ODFW closes fishing on Crooked River and Ochoco Creek as water levels drop

September 23, 2022
ODFW closes fishing on Crooked River and Ochoco Creek as water levels drop

Low water levels in streams and waterways have prompted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to temporarily halt fishing in the Crooked River and Ochoco Creek. The fishing closure is scheduled to begin Saturday and last until at least Oct. 31.

This year the irrigation season is ending several weeks earlier than usual due to low water levels in Prineville Reservoir. These levels forced dam regulators last week to reduce the flow out of Bowman Dam to 10 cubic feet per second. Following the reduction, river levels diminished to dangerously low levels for fish, with the stream below Bowman Dam now reduced to shallow pools with very limited water flowing into them.

Fish will concentrate in the remaining pools and face increased competition for food as well as being more vulnerable to predators, ODFW said in a news release. Flows are expected to increase to 50 cfs in early November.

“While the closure will help protect fish congregating in the limited waters available, ODFW still anticipates a reduction in the size of these fish populations due to the low flows,” said ODFW fish biologist Jerry George.

"These populations can rebound relatively quickly if conditions improve, but that will require a lot more rain and snow than we have been seeing in recent years,” he said.

Current stream-flow conditions have been caused by “several years of persistent drought,” according to ODFW. Agriculture in Crook County is another factor, as irrigators divert water to raise livestock and grow alfalfa and other crops.

The exact regulation is as follows: from Sept. 24 through Oct. 31, fishing is closed:

  • On the Crooked River from the U.S. Highway 97 Bridge (near Terrebonne) upstream to Bowman Dam.
  • On Ochoco Creek from the mouth at the confluence with the Crooked River upstream to Ochoco Dam.
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