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Wickiup Reservoir - Hunting Big Fish

Wickiup Reservoir is located about an hour’s drive south from Fly & Field Outfitters here in Bend, Oregon and offers some rare opportunities for fly fishing. This is a large holding water, the last major dam on the Deschutes River for approximately 75 river miles to Lake Billy Chinook. This lake is perhaps best known for the size of some of its trout. There are both brown and rainbow trout roaming around that are as long as your arm and bigger around.

There are also tons of Kokanee, the local landlocked salmon. They swim around in schools most of the summer and then begin a dramatic spawning ritual every fall in the Deschutes arm of the lake. We can go out there most days of the season and utilize various techniques and rigs to target specific fish in certain areas.

Everything from dry and dry-dropper rigs to large streamers quickly stripped on fast-sinking lines can work on any given day. Wickiup is a large, challenging body of water, but the knowledgeable stillwater angler with a flotation device has a chance for some big fish.

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The Inside Scoop

The water stored in Wickiup Reservoir is for irrigation use and so the levels vary dramatically throughout the season, which runs from April 22nd until October 31st. There are some particular regulations on certain arms of the lake as well as the other Cascade Lakes and so be sure to check your ODFW book before heading out, or just call the shop at 1-866-800-2812.

For a lake with such large level changes, Wickiup Reservoir actually hosts an amazing population of trout and Kokanee. Both rainbow and brown trout roam its main body and the long channel arms. The Kokanee swarm throughout the lake before making spectacular spawning migrations into the river branches. But the trout are really the “show” when fly fishing at Wickiup Reservoir.

All it takes is one of these extra large fish to tip its head to you Callibaetis Cripple or savagely strike your streamer and you will understand why this lake has become an addictive force in so many lives! The huge, beautifully marked and ridiculously healthy brown trout get most active when the Kokanee and whitefish begin their spawn late in the summer.

We fish for the big browns from boats or pontoons with 6 and 7wt rods, throwing type 6 sinking lines with huge streamers. The fishing is physical, exciting, and fun! The average fish will push twenty inches and the big ones will go eight pounds and up.

FAQ’s About Wickiup Reservoir Fly Fishing

From the opener in April till the lake closes for the season, there are many great possibilities out there. The early-season leeching can be awesome. Once the callibaetis start hatching we spend most of our time looing for fish actively feeding on the mayfly. We target them with dries and dry-dropper rigs usually along banks and weed beds. Later in the season, as the level really drops down we’ll chase the fish into the lake arms and work big streamers on sinking lines. The brown trout get especially voracious and will crush the properly fished streamer.
If you had to pick one rod, it would be a stout 9’6” 6wt. We can get by with a good 5wt when fishing the dry fly but once you start targeting the browns, you’ll need something with more backbone.
Whatever line you can cast the farthest! As with most lakes, covering water is crucial. We all love the Rio Gold and Grand lines for their sophisticated tapers and readiness to shoot at a target. For streamer fishing the Type 6 full-sinking line is best. We use that line with a very short, very stout leader to large, baitfish imitation flies.
A boat!! The lake is so dynamic and large that getting from one arm to another quickly can be the difference between catching and not catching. Having said that, if you know where to launch, you can certainly have a decent chance from a pontoon or raft. But once we’re into the summer months the lake can drop a foot a day. Knowing where to be based on the lake level is huge. Aside from flotation, knowing what the fish are keyed in on and having the right gear is critical. There are weeks at a time when fishing chironomids under an indicator is the most effect method so having a good supply of the big lake midge is important. But on any of those days, there could be a good baetis hatch and you’ll want your flies for that too. Depending on which rig, you’ll need nylon tippet from 4-6X and fluoro in 4&5X. Just call the shop and we’ll let you know what to expect based on when you’ll be out there.
We can be out there within an hour most days. It’s a wonderful drive up into the pine-covered mountains south of town. There are several ramps for boats and even more spots to launch a pontoon.
Well…. If you’re not a really experienced stillwater angler, we sure would recommend it! As described above, this is a challenging fishery based on its size and how quickly conditions can change. We love it for the sheer size of the fish and the “hunt” required to find them. Hopefully you feel the same way if you’re planning on checking it out. For more info on our half and full day Cascade Lakes Guided trips, call the shop at 1-866-800-2812.

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Wickiup Reservoir Fly Fishing Reports

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We’re Here to Help

It’s all about finding the fish at Wickiup Reservoir, and that’s where we come in! All of the professional Oregon fishing guides at Fly & Field are happy to offer the latest intel on what’s working and where to try it. Or better yet, let one of our lake specialist guides take you out on a purpose-built boat for a guided trip and really get after it!

Fly & Field Outfitters here in Bend, Oregon has lake guides that are the most dedicated in the business, focusing exclusively on our local still waters. As you probably know, figuring out big lakes can take a lifetime. Between our guides there are several lifetimes of experience – it’s why we’re here and it’s what we love to do. If you are interested in scheduling a fly-fishing trip at Wickiup Reservoir or the nearby Deschutes River, call us at 1-866-800-2812, or email info@flyandfield.com.

Directions to Wickiup Reservoir