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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