Prineville Reservoir is Central Oregon’s greatest all-around fishery for quite a lot of bass and panfish.
The massive reservoir, masking 3,000 acres at full pool in the spring, could be excellent for each smallmouth and largemouth bass in impressive sizes, and it may merely be superior for crappie when bigger courses of these tasty fish cycle round. Add to that a good fishery for larger-than-average bullhead catfish and this reservoir is a barbeque ready to happen.
However wait … Prineville Reservoir isn’t solely a warmwater angler’s paradise, it persistently produces dependable (and typically excellent) catches of rainbow trout which are stocked as kids however grow fats in its fertile waters.
Prineville Reservoir is situated south of the town of Prineville. Bowman Dam impounds the rich waters of Crooked River to offer flood control and a water provide for agriculture and consuming. As such, it’s sometimes full or close to it by the top of the moist season in spring (except throughout drought years), after which the level drops as the water is used and space for storing is required for controlling floods for the approaching fall and winter.
By the best way, those regulated water releases helped create considered one of Oregon’s better tailrace fisheries in the Crooked River under Bowman. See Crooked River Fishing for extra.
This article will have a look at each of the main gamefish species in sprawling Prineville Reservoir and finishes off with further info you need to use to plan a visit to this bucket listing destination, which at occasions can rival Oregon’s greatest all-around bass and panfish waters resembling Brownlee Reservoir on the japanese border to Tenmile Lakes far on the coast.
In reality, elsewhere on this web site we have now Prineville Reservoir listed as an honorable point out in Greatest Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Central and Japanese Oregon, Greatest Largemouth Bass Fishing in Central and Japanese Oregon, and Greatest Crappie Bass Fishing in Central and Japanese Oregon. We additionally record it as a main spot for bullheads in Greatest Catfish Fishing Spots in Oregon. It was additionally a no-brainer for our run-down of Central Oregon’s Greatest Fishing Lakes and Reservoirs North of Bend.
- 1 Bass Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
- 2 Crappie Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
- 3 Bullhead Catfish Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
- 4 Trout Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
- 5 Where to Fish at Prineville Reservoir
- 6 When to Fish at Prineville Reservoir
- 7 Tenting at Prineville Reservoir
- 8 Easy methods to Get to Prineville Reservoir
Bass Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
Biologists have employed stricter retention limits on bass at Prineville Reservoir to assist create a greater trophy fishery, where most anglers catch and release these fish to battle another day. At present, laws permit anglers to maintain only one bass (either species) that’s over 15 inches (and five complete bass) per day. (As with all fishing laws, all the time verify for current limits and different guidelines.)
Smallmouth bass are the more ample of the two bass species at Prineville, so if you wish to maintain bass for consuming, harvesting a number of modest-sized smallmouths theoretically would make a smaller impression on the reservoir’s trophy fishery.
Smallmouths could be discovered all through the reservoir, wherever you find the rocky habitat they like. You may discover them in water 10 to 25 ft deep fairly near the bank, besides in all probability shallower through the spawning interval within the spring and typically when feeding, particularly in decrease mild circumstances.
Nevertheless, smallmouth are typically extra prevalent within the lower half of the reservoir, from Jasper Level (close to the resort) west to the dam. Find boulders, cabinets, and different rocky buildings and you’ll possible discover smallmouths ready to pounce on your lure. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) additionally suggests in search of smallmouths around tributary streams, including the lengthy mouth of Bear Creek in the southwest a part of the reservoir.
An excellent variety of the smallmouth bass listed here are on the small aspect, with the majority underneath a pound, but there are some bigger of those bronzebacks to be found.
However, in the event you’re in search of Prineville Reservoir’s largest bass, you may need to concentrate on largemouths, which are sometimes at least 2 pounds and could be quite a bit larger.
For these “bucketmouths,” focus your consideration on shallower water present in abundance in the higher reservoir, together with the willows alongside the north aspect entry street and in the backs of coves where smaller tributaries enter. When you find logs, sunken branches and brush and comparable cowl, you’re like to seek out largemouths.
Particularly, largemouth bass will typically be in shallower water than the smallmouths, typically close in to shore in spots lower than 10 ft deep.
Largemouth bass could be found in the perfect numbers in the higher reservoir in or near cover offered by floating logs and submerged timber and brush. Good places embrace the shoreline willows along the north aspect entry street in the 5 mph zone, and at the back of coves comparable to Sanford and Deer Creeks. Largemouth will sometimes be present in less than 10 ft of water.
Each species of bass will reply properly to lures that imitate their major prey species, which embrace crayfish and smaller fish reminiscent of fingerling trout planted right here and different small fish reminiscent of youthful crappie and other panfish.
Mushy plastic lures including worms and grubs might be deadly here. Fish these pretty slowly close to the bottom.
Other efficient lures together with crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits and typically topwater lures.
Crappie Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
Crappie fishing tends to be cyclical right here, nevertheless it’s virtually all the time value your whereas. When it’s excellent, anglers will catch good-sized “slab” crappie in wonderful numbers. Between these cycles of abundance, crappie are less ample however nonetheless plentiful enough to catch in good numbers when you determine the place to seek out these education fish.
To seek out crappie, begin by scanning the shoreline for probably wanting buildings, as crappie are very construction oriented.
The perfect structure at Prineville consists of willows in the upper reservoir (when submerged in larger water), rocky points and small outcroppings, any sort of sunken branches or timber, and underneath any type of manmade buildings like boat docks and log rafts.
ODFW also has positioned some juniper buildings to improve fish cover, and crappie will typically stage round those. Places of those submerged junipers embrace the mouth of Bear Creek in the lower reservoir and in addition along the south shoreline above Sanford Creek in the far higher reservoir.
Crappie are often found in shallower water, 5-10 ft in depth, though they may move deeper at occasions as soon as they’re carried out spawning. ODFW and others additionally recommend that crappie typically appear to choose holding off areas the place the shoreline rock comes into the reservoir at an angle relatively than a straight drop-off.
Once you find the proper depth and most popular construction, you must have the ability to find faculties of prepared biters.
Most anglers use fairly mild gear for crappie, with 4- or 6-pound check line. Crappie jigs (delicate plastic or typically feather and other material) is the most typical crappie lure.
Jigs may be fished under a bobber, allowing you to forged out towards doubtless spots. Use a longish chief, as much as 5 ft, to succeed in good crappie-holding depth. Twitch the jig once in a while or reel slight in to offer it just a bit motion, imagining it’s a small minnow sitting under your float. It’s also possible to retrieve it slowly, typically with a number of bounces or twitches alongside the best way.
Jigs additionally could be fished and not using a bobber, typically dropped straight down into probably wanting water and twitched. This is handiest when crappie are deep but in addition could be good when reaching with a longer rod into willows or different buildings.
Favourite jig colours and types differ extensively, with success on anybody seeming to wax and wane from daily, so convey an inexpensive provide with several types of tails and in quite a lot of colours. As soon as you find one that crappie can’t resist, maintain going with it.
Some anglers wish to tip their jig hooks with a little bit of pure bait or a ready bait, reminiscent of a Berkley Crappie Nibble. Some anglers additionally will add a cut up shot to the leader just above the jig, in the event that they need slightly extra weight.
Crappie may also be caught with other minnow-sized lures, together with small spinners and tiny crankbaits. Typically trolling these lures will help anglers find the crappie faculties, and then they change to jigs for more efficient catching.
Bullhead Catfish Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
Let’s face it: Bullhead catfish aren’t Oregon’s favorite gamefish. In many places they are thought-about a “trash fish,” they usually can pose a significant issue to the meals chain in some waters.
That stated, bullheads seem to succeed in a pleasant stability within the fish inhabitants in some waters, together with Prineville Reservoir. They grow to good measurement here and like most catfish are tasty when caught in comparatively clear water. Bullheads are also spunky fighters and fun and straightforward to catch for anglers who may be stymied by other species. Additionally, of all of the fish species at Prineville, bullheads are sometimes the simplest to catch from shore close to your campsite.
Bullhead catfish are extensively distributed in Prineville Reservoir. They do wish to forage on a sandy or silty lake backside, versus the jagged rocks that crappie and smallmouth bass typically favor.
A few of the prime locations to catch catfish in numbers listed here are alongside the shore of the higher reservoir and at the upper end of coves or bays.
You need to use whatever rod and reel you’ve been utilizing for bass, crappie and trout at Prineville. It’s not difficult.
For any catfish, bait-fishing alongside the underside is best. Like bait-fishing for trout, a sliding sinker in your most important line above a swivel is a superb set-up that permits the fish to take the bait without instantly feeling weight.
You don’t want an extended leader for catfish. They aren’t shy; any chief over 12 inches is ok.
An important thing is utilizing good bait. Stay nightcrawlers or backyard worms and lifeless cut-up fish or grocery store prawns are all wonderful. Some anglers will use unwanted leftovers from cleaning crappie, trout or other fish to catch catfish.
You also can purchase dough baits prepared especially for catfish. These are often within the class referred to as “stink baits” as a result of, properly, they reek. However they do deliver in the catfish, which rely more on their eager sense of odor than their beady little eyes to seek out their subsequent meal.
Merely forged into possible wanting water and await catfish to return to you. Catfish will chew all day long and all yr, however summertime fishing is usually greatest in decrease mild circumstances of early morning and then once more evening into the night time. When the weather turns cool within the fall, afternoon fishing appears to be greatest for catfish.
Trout Fishing at Prineville Reservoir
We’ve spent plenty of time speaking about bass and panfish fishing, however you need to know that Prineville Reservoir is usually a excellent destination if like the bulk of Oregonians, trout are your favorite gamefish.
ODFW stocks this reservoir with tens of hundreds of juvenile hatchery rainbow trout, and people fish (those that don’t get swallowed by huge bass) shortly develop into trout that are not only authorized however could be quite giant. Trout nicely into the teenagers are pretty attainable in these waters.
ODFW additionally typically stocks some already authorized trout into the combination.
Rainbow trout chew properly on pure baits reminiscent of nightcrawlers and ready baits similar to PowerBait. This strategy is usually the favorite strategy for bank anglers.
Boaters may have a better shot at these fish, particularly the extensively dispersed trout which have principally grown up right here. Often trolling lures, bait or a mixture of the two is an effective strategy to attempt to discover these fish, which in contrast to just lately stocked legals aren’t as concentrated.
Many trout are caught in the primary body of the lake. Additional weight or a downriver and flashers or gang trolls fished in deeper water could be your ticket through the slower summer time months.
While these rainbow trout are by far nearly all of the trout catch right here, some studies point out that there may be a comparatively small variety of cutthroat trout within the reservoir. There aren’t enough to focus on but maybe one will present up in your catch.
For some more particular particulars of how you can catch rainbow trout, read our article, Trout Fishing: Primary How-To Methods and Ideas.
Where to Fish at Prineville Reservoir
With 3,000 acres and plenty of coves and open water, Prineville Reservoir has no shortage of places to fish.
As with many places, a ship will enable you to succeed in fish nearly anyplace on this reservoir, which winds around for a very good 15 miles from the large Bowman Dam alongside Freeway 27 upstream to where the Crooked River flows in, virtually to Freeway 380 (Paulina Freeway) southeast of Prineville.
That stated, you possibly can catch any of Prineville Reservoir’s gamefish species from the bank as nicely.
Some spots to seek out good financial institution fishing access embrace the west end at the dam, the south aspect accessed from Salt Creek Street (especially at the top of the street), and on the north financial institution alongside the roads to the primary and Jasper Point areas of Prineville State Park. You also can reach the slender higher reservoir from an unimproved street branching off the Publish-Paulina Freeway and following the northeast aspect of the reservoir.
Boat anglers can get to all of these coves and numerous cowl the place bass and panfish lay in wait and those giant open waters the place you may rating trout.
You’ll be able to launch at an excellent ramps situated near the south finish of the dam at the Powder Home Cove day-use and both areas of the state park. Jasper Level is a pleasant spot for boats with small motors or paddles if you end up fishing the upper elements of the reservoir, with each in a single day and day-use entry. There’s also a mud ramp on the south aspect, off Salt Creek Street, for a extra secluded expertise.
Know that the reservoir additionally could be very in style for different water sports activities, together with power-boating, paddling and swimming. The higher reservoir past Jasper Level has lowered boating velocity limits so is usually the place to go for quiet fishing. If fishing the bigger primary reservoir, take into consideration starting early or fishing late to keep away from a few of the hubbub.
When to Fish at Prineville Reservoir
Prineville Reservoir is open all yr lengthy, and also you actually can catch plenty of fish any month of the yr.
But if we had to decide one time of yr to point out up at this high desert scorching spot, we’d select late spring, particularly in Might when the bass and crappie fishing tends to get actually good.
It might start just a little earlier, however by mid-Might you’ll be able to fairly properly determine that bass and crappie shall be aggressively biting within the shallow waters, when the water degree is usually near full (besides during heavy drought durations). This golden interval whereas these fish are spawning might proceed into early June.
Trout will still be lively in the cool water before dropping right into a summer time lull, and bullhead catfish are fairly agreeable a lot of the yr.
There’s typically a drop in success into June as bass and crappie enter a less-aggressive post-spawn interval. Warmwater typically then comes again to life fairly properly from late summer time into early fall.
Late September and thru October are typically another nice time to return right here. All species of fish are biting to placed on kilos before winter, the weather continues to be typically pleasant and admittedly there aren’t as many people round.
For trout, cooler climate is greatest, especially in the fall and spring months. Catfish will even be biting, but other warmwater fish get a bit harder.
Trout anglers may also fish Prineville by way of the winter, and the cooler durations additionally are typically financial institution anglers’ greatest probability to get into good numbers of trout right here. During good winter durations, anglers additionally launch boats and land respectable numbers of trout. And on fairly rare occasions, it’s chilly sufficient here for the reservoir to freeze over enough to make ice-fishing potential, with trout, crappie and maybe different species in the catch. Please be sure that circumstances are protected before venturing out onto ice.
Tenting at Prineville Reservoir
The two developed sections of the Prineville Reservoir State Park supply a lot of camping opportunities, with developed websites and facilities at each the Prineville Reservoir Campground near the middle of the lake and the Jasper Point Campground in the upper part. You can also camp in primative websites along the reservoir’s 34 miles of shoreline.
Many longtime anglers will probably be acquainted with the longtime Prineville Reservoir Resort for its availability of RV tenting, small motel, cafe, store, moorage amenities and boat rentals. Nevertheless, at our most recent update (2019), the house owners of the resort had closed it down. Information stories point out that Oregon State Parks is perhaps trying to take over administration of the location for public entry, nicely situated on Jasper Level. We hope to offer an update when obtainable.
Easy methods to Get to Prineville Reservoir
Prineville Reservoir is situated 16 miles south of the town of Prineville, or about 25 minutes driving mostly on Juniper Canyon Street.
Nearly all of individuals head to the state parks on the north aspect of the reservoir. Going by way of Prineville, it’s a bit of over an hour’s drive to the reservoir from Bend and a bit over three hours driving from the Portland, Salem and Eugene areas.
The Powder House Cove space close to the dam is the fastest place to succeed in on the reservoir from the Bend area, less than an hour’s drive by skipping Prineville and as an alternative heading east by way of the group of Alfalfa and then choosing up Freeway 27 to the reservoir. Or from Prineville head south on 27 past the dam slightly than using Juniper Canyon.
ODFW trout stocking schedule
ODFW weekly recreation report and regulation updates
ODFW annual fishing laws
Nationwide Weather Service forecasts
Find extra fishing spots in Criminal County