BEND, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is making some changes for people fishing on the Deschutes River arm of Wickiup Reservoir, in a bid to help kokanee and trout spawning areas.
The first restrictions go into effect on the first day of the season, April 22, when anglers can say goodbye to the kokanee “bonus bag," which allowed people to keep up to 25 kokanee, in addition to the regular five-trout limit. Soon, anglers will have to include kokanee in the five-trout limit.
The length of the season also will be reduced, closing one month earlier, on Aug. 31.
Tye Krueger, angler and owner of Confluence Fly Shop, said Monday the area is the most pristine spawning habitat on the reservoir and supports its protection.
“(The fish) need that arm of the reservoir to spawn. They’re all relying on it, and if we impact it with a rule change in a positive way, all we’re going to do is boost the number of fish for sports anglers as a whole,” he said.
The area boundary will also be moved from West South Twin Boat Ramp, to Gull Point. The rest of the reservoir will stay open until Oct 31.
The full press release issued Friday is below:
ODFW announces new rules for Wickiup Reservoir fishing
BEND, Ore. – Fishery managers have announced two new rule changes that will affect the kokanee bag limit, and fall fishing in the Deschutes River arm of Wickiup Reservoir.
The first rule change eliminates the kokanee “bonus bag” that allowed anglers to keep up to 25 kokanee in addition to the regular 5 fish trout limit. Effective opening day, April 22, 2017, anglers must include kokanee within the 5 fish trout limit.
The second rule change will close fishing in the Deschutes River arm of the reservoir one month earlier from Sept. 30 to Aug. 31 and move the boundary from the West South Twin boat ramp to Gull Point. The remainder of the reservoir will continue to be open for fishing until Oct. 31.
According to Brett Hodgson, ODFW fish biologist in Bend, the Deschutes River arm is an important spawning area for kokanee and trout.
“We don’t stock Wickiup Reservoir – the entire fishery depends on the natural production of kokanee, brown trout and redband trout,” Hodgson said. “We need to take management action to ensure this natural production sustains a fishery.”
Under a new water management regime, water in the reservoir is drawn down earlier in the summer. This will concentrate fish in a smaller area near the unscreened outlet and make them more vulnerable to both fishing pressure on the spawning grounds and escaping from the reservoir downstream into the Deschutes River. This will limit the annual production of kokanee and trout. Kokanee begin their spawning migration in late August.
“These fish are vulnerable to anglers who target the spawning kokanee and the trout that follow the kokanee upstream to feed on their eggs,” Hodgson states.
The storage and release of water from the Reservoir has been altered to help protect listed spotted frogs downstream, and to improve the ecological function of the Deschutes River, he said.
“It may be a while before we know what impact the change in water management will have on the spotted frog,” Hodgson said. “But in the meantime we need to be proactive in protecting spawning fish to conserve redband trout populations and to maintain the robust and diverse recreational fishery.”