Even though Diamond Lake is now a year-round fishing destination, its faithful anglers will have to spend the fourth Saturday in April somewhere else.
Despite an early April warming trend that looked like it would have the lake nearly ice-free, recent cold weather has mucked things up at the high-mountain lake in eastern Douglas County. The lake is too frozen to launch boats but not frozen enough to safely walk on, so angling at what has become the Northwest's best trout lake is a short-term dud.
"There's probably a month's worth of ice on the lake, easy," says Rick Rockholt, who has spent the past 30 years working at Diamond Lake Resort. "Two weeks from now, we might get enough open water around the north ramp to get some boats out. But right now, you can't get a sinker to sink. It just goes 'boink.' "
For decades, Diamond Lake was open from late April through October. But the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission last fall opened it year round to give anglers more chances to take home more of the roughly 400,000 rainbows that populate the lake.
The lake already has the most generous trout limit in Oregon — 8 fish a day, but only one over 20 inches. Opening it to winter ice fishing was seen as a way to keep the trout population high but not so high as to threaten water quality.
The lake was popular this winter, with a dozen or so anglers on the ice daily and about 75 hitting their ice holes on weekends, Rockholt says.
Ice fishing halted in early April when warm weather thinned the ice and rendered it unsafe.
Just last week, anglers were eyeing the lake with hopes that enough open water at the lake's north end would start inviting boat anglers, Rockholt says. But cold fronts that clamped down on the region this past week put an end to that.
"We were maybe two days away from having boats on the water, but the melt absolutely stopped," he says. "It put the brakes on."
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.