If you’ve heard about catching big trout in Central Oregon you were probably hearing about Crane Prairie Reservoir. Over the last 50 years Crane has produced more big trout than any other body of water in the region. It also is the home to an abundant largemouth bass population that was illegally introduced around 1980. Rainbow trout can grow up to 2 inches a month here during the summer and have tipped the scales to 19 pounds. Brook trout also thrive with fish being recorded up to 7 pounds. A small population of land-locked sockeye salmon (Kokanee) exist as well as a nuisance population of bluegill and crappie which are a threat to the trout fishery. So if you happen to catch crappie or bluegill “keep” them.
Crane Prairie Reservoir is the result of the damming of the upper Deschutes River in 1928. Trees were left standing over the 5 square miles of the reservoir while it was filled creating an extremely rich environment for insects and provides plentiful cover for the fish that reside here. The Deschutes, Cultus and Quinn rivers feed the reservoir and their channels work as a highway system for big fish especially in late summer.
In early season big fish are scattered about the reservoir and are harder to locate. But during late summer the warmer water temperatures drive the large trout to the bottom of the 3 river channels making them easier to find and catch. This is usually accomplished by locating a channel with a depth finder, anchoring to the side and dangling chironomids under a strike indicator just above the substrate of the channel. However other methods of stripping leach patterns early in the season are also deadly ways to hook these monster Cranebows… With a maximum depth of just 15 feet and lots of sub surface obstacles, the reservoir is a bit tricky to maneuver with a boat. Unless you are very familiar with the geography of Crane, this body of water is best fished with a guide at first. Pay close attention when you do. Learning these waters will reward you with a lifetime of explosive big trout action that you will want to return to year after year.