Jeff’s Fishing Report April 15, 2023

Hopefully you’re not sitting in the office or kitchen table doing your taxes this weekend!
Fishing is way more fun, I think we’d all agree. I have a pretty juicy fishing report to share, and we have a lot to look forward to over the next week to 10 days!
So let’s make a short cast down river and see what’s happening now and what we are looking forward to a week from today.

The Metolius has been good, with hatches of BWO and Cinygmula Mayflies, a few confirmed March Browns, and a good smattering of Caddis.
A lot of the catching has not been on dries as much the last 7-10 days. A lull for rising trout for some reason? In any case, good action continues on the nymphs of all the above mentioned hatches, and that has kept fishing in the good zone for us.
And, don’t take that as no dry fly action could be found, that would not be the case at all! Be prepared with your dries, cripples and emergers and I think you’ll do well if you’re in the right pool or eddy and the hatch is on.
A few really nice bull trout stories circled around the shop last week. Big fish on streamers and smaller Bulls on Euro Jigs. No matter the size Bull Trout, they are all special, and catching one a 10 1/2′ 3 weight is a blast.

The Crooked River is looking better and better. The Prineville Reservoir is 42% full and filling more. There is almost 1900 cfs coming into it this morning, and earlier in the week we saw around 5000 cfs at times. The Reservoir is going to start the 2023 irrigation season a little higher than it started in 2022, so that might lead to some longer lasting water in the summer months.
Fishing now is good on the Crooked. A nice afternoon BWO hatch, some midges and a few smaller grey caddis mixed in. Dries and nymphs of all of the above, caddis pupa, midge winklers, zebra’s, scuds, purple haze, Furminsky’s BDE Dun(!!!) and Knock Down Duns.
Today (Saturday 4/15/23) the water is 52 cfs out of the dam.
Starting on Monday 4/17/23, it is going to slowly ramp up.
By 4/18 & 4/19 ODFW and BOR are doing a pulse flow up to 450 cfs to disperse and flush juvenile steelhead down river to encourage migration. After 4/20 (dude) the water should be normal summer flows around 200 cfs. We will report on it if it anything weird or crazy. But I would recommend not fishing the Crooked River on 4/18-19-20.
Here is that press release:


Water Release from Bowman Dam

Starting 17 April 2023

The USFWS and NOAA have decided to release some water from Bowman Dam next week as a smolt pulse to help steelhead smolts move downstream.  We’re trying to let as many constituents know as possible to help minimize inconveniences.  The pulse flow will start on April 17 where they will slowly increase the amount of water released throughout the day to ramp up at an appropriate rate.  The full 250 cfs pulse will be released all day on the 18th and 19th, and then will slowly be ramped back down to base flow on the 20th.  We are uncertain at the moment what base flow will look like at that time since OID has indicated they may start releasing irrigation water on the 17th.  Irrigation flows usually average about 200 cfs so the total amount of water could be anywhere from 250 cfs to 450 cfs.  Not a huge amount of water, but enough to impact fishing and wading.  Who at COF should I contact to let your membership know about this pulse flow so they are aware and can plan accordingly? 


Tim Porter
Assistant District Fish Biologist
Deschutes Watershed District
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

The Fall River is fishing well and that has the crowds in kind of one place due to the snow and conditions out there. With Rutted Snow on the roads to the Tubes/Falls and into the Campground it seems as if 99% of the anglers are all at the Hatchery.
That said, if you can find a spot, you’ll find BWO’s, Midges and Caddis hatching. March Browns ought to show up soon. PMD’s are likely to peer out of the depths by the end of the month as well.
Streamers, Eggs, Jigs and Perdigons are top catchers for us. Little Mayfly Tungsten Bean Nymphs are going to be effective for sure.

The Lower Deschutes is really quite good in the Locked Gate to Maupin areas. March Brown hatches have begun, along with BWO’s and some #14-16 Grey Caddis. Stonefly nymphs are migrating to the shore lines for hatching in about 3-4 weeks from now (imagine a warm Lower Deschutes day fishing in a short sleeve shirt with the sun beating down on your arms and bugs everywhere!….It’s closer than we think)
A lot of good tight line nymph activity happening, and certainly some indicator action too. Don’t forget your Trout Spey and do some swinging with sculpins and leeches. BTW, a trout spey with a Skagit line makes for a heck’uva indicator rig, especially when fishing hard to reach gravel bars there would be no way to fish otherwise.
What really turns our crank is the April 22nd opening from Warm Springs to Trout Creek. That is one short week away and we look forward to the same great Lower D fishing but with an hour less drive time each way. Plus, we love WS to TC, Mecca, Dry Creek and all that water. Such a cool spot.

The Middle Deschutes is down to summer flows at 90 cfs today. March Brown hatches started last weekend and fishing is good on these meaty mayflies.
I won’t be surprised to see the 1st PMD and Pale Evening Dun hatches coming any day now too.
Caddis are certainly important and on the Middle D an X Caddis (Tan #14-16, Olive #16), a Corn Fed Caddis #14-16 and Iris Caddis #16 are great flies for there.
The Euro Nymph game is strong in there now, use smaller Brown and Olive Perdigons, 2 Bits, Frenchies and a myriad of patterns that can look like a March Brown, Including PT Soft Hackle.
Access includes all the Bend “town runs”, Sawyer park, Riley Ranch Park, Tumalo State Park, Eagle Crest, Cline Falls State Park, Tetherow Crossing, Lower Bridge, Steelhead Falls area and I am sure many other little secret getaways.

Justesen Ranch Lakes are fishing good now, and are the most viable option for stillwater fishing we are probably going to see for quite a while. I fished (guided) Big Lake there yesterday, and Tonn and Troy guided Davis Lake (at Justesen) the day before. I will be on Davis out there Wednesday with my clients.
Lots of Chironomids and leeches. Fat Kamloops trout, water temps in the low 50’s and nothing but solitude and a lot of Western Meadowlarks singing in the trees.
You don’t need a guide to fish there (unless you want me or one of the FFP guys to help you). You can go on your own with your own tube, or pontoon, or kayak (I had 2 guests out there a week ago in their Hobie’s) and some of you may want to bring a pram or drift boat. It’s all good. It’s $140 a day for all but one of the lakes, $150 for Big Lake to go on your own. Call or email me, I’ll get you a date.

I don’t yet know if there will be any access to the Crane Prairie Boating Site launch next saturday for opening day or not? Does Snow Still block the road, or parking lot? Is the lake confirmed Ice Free?
Skiers looking down from the Summit of Mt Bachelor, what do see ice wise on Crane and Wickiup. I know Sparks and Hosmer are frozen from a photo I saw yesterday. I’m sure Lava Lake is frozen.
I just have doubts for access for 4/22 at Crane, but plan to research that this week for the next report.
Usually, this time of year we’ve already started to fish South Twin. But it is pretty snowy down there and I don’t believe there is any access as of now.

Lake Billy Chinook is slow for me, and I would say in general quite slow for most fly anglers now. Water temps this week I found were 44-49 degrees. It seems like it is a month behind schedule due to continuing cold weather.

I had a productive meeting with 3 wonderful USFS employees last week, discussing mostly East Lake and Paulina, but docks and access and facilities on all the lakes.
I can tell you, they are hearing OUR concerns and want to work with US to improve bathrooms, keeping them open during the fishing season, communicating when docks are going in, or coming out for winter, and are in the planning stages for a lot of ramp and dock upgrades in the region. That won’t happen this year or next year, but ought to get the wheels turning soon after that if looks like. They were talking about new docks altogether at many of OUR favorite places. WE can be thankful for that. I believe in the ladies I spoke to, that their commitments to the Forest and the people who use these places are strong. This was a no Bull Shit meeting, which I appreciated.
I’ve been critical of some of the bathroom closures, and dock issues over the past several years, and we have a new team in place in the Bend Office that is listening.

In addition to the meeting, I did some research and found some really interesting data on East Lake water levels from a retired USFS Geologist named Bob Jensen. I also spoke with a U of O geology professor maned Danielle McKay who helped me understand the Hydrology and Geology relationship of the water at East & Paulina.
I will share Bob’s letter to me below, but I want to dispel the myth that East Lakes low water issues have to do with the rumor of an Earthquake or the rumor of Geo Thermal exploration and drilling. It is drought according to Bob and looking at his data, I tend to agree.
Check this out: (we’ve lost 5.1 feet in the last 6 seasons)

I’m Bob Jensen a COGS member. Newberry Volcano has been a long term interest of mine also. I was born here in Bend, worked for 30 years with the Deschutes National Forest as an engineering geologist and since retirement I’ve been a volunteer with the U.S. Geological Survey working on the geologic mapping of Newberry Volcano for the last 17 years. Over about the last 30 years I’ve occasionally recorded the lake level at East Lake (usually at low levels) using a benchmark on the west shoreline. The lake has fluctuated in level over a total range of about 10 feet during the time I’ve been monitoring it, but the historic range is nearly 20 feet. For the reference with the following information the lake level last fall (Oct. 27, 2022) was 6,370.6 feet. 

The following historic information comes from Phillips, K.N., and Van Denburgh, A.S., 1968, Hydrology of Crater, East, and Davis Lakes, Oregon:  U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1859-E, 60 p.

6,385.5 feet — maximum historic level occurred prior to 1853 based on tree ring evidence.

6,382.5 feet — was the observed high level reached in 1904 and again in 1958

6,366 feet — the historic low lake level occurred in 1941 or 1942. Nearly 5 feet lower than last fall.

Between these minimum and maximum levels the lake has continued to fluctuate. 

August 2, 1987   — ~6,380 feet, determined by photo comparison

Sept. 7, 1994      — ~6,375 feet, determined by photo comparison

July 17, 1999      — 6,380.0 feet

June 23, 2000     — 6,380.6 feet – June 23, 2000 – level was high enough to cover much of the beach berm between the two boat ramps at Cinder Hill.

July 17, 2003      — 6,376.9 feet

between 2003 & 2017 there was another higher stand which I failed to document (my interest was low levels)

Sept. 11, 2017    — 6,375.7 feet

July 26, 2019      — 6,374.4 feet

July 29, 2020      — 6,373.3 feet

Nov. 13, 2021     — 6,371.3 feet

Oct. 27, 2022     — 6,370.6 feet

The difference in elevation between the two lakes is 40 to 50 feet depending on the level of East Lake. East Lake represents the ground water level in the eastern part of the caldera. Paulina Lake represents the ground level in the western part of the caldera and that level is controlled by the low through which Paulina Creek exits the caldera. The mile wide strip of land between the two lake acts as a leaky dam allowing for the higher level of East Lake. The leaky dam supplies water to Paulina Lake and the dam at the mouth of the lake helps to keep the lake level relatively stable. The weather conditions are the primary control on the level of East Lake as its historic range of levels support.

So, I think this is an interesting report this week. It is going to be a while before we are on most of the Cascade Lakes and Newberry Crater Lakes. It’ll be June for a lot of them. But we ought to have a good season once they are open.
Will East Lake have a small recovery? Hard to know. It would be nice to see the rocks on the ramps covered up a bit more for easier boating. USFS is not able to move rocks without a lot of coordination between different departments of the organization. So, until engineers are done making plans for their new ramps and docks, the rocks that are there, are there to stay. I’d sure love to roll that one at Cinder Hill about 5 feet south though!

See you on the water,


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