Before each fishing trip I always dream about catching fish. The anticipation energizes my preparations, and sleep is usually elusive. However, this week Mother Nature conspired with local weather conditions and seasonal influences to cause a sudden cooling down of water temperatures. This significantly impacted the high catch rates anglers enjoyed just days earlier. The quick and extreme air temperature drop into the single digits for higher elevation Oregon lakes foreshadowed winter’s icy grasp on Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range.
At an elevation of 6400 feet, East Lake air temperatures dropped for two days this week to a low of 17 degrees, F with a low temperature feel of 4 degrees. This sudden temperature drop quickly cooled the water. Anglers who enjoyed good fishing just prior to the cold front now found trout reluctant to bite.
I caught a few trout with my Black Grizzly Bug mid-day. However, the day was characterized by few strikes and short takes with soft hook ups. Brown trout were spawning, and I spotted the occasional spawning brown trout 40 – 60 feet from shoreline. An angler reported he caught a few small spawning browns close to the shoreline near East Lake Campground.
The sudden water temperature drop also impacted the bite at Paulina Lake. Last week, anglers reported they enjoyed hooking a dozen trout using bugger patterns. This week they now struggled to get a strike, receiving only a few light hook ups and landing even a fewer fish. Pods of brown trout were easily spooked in the crystal-clear water. I observed spawned brown trout females staging 40-50 feet from the shoreline, but they were focused on spawning and showed no interest in feeding.
In previous years I have enjoyed late afternoon fishing in October landing big browns and rainbows along the shoreline of Little Crater Campground. This week, the water level is so low that only a few inches of water remain over the shelf lining the shoreline requiring anglers to fish beyond where the shelf drops off. I did not find any males close to shoreline in the afternoon. Perhaps they came in later in the evening as I was trying to thaw out under layers of blankets hoping to feel my feet again.
The 39-degree water temperature along the shoreline at 9 a.m. provided a bracing new meaning to fall fishing. The previous two weeks I enjoyed water temperatures at 58 degrees at lake elevations of 4500 feet.
This sudden drop in water temperatures made me yearn for a boat that didn’t require my legs in the water. By noon, I was no longer able to feel my body parts, so I decided it was time to wind my way back home.
Anglers report I missed the bite by just 15 minutes. The bite started at 12:30pm and lasted for approximately an hour. Like Paulina and East Lakes, fishing had been excellent at Diamond Lake up until the drop in temperatures.
In past years I have done well at Diamond Lake in late October and November. Once trout have had time to adjust to the cooler water temperatures, I anticipate fishing will again be good.
Fishing remains strong with good catch rates along the west and south shore. Anglers report success using my Predator Bugger patterns. I will be heading back to Pronghorn the first weekend in November. Click here for more info. Call or email me if you would like to join me.
Over the years I have experienced the effects of sudden cooling water temperatures on trout feeding behavior. They will often go off the bite – as they did this week at East, Paulina, and Diamond Lake – until they have had time to adjust to the cooler water conditions. In addition, trout have adjusted their feeding time on high altitude lakes to midday or early afternoon after the water warms up.
A few weeks of fishing remain until the wintery conditions over the Oregon Cascades make travel challenging and lakes begin to freeze. Take advantage of the remaining sunny days as these lakes still hold promise of good fishing until we must shift our fishing locations to lakes at lower elevations.
Click here to print this article:
Copyright © 2020 Stillwater Adventures, all rights reserved,