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Explosive angling

Headin' Outdoors with Scott Staats


by: SCOTT STAATS - Visitors look over Paulina Lake (left) and East Lake with a big obsidian flow below.Looking down on the two pristine lakes from the parking lot atop 8,000-foot high Paulina Peak, it becomes easier to understand the area’s geologic history. Like their more popular cousin Crater Lake to the south, these two lakes share a similar birth.

Volcanic eruptions caused the mountain to collapse, creating a crater, which later filled with water. In this case, further eruptions separated the one lake into two — Paulina Lake and East Lake.

The spectacular scenery inside this ancient volcano is enough to draw any visitor, but for avid anglers, there’s an added bonus — trophy-class brown trout as well as rainbows, Atlantic salmon and kokanee.

Paulina and East lakes are located in Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Newberry Volcano is one of the largest shield volcanoes in the lower 48 states. Paulina Lake holds the state record for brown trout at 28 pounds, 5 ounces, which measured 37 1/2 inches long.

The lake once held the state record for kokanee for many years at 4 pounds, 2 ounces until it was broken at Wallowa Lake in northeastern Oregon, with a fish that weighed 6 1/2 pounds.

“Paulina Lake and East Lake have a quality population of fish, and the scenery is second to none,” said John Hofferd, who has been fishing at both lakes for over 50 years.

In 1998, Hofferd caught the third largest brown to come out of Paulina Lake at 24 pounds and believes there are browns in both lakes over 40 pounds and possibly even 50 or 60 pounds. His best catch at East Lake weighed 16 pounds, 2 ounces. The record brown from East Lake weighed 22 1/2 pounds.

Hofferd predicts the next state record will come during the summer months. He prefers July, August and into mid-September when the fish are getting ready to spawn and feed heavily before winter.

by: SCOTT STAATS - John Garrison shows off a kokanee caught in Paulina Lake. Paulina Peak is in the background. He said the use of downriggers in conjunction with lures is critical in catching trophy browns in the summer.

In 1965, a 35-pound, 8-ounce brown was netted at the lake. An angler hooked it earlier but the monster brown broke the line and it wallowed up on shore later, not an official state record.

“Newberry is a must-see area with a great trout fishery,” said John Garrison, owner of Garrison’s Guide Service in Sunriver. “It’s well worth the effort to visit these two scenic lakes.”

Garrison, who has guided the high lakes for over 25 years, prefers flat-line trolling for browns just off the shore. The bottom drops off quickly only a few feet from the bank with a shallow ledge near shore around most of the lake.

He has seen large browns prowling these ledges and makes sure he has a spinning rod handy for some quick casting.

When a brown does hit while trolling, there’s no need to set the hook; the fish will do that on its own.

by: SCOTT STAATS - A kokanee, landed with a fly rod.The important thing, Garrison said, is to keep the line tight. You also don’t want to bring the fish in too fast; it needs to be tired when it gets to the boat or it could break the line.

The other main fishery at Paulina is kokanee. For a change of pace from trolling for browns, locate a school of kokanee on the fish finder, or simply look for a large group of boats, and jig for the tasty fish.

Both lakes also have rainbows that average 10-14 inches. Casting spinners such as Rooster Tails or using Power Bait near the shoreline works well for rainbows.

More fly fishing is done at East Lake and many anglers have taken large brown trout in the shallower water on the south shore.

“The fishing at East Lake is as good as it has been any time in the past,” said Fred Foisset, owner of Cascade Guides and Outfitters and the Hook Fly Shop in Sunriver.

“It’s consistently reliable from the middle of June through the middle of September.” If you’re a fly angler, you should target water under 30 feet deep, mainly along the south and east shores.

Foisset and his guides specialize in fly fishing on the high lakes and spend a lot of time at East Lake. This time of year they are catching a lot of kokanee on Callibaetis nymphs.

Foisset leads a lot of family-type outings and usually doesn’t target large fish. However, he said a few of his guides have gone to the lake on their own and caught some 8- and 9-pound brown trout.

On my last fly-fishing outing with Foisset, I even managed an East Lake Grand Slam — catching Atlantic salmon, kokanee, rainbows and browns. It was the first time I’ve ever caught kokanee on a fly rod.

We watched a great Callibaetis hatch in progress. They came to the surface, lingered a few seconds and took off into the air. Many fish rose right at the side of the boat, taking the flies before they could leave the surface. The Callibaetis hatch usually lasts from about 10:00 in the morning until 2:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon.

“East Lake is a great family fishery and a good place to take beginning fly fishers,” Foisset said. It can produce nonstop action, he added.

“The lake is wide open for whatever you want to do. You can throw dry flies or nymphs or go after the bigger fish with streamers.”

He uses mostly Callibaetis nymphs and emergers. Woolly Buggers in green and rust-colored are also popular. A Parachute Adams is an effective dry fly here as well.

East Lake Resort reports that fishing has been very good, with many limits being caught.

Large brown trout over 10 pounds are often caught on 6 1/2-inch Rainbow Trout Trophy Sticks, which can be purchased at the resort.



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