I fished the Skagit yesterday at Swift Creek. It was a nice 23 degrees when we got on the water about 8:30 am but did warm up as the day progressed. I had 6 layers on and very comfortable. To my surprise we had the entire run to ourselves until mid-afternoon. The bite came in waves with periods of slow fishing (one fish hook up every 10 minutes to super hot, one fish on almost every cast. The magic fly was a pink bunny leech in smaller sizes. I fished an 8 wt. with sink tip but found the fish were so close in at the head of the run that the tip would hang up, also unintentionally wrapping the fly around the fish’s tail on a few hook up, creating a wild ride to shore. If you fish a sink tip it needs to be very short and very light, maybe 60 grains. We pulled off the water around 2:30 after my pal Scott fell in, giving up the hole to two anglers who just showed up as we were leaving. Landing these fish is a real challenge and I highly recommend bringing a wading stick as it takes some time to get to shore after the hook up. Both of us landed fish in double digits. BTW: you must fish barbless hooks on the Skagit and release these fish also. I may try and get back out next week but sense the run may be nearing an end too. It was reported to me that WA. Fish and Wildlife were netting fish on both Thursday and Friday last week at this run to get eggs for the broodstock hatchery program. No idea if they will be back next week. For those of you who want to know how to find this run it is up the road from Rockport State Park maybe 2 miles. Park at the pullout and access the trail across the road. There is one small hill descent that requires some careful navigation to get to the river.
There is a coastal cutthroat hatchery and boat launch at Blue Creek, about 7 miles west of the barrier dam. This is the only stretch of river where you can catch and keep fin-clipped coastal cutthroat, with a limit of 5. During the winter steelhead runs, there might be 60 motorized sleds in the area. This time of year is quiet. We saw only one other boat, and they were throwing gear for summer-run steelhead and Chinook (they caught a 20 pound Chinook). There’s a nice 5 mile float to the next take-out, which took us about 6 hours. We fished mainly from the boat, with October Caddis. We also wade-fished a couple of stretches and I had a lot of action using a trout Spey rod and a Purple Joe. These fish are aggressive on the take, and put up a nice fight. My largest was about 16 inches, but I have seen them up to 20 inches. They start appearing in late August through October. Once the November rains raise the river, they’re harder to locate.
I fished with club member Kyler Ries at Rocky Ford on Friday. We both landed 3 fish, lost 3 more. I have never seen it so crowded. What made it more challenging was zero wind and bright sun. Multiple flies worked including the Squirmy wormey, glo bug, size 22 zebra midge, size 18 olive scud, and a few others. My best fish was this gorgeous rainbow that measured 24″. Not my best fish handling but I did make sure the fish was fully recovered before it swam away.
On April 13, 2019, at 1:00 PM, you are invited to attend the Dedication of OFFC’s Memorial Bench honoring past members.
We will honor the memories of 20 past OFFC members who helped make OFFC what it is today and are fondly remembered. The Memorial Bench is intended to be a living legacy where we can continue to honor generations of OFFC members and inspire each other by their examples.
For complete details including directions to Rocky Ford, and suggested overnight accommodations in the Rocky Ford area see the March issue of Windknots which contains all the pertinent information.
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.
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 …
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.