Best Fishing In Sunriver

With world class fishing out your back door, there’s no time to waste. Book your short-term vacation rental and head outside to these exclusive hidden gems.

Tyler Mason once watched two friends pull 20 fish out of the water on a Saturday-morning fly fishing trip that he led to the Crane Prairie Reservoir. He said that the size and variety of their catch — a mixture of rainbow trout, brown trout, and prized Kokanee salmon — easily make the reservoir one of the best fly fishing spots in Sunriver.

“Some days are better,” said Mason, who runs a guide service for the Stillwater Fly Shop, which is off Enterprise Road in Sunriver. “Some are not.”
Having a guide like Mason show you Sunriver’s best fly fishing spots could make any angler’s vacation to Central Oregon a success. Having a nice place to stay is also key for a successful vacation, which is why you should book your short-term vacation rental from Cascara Vacation Rentals today. That way, you’ll be rested and ready to head outside and explore these hidden gems.

Best Fly Fishing Spots in Sunriver: The Lakes
The Crane Prairie Reservoir is one of three lakes that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation created as part of its Deschutes River Project. This massive federal undertaking, which ran from 1937 to 1968, also built the Wickiup Reservoir and Madras’ Haystack Reservoir in an attempt to store more than 250,000 acre feet of water and send it to Central Oregon’s farmers.

The Crane Prairie Reservoir’s depth, which reaches up to 20 feet in some places, and its proximity to the cold, melting snow that flows into Lava Lake at the source of the Deschutes River have made it a place where rainbow trout can truly thrive. These black-speckled, blue-green fish grow about two inches per month during the summer and will typically reach weights of four to 10 pounds as an adult.

The Wickiup Reservoir’s reputation as being a spectacular location for catching brown trout has made it one of the best fly fishing spots in Sunriver. While these long and narrow reddish-brown fish typically weigh five to eight pounds when pulled out of the reservoir’s water, there are stories of monster brown trout that have weighed in at 20 pounds or more. Salem resident Larry Marecek once caught a 26-pound brown trout on the reservoir’s  opening day in 1998, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s website.

However, Mason gets a bit more excited when his clients catch one of the rarer species of fish that occupy Sunriver’s best fly fishing spots. These include the dark green brook trout, which can grow to be 10 to 25 inches long; the mountain whitefish, which has been seen at lengths of up to 26 inches; and the bright red Kokanee salmon, which is a landlocked species of salmon that can grow to be 12 inches long.

“When you see people catch them,” Mason said of the Kokanee. “It really makes their day.”

Best Fly Fishing Spots in Sunriver: The Rivers and Small Streams

Mason also likes to take his clients on walk-and-wade fly fishing trips to parts of the Upper Deschutes River, the Fall River, and the Crooked River out near Prineville. Unfortunately, all three of these tributaries have suffered from low stream volumes caused by recent drought-like conditions and an increased demand for irrigation water from the region’s farmers.

They’ve also been flooded by a horde of brand-new outdoor enthusiasts who’ve been turning to Central Oregon’s byways, trails, rivers, and streams as places to find respite from last year’s pandemic lockdowns. Mason said that there are only so many world-class fly fishing spots on these three rivers, and they’ve all been filling up fast this summer.

Regardless of where you choose to fish on your next vacation to Sunriver, it's important to keep the following things in mind if you want a successful trip:

  • Bring the right equipment: Some of the places on Mason’s list are reserved for fly fishing only. You’ll need to bring a fly rod, a reel, and a collection of flies that match the insects that you might see fluttering over the water’s service in the early morning and late afternoon. It’s also important to bring and wear a life jacket on your trip. The lakes are deep, and the rivers can have a surprisingly fast and strong current.
  • Don’t forget the small stuff: Not having sunscreen when you set out on a Saturday morning trip to the Crane Prairie Reservoir won’t immediately ruin your adventure. But the brutal sunburn that you could get from spending five hours in the middle of an unshaded lake that has a surface elevation of 4,450 feet will definitely tarnish your memory.
  • Get a license: A basic one-day angling license costs $23 for Oregon residents and non-residents when purchased through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Getting caught fishing without one will easily cost you twice as much.

As with any outdoor adventure, don’t forget to round out your fly fishing trip with a celebratory beer from Sunriver Brewing or a nice lunch/dinner at one of the best places to eat outside in Sunriver. These post-outdoor adventures could really spruce up your next vacation to Central Oregon. They’re almost as important as having a nice place to stay while you’re here, which is why you should check out Cascara Vacation Rentals’ selection of short-term rental properties today.