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Crane Prairie - Land of Lunkers

Of the many amazing and productive stillwater fisheries here in Central Oregon that are fly fishing-friendly, perhaps none is more iconic than Crane Prairie Reservoir. There are several reasons for this. One is that it is set in a spectacularly beautiful spot, surrounded by old growth pine and towering snow-capped volcanoes. Another is the thousands of dead trees still standing in the shallow water, some reaching thirty or forty feet above the surface; hunting platforms for bald eagle and osprey, or covered in brilliantly colored damselflies.

Then there are the fish! To go fly fishing on Crane Prairie is to pursue tremendous trout. There are average fish in the lake, and then there are the BIG ones. On any given day at Crane Prairie, you might hook the largest trout of your life. This is what has created the almost mythological reputation Crane holds, and when you actually do connect with one of these fish, you will completely understand. Just don’t forget to have a look around from time to time. The beauty is everywhere and massive. At Fly & Field Outfitters, all of our guides have been fishing these waters for years and we can always give you the local secrets and hacks to ensure a productive day on the water. Call us at 1-866-800-2812 for more information.

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The Inside Scoop

The stats on Crane Prairie Reservoir are a surface area of 3400 acres with an average depth of only 15 feet, at 4,450 feet of elevation. It is the first proper reservoir on the Deschutes River. Crane has several spring-fed channels where once small creeks fed the Deschutes. These channels are now where the fish congregate during the summer when the rest of the lake gets too warm.

The predominant food sources are damsels, callibaetis, chironomids, leeches, caddis, and ants. These are well-fed fish to be sure. Because there are so many varieties of food, there are several ways to approach the lake with a fly rod on any given day. That’s where Fly and Field Outfitters comes in. Crane Prairie is not a lake to approach “blindly”. You must have some flotation, and at first glance, she gives up no secrets. The channels are unseen until you row or motor over them and the fish can be awfully spooky. The bugs need to be just right and fished the correct way in productive water. But fear not! If you have some stillwater experience, we will show you the right flies and gear to accomplish your goals.

If you want to get out there and be put on fish with the right rigs, and cut the learning curve in half, let us take you on a guided trip to this very special fishery. It will be a day you won’t soon forget. Our lake guides are the best in the business and have spent decades learning every seasonal detail of how lakes like Crane Prairie work. Call us today at 1-866-800-2812 to speak with our trusty local guides and get all of the fly fishing information you need about Crane Prairie Reservoir.

FAQ’s About Crane Prairie Fly Fishing

We really like the damselfly hatch, which can come off any time from late-June into July. The migration of these bright bugs sends the fish into a frenzy. To watch a five-pound trout “shark” in behind your fly, which is only a few inches under the surface, is as adrenalin provoking as any experience you’re likely to have with a fly rod in your hands. Much of the season is spent “hunting” heads in fairly shallow water along the banks or back in the creek channels. This is exciting “sight fishing” for extra large, crazy strong fish. We also spend some time “chirono-bobber” fishing the channels, which can be really effective, especially if there’s a little wind chop.
We’d recommend your favorite 5wt for most applications out there, that will generally get the job done. Many of us have been broken off by big "CraneBows" even on 4X tippet and a fairly soft rod. The big ones are just insanely powerful. The stiff rod, while maybe able to steer fish out of reeds, most likely won’t protect tippet material as well as something softer. It is an age-old conundrum for sure!
Flotation! Simple as that. Nothing to float in, no fishing out there. Good news is that many people get after it on Crane with a float tube or pontoon boat. From the ramps, you rarely need to go far. Having said that, a lake boat will get you to areas few folks can reach. And that’s a good thing.
Damselflies are awesome. That hatch can move early or late based on water temps and weather patterns. There are a ton of chironomids out there as well as callibaetis mayflies. We don’t often see free rising fish up, perhaps a legacy of the bald eagle that hunt the lake relentlessly throughout the summer. But there are days when cruising fish sip baetis. The dry-dropper is very effective most days the baetis are coming off. And that will happen most of the summer once we’re into the long days of June.
Crane has a season running from April 22 until October 31. All wild rainbow trout, recognized by having an adipose fin, must be released. Otherwise, it’s wide open. The wild fish are typically found along the shoreline and amongst the dead trees, whereas the hatchery fish tend to pod-up in the channels and “bucket” areas.
Not if you have a boat and some stillwater techniques at the ready. The lake can be really productive on occasion or the hatchery fish when you find them. To go after the big, wild ones takes a little more local know-how. So if you’re interested in chasing the large ones, get a guide for the day. You’ll be glad you did.

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If you want to learn some of the insider secrets for fly fishing at Crane Prairie Reservoir, check out the latest Oregon fishing reports or schedule a guided fly-fishing trip with some of the best local fly fishing guides in Central Oregon. Fly & Field Outfitters is conveniently located on the west side of Bend, Oregon right on the way to the Cascade Lakes which is home to some of the best fly fishing in the area.

Directions to Crane Prairie