Monthly Archives: May 2011

Bomber report: May 20, 2011

Part 1:

I may need to see a psychiatrist for my addictions that result in pram envy.  As many of you know, I love boats and especially stillwater boats. In my recent years I’ve tried just about everything out there and was on the search for that perfect stillwater boat. My criteria was: lightweight, able to haul in the back of the pickup, stable, durable, and little or no maintenance involved. I’d recently acquired a Rogue pram last month and have been at work getting it prepped to my needs and then I found a guy in Spokane that was selling his Redwood welding pram based on the popular and highly sought after Metalhead pram.

I’ve never seen one of these prams in Washington as most of the boats were sold to owners in California and Oregon. I jumped at the opportunity to own one of these rare prams. Why the hype? Well, to start… they are light. I would guess the weight of the boat alone comes in around 70 lbs, its also just perfect to slide into the back of my truck, its stable… oh yeah. With the front to back rocker, its easy to get in and out of the water and according to owners that have these boats, they can be taken down rivers with ease. There is no side to side rocker, so the pram sticks well to the water and holds very well with no instability issues. The construction is all aluminum with is welded and an ingenious internal handle system and raised oarlocks complete this boat.

The first day of the ad, I called the seller and asked if I could mail him a deposit to hold it, until I could get a day to blast out to Spokane and pick it up.  He agreed and I decided to make the 4.5 hour run today.  I would take a few items with me, including: fly rod, reels, chironomid and stillwater flies, my Fishin buddy, and lots of sunscreen as the forecast was calling for sunny and mid 70 temps.

I was able to bust out of the house at 5:30 am so I could have some time on one of those fabled Spokane area lakes. My plan was to fish Amber, but after hearing of some really great reports at Fishtrap, I decided to make a last minute change of plans. Once I picked up the pram, I made my way to Fishtrap, which is just a few miles off I-90 from exit 254. There is a resort there along with private dock and boat launch, which I believe costs $6 to launch. If I had a motorized boat or wanted to moor it, then it would make sense, but I found the public launch acceptable. Apparently Mike the owner of the resort is a fly fisherman as well, but today he wasn’t at the resort, so I couldn’t get much guidance in terms of hot locations or spots to try.

The WDFW lauch is just to the south of the resort and they have a primitive his and hers toilet, concrete ramp and decent parking for 10-15 rigs with trailers and a half dozen cars without. My initial impression of the lake reminded me of somewhere in Colorado, with the landscape, evergreens, basalt cliffs, and clear blue skies. Upon rigging up the new pram for its maiden voyage, I noticed alot of scurrying around with small scuds around the launch. The water was a deep green color but there were flecks of algae through the water column, making it a little hazy and flocculant.

The water temp measured 62 degrees when I got on at 10:30 am. There were already adult chironomids and many shucks evident on the surface with little emerger or presence of fish feeding up top. I quickly set up two lines: full sink with olive leech, and floating with chironomid. I started with the Chironomid set up, but after 30-45 minutes with no hookup, I was getting concerned. My process for discovering a new lake is determine the structure and look for signs of activity. In order to cover more ground, I put the olive leech down with the full sink and started a troll. I needed to find out what size, color and location that these fish were concentrated as the area near the launch wasn’t too successful for me.  Within minutes I had three fish on, with the largest measuring at 19″ according to my measure net. I sampled the throat and smaller size 14-16 chrome and amber bugs were seen.

I  glanced at the gent in a pontoon boat, he was just launching after me that morning and we were parallel to each other on the respective edges of the lake from the launch. He was into a fish just about the time I had my third one on, so after a hundred or so more yards of pulling the leech I decided to row across the channel as this grassy clearing looked promising.  I anchored down in 27 feet of water, which is surprisingly a steep drop from the edges of the lake. I was maybe 20 yards from the bank edge, but in the deep water almost immediately.

The rest of the report can probably be explained through the video and photos contained, but one very good thing to note was just the tenacity and the fierce take downs these fish had. It truly reminded me of fishing in BC. Most of the fish caught were in the 14-15″ category with a few in the 17,18, and the largest at 19″. Those 15″ were just the feistiest trout I’ve had the pleasure of catching here in WA. They exploded out of the water with some leaping up 4′ into the air several times.  The food life in this lake is just dense as I saw hundreds of smolts, fry, large chironomid schucks and big adults. Those 15″ fish all had rotund bellies and were very healthy. From what I’ve been told is that these fish get to be big not from triploid stocking, but there were all planted as fry. Since the lake is so rich, they grow very quickly and when these fish are hooked they fight like they’ve never been caught before.

Spokane isn’t Merritt, but its closer and there are alot of lakes that I still would like to fish. There are so many places that I need to investigate, but just takes some time and resources to do so, for now, it was good to fish a couple of new lakes.

Part 2:

I had heard of good fishing at Amber lake, which is a selective fishery lake near Fishtrap and about 8 miles away on a combination of dirty and backroads that was about the most scenic part of the trip. Parts the the landscape looked like the BC interior, Montana and Colorado all mixed together.  Have you ever heard the saying; “never leave fish to find fish?”  I should have taken that advice and upon my rolling up to the boat launch at Amber it was a stark contrast from what I’d seen just minutes earlier at Fishtrap.

First of all, the water clarity showed no signs of flocculation, and there wasn’t much going on in terms of hatch, schucks, adult chironomids.  There were however some Baetis adults and a minute midge hatch, but not enough to keep my attention. I did however set up the pram and launch to give it a try. Water temp measured 64 degrees and the absence of the blips on the Fishin’ buddy caused me some concern. I fished for a little over an hour without any hits or take downs, using various techniques and flies. There were a few other pontoon fisherman that occasionally were catching fish, but from what I could see they were all small fish that was consistent with the emerger feeders of 8-9″ that I was seeing sporatically on the lake.

I finally packed up at 5 pm and decided that I needed to get some energy for the 4 hour drive back home. I would have stayed, but I promised my wife that I would be back, so hitting the highway, I pounded out the 250 or so miles again. Beautiful country, and wonderful fishing at Fishtrap. There are still many un-explored lakes that are on my ‘to-do’ list including: Williams and Sprague. Perhaps with more time, I’ll be able to get back out to rip some lip.  Thanks to Jesse James and the Westslope Fly Shop for intel on the Spokane and Lincoln county lakes. Stop by and drop them a line when you’re in Spokane.

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Evening Ling: May 18th, 2011

My goal during this 6 weeks of Ling season was to get into fish with each outing and we got into them tonite. I had some cabin fever today while it was sunny and 60+ degrees out I had to spend most of the day inside.  I watched my son and did chores around the house while also preparing dinner so that my wife wouldn’t have to cook. It was just too gorgeous to be inside so after dinner she encouraged me to get out and fish, which I accepted gratefully.  The traffic getting into Seattle took a bit longer than expected, but I got to the boat launch by 6:50 and had an hour before the high tide and with a clear sun in the sky and warmer temps I wasn’t too concerned as I wanted to try out this fishery under the evening skies just to cover all our bases.

I invited Jeff H. to join me as his prior Ling outing with me gave him no love for the prehistoric and toothy creature. I advised him to switch out his line, so he did, using a Rio shooting head with clear intermediate running line mated to his GLX classic 9′ 10 wt.  I was using my trusty Sage RPLXi 9′ 11 wt. and Rio 30′ T-1000 shooting head custom spliced to a Rio 20 lb running line. This ends up being a great dredging line for the deep work that is so necessary for a good Ling bite.

We got into our first drift and within minutes Jeff’s reel is singing and the tip of his rod is pulsing and a big smile of his face appeared. He said, ‘oh- yeaaaaaaah’ as this was a nice Ling holding onto his big and nasty fly.

We ended up fishing a bit longer than expected since Jeff didn’t get the memo about minding his fly line when the kicker motor is in gear.  About an hour later… with the prop off and a dropped in the sink cotter pin, we finally freed his now very chewed up line to fish again.  It was getting darker but the wind did calm down just like the NOAA report, so we fished a little longer to try a few new spots without much success.

What a wonderful Spring evening to be on the water and enjoying some time fishing for Ling Cod on the fly.  I’ll be trying out a new spot next week in week 4 of Ling quest, stay tuned…

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Trout and Snakes… May 17, 2011

Jeff H. had some great success last Sunday with the deep water chironomid fishing so I wanted to take a stab at it since the weather report was looking positive for today. Although there was a full moon, which is negative for fresh water fishing, I wanted to get the Rogue pram out and row a few laps around the track. I arrived on the lake at 10 am and there wasn’t too much of a visible hatch going on, no birds, no shucking emergers, no slurping fish. Jeff is a master of the deep water technique and he has a knack for figuring out where the fish are hiding.

We found many willing partakers and enjoyed the sunshine and warmer temps, although having a wading jacket was nice towards the afternoon as it got a little breezy and cooler. We fished primarily from 47-50′ of water and marked fish fairly consistently throughout the water column. I tried black, chrome, amber, but the black seemed to be the ticket for me, while Jeff likes his Amber bug which had seen better days. He claimed to have landed over 50 fish on that fly and it showed with ripped up thread, and pretty much falling apart, it was still catching fish until he decided to retire it towards the afternoon.

I also tried a micro leech in black and burgundy, as well as a water boatmen pattern with limited success. While I did land a few fish on the black leech, it seemed that the fish were pretty keen to the size 12 bombers coming off. Around noon we saw alot of shucks and the throat samples revealed some very nicely sized big Chironomids.

I tried out a mini tripod that I had for years, and it worked much better than the big tripod and takes up less space. Here are some videos…

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Lone Lake: 5/12/11

I’d been chasing the Lings around and having fun that I put the Stillwaters on the backburner, even with the newly finished pram.

It’s been awhile since I fished with Chuck W. He just had his second child and was home on leave. We decided to try out Lone as there was some positive reports of good hatches and larger than average trout.

We caught the 9:30 ferry out of Mukilteo and launched the boats just after 10. Water temp was registering 58 degrees and Jeff H. had one near the launch, so thought it was going to be a great day.

Jeff and I exchanged some ideas and I got to see some very big colossal bombers that he sampled in the size 10 category. I decide to make my way towards the west end bay in 12′ of water where I would find some willing fish. Chuck would also join me for some Chironomid fun as we picked up very nice fish up to 18″ as measured on his measure net. See for yourself, some nice fighting and energetic trout.

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Categories: Fishing Reports | 3 Comments

Ling Quest: May 11, 2011

With the amount of boats and competition for the Ling Cod in the sound I wanted to get off the beaten path and explore some new water that might hold some fish. Its always nice to present the fly to a big Lingcod that has seen everything else, jigs, lures, darts, plugs, etc…  I am a firm believer that the fly has the right amount of movement and attraction that no other lure can generate. It also doesn’t hang up on the bottom like a jig does, so the presentation can be more natural like fleeing bait or a wounded fish.

Phil K. wanted to join me and we decided to launch in the south sound at Redondo to begin our quest. The boat launch is looking pretty crappy as currently there is only one lane for both launch and retrieve. The northern most lane is not even in the water and possibly under construction. This is one of the worst launches that I’ve used, period. The good thing is that its not salmon season and there wasn’t a line to launch or retrieve as this place gets to be a zoo come July – September.

We found some very fishy looking water, I won’t go into the details but we caught a little bit of everything out there and you can probably tell from the photos where we fished. Phil had a blast and is now a convert into the world of Lingcod fishing with a fly rod. I hope to get out a few more times to experiment with new techniques and locations in pursuit of the toothy fish that is so much fun to fish for on the fly.

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Hump day Lings: May 4th, 2011

After Sundays spectacular day on the water,  I was eagerly looking for the chance to try my luck again.  Getting to the boat launch was so problematic and I was an hour late due to draw bridges, traffic, wrong turns, construction. The folks with boats know this its really a pain to drive a fully loaded fishing boat through 1st Ave in Downtown Seattle. I finally made it to launch by 10:30 and we motored away towards the ‘shelf’ and proceeded to try out my new hybrid line that I created. I had purchased a 30′ shooting head of Tungsten 1000 grain line from a guy for $10. It was a brand new line, but pretty deep running and aggressive to throw. But I thought that this line would suit the bill as it sinks at a foot second and gets and keeps our heavy flies and I’m instantly fishing.

I dropped my rig and within the first drift, the line plowed down and a nice legal sized Ling was on! Once I released that one, within the 2nd or third pass, another one on. I’d finally found the right line and rod set up for this fishery. Today, I decided to put on the wt. and opted to fish my RPLXi 11 wt. which I use for blue water trips to Cabo. After the rod breaking episode, I don’t want to mess around nor do I want to break another 8 wt., so beef it called for, and beef it was!

I tried a new variation of fly as well, and it was a good choice, keeping the tail short, and stinger hook big, using a 4/0 saltwater Orvis chemically sharpened hook. Total tally was 7 Lings for me, Jeff will need to come back and get some payback for these bad boys, landing one on this video and also picking up a sea squirt as well.

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May Day

May Day occurs on May 1 and refers to several public holidays.[1] In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organised by communistsanarchistssocialists, and activist groups. May Day is also a traditional holiday in many cultures. That was the description from Wikipedia, but for me May 1st is a much more special day as it marks the opening of Ling Cod season in our Puget Sound. For the past several years a selected group of my closest fly fishing buddies gets to fish with me for the Puget Sound Wolf. I planned to get out this morning with Thao T. as he was the original innovator of fly fishing for Lings, so I’ll always save May 1st with his name on the calendar.

We met at the launch at 5:40 and proceeded to make the run to our normal spot, but when we found a dozen other boats and fisherman throwing their whole tackle box at the Lings we decided that we had enough of that and wanted to explore some other possible Ling water. A run across the sound onto another location also was fruitless as we pounded the water. Not that it wasn’t good at the first spot, Thao did land two average sized Lings, but I was still looking for my first big pull.

Our last idea was to try one last location which may have been overlooked, so we made another crossing, burning plenty of fuel but enjoying the wonderful May 1st sunshine and calm flat water. Upon my third cast, my line stopped and a fish was on! Ling a ding, that tug, there is nothing quite like that that feeling when you have your 8 wt. torqued and taco’d with a goliath fish. I picked up two fish there, so I was even with Thao.  We then decided to explore even more and ran to another locale that seemed to have a nest of Lings.

Our flies were eagerly engulfed and the pursuit was all worth it, the time, money, gas, broken gear… yes, and the lack of sleep. End of tally, I landed 5 Lings and Thao landed 6 with several others missed on poor hooksets. Since discovering this wonderful fishery a few years back, we’ve always kept a legal fish, but we’ve decided to release from here and now on all the Lings. Its our hope that it will become a better fishery in the future.  I wish it was May Day, everyday if I can consistently hook into big Lings like we did today.

Thao didn’t know how to operate my iphone, so the poor angle and video, but this was a nice fish!

Proper release of these beautiful fish

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New project

Many of you know that I am always on the search for the perfect boat based on my limited knowledge of fishing stillwater and just getting introduced a few years back to the Eastern WA lakes. I’ve love Chironomid fishing and even more so figuring out which boats have worked or not worked for me in the past, having owned several crafts ranging from 2 Springcreeks: 8′ Hopper 2, 8′ Classic. 1 Modulus HDPE Rotomolded pram, 8′ Aluminum Jon boat, 10′ Aluminum Jon boat, 10′ Koffler narrow back pram, 12′ Koffler wideback pram, Smith brothers 10′ and 8′ prams, and the most recent addition an 8′ Rogue Marine welded pram. The Rogue is very interesting because it is light, weighing in around 85 lbs and with the 8′ length it fits perfectly into the bed of my truck. It has the widest beam of all the prams in the 8′ category that I’ve owned at 53″ making it especially stable and also having higher sides measuring 17″ at the highest point on the gunnel.  I believe the floors, bow and transom are all 0.080″ thickness with the walls being 0.063″ making it light but still rigid enough to take on some abuse. The boat came with an integrated bow anchor lock and 10lb anchor nest made of diamond plate, a web wrapped rowers seat, wood Gull oars that were rope wrapped, and short lengths of rope, too short for my needs…  I knew I would be configuring this to suit my needs in terms of balance, seat position, oar lock position, and customization for comfort and transportability while fishing for trout, salmon and possibly other species. The first upgrade was to ditch the wood oars and go with a 6.5′ Cataract Mini Mag oar which I got some help from Jeff on rope wrapping. Next upgrade was to figure out how to box out the seat area so that I could have a place to store my fly boxes, forceps, throat pump, etc… without cluttering up the floor. A trip to Lowes would find some aluminum diamond plate and some aluminum rivets that would be perfect to finish out the trays. Next would be a way to figure out the seating, so a trip to TAP plastics would yield some black HDPE Marine Starboard in 1/2″ thickness for the seat platform, and 1″ thickness for the transom motor block. Lastly, I’d have to figure out the transom anchor mount, so some starboard, and a Folbe locking base would serve to mount the Thomas extension arm and pocket pulley. Some misc. upgrades I will be on the lookout for are some bartending grating or larger floor mat to cover the floor so I can set my reel down without damage and absorb some noise, and a snap lid storage bin to fit under the rowers bench that would store: life vest, extra oar lock, small tools, knife, rain coat, pants, and lunch. I want to keep the floors as clutter free as possible and organized for easy transport. I was trying to figure out what sort of seat that I’d use and ended up recycling a used seat that I had with swivel base. This allows me to easily spin around to pull the sometimes very heavy bow anchor when its bedded down in the mud and or fish 360 degrees, something I missed from the Springcreek pram platform. I also had some leftover Scotty rod holder parts and in particular a fly rod holder, so I used some rail mounts and positioned it near the starboard side so that its easy access or when Im fishing BC with two rods I’ll be able to leave one in the holder position as to not potential lose it to a big fish.

The hull is flat bottom with a little rocker from the bow to stern, in addition two extra chines in the mid span of the hull have been welded for extra rigidity and tracking on the water. My first impressions of the boat were excellent, the zolatone interior finish and the standard clear coat aluminum give it a techno look and there is little displacement and it rows, stops and turns like a exotic european sportscar.  Its been a busy couple of weeks, but hope to get out on Monday to enjoy the fruits of my labors. I really do hope that this is my last pram and that its dialed in correctly.

Some you might ask, ‘so what about your Smith boat’? That was an interesting story since I was and still am very in love with that boat. My buddy Thao, has been waiting for his pram to be built by Ron and Fred Smith, but my Smith was intended for him last year. He was just too busy last year and didn’t fish any stillwater, so he let me buy it instead. Short of the story is that since I can’t fish two boats, I figured I’d pass the Smith back to its rightful owner and I’ll have Fred build me another one so that I can hand that down to my son when he is old enough to fish with me and row that boat.

I really like the versatility of having an aluminum boat again, no delamination issues like I did in the Spring Creeks, no stability issues like in the Modulus or 8′ Jon boats, no long lengths or too heavy to put in the back of the truck like the Kofflers, and no worries about sanding and re-varnishing every other year like the wood boats. I am also planning on taking this into tight quarters where a trailered pram cannot be taken, launching from beaches and fishing for salmon since I’ll simply just rinse it out and store her away. I might even in a pinch opt to drift the Yakima river when I have a hankering to run a river.

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