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Trout fishing near The Dalles

03/02/2017 | Agritourism, Fishing, Recreation, The Dalles


Stephanie Valencano of The Dalles with her big rainbow from Taylor Lake. Photo by Gary Lewis


by guest contributor Gary Lewis

In the days of yesteryear, opening day was on a Saturday, but that is no more because the Department of Fish & Wildlife simplified the angling regulations last year. Now, most of our favorite waters are open year round.

It used to be that folks looked forward to opening day of trout season. Campers rolled in from the big city, stopped in tackle shops for bait and advice, then set up their canvas tents at campgrounds then drove back to town to stay in motels when rainstorms washed them out. It was a great system, but I like this better.

Early last April I drove up to The Dalles and stopped in at Taylor Lake where about a dozen anglers plied the waters with Power Bait and worms in hopes of hooking a trophy. I stopped and talked to Stephanie Valencano who had an 18-inch rainbow on a stringer and was trying to get another one.

I'd brought a fly rod and I took one look at the water and knew this was not going to work for me. Taylor Lake's visibility was about four inches. I'd need a lot of luck to catch a fish here. I would have done better if I'd brought Power Bait.

I drove back to town to Cousin's Restaurant, had a late breakfast with friend Rodney Smith and then we drove west to Mayer State Park to fish a tiny 3-acre lake nestled in the Rowena curves of the old highway. It's called Bikini Pond and though I looked around, I couldn't see any bikinis. Maybe later in the year, a person could have better luck in this regard.

We walked the shore and prospected for hatchery rainbows. I was using a two-fly chironomid rig and when I figured out the right depth, was rewarded with a few grabs and a fish that stuck.

A fellow fly-rodder worked some water on the other side and it turned out to be fishing guide Nate Turner, who, on his time off, was stalking carp with his glare glasses and wet flies.

A lot of people start thinking about fishing when the buds show on the trees and the deer bite the tops off the tulips. That's when a person starts wondering when trout season is going to open. It's open!

Almost all Central Oregon lakes are open year-round and the stream opener is May 22. The exceptions are Crane Prairie and Wickiup which open this year (and every year going forward) on April 22. In 2017 that's a Saturday! Or pick any Saturday and make it YOUR opening day.

Last year, ODFW planted more trophy trout (one pound and bigger) in some waters. Expect that to continue for 2017. And expect holdovers to two and three pounds in these waters. Willow Creek Reservoir (near Heppner) should be fishing well in April and May. Up on Mt. Hood, the action will pick up at Timothy and Trillium lakes in May.


Gary Lewis is the publisher of the Fishing Mount Hood Country and Fishing Central Oregon books. Contact Gary at

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