Monthly Archives: April 2009

Chironomid Chronicles: Lowland Opener, Rattlesnake Lake April 25-26, 2009

Saturday 4/25/09

I must have been crazy to want to fish Rattlesnake Lake on the opening day, but after the recent stocking of 9500 stockers + 500 or so Triploid Rainbow Trout, I wanted to get out and try my luck. My wife was out of town with her sister, so I had some time on my hands and lots of yardwork to do, so what better way to spend a weekend then to float with 200 of my ‘best’ lake fishing friends on Rattlesnake Lake. When we (Jeff H.) and I arrived on the lake, there must have been at least 30-40 boats, crafts, tubes, pontoons, and kayaks trolling, stripping, casting, dunking, bobbing and twitching in hopes of landing a few trout. Jeff and I decided to hold off from hitting the lake too early, since it was opening day. The weather didn’t look to promising with wind, rain, clouds and cooler temps, so it was a good bet to wait until noon so that we’d have some space between us and them.

Immediately, we decided to row to the far south end of the lake into deep water, 37-43 feet. I had previously adjusted my Hummingbird 110 sensitivity for fish on high and set the alarms for fish, low battery and some other fine tuning to make it a little more user friendly. Im not sure if I trusted the finder part of the sonar, but I did get to test it out and I do believe that it was working very well on the last two days. Im really only looking for three things with my finder: depth, structure, and temperature. Who cares if it spots fish, if you don’t have the right flies, or techniques to get to them, it doesn’t mean much.

Both Jeff and I started off trying to fish traditionally with our deep water Chironomid set ups, but its not the easiest to be able to cast a 40′ leader even from a pram. After noting fish, big and little fish at the bottom were not taking our bugs, I decided to changed up flies, tactics (Dry Line), intermediate, sinking tips, didn’t prove to be successful. It was odd… fish rising, rarely a hatch, the odd swallow swarming around the surface scooping up the adult Chironomids. It was odd????

Then, noticed that along 15-17′ there were many smaller fish that were swimming in the suspended part of the lake. All the surface feeders were the planters which were taking emergers and the adults. So, I thought, why not suspend the bugs and give it whirl and see if this fish finder works. Well, that decision was a good one, as once I did, I started catching fish!

I landed 7 in succession of casts, and released, something was right. Water temp was 54 degrees and clarity was beautiful with the acqua green color. We like to fish that far end of the lake as most of the trollers and kickers end up staying near the launch and even with that much traffic, it wasn’t too bad. I did make a good decision to bring along the Minn Kota 44 lb thrust electric kicker. It gave me time to set up my rods from the launch while motoring over to the deep water without breaking a sweat. Jeff called me a wuss for bringing the motor, but Im not going to troll, I just want to make it from point A to B in the fastest line, so I can soak my bugs and put up some numbers =) I found that I am competitive natured and want to create new bugs, new techniques and new methods to improve my fishing.

I had to leave the lake by 4:30, but inthe 4 hours of fishing, I’d landed 23 bows ranging in size from 9″-15″ with the average 12″ fish. Flies that worked were Chromers, Rusty Nails, and my RLS (Roche Lake Special). size 16. Throat sampling revealed numberous Daphnia and size 18 Chironomids, brown and black. The fish didn’t seem to care much for the pattern, but depth was very critical. Also the correct hand twist, twitch and timing helped in the take downs.

Sunday 4/26/09

I got a later start then I wanted to and got on the water a 4 pm, but since I’d left the water about that time the day before, I figured it would be good to fish the evening bite and see if it would be better. I have my gear and launching all down to a science and can get the boat unhitched and launched within 10-15 minutes. Another 5 minute motor over to the deep water, and I was set. Anchor down and I was fishing within minutes. I set my indicator to 18′ noting that the fish were hovering around 20′ today. First cast, I was into my first fish. Chromer on the Chromer, size 16. I was in the zone after the lesson from the day before, and fish after fish, it started to get boring with the average fish around 11-12″. Some pulled hard, but half of them didn’t put up much of a fight. I did end up keeping my limit as my parents greeted me as I was leaving the house and asked me where I was fishing. I don’t care much for the taste of trout and release every fish, but mom wanted some fresh fish, so I ended up bonking them for the grill.

Flies that worked were the Chromer and the RLS size 16. I guess, Im not much for wanting to change up when it works. I DO, however want to find how to get down deep and find a few triploids to take. I’ll have to work on devising a better way to cast and manage a 45′ leader??!??!?!!! I was even thinking of bringing my 6126 doubled handed rod with floating line to better cast that much line. I’ll let you know about that if I end up giving it try.

I only ended up fishing 2.5 hours and landed 21 trout, not as good as the day before, but since it was on the water a shorter amount of time, I considered it a better day. Weather and fishing. Im not sure if I want to fish Rattlesnake again tomorrow, but I do want to figure out how to fish the deep water with alot of confidence. One thing that I forgot was my camera, so no photos, or video on these outings. Perhaps, if I can dial in the deep water set up, I’ll have to document how that goes.

I’ll be bogged down for the next few weeks, so this might be the last report for a while. Gil C. and Thao T. are heading out for a few days of fishing to Eastern WA. They’ll be fishing Dry Falls, Blue, and Park lakes in Grant county. Hopefully, they’ll have some good fishing after hearing of tougher fishing at Dry Falls. Wishin’ I was Fishin’ with them this week.

I had a good email as a reminder for those who think Chironomid fishing is boring. It might be boring for those that don’t know how to fish them effectively, but since trout feed and key on Chironomids I find it challenging to key in on them. Whether its a wild trout lake or a stocked lake, its not like these fish were going hog wild for all the junk that all the other typical fisherman were using: flashers, lures, leeches, woolley buggers. The smart fish were at the bottom of the lake probably gorging themselves on Daphnia. Why bother getting close to the surface or in suspension to only open yourself up to predation by one of those Osprey or Bald Eagles that were flying around the lake? Might as well go for the easiest most protein packed punch by lazily feeding off those twitchy Daphnia and the occassional Chironomids.

Here is an interesting note I received from Chuck G. to consider, which I’ll pass along for your consideration:

“You have to remember that the majority of my fishing consists of Chironomids, so I look for the fish where I know the chironomids hatch on a consistent basis. Chironomids make up around 50% of a trouts food in spring and early summer, so why not give them what they want, where they want it, which is mostly in deep water. If you look at the structure of most lakes, the vegetation/marl/weeds usually only grows in water 15 feet deep or less, and there is certainly lots of food available in those depths, so the fish do feed in those areas. However, Chironomids prefer a muddy/mucky bottom which is usually in the deeper water with no weed growth. As many as 2,500 chironomids inhabit a square yard of suitable habitat, so that means when they start to hatch, there is a plethora of them available for the fish to eat, and they don’t have to chase them through the weeds to catch them like they would a scud or leech etc…. Thus less energy expended for lots of protein. On the good chironomid lakes, my boat anchors go down in the mud sometimes several feet, as evidenced by the stains 2 to 3 feet up on the anchor ropes and the difficulty at times of extracting the anchors from the mud. When I find bottoms like that, then I know that the food is there for the fish, so thats where I concentrate my efforts. I have had good chironomid fishing in shallower water and don’t hesitate to fish there when I see bugs coming off, but I prefer the deep water because it makes more fish available to me that have not been pressured much, as evidenced by the scarcity of fihermen who attempt to fish that deep. There is a gradual move by fly-fisherman to the deep water, especially in BC, but I have noticed that most who attempt it do not extend there leaders down deep enough because of the increased degree of difficulty of managing them, and thus don’t seem to reach the fish on a consistent basis. I will fish down to 40 feet with an indicator and 38 feet of leader, and 50 feet with a dry line and 50 feet of leader. A hassle to cast and manage, but deadly when the fish are deep. A lot of it has to do with confidence also. The other day at Dry Falls, we were casting our dry lnes with 32 feet of leader (no indicator) 80 or 90feet out into 30 feet of water and waiting a long time for our bugs to get into the zone before starting our retrieves. Several people saw us catching fish, anchored near us, asking questions, and we told them what we were doing. One fellow in a pontoon boat even set up a rod with a long leader and made a number of casts, trying to emulate us. During that time, I caught 4 fish and Jim caught 2, while the pontoon boater did not have astrike. He finally hoisted his anchor and left while telling us he did not have the patience to fish that way. Go Figure! As far as the fish chomping on “Buggers”, I know they do grab whatever comes by sometimes, but I have watched leeches in the clear lakes of BC swimming through the water column, and they do not go nearly as fast as most guys I see trolling do. They are very methodical and I have seen them dive down through the marl and then reappear only a few inches from where they entered it. Thats why I think fishing a micro-leech under an indicator is so deadly at times, because it slows down the speed of the retrieve while keeping the bug visible to the fish for an extended period of time. I know these are just my ramblings, but there may be something of valuefor you in them none the less. As always, Chuck G”

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Chironomid Chronicles: Pass Lake, April 21st, 2009 “The luckiest Chironomid named Jonah…”

Its been a good spring for me as I’ve really honed down on my advanced stillwater techniques from the help of Chuck G. Chuck is a master Chironomid fisherman and he is always out fishing, so no wonder why he racks up the fish counts like no other stillwater fisherman that I’ve seen before.

My original plan was to hit Dry Falls as its that time of year and the fishing should be getting hot. However after hearing some dismal reports from Chuck and Jim T. who’d been fishing Dry Falls for the past 3 days, I opted to forgoe the 4 hour drive and hit a more nearby lake which I knew I could get into some fish. The drive is easy, no passes to climb, and relatively flat the 100 miles it takes from my home. I called up my friend Jeff H. to see if he wanted to play hooky and fish with me. Jeff, like me, is also in the Real Estate business and has a flexible schedule, so he cleared his schedule and we packed up our rigs and headed north in hopes of getting into some numbers of fish.

I pushed off from my house at 6:30, a half an hour later than I wanted to, but it helped that I packed my rig and hitched the boat, so all I’d have to do is roll out of bed, eat breakfast, walk my dog, jump in the car and drive. Jeff was also running a little behind as he’d spent the night tying up some new bugs. He wasnt late because he was up late tying, but once he finished tying and place the flies in a plastic container he’d inadvertantly dropped it and all the flies went every which way. DOH!

When I arrived at the parking lot at 8 am, it was cool, foggy and we were the 2nd and 3rd cars in the lot. The first guy on the water was a float tuber, who was trolling around. Jeff and I proceeded to row to our Chironomid Canyon, in 28-30 feet of water and double anchor up. Little did we know that we’d be joined by many other fisherman, out in force. You would’nt be able to tell it was a Tuesday, as the cars were stacked in the lot two deep and the lake probably had at least 20-25 fisherman all jockeying for position. I finally got irritated when these guys would see me hook a fish and come anchor next to me, even had a guy ina pontoon boat almost run into me while not paying attention, as I yelled out, “IM ANCHORED UP!!!!” He chuckled and then asked me, how deep I was fishing. I answered with a grumbling “at the bottom….” The news from the good fishing that previous weekend must have gotten out and thats why the lake was seeing more activity today. By 4 ok, most of the fisherman were off the lake and we didn’t finish up until 7 pm. trying to scratch out a few more fish near the launch. I missed many short strikes as did Jeff, but he picked up Chuck’s Dry Line Technique of fishing with a long leader and chumming the water column with his bugs, moving at a snails pace.

I threw on my usual fare to seek out what the trout might be wanting to feed on: Chromies, Bloodworms, Rusty Nails and Bombers all in different sizes, shapes and colors. I didn’t have it dialed in today as the Bomber hatch was weak and never really took off, probably due to the heavy cloud cover, the thick fog and the cooler temperatures. I met up with a gent who I’d seen before on Pass, he was in a little white Walker Bay plastic boat and I’d seen him clean up with a sink tip flyline slowly crawling a Chironomid along the bottom. I asked him how the fishing was…since last week… and he said he had one of his best days at Pass on Saturday the 18th. Catching fish mostly on every cast for a couple of hours when the hatch was hot. I also verified this by speaking with another couple of college kids from WWU who were doing pretty well with indicator Chironomid fishing in 28′ of water.

I ended up with 14 fish landed, all were Rainbows and couple were in the spawning color but many of the smaller fish were pure silver with green backs, just beautiful fish and plump. After sampling many of the throat samples we found lots of Daphnia, a few size 16-18 bugs and in the a.m. big Bloodworms and a few Bombers in size 12. Fish size was in the smaller range, mostly averaged 14″, from 12-17″

You can see my Daphnia video, Im not quite sure how to imitate these guys or if they can be imitated, cause they probably hug the bottom of a lake and swarm around like a cloud of smoke. Notice their erratic ticking swimming motion.

I did manage to catch 5 fish, three on successive casts in the Monster Bay. There I had a very interesting incident: Upon pumping a silvery Bow that was just full of lunch, I found a nicely sized Chironomid Bomber, when investigated further, there was the adult, alive and starting to crawl out of the shuck and onto my hand. That adult would dry its wings on my hand and then fly away. This has got to be the luckiest Chironomid, which I’ll name him ‘Jonah the Bomber’ He escaped certain bug death by getting vortexed out from the belly of the whale, in this case a Rainbow trout, and goes to fulfill his mission of meeting his mate, doing the deed, only to die and then never see his offspring again. Natures wheel is amazing and to really focus on whats around, even with the buzz of other fisherman, cars, planes, Pass is a beautiful lake, with its greenish clear water and surroundings of granite, moss, firs and eagles.

I did spot two male bald eagles in a dead tree just near the launch on the north end. They flew in, perched and were probably scanning the surface for wary fish that would provide them a nice dinner. I was surprised how close I could get in the pram while stopping, snapping off a few pics and admiring their beauty.

I’d packed my camping gear in hopes of fishing it again today, but based on the poor fishing and the incoming weather, I decided to make the trek back home and write this report. This will probably be my last weekday fishing report for a few weeks as I have a project for the next three weeks that will take up my time, so the next time I’ll be getting out is likely the lowland opener on Saturday, probably stay close, like Rattlesnake. I’ll also be chasing Lings as that season opens up on May 1st, I’ll be looking forward to some Ling Cod tacos on the grill!!!

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Chironomid Chronicles: Pass Lake, Tax Day! April 15th, 2009

Well, I was stressing out a little since my return wasn’t completed and my CPA didn’t seem like it was high priority on his list of things to do today. I busted out when I had the chance to join Chuck G. and Jeff H. for a day of sunshine and Chironomids. Chuck had fished Pass yesterday and did REALLY well. Today, was a different story. When I spoke with him, he said that he was fishing his dryline with 32′ leader and getting fish on every cast. He had one of those days! “you should’ve been there”… When I asked him what the water temp was, he said 52, and I thought, “OK, time to pack up the pram and head to Pass”. Something magical happens above 50 degree in April. Its called BOMBERS! Size 10-12 Chironomids, the size of BC one, and it drives all the fish crazy on this lake. They Chironomids are so robust and really get the fish in the gobbling mood. I didn’t leave my house until 9 am as I had to finish up some last minute tax prep, but raced up to Whidbey, launched the Koffler and also brought my dog along since it’d been a while since we fished together. She can no longer stand in a river, too cold and arthritic and probably would get washed away in the swift current. I remember her as a pup being able to cross strong rivers with me and fish on New Years day in ice frozen waters of the Nisqually, fishing for Chum. It stinks to get old, both for dogs and for humans… This was for her as much as it was for me, to get out, breathe some fresh air and hopefully hear the singing of the reel again. When Maddy was a pup, she would love the sound of my reel, that meant a fish was on, she’d love to retrieve and mouth whatever I was fishing for, and has those natural instincts to hunt, fish and just be an all around great companion. Chuck G. recently lost his Lab of many years and it is probably the only thing that will make a grown man cry like a baby, over the loss of his canine companion.

Enough about the dogs…onto the fishing report. I knew Chuck and Jeff would be anchored up in the deep slot of 28′ of water along the south eastern end of Pass. I’d never fished that section before, but we sure weren’t alone, there were several prams and many other pontoon boats on the water today all trying to get their groove on in hopes of enticing the fish to their bugs. I greeted Jeff and Chuck with brief cordials but had T.R.O.U.T. on my mind and wanted to get anchored up and my bugs in the water ASAP. I did so, finding a 26′ slab, and putting my long leader in the fishes view. First cast, FISH ON!, Second Cast, FISH ON! This proceeded 5 times, my best Chironomid fishing so far. Everyone around me was watching as I netted, released and recasted. It was one of the ‘in the zone’ feelings and days. But then at 12 pm, everything shut down. No more grabs, no more tugs. I did have two more smaller fish on, but I LDR’d them both.

Chuck had to leave by 2 pm, so he pulled anchor and said he was going to fish near the lauch. Jeff and I decided to row over to the west side on the rocks and give it a try since the sun was warming up that side very nicely and I’ve had good success there in past years. When we finally got set up, it was again very slow. I did pick up two more fish here, but decided that our better option might be in deeper water, so we headed back to our first location. I did notice a gent who was doing well, very consistantly. Later when I approached him at the parking lot, I saw he was using a sinking tip 6 wt. SA line 15′ integrated tip. He sheepishly said, ‘I know you should’nt use a Chironomid and fish it like this…’ but I thought, who cares, as long as youre catching fish!!! Indeed he was. He’d landed 4 in the time it took me to land 1. He said he was fishing a size 12-14, but didn’t disclose the bug. I’ll have to give that a try next time.

Bugs that worked was my #10 Bomber, black body, red rib, peacock collar and red anodized bead tied on a 2X hook. I’ll definitely be tying up more of those bugs! The fish didn’t seem to be too interested in any other of my offerings as I tried the typical slew of bugs with minimal success. I may try and hit Pass again on Friday the 17th as Chuck is planning of fishing it early on, hopefully to catch the hatch and the bite! All in all I ended up with 10 fish landed, 4 missed takes and 2 LDR’d. Hopefully getting out earlier will be the trick!


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Chironomid Chronicles: Basin Lakes, Nunnally Lake, April 7th, 2009

My buddy Gil C. had a stretch of days off and wanted to get back to Eastern Washington to fish the basin lakes. We’d fished Nunnally a couple of weeks ago with good success but our plan was to fish Lenice and then possibly Dry Falls or Lenore. I’d done some recon on Dry Falls and it sounded it was very poor fishing from a few friends of mine who had recently fished it over the weekend and on Monday the 6th. They said the fish were in poor shape, in their spawning colors and not very active. Chuck G. whom I consider the best chironomid fisherman that I know had an 8 fish day, that might be good by other fisherman standards, but Chuck usually lands in the double digit numbers each time he goes out, so our plans were thwarted to fish Dry Falls. I also had a report from Rex T. and he concurred the same results. Rex and Tom Hs. plans were to fish two days but they abandoned the second day since the fishing was so poor and went to Beda on Monday the 6th.

Our drive out on Tuesday the 7th was great, the forecast was for sunny skies and high temps in the 70s. The Pass was clear and the temp was 35 around 8 am. We stopped in Ellensburg as Gil needed to pick up some more strike indicators. We met up with Rory at the Evening Hatch Fly Shop and he’d picked up a new Black Lab puppy, very cute as I had to get a photo. Im a suckers for lab puppies…

Our plan as I said was to fish Lenice, note to self, should check the location to Lenice. We turned into the second Public Fishing turnout and proceeded to load up the prams and do our usual trek down to the lake. Something wasn’t right. After finding A lake with no other fisherman on it, we thought it was a little unusual. After fishing for an hour without much luck and shallow water, max depth of 14 feet, we got a couple of hits and fish on without landing any. We decided that this wasn’t Lenice and rowed West in hopes of connecting to a trail that went to Nunnally, thinking that we were at Merry. After talking to Rex, it sounds like we’d made our way to Bobby, which is the only lake that connects with Nunnally via a channel. So glad that we didn’t have to take out prams out and make a trail to Nunnally.

With half a day wasted, we decided to make up some serious fishing time by fishing 16′ of water on the far eastern reaches of the lake. Fairly soon we were both into fish. Gil was doing very well with fish on about every cast. Our usual suspects were producing well for us: Bloodworms, Chromies and Rusty Nails. We’d both noticed some debris in the lake as well as an unidentified green cloud just below the surface. It wasn’t weeds, it wasn’t algae, it was like a mist flowing like the milky way. Somehow the fish didn’t mind this cloud. Water temp was 56 degrees, noticibly warmer than a couple of weeks ago, but not as strong a chironomid hatch as we’d seen then. We didn’t see to many swallows or emerger activity so we weren’t too hopeful for a day that surpassed our first day at Nunnally.

Gil had successfully located a pocket which was consistently producing, on his 20th or so some fish, he’d hooked into something big. I thought it was a fouled fish as I had fouled one earlier due to the double chironomid set up I was fishing. He said it wasn’t fouled as he saw the head shakes and the deep runs. After a 15 minute battle on 4 lb fluro tippet, he brought the behemouth to hand. A handsome buck 25″ around 6 lb Tiger trout. The biggest we’ve both seen and for him has ever caught. What an awesome fish. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I had to see this fish and capture a photo of it and see for myself. I snapped off several pics with Gil’s camera and video, so you can see for yourselves how nice this Tiger Trout was.

All in all, it was a fantastic day, not as good for me, with 27 fish landed, Gil probably landed somewhere in the mid to high 30# of trout. Fish ranged in size from 15-26″ with an average size of 17-18″. We both noticed that the fish were much more feisty than two weeks ago and really made some deep and long runs. I picked up my biggest fish in 22 feet of water, a 21″ fat Rainbow that took my 16 Chromie with fury. I caught it while wind drifting back to the West bay. I made the wrong choice of bringing a 3/4 weight and starting the day with that, after my first few fish, it was just too hard to land on the lighter rod and decided that a 5 weight was a much better idea.

After a great afternoon on the east bay, we decided that we should allow enough time to get back to the takeout so that we could leave enough time to portage the prams and pickup the cars, parked at BOBBY and bring them back to pick up our gear and then head to Lenice for tomorrows day of fishing.

Instead of taking out at the far West launch, we decided to pull the prams out at the inlet launch and then dolly the prams on the dirt road to meet up with the main road. Somehow, we decided that it was going to take as much time to walk back, so we decided to roll the prams back on the road to the Bobby parking lot. It seems like each time I fish with Gil, there is some sort of mishap or issue, but we learned alot from the experience and won’t make that mistake again.

Off to Lenice to set up camp, make dinner and get ready for day 2 at the real Lenice. When we arrived at the parking lot, there were many rigs and even a few travel trailers parked, camped and other fisherman walking back to the lot. Boy did we feel like numbskulls…oh well, we had stellar day on Nunnally and would look forward to the next day. Gil had never fished Lenice and I had fished it once, but it was a few years ago and I hadn’t caught anything on Lenice, so it wasn’t too memorable for me.
Setting up camp it was nice to be out in the outdoors, fresh air, open landscape and beautiful sounds of the birds.

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Chironomid Chronicles: Basin lakes, Lenice April 8th, 2009


It was tough sleeping as I forgot my earplugs and had to endure the snoring sounds of Gil, the birds chirping and a mouse that made its way into my granola bar, outside the tent. Not only this, but getting used to sleeping on the ground. I finally woke up at 6:20 and decided to pack the lunches, make breakfast and coffee and take a few photos of the sunrise. I wanted to be on the water early to get to know the lake, find the drop offs and locate those spots where I wanted to fish as it was learning curve for both of us.

One thing we noticed that the weather was coming in as the skies were cloudy and the wind was starting to kick up. The roll to the lake was easy, probably the easiest we’d experienced and easy to launch. I made my way to the east end of the lake, while Gil proceed to head due north. After an hour of searching, fishing and fighting the wind, we came up with nothing. The wind was howling and there were white caps on the lake. We decided to head to the islands to the north east and dropped our bugs in 8-9′ feet of water. Gil was on fire once again and was very consistent in his chironomid techniques. Fish after fish, even in the windy conditions! Most of the other fisherman were off the lake by now with just two pontoon boaters left. A couple of them had made their way over to us as Gil proceeded to give a clinic on his fishing techniques. We owe all our fishing to Brother Thao and ultimately to Chuck G. who developed these bugs and using the right materials and showing us how to fish them effectively.

I had an ok day, but it wasn’t matched to Gil’s day. I finally ended up with 11 fish and Gil had in the low 20’s with fish ranging in size from 15-19″, but these fish were definitely heathier, more colorful and harder fighting than the Nunnally counterparts. A few of the fish made some deep and long runs that reminded us of those Roche Lake or Kamloop strain of BC fish. Patterns that worked were Chromies, and Rusty Nails.

I wanted to Beta test my new deep water strike indicator, which worked excellently to my expectations. I’ll build more and hand them out to my fly fishing friends for them to test and give me feedback.

We finally finished the day at 3 pm as we’d had enough of the wind and didn’t think that it would ever slow down for the bugs to hatch. The row back was wet as we had whitecaps and water splashing into the prams, but I’d much rather be in a pram versus a float tube, which would have probably taken an hour or more to kick back. I later heard from another member from WFF.com that he’d gone out to Nunnally and then turned right around deciding not to fight the wind. We’re glad to have finally have fished Lenice and it was a good experience, hopefully next time, we’ll have better weather and be able to find some more of those hard fighting fish.



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Pass Lake Report: March 31st, 2009

Well, it was the last official day of the 2008 fishing season according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, so we had to give it another go for some stillwater action. The weather report was looking pretty poor for a ride over the Pass and to Beverly to fish Nunnally or Lenice as we’d hope to do yesterday, so we ended up heading north to fish Pass Lake. From my previous Pass reports, we’ve done fairly well in the spring for trout: Rainbow and Brown’s with Chironomid fishing. I had a glimmer of optimism as the drive through Everett was beautiful, sunny skies and not much wind. Once Thao T. and I hit Marysville, it was another story. Blustery clouds, light rain and WIND, dreaded wind…

We stopped just past the Arlington exit to fill up with gas as the Safeway. Good thing I did, as one of the safety chains fell off from the trailer to the hitch, I could hear it rattling. I knew I’d installed it when I left my house, but perhaps it wasn’t on correctly, or bounced off in transit. I also noticed that my rear anchor line was a little lose, so I tightened it up. I use a Black Diamond climbers carabiner to hold the anchor but perhaps the trip up loosed the line as part of it was dangling from the anchor lock. I’d tied it back down, but perhaps I should’ve made sure the tag end was secure.

Back on the road, once we got to the highway 20 turnoff towards Anacortes, a fellow ina truck waived us down and said that we were dragging rope behind the boat. Darn! OK, note to self, make sure to secure your load, check and recheck!

Finally we got to Pass, late… just after noon. We saw three cars in the parking lot with two fisherman within eye sight. A guy in an aluminum pram, and one guy in a pontoon boat. There was also a rig with a drift boat trailer. We later saw him on the Northwest end rowing back towards the launch with his wooden boat, pulling leeches and trolling flies. We spoke with him and he’d done poorly, catching a couple and LDR’ing a few more.

We started fishing at the bay immediately to the right of the launch, closest to the roadway. Water temp was measuring 48 degrees and we were in 20 feet of water. What was hard to overcome was the fact that the air temp was colder than the water, measuring 44 degrees on my little handheld thermometer. Water clarity looked normal for Pass with the tinge of green in the color. Thao and I proceeded to drop our bugs and give it a whirl. Within a few minutes I had my first fish on, a 13-14″ silvery Rainbow. He took my size 16 Chromie. That would be our only fish for a while… After fishing that spot for another several casts, we decided to pull anchors and head to the northwest part of the lake. We passed the fellow in the pontoon boat and asked how he was doing, he said he landed 1, but missed alot of strikes.

To our second anchor spot, we dropped our bugs again in 20′ of water. It seemed like a while until we had strikes but after a few attempts, I landed a 14″ Brown with big spots and a ripped up tail. We noticed as I was reeling this fish in we could see another big brown take a slash at the hooked fish. I wonder if that other fish thought this 14″ would make a good lunch and took a swipe at him! Maybe I should fish with a big brown trout fly next time.

The Brown’s seemed to like the bugs on the move. We both missed several more strikes, with Thao losing a fish on the LDR. For some reason, the fish were shy and non commital and just nibbling at our flies. We didn’t see any swallows or too much evidence of a big hatch coming off. We decided we had enough and started our way back to the launch. At this point, I’d started packing all my gear, just as we rounded the point of the lake to make our turn to the launch we saw lots of swallows diving and scooping up bugs. We quickly anchored up and decided to give it another whirl. Just as we did, the birds were gone!????!?

We were in 15′ of water, tried, but no DICE! By this time the wind was beating down on us and it was hard to row against the hard Westerly. We were both cold ready to call it. Thao then suggested we try one more spot, which is just left to the launch and in 17′ of water. He’s fished the lake for 20+ years, catching his first fish on the stillwater there, so he knows the lake well. The spot we anchored, he said it was fairly uniform in depth all the way to the shroreline.

I had a few more hits, but couldn’t connect! Thao got his revenge and ended up landing 6 Rainbows mostly on the small side, 9-11″, but he did land a nicer 16″ Bow all with his Chromie pattern. It was 5 pm, we decided we had enough, packed up and left back to Seattle. All in all it was one of those days where you expect the fishing to be cold and blustery, but we both caught fish and got to get out of the house. Hopefully the April 1st opener will be better at Dry Falls for Gil C. Chuck G. and crew. Id heard there was ice on the NE end of the lake. Chuck would be there from Friday evening until Monday, fishing hard. I may join them for one day of fishing, but its a long haul.

What would I have done differently? Well, judging by the throat samples, I should’ve tried a smaller Chironomid pupae imitation, as they were likely more keyed in on those, but I don’t know if it would’ve knocked em dead. I was just glad to get back into the station wagon with heated seats and the heat on full blast. I’ll take it any which way I can, still better than those steelhead outings with no fish to hand and even colder weather.

Rod: GLoomis GLX Max Line Speed
Reel: Galvan Torque 5 with SA 5 wt. floating line
Leader: Custom Fluro 20′ tapered to 6X
Flies: Chromies, bloodworms, 16-18
Song: U2, where the streets have no name

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