The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday that the Crooked River and Ochoco Creek will be closed to fishing starting Saturday due to low water flows. Here is the press release from ODFW.
PRINEVILLE, Ore.—Due to persistent drought and low water, ODFW is closing fishing in Crooked River and Ochoco Creek from at least Saturday September 24th through October 31st.
After several years of persistent drought in central Oregon, flows and reservoirs in this region have reached historic lows. During the summer, water is released from the Prineville and Ochoco Reservoirs into the Crooked River and Ochoco Creek for irrigators below the dams. These discharges also serve to maintain adequate flows for resident game fish, including native redband trout and mountain whitefish.
This year, the irrigation season ends several weeks earlier than usual. As a result, minimal water will be released from the reservoirs over the next month or more, resulting in a significant decrease in available habitat for resident gamefish species. Fish will concentrate in remaining pond habitats and face increased competition for food resources while being more vulnerable to predators.
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In similar low flow situations, ODFW will sometimes lift restrictions on angling to reduce the population to a level that can be sustained by the reduction in available habitat. But ODFW data shows that the Crooked River fishery is dominated by catch-and-release anglers. The fishery closure is intended to reduce the additional stress and mortality caused by catch-and-release fishing that can occur in low-flow, high-density conditions.
“We know that the angling community in this area has already spoken out in favor of a closure, with many anglers choosing to stop fishing voluntarily. We thank them for working with us to protect these fish,” said ODFW District Fish Biologist Jerry George.
“While the closure will help protect fish congregating in the limited waters available, ODFW still anticipates a reduction in the size of these fish populations due to low flows,” George continued. “These populations can rebound relatively quickly if conditions improve, but that will require significantly more rain and snow than what we have seen in recent years.”
The exact regulations are as follows: from September 24 to October 31, fishing is closed:
- On the Crooked River from Highway 97 Bridge (near Terrebonne) upstream of the Bowman dam
- On Ochoco Creek from the mouth at the confluence with the Crooked River upstream to Ochoco Dam
Find the latest regulations for the Central Zone by visiting the Recreation Report / Fishing Report for the Zone and clicking on Regulatory Updates https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/central-zone