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.
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.