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Outdoor report: Highly anticipated, fishing season opens April 22nd

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Upper Deschutes River along the Cascade Lakes Highway which is between Crane Prairie and Lava Lake. Most streams in the Cascades are closed until late May. Be sure to read the fishing synopsis to avoid fishing in closed waters and getting a ticket. Rob DeHarpport photo


By ROB DEHARPPORT/for The Herald  —  Friday, April 22nd brings anglers the always-anticipated general fishing season opener. It’s known to some anglers as “Fishmas Day.”

This year’s opening of many of the Cascade high lakes is dampened somewhat due to the recent April snowstorm that will limit access to many of the high lakes. It’s nothing unusual for long-time Oregon anglers. It was often expected until the recent 7 years of low to mediocre snowpack we’ve witnessed.

April storm brings up snowpack

The April “Snow Miracle” brought two feet of snow to the 4900′ elevation here at Crescent Lake. Much of that has melted in the sunny areas. Shaded areas that still held the winter snow are a foot or two deeper with the addition of the recent snowfall. Higher elevations have much more. For instance, Summit Lake snowpack prior to the April snowstorm was at 62″.
The April storm brought that snowpack up to a 98″ depth, which is near normal or average level for this time of year.
 Like many situations, there may be a silver lining or two in the current snow situation. Fewer open Campgrounds equals fewer people hitting the lakes that are accessible. There is also the fact that snow can keep any fish that are caught cold and fresh; ice not required for a while.
More importantly this late snowfall may be a big aid in delaying the fire season and will hopefully begin to refill some of our aquifers and wells. Better late than never! It won’t break the grip that the drought has on many areas in Oregon and the western states but it sure is welcome.

Cascade Lakes Byway access

Road closed. Cascade Lakes Highway is closed at Deschutes Bridge Crossing. Approximately thirty miles north of the Cutoff Road. Rob DeHarpport photo

On “Fishmas Eve” I drove north on Century Drive, aka Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, to check out lake access.

The Highway is gated at Deschutes Bridge Crossing, approximately thirty miles north of the Cutoff Road that links Highway 58 to Highway 97. Davis Lake is accessible at East Davis Campground (access to Odell Creek) and Lava Flow Campground.
Wickiup Reservoir is accessible at Gull Point, with the boat ramp usable for now. South and North Twin Lakes are accessible. Crane Prairie Reservoir is accessible at Crane Prairie Resort and Crane Prairie Campground, where the ramp is open. Some snow may be encountered on the road into it, but it appears drivable.
Further north on the Cascade Lakes Byway, Rock Creek, Quinn River, and Cow Camp Campgrounds and boat ramps are buried with snow. Cultus Lake Resort is accessible; however, I don’t believe it has opened yet.
Lava Lake, Elk Lake, and Hosmer are all still behind the gate at Deschutes Bridge. I believe Elk Lake and Lava Lake will be accessible soon. Call the resorts or check their Facebook page for the latest news.

Crescent and Odell Lakes remain accessible

Crescent Lake remains inaccessible except for the beach at the resort which is very sketchy. The resort is currently not open.

Odell Lake is accessible at both Odell Lake Resort and Shelter Cove Resort. Both resorts have campgrounds that are available with snowbanks available to chill your beverages.

Entrance to Sunset Cove Campground and boat ramp has been plowed by the USFS. Rob DeHarpport photo
The US Forest Service has plowed the snow at Sunset Cove Campground, allowing boats to launch. However, the entire loop is not plowed as of today. Only the upper parking lot has been plowed to the ramp limiting parking and access and egress from the ramp. This may create a bit of a cluster if many boaters arrive at once. Camps are buried with two feet of snow, if not more in some spots. Princess Creek and Trapper Creek Campgrounds and ramps are buried with snow and are closed.
The Campground Host site at Sunset Cove Campground and all camp sites within Sunset Cove CG are buried. A couple of weeks ago it looked nearly bare of snow. Rob DeHarpport photo

Drive safe, boat safe and good luck to those that get out to fish and enjoy the snow-covered Cascades. Tight lines!

Rob DeHarpport was a long-term resident and former mayor of Westfir. Rob now lives in the Crescent Lake area and is The Herald’s reporter for the Outdoor Report. Rob DeHarpport photo

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