Journal notes from quality destinations across the country...

Monday, April 13, 2009

High Desert Lake in Washington

Last Friday was one of those "I've only got one day off" trips that starts at 5am and ends at 11pm with maybe six hours of fishing in the middle of it... David Dietrich, a friend, and my son, Terry, were in the Tahoe with me cruising east over the Cascade Mountains, headed for dry desert on the east side of the state. We were pulling my utility trailer with David's new 14-foot, 3-man pontoon boat strapped on. We planned to catch some Spring trout and be back in our beds almost before anyone had noticed we were gone.

We paused on the dry side to catch breakfast just after sunrise at a little cafe in Cle Elum but otherwise didn't stop until we got to our destination. The weatherman had predicted periodic rain showers but the sky was clear and the wind wasn't blowing as hard as we expected. We rigged up our rods and got the boat situated with sunshine on our faces and maybe a half-dozen other pontoon boats on the lake.

The water was cold and we knew, with the winter we'd had, that we were early for the good fishing but since the ice had been off the lake for two weeks now, we couldn't wait any longer. We went directly for the north end and found the back cove empty. We had the water all to ourselves the entire day and had a great time - one of the best opening days I've had in terms of satisfaction. I caught several nice fish in the 15-18 inch range and so did my companions. I spent most of the day on the oars and put the guys on hole after hole where I knew the fish would be. Of course, early on it was tough going. The water was cold and the fish were lethargic but we caught a few here and there. Enough to keep us interested.

Then came the late afternoon. The sun had been on the water for a good six hours and I had the lobster burn on the top of my head to prove it. I guided the boat into the back of the north cove where we could see the lily pads growing up within a foot or so of the surface - another week or two and they would have their leaves floating on top. I had my son try a black Sealbugger right over the top of the lily pads and up against the grass in shallow water maybe three feet deep.

Terry's fish hit him as hard as any had to that point in the day and we knew the afternoon bite was on. Within the next hour, David and Terry would hook up on seven or eight fish in the cove, landing six. It was like we'd been killing time all day waiting for the bite that we knew would come. What was surprising was that it lasted a little longer than normal. We caught fish fairly steadily for almost two hours.

David took over the oars about 5:00 pm to take us back to the boat launch. He offered to stop at one grassy point I am fond of and I was glad to get to make a couple casts toward shore. The wet winter had the level of the lake as high as I've ever seen it so the rocks on the point were all submerged but I cast right over the top of where I knew they'd be. I let my black Sealbugger sink for about a five count to give it time to get down above the rocks and then I began slowly stripping it back toward me. I brought it back a little and then paused to let it sink deeper as I drug the fly out into deeper water. I did this retrieve/pause technique about three times and then I felt my line hang up and start vibrating.

Fish on!

I stripped several times to get tension on the hook and then reeled up the slack so I could fight him on the reel. He ran for deeper water and I followed with the rod. After a few minutes he was in the net. All 17-inches of him and fat like a football.

I let the fish go and made a cast to the other side of the point. Several strips later I had another one, a twin to the first.

I love Spring trout...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's Getting on to Time

Sitting at the tying bench the last two nights, I notice that it's staying light until 8:00 now. You know what that means...

I've already booked two trips for this month with friends who are as anxious as I am to get out and do some Spring fishing. Triploid Rainbow Trout are calling my name and the almost 200 midge, scud, chironomid, and boatman patterns in my lake box confirm that I've done more than enough tying.

Five days from today and I will be on my first outing of 2009. I can't wait. I've got a couple new reels and a new rod to try out and they are ready to go. If you are luckier than I am then you've already started your new season. The winter here is staying a little later than usual this year so I haven't been in a hurry to get out. In fact, the lake we're headed to next week was frozen over ten days ago. So our timing is just about right. See you out there...