Monday, July 18, 2011

Crane Prairie's Cranebows!

Central Oregon has some awesome still water fisheries and Crane Prairie is one of them. This shallow 5 square mile reservoir was constructed in haste back in 1922 flooding a large prairie. Hundreds of thousands of lodgepole pines were left standing. Most have since fallen creating a web of logs in the lake but some still stand today. The lake is shallow, 9ft on average and 20feet at the damn. Hydrilla inundates the lake by summer creating prime habitat for the lake's mega hatches of damsels, dragon flies and chironomids. I've never been to a lake where you can walk the shore, flip rocks and fill a Dixie cup with hundreds of inch-long dragonfly nymphs. In addition, leeches, baetis and caddis frequent the menu, but the real meat and potatoes of this lake are the prolific hatches of chironomids. You want to fish them with Rio Outbound Hover and 15ft of 2x floro at a snails pace (or slower). Takes are subtle but the fish are power houses.Here's pops with an average Cranebow. The discerning angler will notice the need for a Jenny Craig intervention with this Salmonid.Finally, the tug I'd been waiting for.Ah man, is that it?This week fishing was slow, given the late and wet spring, the water was cold and the fish were spread out all over, including in the timber where you'll never land them. Crainbow's can exceed 19lbs and brooks 10lbs in the lake, although those fish must of been on vacation that week. We've been fishing this lake for 25 years and in years past, my dad and I have locked into some real bruisers pushing 8 and even 10lbs. Here is a picture of the timber stands with Mt. Bachelor and Three Sisters in the background.Small trout fry and bait fish (namely the Stickleback Minnow) are plentiful and attract Cormorants which feel compelled to nest in about every 3rd tree. Eagles and Osprey are also common sights.The key to this lake is to wait until it warms up. The Hydrilla will crowd out the shallows and the water will warm except for 6 tributaries which continuously pump cold oxygenated water into the lake. This river water is colder and denser than the ambient water in the lake, and as such it sinks. You guessed it, right into the old river channels, so if you can find the channels, you'll find fish concentrated in them. Until next year Crane Prairie.


wramsey said...

Wow, great information and nice pictures. I've been looking for a nice little treat like this one for awhile. I've been fishing pretty avidly my whole life, but have made the fly fishing plunge, and being just outside of portland, this seems like a great location. Keep up the good work- my new favorite site.

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