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.”