include Tumalo Reservoir (west of Highway 20 between Sister and Bend), Pelton Dam wildlife overlook and Lake Simstustus (Deschutes River northwest of Madras), and Hatfield Lakes (just north of the Bend airport)

Whether you’re interested in song birds, waterfowl, or raptors and prefer remote birding locations, or those closer to urban areas, directions to a long list of great birding locations can be found at East Cascades Audubon Society web site. 3/27/17

Bighorn sheep
California Bighorn Sheep Ram
- Photo by Nick Myatt, ODFW-


The Lower Deschutes River provides ample wildlife viewing opportunities. California bighorn sheep are frequently observed in the canyon and can provide fantastic viewing all times of the year. The best spot to view sheep is from the BLM access road just downstream and across the river from Sherars Falls (along Hwy 216). Focus your efforts near large cliff complexes for best viewing.

Many different raptor species can be seen in the Deschutes River Canyon this time of year including Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, Prairie Falcons, Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Osprey.

Great wildlife and wildflower viewing opportunities also exist on the River Ranch tract of Lower Deschutes Wildlife area. Wildflowers are just now starting to bloom on the area and will be quite impressive later in the spring. Spring migrants will be showing up soon and oak canyon is a great place to view many unique species. Many bighorn sheep also use the area. The area can be accessed through BLM lands at the mouth of Oak, Ferry, or Ward canyons. You will need a boat to access the area, which provides a very remote experience, with usually very few other people around, if any. Please call The Dalles district office at 541 296 4628 with any questions about accessing the area. 3/14/2017

White River Wildlife Area

There are many different animals on White River Wildlife Area ranging from deer and elk to coyotes, bears, and the occasional cougar. Bucks are starting to grow back their antlers and can be seen with short velvet antlers this time of year. Does will soon be having their fawns. It is common practice for deer to leave their fawns behind while feeding or when disturbed by people so please leave young animals alone as the mothers will come back to feed their young. Remember, watch carefully for deer along the edge of roads. There are many deer mortalities every year from vehicle collisions.

It is also possible to see bald and golden eagles on the Wildlife Area. Other raptors such as red-tailed hawks and rough-legged hawks are common sights. American kestrels and northern harriers are also easily seen hunting their prey.

Lewis’s woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, flickers, western meadowlarks, Steller’s jays, scrub jays, gray jays, Townsend’s solitaire, horned larks, golden-crowed kinglets, and robins are all at home on the Wildlife Area. There have also been lots of magpies spotted flying around this year.

Look on ponds, lakes and streams to see a variety of ducks and geese, as well as western grebes, coots, and mergansers. 4/18/2017

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