Warmwater Fish

  • Before the late 1800s, the only resident freshwater fish living in the Northwest were trout, salmon, char, whitefish, burbot, Pikeminnow, suckers and smaller fish generally unimportant to anglers. Many of the immigrants to the Northwest longed for more-familiar species they had caught in their midwestern, eastern, southern, and European homelands, so a widespread movement of transporting the familiar species to the West Coast occurred.
  • Habitat influences the species and numbers of fish found in a waterway and the most important habitat factor is water temperature. Warmwater fish species are called "spiny-rays" because most of them have rigid fin rays (spines) and survive in warm water. The temperature of a waterway is determined by many variables, like time of year, the amount of sunlight reaching the water, the amount and speed of the water (flowing water and currents), the source of the water (springs or runoff), and the amount of material suspended in the water. A fish’s "preferred temperature" is where they can survive, grow and reproduce when the temperature range has been met for each fish species.

Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)

  • LOCATION: Fireman's Pond (Redmond, Oregon), Crane Prairie Reservoir, Haystack Reservoir, Lake Billy Chinook, Ochoco Reservoir, and the Prineville Reservoir.
  • SIZE: length of 7"-10"; weight of 1-11/2 lbs; age is from 8-10 years
  • SPAWNING: March, April, May or late June, in 3'-8' of water that is 58°-64° in temperature.
  • HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Clear waters of large streams and medium-sized lakes, and aquatic vegetation over bottom of sand, muck, or aquatic debris. Intolerant of turbid waters. Inhabits heavily vegetated, shallow waters in spring, moving in summer to roam or suspend over deep water. Initial diet zooplankton, supplemented with insects toward the end of first year. Insects and their larvae remain an important food item throughout life, but feeds on small fish and minnows from second. Adults continue to feed on plankton but usually eat plenty of small fish. Large adults are mostly piscivorous, and efficient predators of small fish.
  • REPRODUCTION: The male sweeps out a nest in sand or fine gravel in colony. Female lays 20,000 to 60,000 eggs, occasionally up to 150,000. Male guards nest, fans, and defends nest until they immerge and the fries start to feed.

Brown Bullhead Catfish (Ictalurus nebulosus)

  • LOCATION: Gilchrist Mill Pond (Little Deschutes River), Haystack Reserfvoir, Ochoco Reservoir, Prineville Reservoir, Little Deschutes River downstream of Gilchrist, Oregon, and sometimes in Deschutes River downstream to Lake Billy Chinook. They have been illegally introduced into North Twin Lake and Wickiup Reservoir.
  • SIZE: length of 8"-14"; weight of less than 1lb and could get to 2 lbs; age is from 6-8 years
  • SPAWNING: Late April or May with the water temperature reaches 70°.
  • HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: The feed on or near the bottom, mainly at night. Adult catfish are omnivorous eating waste, mollusks, immature insects, leeches, crustaceans, worms, plants, algae, fish and fish eggs. Juveniles feed primarily on chironomid larvae, cladocerans, ostracods, amphipods, bugs, and mayflies. Juvenile catfish are eaten by many fish species.
  • REPRODUCTION: They spawn in mud or sand in depths from 6 inches to several feet. The eggs are cared for by one or both parents and hatch in 6-9 days. Growth is slow; they may only reach 10 inches at age 5. Sexual maturity is reached at age 3.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: They were first introduced to the West in 1874 with releases in waters near Sacramento, California, from stock obtained from Vermont.
  • REFERENCES: Upper Deschutes River Subbasin Fish Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Upper Deschutes Fish District, October 1996.

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)

  • LOCATION: Crane Prairie Reservoir, Davis Lake, Haystack Reservoir, Lake Billy Chinook, Ochoco Reservoir, Prineville Reservoir, Wickiup Reservoir, and Fireman Pond (Redmond, Oregon)
  • SIZE: length of 16" is common; weight seldom exceeds 10 lbs; age is about 13 years.
  • SPAWNING: Early May into June, in 2'-6' of water over firm sand, mud, or gravel, when the water temperature is 63° to 68° F.
  • HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Adult largemouth bass generally inhabit water less than 20 feet deep. They tend to reside in the protection of structure such as aquatic and shoreline vegetation, woody material, or rocky areas. Juvenile largemouth bass eat plankton, immature aquatic insects, and crayfish. Adult bass eat mostly fish and crayfish.
  • REPRODUCTION: They spawn on sand and mud beaches when the water temperature approaches 62° F. Most spawning is associated with shallow littoral areas (<10 feet) which have aquatic vegetation. Juvenile largemouth bass remain near the nest for 5-7 days with the male guarding the young and the nest.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Illegally introduced here
  • REFERENCES: Upper Deschutes River Subbasin Fish Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Upper Deschutes Fish District, October 1996.

Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui)

  • LOCATION: Deschutes River upstream of Lake Billy Chinook, Lake Simtustus, and Prineville Reservoir.
  • SIZE: length 15"-20"; weight 11/2-5 lbs.
  • SPAWNING: Spawn in spring in gravelly shallows of lakes or large, gentle eddies in streams, when water temperatures reach 62°-64°F.
  • HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Primarily an inhabitant of swift flowing, less turbid waters in rivers and smaller streams, usually near rocks. (Prefers gravel under 1" in diameter to build nests and spawn). Does well in northern lakes. Water temperatures must reach the low 60 ºs for spawning, one reason many coldwater streams hold trout rather than bass. Needs a great amount of dissolved oxygen and, in streams, a dependable streamflow and modest current. Retreats to pools, undercut banks, or deep water to avoid bright daylight. Most active in early morning and evening. In winter, they gather near bottom and feed little until spring and water temperatures rise to about 47º F. Crayfish are favored prey, though they also feed heavily on fish. Crustaceans and larger insects also figure in diet. Newly hatched young consume copepods and cladocerans but begin to forage on insects when about ½" long. By the time fingerlings are 1½" in length, insects and small fish comprise bulk of diet.
  • REPRODUCTION: The male assembles a saucer-shaped nest, 14"-25" in diameter, on the gravel, coarse sand or rock bottom by sweeping its tail over the substrate. The female lays 2,000 to 10,000 eggs and then heads for deep water. The male protects the nest from predators of his own and other species and fans the eggs free of silt until the sac fry emerge in 3-5 days, depending on water temperature. Re-nesting is quite common, particularly when early nests are destroyed by flood or similar natural disaster.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Introduced illegally
  • REFERENCES: Upper Deschutes River Subbasin Fish Management Plan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Upper Deschutes Fish District, October 1996. 

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