Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Places to Paddle: 25 miles from Bend, Oregon - Sparks Lake,

Judy Shasek Sparks Lake, Oregon SUP slideshow

Paddling Season: Memorial Day (late May) till early Fall. (Road is closed after first snows.)

Pristine views of the Cascade mountain range, clear shallow waters and intimate volcanic canyons spotted with wild flowers are a few of the reasons that Sparks Lake was one of Oregon's late Photographer Laureate Ray Atkeson's favorite places.

Inspired, Ed & Judy Shasek took these great photos of their SUP trip on Sparks Lake during a warm summer's day.

Sparks Lake is only about a 30-40 minute drive from Bend, Oregon, and about the same distance from the Sunriver Resort.

Our Local SUP group likes to go on a few outings together. If you'd like to suggest a trip (and help Randall and Cristina organize it), contact Randall at 541-380-4547 or Randall@Footform.com. Buy your Stand Up Paddle Gear from us -- we have boards and paddles that are perfect for our local waters and will work for you on the oregon coast as well - Call Randall.

Here's an excerpt of the U.S. Forest Service report on Sparks Lake:

The lake was formed about 10,000 years ago when lavas from the Mt. Bachelor Volcanic Chain blocked the upper Deschutes River. Sparks Lake is a large, shallow, trout lake located on the northwest edge of Mount Bachelor, and is the first of the high lakes you see from the Cascade Lakes Highway west of Bend. The views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top are breathtaking. Prior to 1997, Sparks Lake was a brook trout fishery and, although brookies may still be available, the lake's featured species will be introduced cutthroat trout.

Sparks Lake covers 400 acres and has a maximum depth of 10 feet. Fascinating lava formations surround the lake. At several points along the shore, the lake's water disappears into the edges of the lava, producing exotic noises as the water drains out. The deepest area of the lake is the far south end.

Brook trout average 11 inches with a few to l 8 inches, but numbers are small. The main (northern) body of the lake is very shallow, and the extremely clear water requires long, light leaders and stealth.

A narrow channel about a half-mile long connects the north and south portions of the lake. Smaller fish are usually caught in the channel and larger fish in the lower lake. A 2.5-mile trail leading to the southern portion of the lake starts near the highway. This lower portion of the lake is almost completely surrounded by lava flows, making shore access difficult except by the trail. Sparks Lake is most easily accessed by boat.

Sparks Lake is open to fly angling only. Debarbing hooks helps reduce injuries to released fish. Streamers are frequently fished during the day and dry flies in the evenings, with bucktails and Mickey Finns popular for trolling. The brook trout often prefer the brighter colors of yellow and orange. Favorite patterns include tied-down Caddis in sizes 8 to 14X, Royal Wulffs, Royal Coachmen, Adams, and Humpys in sizes 12 to 18. Sometimes realistic nymphs are more effective. Mornings and late afternoons usually provide the best results, and during some late afternoons, there are often some good hatches.

At an elevation of 5,400 feet, access to Sparks Lake can be blocked by snow until quite late in the year, and like most of the high lakes, some of the very best fishing is right after ice-out. Some fly anglers will don snowshoes or skis in order to take advantage of early hungry trout.



  1. Some great photo's there guys. We are at stand up paddle surfing global are planning our first river trip (we mostly surf) for the magazine - got any tips on how to prevent us dinging our boards to pieces ?

  2. I suppose it depends on how many rocks are in the river. If you're going to be in class 2 or 3 rapids, I recommend an inflatable SUP board like a ULI. Or you could use a soft board like a GLS or Surftech Blacktip. At the minimum you should put on a Surfco flexible fin. Also be sure to NOT use a leash as you could be dragged under and pinned. I'll write a blog about this with more details.