Of all the places in central Oregon to go this is my favorite. When I was a youngster my Grandparents would go camping in the area with my sister and me. Very few places look the same as they did then but I will always love the area for camping. The north end of the lake has a nice undeveloped campground called cow meadow (called cow camp years ago). From the campground north along the Deschutes river, ranchers used to graze cattle along the two mile stretch of meadows along both sides of the river. This ended after they realized how destructive cattle are to the riparian zone of the river. I always loved walking up the river and seeing the cattle mixed with mule deer as I fished on the Deschutes. Early in the summer there is a large amount of frogs that crawl out of the lake and make it seem like the ground is moving as you walk.
There are three other campgrounds along the Lake. Quinn River, Rock Creek, and Crane Prairie resort. There is no boat launch at Cow meadow so if you want to fish the lake you will have to stay at one of these three. Crane Prairie is one of the most productive lakes in Oregon for growing large quantities of fish. Rainbow and brook trout are the primary fish caught. The kokanee have a strong population in the lake but they are the smaller of the two varieties that can be caught in Oregon lakes. In the last decade illegally introduced largemouth bass have multiplied and become a major part of the catch. It is not uncommon to hear of some one catching bass up to 10 pounds from the lake. I am much more of a trout fisherman so I will stick to fly fishing for brook trout and rainbows. The edges of the lake are extremely shallow and marshy in most areas so the best way to catch fish is to have a boat or my favorite a pontoon boat.
Other Central Oregon places to see