So, it was a summer well spent fishing in eastern Washington. There was always sun, heat and good folks which are the main reasons I head over there. It reminds me of growing up in Montana and heaven knows we don’t get what sun and heat we need on this side of the mountains … we do get good people though, which is why I joined this club.
The Yakima River fished both tough and easy … Ted Liner and I hit it in the early spring with his raft set up wonderfully for fly fishing, thanks Ted. We had a go of it but landed few trout. The weather was picture perfect and we fished the day in shirt sleeves. We both left with a taste of the Yak still needing to be satisfied and agreed to hit it again, but alas, our schedules did not work out so Ted we still need to get over there!
In September early, I and my two college age boys booked a trip with Troutwater and Jonny Boitano on the Yak. Jonny and the Yak did not disappoint, it had been a few years since I was with my oldest son John and Jonny B on the river, and they had a grand time catching up. Jonny put us on fish right away and going the extra mile would row back up a slot every now and then to make sure we had caught the hungry trout that were there. The youngest son had not fly fished before … I know, as my son he should have but he told me early on “Pops, I am not a camping kind of guy” so I let him off the hook so to speak. After a quick lesson on casting from our intrepid guide, he was into fish all day and really caught on quick with both the catching and the fishing guy banter. By the end of the day we were exhausted from it all and had smiles on our faces the rest of the guy trip. I did beat him in numbers of fish to hand but he schooled me at golf the next couple of days.
Rocky Ford, my favorite spot to camp and fish. Not sure why but it seems that whenever I go there the Ford is kind and the company is just what the doctor ordered. During my many trips camping there alone I seem to run into nice guys just looking to get away like myself. A few years ago, I met a guy there that after talking around the campfire, I realized liked fishing in eastern Washington as much as I do, we have since become good fishing buddies and meet up over there all the time … of course the Ford is our camping base. Another time I met a guy who owns a fly tying company called Amazing Flies and since we have met there a few times as well as other places and fished our flies off. Each time I wonder who I might meet there, once a trailer full of guys out to have a grand ole time … and we did … got a little fishing in too. Another, a couple of guys who have fished the world and heard about Rocky Ford and had to come see for themselves. They were amazed and vowed to come back. Sometimes locals, there was this guy last year who told me he fishes there every day and had a fish counter around his neck, 723 fish counted so far and it was only late June. I did learn a few tidbits from him and watched him catch four right off the dock in short order. Last weekend with my buddy Eric mentioned earlier, we ran into a couple Californians well outfitted and looked like seasoned fly fishers but were having a tough go of it. So after a few pointers, a spot or two located and a couple beers they headed off to try their luck. At the end of the day in camp one had a smile on his face so big I think it is still there … he proudly showed me a picture of him with a fish at least ten pounds! Maybe I should keep the tips to a minimum for Californians …
A day spent on the Spokane River was productive but for the wrong fish, bass. While I was after trout, apparently the bass liked my offerings and I was unfamiliar with just where to fish. I think I ended up in a “bass only” stretch. After talking with Fred Timms on where to go I missed the trout area by about a couple miles. Bass are good though, I think.
Small streams and creeks in eastern Washington are great places to try your luck in unfamiliar waters. I spent some time scouting around above Moses Lake in the Glloyd Seeps Wildlife Area and found a few that produced and a few that did not. I am not sure I could find them again if I tried as none were particularly memorable from the natural beauty or catching standpoint. As a matter of fact I found at least ten so called lakes that were visible on the map but upon reaching them … bone dry and for a while. Someone should tell the map guys to update their databases.
Off Pinto Ridge Road south of Coulee City, I found a lake called Trail Lake. On the map it is quite small but on arriving the lake was actually quite large (all the dry lakes must have given their water to this one), and deep, real deep. From the looks of the terrain, on the west side where there is a rather large irrigation canal, the side of the lake goes down and down and down until the water is a deep blue. With no one around or on the lake I was not sure what I would find, but driving along the canal road and looking down I could see a lot of carp. Perfect! The wind was howling from the east so I floated a fly over the edge and down about 40 feet to the lake. When it landed several carp headed toward it and one nosed up and inhaled the fly, and promptly took off toward the middle of the lake. It was fun fighting it from up high and scrambling down to unhook it finally. Several bass in the 14” range to hand were caught and released also.
Crab Creek winds through that area and I found a few places to approach it and wet a line. Although it did not produce, I think it worth another day exploring to see if there are better places on the creek to find fish.
A hike down into Dusty Lake was beautiful but also, not real productive. I saw one fisherman catch a fish from the bank and had caught several a couple years before but not this time.
After a hot day hiking down Rocky Ford Creek below Hwy 17 between Ephrata and Moses Lake, all I can say is “Its a hike”. That and there are fish there, mostly carp and bass but trout few and far between. A good exploration of this area is warranted for carp but I need to keep in mind that there are probably better more accessible places for that wily beast.
Out of the dozen or so trips, thinking back over the summer, I just realized I did not fish the Columbia once, what a shame as it typically produces fish and is a great time … well, I guess I had to leave some water in that area for next summer.