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Expect lots of Garrison Lake trout action

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis,
henever the southern Oregon and northern California coast gets hammered by relentless storms and buckets of rain day after day, a person starts to wonder if it will ever end. But as I sit here writing this column, I am looking at a trout schedule for Garrison Lake and remembering the fun I had on this particular waterbody last year, and as soon as these storms start abating, I'm loading up my trout gear and heading for Garrison - so should you!

Just last week, March 7 - 11, ODFW planted 200 trophy rainbow trout, and the trout liberations are going to keep on coming this month and through April.

"And there's another 200 trophies going in the week of March 21," said Todd Confer, district fisheries biologist on Thursday. "Another 200 trophies are going in the week of April 4, and another 200 trophies are going in on the week of 4-18."

Larry Ellis with Garrison Lake trout, Photo by Larry Ellis
Trout even larger than this 3-pound 1-ouncer that the author is holding are going to be stocked into Garrison Lake within the next few weeks. Photo courtesy of Larry Ellis

The aforementioned trophy trout should be in excess of 1 pound apiece and those fish are at least 3 times bigger than the legal-size fish that gets stocked into the lake. But there are some really big buoys and gulls that are going to be dumped into Garrison even sooner.

"There are 300 trophies that are from Elk River that are 2 pounds or larger that will be going into Garrison Lake on Monday, March 14," noted Confer.

"In fact they could be as big as 4 pounds. We've been rearing those fish for about a year and a half," adds Confer.

That's next week to be exact. So get ready to have some fun with ultra-light tackle and 2-pound test.

But ODFW has even more plans for Garrison.

This coming week ODFW has plans on liberating 4,850 legal-size trout into the lake that are at between 8- and 10-inches long. And the week of April 11, Garrison is going to get another load of approximately 3,000 legal-size 'bows.

"And there are also some native cutthroat that are in there as well," noted Confer. "Those fish are pretty nice fish too - up to about 18 inches in length."

Garrison is one of Oregon's premier lakes to catch holdover rainbows.

"There's also some trophies from last year that over-wintered," noted Confer.

Those fish could be anywhere from 3/4 to a pound and a half or even larger.

Confer also said that ODFW put in between 40 or 50 adult steelhead in the lake, which were hatchery steelhead that came back to the ladder at Elk River Hatchery.

As far as techniques go, Garrison is really a boater's lake, and the best piece of equipment you can own here is a very good motor because when the winds kick up from the south or from the west, they can blow you from one end of the lake to the other. So you definitely want something that is very dependable.

Basically you want to look for areas in the lake that are deeper than 10 feet because aquatic plants like Hydrilla, Milfoil, Elodea, and Parrots feather tend not to grow in depths of 10 feet or greater. Find a mildly-sloping area that is between 11- and 12 feet-deep and you've hit the jackpot. There are no weeds in these areas. When you do find a location like this, drop anchor and proceed to use your favorite fishing technique, whether it involves using lures or bait.

Garrison used to be known as a pretty good bass-fishing lake in years' past, but a saltwater intrusion back in 1997 pretty much killed all the vegetation as well as most of the bass. But Confer says that things are looking up for warmwater aficionados.

"There was interest by some constituents to put bass back in the lake, and over the last five years we have put between 700 and 800 bass between 8 and

12 inches into Garrison," Confer noted. "And they are reproducing. When we electro-fished last spring we did collect a few 5- and 6-pound bass."

ODFW's next project is to stock more bluegill into the lake that will provide a forage base for juvenile and adult bass.

So if you're feeling down in the dumps, don't carp and complain - bass and be happy! Or at the very least - trout and be exhilarated!

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon

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