Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Crooked River Oregon
The Crooked River is considered by many to be as good of a trout stream as Oregon has to
offer. It forms in the Ochoco Mountains and runs through the Oregon High Desert country to
the Deschutes River. The stream has plenty of aquatic insects that hatch just about every
month of the year as well as plenty of scuds for the trout to eat. It produces some round,
healthy, redband rainbows that fight as hard as any. The average size is about eight to twelve
inches but there are as many as 3000 fish per mile of water in some areas of the tailwater.
The six or seven mile stretch of the river below Bowman Dam is considered the best water. The
tailwater comes from Prineville Reservoir. The best fishing is in the Fall and Winter. From the
first of January on to the forth Friday in May, this section of the river is catch and release only
and files and lures only. November 1 to December 31 is also catch and release only.
Something quite different about the river than most others is that it is often best to wade down
the center of the river and fish the weed beds and banks on both sides. The Crooked River
also has some good stretches of pocket water. Most anglers prefer nymph fishing. One reason
is that much of the trout's food comes from scuds and freshwater shrimp. The fish tend to feed
on the bottom far more than the surface on hatching insects. Don't be surprised if you catch a
mountain whitefish. The river also has plenty of these gamefish.
Highway #27 follows along the river for about a seven mile stretch below Bowman Dam. It
provides easy access. The river can become quite busy with anglers especially on he
weekends. There are usually less anglers during the winter months which is yet another good
reason to fish during the winter. The fishing often requires fishing with hook size 20 and 22
midge imitations and not all anglers enjoy this type of fishing. It is rather exciting to hook a
good size redside on a 7X tippet.
Not all the fishing is done on midges, nymphs and scud imitations. There's also plenty of
aquatic insect hatches and times you can catch plenty of trout on a dry fly. You will need to
follow the hatches and not waste a lot of time fishing a dry fly when there isn't a hatch
underway. Specific imitations work much better than the generics and attractors on this stream.
Crooked River, Oregon
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Photo Courtesy of
Note: This image taken downstream of the canyon area