Weather, Howard Prairie Lake welcome anglers

ASHLAND — Spring finally came to the top of the Dead Indian Plateau, just in time to break enough ice and melt enough snow at Howard Prairie Lake for anglers venturing there for today's opening of the spring trout-fishing season.

A combination of warmer days, afternoon winds and an ice-breaking barge at the Howard Prairie Resort has left the majority of the lake open to boating and fishing beginning today, the traditional opening day of angling here.

Anglers venturing to the High Cascades reservoir east of Ashland should find room to putter around the lake, which resort workers estimated Friday as 75 percent ice-free — the opposite of earlier this week.

"It's incredible," said Joel LeGrande, the resort's owner. "A mile and a half of ice just sunk."

But conditions have not improved at nearby Hyatt Lake, which is about 500 feet higher in elevation than its sister reservoir within the Talent Irrigation District system.

Hyatt remained ice-covered and unchanged from earlier this week, according to employees at the Mountain Resort at Hyatt Lake.

The same holds true at Diamond Lake, where visitors expect to cut holes in the ice to gain access to the rainbow trout there.

Howard, Hyatt and Diamond lakes are the three primary water bodies that open to trout fishing today after being closed since Halloween.

Jackson County parks officials hired a snow-plow operator to clear snow away from 30 campsites at Klum Landing Campground on Howard Prairie's southeast shore, but the boat ramp there remained unusable Friday, said Randy Hutton, the county parks' program manager.

Hutton stressed that it remained "snow-camping" conditions there.

"You can get your RVs in there, but once you step out of the door, you have snow to deal with," Hutton said.

Another 10 sites are open at Willow Point Campground, where the boat ramp was open and offering access to some near-shore open water, Hutton said.

With weather forecasts in the mid-60s today and Sunday without overnight freezing conditions, the lake could open even more by the end of the weekend, Hutton said.

"You never know what the ice is going to do," Hutton said. "It could all disappear."

LeGrande said the resort was still grappling with snow that has reduced parking areas, but "a couple dozen" campsites — including a few tent sites near the water — were open.

"We'll go as far as we can until morning arrives," LeGrande said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.

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