Here is a recent report from the Bureau of Reclamation on the water outlook for Prineville Reservoir. As you can see on page 3, a few days ago the reservoir was 35% full and flows into the Crooked River were only 49 cfs (47 cfs today), which is below the target set by ODFW for fish needs and the 80 cfs target in the Crooked River legislation. In summary, the BOR presentation implies that the outlook is not promising for the reservoir to fill which means flows into the Crooked River next winter after irrigation season ends will also likely be low. Keep reading for some commentary on the presentation prepared by BOR.Read More »
For years, the Crooked River has been plagued by periodic fish kills. There have been two culprits: sustained low flows, especially when combined with freezing temperatures in the winter, and excess total dissolved gases. TDG is not as well known as low flows but it can be equally deadly. A solution in the form of a new hydroelectric facility may be in the future.Read More »
A reporter at the Bend Bulletin saw my post on the potential for a fish kill on the Crooked River this winter and wrote this article. If you’ve ever been quoted for an article you know how it can be a frustrating experience. So it almost goes without saying that I would have written the story differently but I think the reporter did a good job overall of capturing the big picture of what is currently happening on the Crooked River and the challenges it faces this winter.
As Central Oregon anglers know, fish populations in the Crooked River can wildly fluctuate. When there is adequate flow for a few years the fishing can be excellent. On the other hand, a variety of factors including low flows combined with freezing temperatures can create massive fish kills. The last of these events happened in the winter of 2015-2016 when trout populations dropped from 1,383/km to 185/km, the lowest ever recorded. Based on current water management plans, such a kill could happen again this winter.Read More »
Not long ago I was one of the volunteers who helped ODFW with their annual trout survey on the Crooked River. As reported in The Bulletin, it appears that trout numbers have rebounded from their recent record lows and are now up to 3,500 a mile. This is welcome news, but it is only part of the story.Read More »
Most Central Oregon anglers are familiar with the Wild & Scenic section of the Crooked River below Bowman Dam. Of course, the Crooked flows into Prineville Reservoir as well but based on my experience few outside of Crook County have spent much time there. The North Fork of the Crooked does not provide the same abundance of fishing as the Wild & Scenic section, but it flows through a beautiful area of the Ochoco Mountains. Prior to the construction of all the dams below (Bowman, Opal Springs, and the PRB complex), this section of the river was prime spawning habitat for anadromous fish. Big Summit Prairie is also nearby, worthy of a visit on its own. The last time I visited the North Fork my wife and I saw one of the biggest bears I have seen in Oregon, it was a brownish red color and seemed undisturbed by us as we watched it for some time. The North Fork provides habitat for an important strain of wild, native redband trout. ODFW is planning a electrofishing survey of the North Fork and could use some volunteers, this would be a great opportunity to help and see some beautiful country that is not very far away.Read More »
Every year ODFW counts fish in the Crooked River below Bowman Dam. This year they are sampling June 18-22 and are looking for help. Volunteers walk down the bank of the river while ODFW biologists float and shock the river. Fish near the boat are temporally stunned by the electric current and float to the surface where they are captured, counted, and measured. I first helped with this years ago and it made me a far better angler on the Crooked and elsewhere. Even after decades of fishing experience and “reading the water”, I was amazed to see where fish were holding and in what numbers. If you are interested in helping, contact Tim Porter, Assistant District Fish Biologist in Prineville, at Timothy.K.Porter@state.or.us or (541) 447-5111 ext. 24. Let him know which day(s) you can help and he will get back to you with more detailed info. You need to be able to carry buckets of stunned fish back upstream to release them near where they were captured. The day usually lasts from 8:30 am until 2 pm.