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MailTribune.com
  • Year-round ice fishing limited to a few lakes

  • Looking at your weekly fishing report, I see ice-fishing reports for several of the High Cascades lakes but none for Hyatt or Howard Prairie lakes. Didn't they used to be open to ice fishing but closed because of too many drownings?
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  • Looking at your weekly fishing report, I see ice-fishing reports for several of the High Cascades lakes but none for Hyatt or Howard Prairie lakes. Didn't they used to be open to ice fishing but closed because of too many drownings?
    — David, email submission
    The two lakes atop the Dead Indian Plateau did have a short and tragic flirtation with winter ice fishing, but they weren't closed to ice fishing because of that tragedy, David.
    The lakes tend to freeze every year, but the ice thickness varies and is sometimes unsafe, so historically the lakes were not open in winter.
    Mail Tribune archives show that pressure from anglers led officials to open the lakes to year-round fishing in 1982, which allowed them to pull rainbow trout through holes drilled in the ice.
    In February 1987, tragedy struck at Howard Prairie when two men drowned and a 10-year-old boy escaped after their all-terrain vehicles fell through thin ice. Later that year, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to return the lake to the fishing cycle it currently has ­— open from the fourth Saturday in April through Oct. 31.
    A Mail Tribune article about those drownings quoted an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist as saying he had heard of numerous cases of people falling through thin ice, but previously they had managed to scramble to safety.
    Records show the impetus for the change back was a decline in the lake's overall trout fishing, leading summer anglers to complain that year-round fishing hurt their catches.
    The commission sided with the summer anglers over the ice-fishers, who now go to Diamond Lake, Fish Lake and Lake of the Woods.
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