Leg Seven: Crater Lake and Home


Leslie at an overlook on the east side of Crater Lake.  ·

Well, last week I ended up commenting about going to Crater Lake. While it was a smokey day thanks to a wildfire northwest of us, Crater Lake was no less impressive.

Formed in about 5,400 B.C., Crater Lake is a result of the eruption of the then 12,000-foot Mount Mazama. Crater Lake was formed from the caldera that formed after the eruption, and it is the deepest lake in the United States with a depth of 1,949 feet. It became a national park in 1902.

As we approached the Cleetwood Cove area, the only legal access to the shore of the lake, we saw a gentleman walking alongside the road with fishing rods in his hands. My daughter and I were curious, so we pulled alongside and inquired what he was fishing for. He told us that there were two types of fish in the lake – a salmon and Rainbow Trout. That certainly piqued our interest. The hike down to the cove is 1.1 miles and drops 700 feet.

On the way out, we stopped at the entrance and spoke to the Ranger. Well, as it turns out, there are Kokanee salmon and rainbow trout in the lake. He told us that there are no licenses needed and that you must only use artificial lures and flies, no bait. He also told us that there are no limits on size, number or species of fish you may catch. The only caveat is that you must keep everything you catch and fish may not be cleaned in the lake. He said that the Oregon Department of Wildlife put these fish in and that the Park Service wants to get all of the fish out, since they did not belong in there.

The Kokanee are small, only about 8 inches, according to the Ranger. The rainbows are much larger, averaging around 10 to 14 inches. The Ranger did say that a rainbow more than 5 lbs. was caught last year.

Upon further research, I found that six species of fish were introduced to Crater Lake between 1888 and 1941. However, only the Kokanee and rainbow are still in there. Before you get too excited, fishing access is limited. The only two places you can legally fish is around Cleetwood Cove and Wizard Island. No watercraft of any kind is permitted.

There are many small streams around the park that have small brook, rainbow, brown and bull trout. Bull trout are the only native species to the area and must be released unharmed. Most of these streams are small and have lots of brush, making them difficult to fish. Sun Creek is closed from the park boundary upstream for 3 miles as posted because it is native bull trout habitat.

We left for home the following day after a fulfilling trip. My daughter and I created a lot of great new memories for us. Next year?


FISHING REPORT  (See Sightseeing for water levels.)

Boca | Inflow is at 86 cfs and the outflow is 71 cfs. Try powerbait or nightcrawlers. Throwing lures from shore has been working. Fly fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet, mostly nymphing and with streamers.

Donner | Fishing has been good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the bait of choice. Mackinaw and Kokanee fishing has been fair. Fly fishermen are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore fishermen use inflated nightcrawlers. A state record Kokanee was recently landed by an angler out of Nevada City.

Little Truckee River | Flow is now at 86 cfs. Fishing has been fair to good. Hopper dropper set-ups are working well.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and Release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Some small cutthroats and an occasional large brown and rainbow can still be caught here. Smallmouth bass have been introduced in this water.

Prosser | The lake is fishing fair to good. Powerbait and nightcrawlers are the best bait. Smallmouth Bass are biting well with the warmer water. Lure and fly-fishermen also are taking some fish from shore and near the inlets.

Stampede | Fishing has been fair to good from shore. Kokanee fishing has been fair. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Smallmouth Bass fishing has been fair to good. Fly fishermen have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers for trout and in the coves for Smallmouth Bass.

Truckee River | Flowing out of the lake at 367 cfs. The flow through Truckee is at 371 cfs as of Aug. 25. Fish have been caught on nymphs, emergers, dries and streamers. The main hatches now are Caddis and terrestrials, ants, beetles and grasshoppers. Flies imitating these have been the most productive. Streamers also have been good. Crayfish patterns should be a top producer this time of year. A hopper dropper set-up also is a good combination. Cooler evenings have helped keep water temperatures down into the mid afternoon. Carry a thermometer and limit your fishing to cooler periods. Try and fish early in the morning to mid-day for the best results while the water temperatures are acceptable. Fishing from Boca downstream should still be your best bet now.

Other Waters | Davis and Frenchman have been fair to good. Fish are being caught on blood midge patterns and Callibaetis imitations. Streamers fished deep also can be productive. Water is now warm at these lakes and fish have gone deep as in most of our area waters.

Bruce is a long-time area fly fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.