Oregon Fish and Wildlife lift all bag and size limits and gear restrictions through November

PMG PHOTO: KIVA HANSON - The North Unit Irrigation district plans to drain Haystack Reservoir to dead pool by mid November to fix an emergency gate. Between now and the end of November anglers on the reservoir are allowed to catch as much fish as they want, no matter what size, with no gear restrictions.

The North Unit Irrigation District plans to drain Haystack Reservoir down to dead pool by the middle of November. At dead pool, the water level in the reservoir southeast of Madras will drop so low it can't flow downstream.

The district needs to empty the reservoir in order to repair the emergency gate at the reservoir. In anticipation of the drawdown, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has lifted all gamefish limits and gear restrictions for anglers on the Haystack Reservoir from Sept. 16 through Nov. 30. ODFW has lifted all size limits and daily bag limits for all species of fish.

NUID has had difficulty opening and closing this gate over the past couple of years. The situation caused water leakage, and presents concerns the district would not be able to fully open the gate quickly enough in case of emergency. Bureau of Reclamation engineers have not been able to diagnose the issue with water stored in the reservoir. The NUID board plans to shut off irrigation to its patron Oct. 14.

"In a perfect world, Haystack will be empty Oct. 14," said NUID General Manager Josh Bailey. "However, if that does not happen, the plan is to evenly distribute the water to patrons until Haystack reaches dead pool." Bailey expects water will fully drain from Haystack reservoir by mid-November, and BOR mechanical engineers plan to be onsite beginning in mid-November. NUID plans to start refilling the reservoir in January if BOR engineers have completed repairs by then, and if conditions allow for refilling. If the Deschutes River doesn't have enough flow to fully refill Haystack this winter, NUID hopes to completely refill the reservoir during spring flows.

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