Monthly Archives: March 2011

Pass Lake: March 23rd, 2011

It looked like the weather today was going to be a nice one, so I called up Jeff to plan an outing to fish.  My first plan was to fish Nunnally based on the good reports, but I was on a limited time schedule and it usually takes a bit over 2 hours to get there and then another amount of time to dolly the boats in, so the fishing time would be seriously compromised.

I don’t usually fish Pass lake very much, but March and April are my favorite times as historically it signals the emergence of the big bombers, size 10-12 Chironomids in Olive and Black and catch the trouts attention due to their robust size and high caloric punch they give those Pass fish.

When I arrived at 10 am, I would be greeted with a brisk rush of wind in my face from the east as the wind was blowing consistently and causing some difficulty in rowing. I would meet up with Chuck Gold as well and his friend Jim who were anchored up in 17′ of water at the neck or point from where the rest of the lake turns to the East.

I distanced myself from Chuck and quickly caught up with him as we all looked like a squadron of fighter pilots stratigically positioned.  That we were, lines were tight, fish with hooked, netted and released. Best flies for me were 16 Black Chromie, and my snowcone bloodworm, with the Chromie outfishing the Blood 2:1.  I fished from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm with 15 fish hooked, and of those 11 landed. The planters are very strong and probably pound for pound the best fighting trout I’ve had the opportunity to play this year, they are sized 10-12″, but very fat, silvery, and feisty as all can be, I certainly didn’t expect that size of fish and could have been easily a third larger.

Two of the 11 fish landed were very nice rainbows which measured 18.5″ on my handle scale and the other one pushed 19″. Im not sure if I ever picked up that big of a trout at Pass lake, but it was beautiful to witness such a healthy and well fed example.  The water temp ranged from 48-49 degrees, just perfect for a hatch that seemed to be work from 11-1 and then 3-4:30.

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March 19th, 2011 Shaving with clams???

Since moving to Washington some 12 years ago I never had the opportunity to go Razor clamming so it seemed like a good thing to do since its a great family and friends activity and any reason to get away for the weekend is a good thing. We took the 2.5 hour drive to Ocean shores to dig the Copalis beach with a double whammy evening and morning low tides, which was ideal for getting a couple limits within a 12 hour period.

I did prep a little for the dig by picking up a couple of nice anodized aluminum clam guns from Outdoor Emporium, there were a little pricey at $40 a piece, but I think worth it as they are corrosion resistant, lightweight and strong with reinforced collars. They key was to find the depressions in the sand and once you found them it was easy pickings!

My sisters’ family joined in with my two nieces along with some of my wifes’ friends. It was the first time for all of us, with the exception of my buddy Sun who has been a vet. Our first dig was at the beach just behind the hotel, Quality Inn, it was tough… just didn’t know exactly to look for and was in the water too deep and I don’t think there were too many clams on that beach.

We were determined to get some clams, so decided on going to Ocean City which is a few miles to the north and proved to be the right plan as there were plenty of clams for all of us and then some!  Razor clams are delicious eating, tasting, and cooking clams with a sweet soft texture that is similar to fresh calamari.

Will definitely plan another outing in the future, but will probably skip the clam festival which was nothing more than a glorified art and vendor exhibit.  We had a few laughs with the silly T-shirt…

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Tribute to Yellowlab: R.I.P. 3/18/2011

You lived a long and brave life Maddy! I am going to miss you dearly as you’ve been by my side through the past 17 years.  You would have been 18 in April, probably the longest living Labrador that I’ve heard of making it to those late teen years. You were a rambunctious pup causing all sorts of ruckus when you first got spayed, you just couldn’t sit still and caused a seroma in your surgical wound, infecting it and having to go back in for another vet visit. But you grew up strong and loved to run, swim, hike, bike alongside me and fish, gosh you loved to fish!

You would instinctively know when my reel was singing that a fish was on the end of the line. I also lost many fish as you wanted to help land them. We put alot of miles on the pavement: CO, WY, UT, MT, ID, OR, CA… dog you been to alot more places than the average person. I’ll miss you dearly, the day after, I was looking for you in your normal place of slumber, but its was different, no Maddy, no big brown eyes.

Thanks for being a friend and my comfort when I was lonely and down, you always cheered me up and was there for me through the worst times and the best times. As I cleaned through the old photos, I found some that best serves as memory to your life. You will be missed Maddy, but not forgotten! Rest In Peace girl!

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Quincy Lakes Report: March 17th, 2011


Today was the day for another rocket run to Eastern WA. Thao T. and I would be joined by newbie Phil K. who is just getting into fly fishing and was hoping to get more practice with fishing in stillwater environments. We met up at 8 am and left my house at 8:30 for the 2.5 hour drive under cloudy and cool skies. The pass temp would read 31, but no signs of ice, snow and just a little wetness to the roads.

It definitely looks like theres been more snow in the mountains and no signs of spring around Snoqualmie Pass or Kachelus lake, which is still frozen solid. Our original plan was to hike into Dusty and fish the edges since all of us were without float tubes or pontoon boats and decided to Chironomid fish from the shoreline. Although it was peaceful and nice to visit Dusty, the fish were lethargic and mostly the only ones caught were dark and wanna be spawning trout.  They were definitely big, but not exactly very sporting.  We all started out by the waterfall but Phil and I wanted to explore the north side and hiked around that perimeter of the lake trying a couple of spots before deciding that it was probably a fruitless effort to fish Dusty without some sort of watercraft.

We had the whole lake to ourselves with no other vehicles in the parking area. It was nice to stretch out the legs and get some of that famous E. Washington desert air. After the exploratory Dusty run we walked over to Burke and saw many fish dimpling and rising, but it was rather a shallow location, so I figured they were small fish, Thao threw out his Chironomid and soonafter was rewarded with an 8″ tike which was released. Burke was recently planted with several thousand fish for the recent fishing Derby and probably overrun with these small planters.  We wanted to get into some feister and bigger fish so we opted to head over to Quincy.

Upon our arrival, there was a nice hatch coming off and big dimples could be seen along the wind edge banks of all the reeds. I instructed Phil to adjust his indicator and we rigged up and I cast out my set up and was rewarded with a nice 16-17″ silvery Rainbow that fell for the black with red ribbed snowcone. There wasn’t alot of room to backcast, so we moved over to another spot where Thao and I did well a couple weeks ago.

It wasn’t lights out fishing, but we did manage to catch a few in that location. I did however notice that there was alot of activity in a nearby bay and suggested that we move over, which was a good choice.  Most of the action occurred between 2:30-4:30, when a nice Chironomid hatch was coming off and every fish in that bay was on the surface plucking the emergers off left and right and right in front of us just 20-30′. I rigged up a 16 red ribbed Chromer and also instructed Phil to as well. We casted out and it was some fantastic fishing for the next two hours.

The range of size of fish would be from 8″ to 15″ all rainbows, all in good condition, and very feisty. Some of the scrappiest fish would just explode in the water and tailwalk and zig zag fighting all the way into the net. Phil was amazed at the power of fly fishing and fishing with Chironomids, he quickly improved his casting, hooking, setting, playing, landing and releasing of fish which was a great experience since hes just getting started with fly fishing.

He landed 11 fish, and probably lost at least that many or possibly more with short strikes, long and short distance releases. We were joking at how whenever you’d take your eyes off the indicator, a fish would sneak away with it. The strikes were not subtle, with some dips that just boldy shot down and disappeared under the surface.

I would land 23 fish, a much better outing then the previous outing due to the massive hatch and the keying of the fish specifically to black and chrome Chironomids.

Thao ended up checking out some other lakes and even met up with an old neighbor that was fishing at Burke. It’d been 25 years since he saw ‘Buzzer’, what a blast from the past for two friends who ended up being avid fisherman.

It was a great outing, just wish we could’ve spent more fishing time on Quincy, as the numbers would have most certainly been more. I suppose that the exploratory side of me wants to find out if the fishing could be better elsewhere compared to the first Quincy outing. Although it was easier to travel without a watercraft, my next trip back east will most definitely be with my pram in tow. There were so many place where it would’ve come in handy and been able to get into where it would be very tough and or impossible to cast from the shoreline. The weather was great, a little wind, but it added to the chop and we got bit very well under those conditions, the sun did come out and we got some nice vitamin D as well. The photo of the trout with the gills exposed was very interesting… I actually hooked that fish twice today! If you look closely, the gill plates are undersized for the size of the fish, which was a very healthy otherwise, but somehow stunted in the hatchery or perhaps a genetic mutation? When I first hooked the fish I thought it was bleeding, but then I noticed both sides of the gills were showing, which was a first for me.

We’re heading Razor clamming this weekend, and the next opportunity for me to fish won’t be until after April 3rd. Hopefully, I’ll make it out to Dry Falls, and Lenore then.

I’ll leave you with this clip, which summed up what happened on many of these fish!  Its all good…

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Munn Lake: March 11th, 2011

I wanted to give Munn another try as it’d been a few weeks since I fished it and thought that I didn’t give it a good shot so Jeff H. and I decided for a few hours of stillwater fishing on the Tumwater lake.  The forecast wasn’t all that great with windy and cloudy skies with 30% chance of rain.  I met Jeff at the lake at 10:30 and we launched and anchored up in 16′ of water along the far south side of the lake.  The flies used were my snowcone bloodworm, size 18 on the bottom and then a black ribbed Chromer on the top. I’d taken my forceps off my rain coat, and didn’t have to way to measure the depth, so I had to guess using my sounder and counting off the approximate depth with my arms. It evidently worked as I had the first fish of the day and skinny rainbow that didn’t have much to give up in terms of throat sample.

It then went dead for me for the next hour while Jeff racked up a few more fish to the net. There was a decent hatch around 11-12:30 and the bugs seen were size 16 blacks and Chromies. I ended up with 5 on, and 3 landed, pretty tough fishing for 4 hours. I can’t blame it on the wind or the flies, but perhaps it was since I couldn’t confidently mark off from the bottom that I wasn’t hooking fish, while Jeff, who was anchored up just a cast away was getting better luck on his giant bloodworm with orange hot head bead.

I did get a nice 16″ Rainbow that fought the hardest and had a good stomach sample which included #18 blacks and Ambers, #14 black, and #16 Chromies with lots of Daphnia as well. I placed the sample in an old McDonalds cup and after a few minutes the nymphs emerged and shucked their skins to spread their wings and float on the top of the water!  These chironomids are the luckiest bugs alive, with a second chance at life… from the trouts mouth where it was certain death to vacuumed out and meant to mate and continue with their offspring. Water temp was 46 degrees, but the trout felt sluggish compared to the Lone counterparts which were much more active even in slightly colder water.

It was good to get out, but still not my Eastern WA beloved lakes… Next edition… Dusty Lake.

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Run and Gun: March 7th, 2011

 

 

 

After my Lone lake outing on Friday I found out that Thao T. made a solo run to the basin lakes and had a pretty nice haul of several holdover trout in the 8-9″ range and also some nice 15-16″ fish, with one large 25″ 4-5 lbs.

After a survey if the weather we agreed on making a bomber run back out to the scene of the action. We met at my house at 8:30 and busted out over the pass in search if some sun and a tug.

The pass temp was 33 degrees and dry and the traffic was wide open roads. Watch your speeds through Thorp as each time I pass by there the state patrol is usually there to greet those speeders.

Today was a little bit different than other Stillwater outings in that we had no waders, no boat, and no anchors. Since we knew that we’d be pressed for time we decided to fish from the shoreline. I was a bit reserved about fishing without knowing the depth or temp but after my first cast the indicator went down and a nice 14″ silvery trout was landed.

I thought that this might be the makings of a nice day, and it did turn out to be a nice day. Sunny and warm, clear and mostly ice free. Thao said that on Saturday the lake was about half open but the ice was thawing. I think we picked the right day as the lake was 95% ice free.

There wasn’t much of a hatch until about 1:30-2 but even that was a very small 18-20 black midge. It would be more of a bloodworm show. I had tied up some #14 bloods with red holographic rib and red thread body and craft pearlescent bead. Upon throat sampling several fish, we didn’t see much bug life, a few Daphnia, some weeds, grass, but no Chironomids! One even had a large leech that was partly digested. The fish were definitely on the move and looking for food.

Favorite flies were the #16 snowcone, and #16 Chromie under slip indicator using 4 lb Fluro. My trusty 10′ 5 wt. GLX Streamdance and Feathercraft cartridge SLA reel with 5 wt. Orvis wonderline complete the set up. It was nice just carrying some water, my Simms rolltop pack, one fly box with all the Chironomids I could ever use for a month, and a long handled net.

I ended up with 29 hits, and 22 landed, with many of those hits being short strikes and brief hookset with LDRs, smallest was 9″, the largest was 17″ Half the fish were silvery and bright, a third were dark and looked like they were trying to spawn, and the rest were regular Rainbow colored. I commented to Thao that it was a more ‘Organic Experience’ fishing the stillwater without the help of a boat, pontoon or other floating device. If you’re short on time or don’t want to hassle with hauling or setting up a boat, this might be a way to go to get away from the mobs for a quick getaway. I was limited on time, and only fished for 4 hours. Some people might think Im crazy, but I see it as a good therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto! March 4th, 2011

Even though I recently got back from Cabo I was looking forward to doing some stillwater fishing in eastern WA with the March 1st basin lakes opener.  Winter had its own idea and the grip of cold, rain, and frozen lakes isn’t conducive to good stillwater fishing. The air temps were hovering in the low to mid 40’s during the day and would dip below freezing overnight. I think the ideal temperature for fish to start waking up from the winter doldrums is 43-45 degrees. Good Chironomid hatches will appear and the fish seem to turn on like a light switch.

I needed to get outside as I’ve been working every day for the past two weeks without a day off and the cabin fever was setting in, so called up my buddy Shawn Y. aka Tonto and head out to Lone Lake.  Lone Lake (92 acres): Occupying a broad meadow area 2 miles southwest of Langley on Whidbey Island, Lone has a large WDFW access on the north shore and is open year-around. Trout fishing can vary widely from year-to-year due to cormorant predation.

I find it interesting that they allow motorized boats on this little lake and one time saw a ski boat with teenagers hoping to waterski. Little did they know that they should’ve checked the juice in the battery before trailering the boat down to the lake and launching it only to find out that the battery had drained over the winter.

Its a bit tougher for me these days to get out the door on a timely manner as my responsibilty in the mornings is to feed, clean, and get my son ready for the day. I wanted to get him to grandma’s house by 8 am, but that was delayed by 30 mintues.

I did make it on time to meet Shawn at Northgate mall, but he forgot his flippers and was running late, so we didn’t get out the parking lot until 9:45. We did catch the 10:40 ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton and the short crossing was a pleasant one. Once on the other side, we stopped at the Red apple for sandwiches as Shawn highly recommended the deli counter. Again… more and more delays.

We finally made it out to the launch a little after 11 and then had to rig up our boats, rods, lines, leaders, tippets, flies and after what seemed to be a whole day finally made it on the water by 11:30 or so. I quickly rowed over to the far east bay in about 12-13′ of water.  I’d run out of the house so quickly that I missed grabbing my Fishin’ buddy sounder mount. I had the sounder, but no mount, so I had to spot temp and depth gauge the water.  Since this was my second time fishing Lone, I am unfamiliar with the better holding spots for fish, but in the time that I did fish it a couple of years ago, I did notice that some Chironomid anglers were anchored up in the far east bay.

I set up my floating line with a various combo of chrome, red, black, brown without too much action. I was thinking, great, this is going to be a slooooow rest of the day, what else could happen today to delay the fishing anymore! I tried for another 40 minutes before moving the location slightly based on what I observed. A large number of adult Chironomids that were congregated in the east bay and then I saw a trout midge on the surface, the first signs of fish life of the day.  I pulled my anchors and proceeded over to that location and re-established my anchor points.

Down went the bugs again: I was using a size 14, 2x scud hook with red thread, fine red wire rib, and a 5/32 white snowcone bead head. I casted out and did my usual thing…wait. After a few twitches, I thought I saw the indicator move, but it was moving a little odd, with to going slightly to the side versus down. Its tough to see the little indicator when its casted out 60 or more feet and I didn’t know if it was the waves, wind or just my winter eyes not being used to seeing the small red bobber.

On the third movement I decided to set the rod and low and behold the line tightened and the pulsing of what could only be what I came for was tugging at the end of my leader. Now I definitely knew that the fish were finicky and pluckin the bugs gingerly without those violent grabs that I am use to seeing in BC and in eastern WA. After my 5th fish, Shawn kicks over and asked how I was doing.  I said, great! I’d caught three in a row but missed three others.

He had one nibble on the leech pattern he was trolling, so I told him to come over next to me and we could tie up and I’d throw on the same leader and give him the bloodworm that I was using.

We proceeded to have a great time for the next few hours playing, landing and releasing some fine trout that put up a nice fight with some tailwalkers and surface breakers. At two points, both Shawn and I had doubleheaders, fighting two fish while anchored up in close proximity of each other.  The fish averaged 14-15″ with the largest being 17″. Most of the fish were very silvery and with all the fins in excellent condition. A few were starting to color up as if they were trying to spawn.  We did catch a bow that looked like it had 9 lives, with some talon marks on both sides of its body. There was a male bald eagle eyeing the lake as we fished and I suspect that it was once in the clutches of the birds talons.

We never moved from that spot that I anchored and the final tally for me was 19 hooked, and 14 landed in 4 hours. Water temp was 44-45 degrees, with a decent hatch noted around noon to 1:30 and then again from 2:30-3:30 of size 16-18 Chironomid adults. A really spectacular day of Chironomid fishing. Shawn had 6 landed to his credit, but had a blast.  He put it in the right context, ‘Chironomid fishing takes me back to my youth… I feel like a kid whenever I see that indicator (bobber) plung down and a fish is on the other end!’


Perhaps thats why I love this type of fishing so much is that it does take my back to my youth and the pure enjoyment and curiosity of what will be at the end of the line. We had a blast, even though the fishing time was short. The rain pulsed and the wind started kicking up, so it was a good time to call it and make the ferry journey and drive back home.

I’d never really understood the allure of Lone lake, but after todays outing, I think I’ll definitely be fishing this little gem more in the future.

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