are not talking about elk here but Bull Trout, Salvelinus
confluentus, a close cousin to the Dolly Varden. They
are actually in the char family and are not true trout.
Central Oregon is blessed with one of the thriving fisheries
that exist in the lower 48 states. I think Montana has one
or two lakes that have sustainable populations, but that
We normally relate to them as "endangered species,"
but at Lake Billy Chinook, outside of Culver, Or. they are
far from it. In fact their numbers are so great that they
have been suspected of decimating the kokanee population
to some degree. That is arguable and we won't get into that
Fishing for them is pretty much a fall to spring proposition.
They can still be had in the summer but due to the summer
traffic from water skiers, jet skis, wake boarders, house
boats and just plain old high powered ski boats, I wouldn't
waste my time. They are too accessible from Oct. through
May to fight the crowds during the summer.
like to troll for them, but casting to fish works well at
times, also. One of my favorite drills is working under
the kokanee schools with downriggers during the fall and
winter. We have landed a lot of nice bulls over 10 Lb. using
this technique. I pull kokanee "look-a-likes"
from 4-9 in. long. The list includes A/C plugs, Yozuri TX
minnows, Bomber B-16's, Flatfish, Quickfish and one of my
favorites, the Lymans.
I run 50 to 150 foot setbacks depending on the lure and
the depth. It is not uncommon to land 8-12 bulls on a good
day. Normally these fish run at least 4 Lb. and often reach
up into the teens. They have to be 24 in. to keep one if
you so desire. They are not at the top of my list for table
fare, but they are not bad when smoked. I usually release
about 99% of them but occasionally we keep one to eat or
the winter months, the lake is at its best in my opinion.
The cooler temps end the algae blooms and bring the bulls
back into play at the top of the water column as well. With
the closing of the Metolius Arm at the end of Oct., we spend
most of the time working the Crooked River Arm and then
the Deschutes Arm to a lesser degree. It is not uncommon
to see herds of mule deer along the cliffs. The lake is
also one of the birders favorite viewing areas for bald
and golden eagles.
So, if you are tired of your easy chair and want to get
out, think about a trip for bull trout this winter. Kokanee
are also available and quite accessible this time of year.