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'Trophy' trout spice up fishing at Diamond Lake

Trout fishing at Diamond Lake just got very good again Wednesday when another batch of trophy trout were stocked in the lake.

About 2,500 rainbow trout weighing about 2 pounds each were released at the Diamond Lake Resort boat ramp Wednesday to spice up fishing there for the Labor Day weekend.

The fish are all 14 to 16 inches long and were reared at the Desert Springs Trout Hatchery, a private hatchery contracted with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for some Diamond Lake stocking.

The trout were to be released in the late evening, giving them a chance to acclimate themselves to the lake. Catches should start rolling in at daylight todayas anglers start throwing everything from their tackle box at them.

— The key, lake anglers say, is to find where the schools of the fat trout will go.

If it's like usual, they'll congregate at the north end for two or three days, then start spreading out throughout the lake, says Chuck Clearman at the resort's marina, which is the hub of the lake's recreational activity.

Sometimes they stay right at the marina, other times they go to the Cheese hole or to the middle of the lake, Clearman says. Who knows where to go? That's why they call it fishing.

Diamond Lake was mired in water-quality problems throughout July, when toxic algae forced a closure to all swimming, wading and water-skiing. While fishing and boating were opened, anglers stayed away in droves.

The water problems stem from an outbreak of illegally introduced tui chubs. The 30 million chubs have altered the lake's ecology and caused a decline in trout fishing at the lake that once was Oregon's most popular and best trout lake.

The water is clear and safe now and all restrictions on water contact were lifted Aug. 12, says Rhonda Buxton of the Umpqua National Forest, on which Diamond Lake sits in eastern Douglas County.

The Labor Day weekend is the traditional end of the summer boating and lake-angling season, although the water remains open to fishing through October.

The Desert Springs trout are part of an aggressive effort to stock the lake with catchable trout and chinook salmon that can survive amid the chubs. Using funds provided by the Oregon Legislature, the state will stock 189,000 fish in the lake at a cost of &

36;184,000, making it Oregon's most expensive trout fishery.

As part of the stocking, 10,000 of the two-pound rainbows were released into the lake during May and June, Buxton says. Another 2,500 will be released on Sept. 16 to boost late-season catches, she says.

Most Labor Day weekend anglers can expect to catch these and other trout either still-fishing with PowerBait, but cooling water temperatures mean those trolling lures can start to expect success, Clearman says.

Most trollers likely will experiment with the lake's usual weapons of choice ' Triple Teasers, Wedding Rings and Rapala lures that look like the 3-inch chubs that dominate the lake, he says.

It'll be hard to say what the favorite lure will be, but we'll find out soon, Clearman says.

The daily limit is five trout over 8 inches long, but only one of those trout can be more than 20 inches long.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail