Free Fishing Weekend

Friday and Saturday, November 25 and 26, 2016


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Start a new Thanksgiving tradition:  Take family and friends fishing for free on Friday and Saturday, November 25 and 26.  It’s a free fishing weekend in Oregon and no licenses, tags or endorsements will be required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in the state.

Trout Update:  Lake Billy Chinook to Benham Falls: rainbow trout, brown trout.  Open for trout all year. Fishing restricted to artificial flies and lures. No size or limits on brown trout and no harvest of bull trout.

Lake Billy Chinook Safe for July 4th Weekend

News Release // Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. // FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // July 1, 2015
Media Contact:  Dave Slaght, Park Manager, 541-546-2862 ext. 225

State park and marina at Lake Billy Chinook get all-clear for holiday weekend

Culver OR – The Oregon Health Authority has lifted their June 25 water quality advisory for Lake Billy Chinook (

The Cove Palisades State Park has some campsites remaining for Thursday stays, but the holiday weekend is booked. The park receives more than 77,000 campers and 400,000 day visitors a year.
“Bring your kids and your boats, and come enjoy the lake,” says Park Manager Dave Slaght. “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend. Enjoy it safely.”
Personal watercraft, ski boats, pontoon boats, party barges, kayaks and paddle boards are all available for reservation and rental through summer, even for the holiday weekend and other prime dates, from the full-service marina ( The marina also has houseboats sleeping 6-14 people ready to rent. Call 541-546-9999 ext. 2 for more information.

A view of the Island, a NPS Natural National Landmark.  Isn't she a beaut!
Boating on Lake Billy Chinook

2015 State Parks Day Flyer

It’s also ODFW’s Free Fishing Weekend both Saturday and Sunday – No state fishing license or tribal permit required for all ages!

Events at The Cove Palisades State Park on June 6th:

8:00 – 9:30 am — Let’s Go Fishing, Crooked River Day-Use Boat Launch Area

Join Park Staff, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and avid volunteer fisherman Quentin Stanko for a fun morning of fishing.  All experience levels are welcome and all equipment will be provided.

10 – 2 pm — Free Learn to Ski Day, Near the Crooked River Bridge

The Sunsports Waterski Club out of Madras wants to teach you how to waterski or how to take your skills to the next level. They will provide the boats, all the gear and expert guidance – just bring your suit, sunscreen and be ready for fun.  All experience levels welcome.  Go online to sign up

4 pm – Junior Ranger Program in the Lower Deschutes Day-use Area

Children 6 – 12 who would like to be an official Junior Ranger can come and sign up.  Kids will learn all about pine cones – what trees have them, why some don’t, what some need to open and more!

8:30 pm –  The Cove Rocks! Campfire Program in Camp Coyote Amphitheater, Deschutes Campground

Join Interpretive Host Steve to learn all about the rocks at The Cove and how they got here.

Park Programs Page

Hello Followers and Friends!

Just a quick update to let you know that we just added a new section to our blog: Park Programs.  This page will display a schedule of our up-and-coming Interpretive programs at the Cove Palisades State Park.  Check in on the page monthly to view the fun programs our park has to offer!  Click on the schedule image to view it full-sized, and hope to see you around the park.  🙂

More posts to come!


Ranger Talia and the Interpretive Team



“Everyone’s chewin’ on the Kokanee…”

This week, Ranger Talia got the awesome opportunity to go out with the PGE Round Butte wildlife biologists Rob and Thad to assist with their annual waterfowl survey on Lake Billy Chinook.  Talia learned all about the different types of birds that just love the lake in the Cove Palisades State Park, and their interesting features.  She also obtained an awesome species list for Jefferson County, so she can develop her waterfowl, raptor, and small-bird programs for the exciting 2013 Summer Season that is just around the corner.  View the photo story below to see some of the great sites during the boat tour!

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Bottle Cap Fishing Lures

So you’re out in the middle of the lake, it’s just you, your trusty boat, your best bud, the sunshine, the lake, and an ice cold beverage.  You reach down to grab your tacklebox and realize, “Fiddle sticks!”

You forgot your tacklebox in the truck.

But you do not fret!  You remember that time you learned how to make a Bottle-Cap Fishing Lure at Cove Palisades State Park!  You search the floor of the boat and find an old hook and swivel, and a few rings in your pocket and you are totally set.  You take the metal pop top from your “ice cold beverage” and in less than 10 minutes, toss a line and your back to business. 

Unfortunately, not every fisherman is fortunate enough to have been artfully enlightened by a Bottle Cap Fishing Lure workshop at Lake Billy Chinook.  If you happen to be one of those fisherman, there is still hope.  Every Friday for the rest of the summer 2012, the Interpretive Team will be leading lure-making workshops absolutely FREE at the Lower Deschutes Day Use area!  Bring the metal bottle cap from your favorite brewski or pop or we’ll provide one for you.  All you have to do is show up to save yourself from fisherman’s turmoil on that one day you forget that lucky lure.

Home-made Cove Bottle Cap Fishing Lure from a Deschutes Brew

Now supposedly, the small-mouthed bass and the trout like these tasty lures.  They are particularly attracted to the caps that have a hint of silver or gold in them.  To fancy up these lures, make a noisemaking jig by clamping some bb’s (we also provide those) on the inside, and adding another swivel or two.   Check the program calendars at Cove Palisades State Park to view the dates and times of this workshop. 

Photo courtesy of

Would you like Fry’s with that?


As some of you already know, Lake Billy Chinook is formed by the confluence of 3 different winding rivers: The Metolius, The Deschutes, and the Crooked River.  These rivers home some of the Pacific Northwest’s most sought after fish by fisherman, including the Steelhead Trout.

The steelhead is a rainbow trout that migrates to sea as a juvenile and returns to freshwater as an adult to spawn.  Steelhead are not only one of Oregon’s prized gamefish (and fished for at Lake Billy Chinook), but they are also a vital species for the healthy functioning of river ecosystems.  They are considered a “keystone” species for watersheds, and when they are removed from rivers, insects overpopulate and there is more limited resource for fish eating animals (humans, bears, and raptors included!).


In my journey to learn more about fish in Lake Billy Chinook, I found myself with a few questions.  How do these endangered fish make it to Lake Billy, and what can we do to help?  Luckily, our neighboring USFW representatives at Round Butte Complex invited me to come along and experience, first hand, one of the many important steps to steelhead and salmon recovery: releasing fry into the streams.

Baby steelhead (also known as fry’s or fingerlings) are released into gentle, cold water creeks that provide for ample environments for survival.  These releases take place throughout the state, in attempt to re-establish species in our creeks, rivers, and lakes.  Since 2008, over 1.2 million fry have been outplanted in the Metolius, Crooked River, and Deschutes rivers and adjacent creeks.

The process of this fry release was what I would describe as “carefully adventurous”.  First, thousands of fish are carefully transported from the Round Butte Hatchery near Madras, in containers of oxygenated water, to the destination point.  In this instance, the destination point was the trailhead to Alder Creek.



Shortly after arriving at the trailhead, representatives from ODFW, Portland General Electric, The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, and other volunteers prepared their packs for the mile-long journey to come.  Then, carefully, the fish were placed into 5 gallon bags with oxygenated water, each bag weighing roughly 25-40 pounds.  Each volunteer placed 1 – 2 bags in their backpacks to be hiked down to the creek side.


I will tell you, you have never felt a sensation like hiking with 5 pounds of water and little fishies, awkward swimming on your back.  I felt like a walking, swishy waterbed.  I kept thinking  about the fish and what they must be thinking:      


 After a beautiful winding hike through exposed grassland, old burn, and wildflowers down to Alder Creek, each individual found an appropriate location to release the fry.  Before releasing the fish, we acclimated them to the stream water for a few minutes, and then, wala!!!  Welcome to your new home little trout! 

In the long term, fish specialists are hopeful that there will be positive populations of not only steelhead, but Chinook and sockeye salmon in Central Oregon’s rivers.  It was really awesome to gain this perspective of all the work that agencies, councils, conservation groups, and other special interest groups are doing to keep our rivers healthy and flourishing with fish.  Can’t wait for these little guys to return to Lake Billy in Chinook in a few years, and feel lucky to be a part of their journey to the ocean and back!


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