The weather started out beautiful and warm on June 25th for the Rattlesnake Lake outing. I almost left my jacket at home. By the time I reached downtown Kirkland there was a literal hurricane blowing through, ripping whole branches off trees. After checking weather radar I could see that it had already blown through North Bend so I continued out to the event. When I got there I heard stories of the group effort to hold the tent to the table, but the weather was just a little damp. Nate & Midori, as always, had laid out quite a spread of food and about 20 members must have heard how good it was last year because they came despite the weather. A handful also tried fishing in small boats. Fish could be seen feeding on the surface, but it was a challenge getting them to go for the fly.
On April 20, I set out for San Jose, Costa Rica to meet up with seven other friends from the Seattle/Tacoma area to head out to Nicaragua for some tarpon fishing. After a short flight from San Jose to San Juan de Nicaragua, we boarded boats for the 10 minute jaunt to the Rio Indio Lodge. This lodge was built about 10 years ago and billed as an Ecotourism Lodge, but has since added the fishing aspect as this area at the mouth of the San Juan River is right on the migratory route for big tarpon. The lodge was really beautiful and built right in the jungle. We arrived on Sunday and were fishing by Sunday afternoon. I was the only person fishing flies. The gear guys were using jigs or bait (sardines) if available. My partner hooked up and landed his first tarpon early Sunday afternoon. At around 4:50pm, my Tibor Pacific reel attached to my 14 wt Orvis Helios2 started screaming and the fight was on. Once you get past the first jump (which happens almost immediately), you’re probably hooked up well. After about 40 minutes, I landed my first tarpon – around 75 lbs. I caught the fish on my own hand tied Black/Green/White Deceiver on a 6/0 hook using 25 lb class tippet with a 100 lb shock tippet. Pretty exciting. Throughout the rest of the week, I had 3 other hookups, but did not land another tarpon. I did however, land a very nice Jack Crevalle, again on one of my Deceiver ties. The guys using bait did better, but I refused to go over to the “dark side”. While at Rio Indio, we also did a day of jungle fishing which was really fascinating. The guide took us into the jungle through some nasty and shallow water (sometimes having to paddle) to get us to the area where we fished for Guapote or Rainbow Bass. Lots of fun. My partner and I caught over a dozen Guapote the largest weighing in at about 6 lbs. I did very well using a Black Starlight Leech on my 6 wt Orvis Zero Gravity rod. The last item of particular interest about Rio Indio is its resident crocodile. The croc, named Juan Cho, has been coming to the lodge dock every evening since the lodge owners first started coming to the area in 1990. They, of course, feed him. The Discovery Channel did a special on the croc and he is 125 years old, 19’1” long, and weighs about 1250 lbs. He just nonchalantly swam up to the boat dock into one of the slips every evening waiting for his fresh snack. The picture attached shows Juan Cho dining on a Jack Crevalle. Pretty spectacular sight. We had a great time at Rio Indio Lodge.
Upon our return to San Jose, four of our group of eight remained to travel to Quepos, Costa Rica for some Sailfish fishing. We flew to Quepos on April 26 and had Sunday, April 27 off to explore and chill in Quepos. This is a nice, quaint seaside town and we learned that there were a lot of American expats living there. The town itself had some really nice bars and eating establishments, but the high rent district was up the hill on the way to Manuel Antonio National Park, which is supposed to be pretty spectacular. Anyway, our first day of fishing was Monday, April 29. We boarded the “Sea Lady” captained by CPT Eric along with deckhand El Chita. We proceeded about 25 miles offshore in search of Sailfish. I had my 14 wt rod rigged up with a sailfish popper, ready to go, but with trolling eight bait rods with an additional 3 teasers, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to get to the sails with the fly. I’m not proud, but I did enter the rotation for the fighting chair and landed 3 sails on gear. I’m not including any pictures of the sails since they don’t count, being caught on gear. I did however catch a few Yellowtails and small Dorado on the fly while we were fishing for Sailfish. On the last day, we did some inshore fishing for Rooster fish. I was using my 6 wt Zero Gravity casting on the bow of the boat. It was pretty rough as we were right in the surf. All of a sudden I saw a big fish right beside the boat. I already had my fly out on that side and as it swung around, the fish saw it and developed some interest. I stripped it in a few times and suddenly, FISH ON! This was a pretty big fish for what felt like a really wimpy 6 wt rod. But, about 45 minutes later with the help of CPT Eric helping in the chase, I landed a 35 lb Tripletail (kind of a black snapper). Quite a fight on the 6 wt. Deckhand El Chita indicated that these fish were really good eating and that he would be happy to take the fish, so this fellow was not released unscathed. We continued on to another area by a bunch of big rocks to seek Roosters. One of the gear guys landed one. Beautiful fish – really hard fighters. Since we were told Roosters would take nothing but live bait, I thought I would use the 6 wt rod with a “live sardine” fly. Yes I know it’s cheating and I deserve a ration of $*%!, but what the hell. I wanted to catch a Rooster. Right at the end of the day, I did hookup and again, after a 45 minute battle, landed a 30+ lb Rooster fish. The rod broke just as we had the fish up to the boat but we landed the fish anyway. Catching the Yellowtail and the Rooster on the 6 wt. was quite a battle, but the rod was way overmatched. I was quite impressed with the strength of the rod.
All in all, this was a really great trip. I got to explore some new areas, catch some big saltwater gamefish on the fly, and have a lot of fun with a great bunch of guys.
At the age of 6 my father introduced me to the art of fishing streams and much later, to fishing lakes. At the time I did not think anything about it as fishing was fishing, no matter where it was. But now that I look back over those years I have come to realize that I have stopped fishing small stream in favor of the stillwaters of lakes. I also know that is not the norm for many fly fisherpersons and the methods and sometime equipment is somewhat different. With this in mind, I am taking on the task of explaining some of the things that makes stillwaters fishing in B.C. my passion.
I will start with, a few of my reasons for fly fishing on lakes in B.C. which are as follows: (1) lots of small lakes that are perfect for fly fishing, (2) few people to content with. (3) Lots of wild life and scenic beauty. (4) It take a day or two days of driving to get to these fishing areas, which are far, far away for the city life. (5) Lots of fish, simple, huh?
But you might say that you can find the same thing in Eastern Washington which is true to some extent but you can not find the legendary Kamloop trout. Of course there are Rainbow trout in most of the lakes and some lakes have Kookanee which can give you one heck of fight for their size.
For a beginner fly fisherperson, you can start fly fishing on lakes with two simple techniques; (1) Trolling a fly such as a Wooly Bugger, or a Carey Special or (2) Chironomidae fishing with a bobber. Both methods are effective and many times the only way to find fish in a lake you never fished before. Of course both these methods are fished below the surface. Trolling requires the use a wet line and Chironmidae fishing will be done with a dry line with a bobber set so that the fly is at the same depth as the fish.
Trolling very slowly allows you to search areas of a lake shore or shoals while observing the surface for hatches, spent shucks or bird activity. You may use a row boat, canoe, pontoon boat or float tubes depending on the access to the lake or your personal preference. A row boat or canoes are fine for two persons and you can cover a lot of water with them. Pontoon boats or float tubes will allow you to get into lakes that do not have road access and let you fish closer to the shore and are less expensive to acquire. You can row slowly or you can let the wind drift you across the lake, assuming it is where you were you wanted to fish. But remember to keep an eye open for where the wind is blowing you, as you will still have to get back to you launch site at the end of the day.
Chironmidae fishing can be done from any type boat anchored in front and rear to keep the boat from moving. It is much like fishing with a bobber when you were a kid. The bobber (strike indicator) will keep the fly at the depth of the fish. You will use a long leader, 12 feet or longer, so that the dry line will float and the fly will descend to the depth of the fish as set by the bobber. Yes, I know that this method of fly fishing may seem odd, but it is effective. Once the fly is at the depth, you will retrieve it very, very, very slowly, to emulate the Chironmidae as it ascends to the surface on a bubble of air. You must be very quiet and patient which is why many fly fishermen pass this part of the sport up. However, this method can be effective when nothing else will work.
Another method of fishing lakes is with a dry fly, on the surface or subsurface, much as you would a stream except you will not have the current to take the fly to the fish. This is where the Pontoon boat and float tube comes into their own. These crafts will allow you to work the shoreline without the problem of the wind that you have with the row boat or canoe. Also they are much less expense and easier to store in you garage. Dry fly fishing is either done in a hatch or along the shore where the reeds, grasses or dead trees give cover for the fish from their predators. I must admit that less then ¼ of my fishing is with a dry fly but it always gives me an adrenalin rush when you see the fish strike the fly on the surface.
As for rods, you will need a 8 ½ to 9 foot rod in a 5 or 6 weight because you will be lower on the water and you need the extra length to keep the fly off the water when you cast. There are two different types of rods I use for Lake fishing. I use a medium to fast for dry flies to keep my casts to a minimum and medium to soft rod for Chironmidae fishing as you will get fewer break offs when the strike hits the softer rod.
You will find that the prices in British Columbia are reasonable and the exchange rate is near par. One note of caution, take your passport with you. It is not for the Canadians, but for when you return to the U.S. After 9/11, the U.S. customs must see some sort of photo ID and the passport is best.
More detailed information on lake fishing can be found in (1) “The Gilly”, a flyfisher’s guide compiled & edited by Alfred G. Davy. This book is a collection of writings by some of the legends of British Columbia, past and present. (2) Morris & Chan on Fly Fishing Trout Lakes, (3) Fly Patterns for Stillwaters, a study of trout, Entomology and Tying by Philip Rowley. (4) “Hatch Guide for Lakes, Naturals and their Imitations for Stillwater trout fishing”. All of these are published by Frank Amato Publications.
Videos in our OFFC library include: (1) Trout in Still Waters by Gary Borger, (2) Flyfishing Still Waters with Alf Davy, (3) Flyfishing Strategies for Still waters – Volume I & II by Brian Chan, (4) Lake Fishing Techniques for Large Trout with Bill Mart, (5) Fly Fishing Stillwaters for Trophy Trout by Denny Rickards.
OK, so I have been to Rocky Ford on my way to and from business meeting and took a could newbies there a couple weekends ago. Funny thing about this place, when other waters are getting hammered with folks, there is no one here and visa/versa. The last couple times, I was the only guy there, well almost … and with the newbies there were just a handful of fishermen out. The good news: This spring the hatchery released some large 10 pounders and I have actually been lucky enough to catch a few to hand. The water is above normal slightly, might be part of what the WDFW guy was talking of but this makes it all new in terms of how and where to fish. I find that good in that we can try new techniques and such. The bad: The WDFW has put chains across both footbridges for “Safety Reasons” the sign says. At the lower aluminum bridge it does appear the ramp just on the other side is listing at more than a 45 degree angle which could make it unsafe and on the upper foot bridge I am not sure why because every thing looked ok to me … I will try to find out more but this sure does put a cramp in hitting the Ford if we cannot fish the other side, especially the lower other side. Bummer for the summer. Note to self, must find other water to fish …
Just a quick email to find out who is interested so we can nail down some details over the next weeks before the outing. The date is Saturday, August 3rd starting at 8:30 at Banks Lake although I will be there the 2nd on Friday scouting out the known carp habitats so we can get on some Saturday.
As a few of you witnesses last summer at the outing the conditions have to be right for everything to come together and end up with the behemoth on the end of your line. Conditions such as sunshine to spot them, no wind and no chop on the water so we can see then, water temp at about 71 degrees or better, water levels which should not be a problem at Banks Lake at that time, the carp need to be feeding in groups … need I say that it is a hunt to be sure. Just laying this out so there are no disappointments if the conditions do not come together. I have been on Banks when they do and had 20 fish to hand in four hours, also have been skunked.
So if you are willing to take a chance on a good day, let me know. Ron Romig is bringing his jet boat and can get a few into position with that … if anyone else wants to bring a boat let me know. I will be wading in a couple different spots and can lead that group. If you are coming Friday we can camp at a campground near the lake that Ron’s friend owns, more details to follow.
Please let me know if you plan on coming and which days so I can plan accordingly. Any questions just shoot … Mark
Another club member and I went to Lone Lake just before Christmas for the first time. The weather was very mild and the lack of wind made it a prefect day to pursue some rainbows. I kicked my float tube across the mirror-like surface and took in the scenery. Tons of waterfowl were enjoying the quiet lake with me. But, within 30 minutes, I was rudely interrupted by two large and feisty rainbows, both over 19 inches! Unfortunately, the rest of the day was quiet and it got a lot colder so it was time to go home for the holidays…
On November 8th, I went to Beaver Lake with a fishing buddy. The WDFW had closed their public access on the lake, but we accessed the lake from a city park across the lake from the WDFW access. [The city park road is about 50 yards from the lake, so one needs a dolly or be able to carry the boat that distance.] The fishing was slow for the first hour or so. We trolled around the lake and caught nothing but the bottom.
Mid morning the WDFW truck arrived and dumped a load of nice fish into the lake. For those who have difficulty reading the water, that is a good sign. Shortly, everyone was catching fish. The problem for most was that the limit could only contain two fish greater than 15” in length; and the new fish were all larger than 15 inches. We didn’t have a problem because of catch and release can be done with artificial lures/flies. After about an hour, the fishing started to slow, but another truck arrived and the fishing became exciting again. Shortly after noon, we decided we’d caught enough fish and left to get lunch.
Finally picking up a few fish on a warm summer evening but it was starting to get dark. Another cast along a nice seam and I felt a take, made a quick little strip to set the hook and my line comes flying past my ear. I thought I had corn-rowed a little dink and turned downstream to bring him in for release. As I turn there was a bat flying surprisingly close, about 20 feet away. As I waded backwards he kept coming closer to me. It seemed he was going after my 3 weight and I started swatting at him as he kept buzzing me. Why was this bat attacking me? As I’m fencing with this guy he lands on the water next to me and I watch as he floats by. Never saw a bat land on the water to get a drink, I’ll have to look that one up on the internet. He floats harmlessly away and seemed to take off so I proceed to untangle the line I’ve got all over me from the swashbuckling. I’m feeling down the leader towards my tippet, but it’s wrapped around my back. I reached behind me and followed the tippet around to the front of my vest and thought the fly must be pinned on my vest somewhere.
As I felt along towards the fly and pulled the tippet away, I peeled the bat I thought had flown away from my vest pocket and saw he was hooked to my #16 parachute Adams! He starts flying around at the end of the tippet and started to get wrapped around my arm. I’m freaking out at this point not believing I caught a bat and was swinging him and my arm around wildly. I mini-roll casted him back into the water so he couldn’t fly around. I knew I needed to break this thing off, but wanted to keep the tag on the fly as short as possible. Inching up the line within a foot of him I accidentally popped him out of the water and he came after me again. I flipped him back into the water and didn’t care at this point how much line was on him, so I broke him off, lifted him off the water a bit and the little guy flew away. As my heart rate is decreasing, I realized what I originally thought was a take was actually the bat taking my fly off the water and he was hooked the whole time. I must have flicked him into the water the first time, he wasn’t getting a drink at all (less internet research now). When I thought I was fighting him off I was actually winding him in closer to me and he somehow grabbed on to the front of my vest to save himself from drowning. Glad no one else was on the river to hear the expletives during the ordeal.
I posted my experience on a local fly fishing web site and immediately got some great comments, recipes for barbequed bat and the like, but also got some serious suggestions to get checked for rabies. I hadn’t thought about that possibility. The medical facility for my company was right next door, so I thought I’d go over and see what they thought. After they stopped laughing, I was admitted and we called the county health department. The county folks said it wasn’t a laughing matter, that bats do sometimes carry rabies. “Did the bat bite you?” they asked. I said I didn’t think so. They said bat’s teeth are so tiny and sharp you might not know if you had been bitten. “Did you come in skin contact with the bat?” they asked. A bat’s saliva, urine and feces can also transmit rabies. I told them I was so busy sword fighting with him I couldn’t remember. The county recommended that I get the rabies vaccination since I could not be sure and I didn’t keep the bat for testing. Eight shots the first day then four more over the next few weeks was not much fun. I wish I had thought about what I’d do if I ever caught a bat before this happened.
Many of us fish in the early to late evening to take advantage of the hatch and so do the bats. A bat may sense your fly, but not the 6X tippet attached to it. Aside from eating lots of garlic, here are some recommendations on what to do if you hook a bat:
DO NOT TOUCH THE BAT or let it get close to you!
You want to break your line off and release the bat, ensuring your safety. Chances are the bat will not willingly fly into the water but if it does, lead it downstream away from you. If it continues to fly away from you, reel in until the bat is at your rod tip. Clip you tippet, leader or line if possible to reduce your chances of skin contact. Thoroughly wash all remaining line, your rod and reel. If you are bitten or come in skin contact with the bat, and feel confident enough he is well hooked, leave the water and find a way to contain the bat. The bat can then be checked for rabies and possibly save you a lot of pain. Should you get bitten, come in skin contact or are unsure if you came in contact, call your local county health department or local emergency room. Rabies is FATAL!
Two years ago, Michael and I were on vacation in Belize. We hired a guide to target a grand slam and split the cost of the trip with another couple we met who were on their Honeymoon. We felt fortunate to have met the same kind of fly fishing enthusiasts as we were. After an hour, the guide arrived on a remote and isolated island. This was the kind of island that you could forget every care because, not only did you not know where in the world you were, but it was only you, the sky and the “Ghosts of the Flats”. Everyone was on target catching the prized Bone Fish except for the new bride. But shortly, she joined our ranks. She was standing on the bow of the boat playing the fish and was inches from bringing it in. All of a sudden a huge Barracuda flew up and sliced the Bone Fish at a precise 45 degree angle between the head and the body. What she actually brought in was only the head of the fish. In our astonishment, I burst out, “Congratulations, you caught your first Bonehead!”
The day began with great anticipation. Don, my fishing buddy, and I had just purchased a drift boat to fish for steelhead. With no experience whatever, we just assumed that we could learn on the river. We launched on the upper section of an Olympic Peninsula river with no difficulty and gained confidence with each passing minute. Don was on the oars for the first drift. It was after I took the oars that the fun began. We entered a section of the river which was narrow and shallow. As we gained speed, I extended the sawyer oars straight out from the boat in an attempt to slow us down. The loud sound of the blade on the right oar breaking into two pieces was the first sign that things were not going well. The boat quickly started to spin in circles as we were out of control. After we reached calm waters, Don stated the obvious “ You don’t know what you are doing, let me take over” No argument from me. With Don at the oars, we approached another narrow and shallow section. This time, it was the left blade that broke into two pieces. That was just the beginning. The anchor rope became loose and the anchor dropped behind a large boulder in the middle of the river. The boat was now swinging violently back and forth in the white water. We looked at each other for a solution to our predicament. That was a waste of time. As we were swinging close to the river bank, I noticed the water was clear and seemed only two or three feet deep. I suggested that we try to get the boat close to the bank and I would jump in and then walk the boat upstream to loosen the rope and dislodge the anchor. Water depth can be deceiving. I jumped in and was completely submerged in eight feet of water. March on the Olympic Peninsula is not exactly prime time to take a swim. The fun was not over. We tried to hike out but heavy thick mud blocked our escape. Just when things seemed hopeless, another boat with two guys showed up and loaned up an extra oar. Drained of energy, we loaded the boat and headed for the first take out we could find. We now realize how fortunate we were as that first day on the water quickly taught us to respect the power and force of rivers.