North Fork Crooked trout survey

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 »

Crooked River Fish Sampling

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.

Impact on the Crooked River

The proposed Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan includes a section on the Crooked River (see pages 34 to 37).  While I have heard some in the angling and conservation communities speak favorably about the proposal for the Crooked, I am not in agreement.

In summary, my concerns are:

  • There is no scientific justification for the 50 cfs average minimum target during the winter and it is unclear what is meant by “average”.
  • There is no provision for reducing the incidence of gas bubble disease.
  • There is no mention of water quality.
  • It does not address the low flow, high temperature problem that exists below the Wild & Scenic section during irrigation season.

Read More »

Opal Springs Fish Ladder Final Funding

After years of effort the final funding for a volitional fish ladder at Opal Springs Dam was obtained earlier this month.  There are some regulatory hurdles remaining but construction should begin in the spring and be complete within two years.  Opal Springs is a small hydroelectric facility owned by Deschutes Valley Water District about a quarter mile up the Crooked River from where it enters Lake Billy Chinook.  Downstream fish passage has been available, mostly through the turbines, but not upstream passage.Read More »