Trophy Trout Guide




Quality bull troutWe 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 is it.

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 right now.

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.

Nice buck bull troutI 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 mount.

Fat 11 pounderDuring 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.


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