Okanogan Fishing Trip -- October 2005

Having secured a trusted sitter in the form of my mother... Amy and I hit the road on Saturday morning for a 3 day fish-a-thon. Our first stop was to be All About The Fly but we got there too early so pushed on to Sultan where we feasted on e and b at the Dutch Cup. Full to the nipples, we got back in the truck and headed for Fish Lake outside Leavenworth.

Day 1 - Fish Lake

Fish Lake was, well, how do you say... a madhouse. There tents and campers everywhere and someone was blaring Lynard Skynerd all day. The two large steel pontoon boats were constantly in use, ferrying the participants to intoxication and back.

At the general store, we asked for the fishing report. The proprietors showed us the Polaroids of the 7lb trout that was caught the day before and the 10lb trout that was caught the week before. Pictures like that are enough to make you gladly fork over your $5 and high tail your little 8ft boat into the water. We launched just before noon to a perfectly calm day, which is what you want at Fish Lake because it can get hella windy out there I hear. The water was bright green and filled with what looked like grass clippings!

Amy decided she liked the look of a fly the remarkable Wetline tied for me - it was a bunny leech with a yellow beard. Me? I tied on a standard olive wooly bugger. We trolled around and experienced a strike frenzy. Between the two of us over that afternoon we experienced at least 60 strikes with about 25% conversion to the boat. There are so many freaking fish in Fish Lake its crazy. Amy was having a great time and she caught 7 and I caught 8. We kept 6 of them, including a 9" perch, for my mom who has a taste for the finned friends. We never caught the big one, but we had a blast until the wind picked up and the bite died down. Amy said that the experience had reawakened her "inner angler," which I think had been asleep ever since Casey was born.

Afterward, we stopped in Leavenworth for some beers at the Visconti brewery and we talked to this one other couple about our age. They were in town for Oktoberfest (does that explain the guy in the pope hat in the street?). That morning they had gone to check in to their bed and breakfast, which they had never set eyes on. Upon going in the front door they found no one. There were people sleeping in the bedrooms and the den had a rack of semi-automatic weapons! At some point they realized that they were not in the b & b! They'd taken a wrong turn and were wandering around in someone strangers house! We laughed about that and had a wonderful time just having drinks and talking to strangers out on the town.

Day 2 - OMG Lake

The next day we got an early start in the town of ____. We drove ___ hours to ____ lake (which I will call, for the remainder of this report OMG Lake). It was sunny but cold (35 degrees) when we arrived there. Two large cows shuffled sullenly around the "launch". This seemed like the perfect desert lake and I was anxious to get out there and try our luck against some wily Lahontan Trout. We trolled our same flies around for an hour with no luck though we did sight some fish. In fact, Amy sighted a medium size Lahontan cruising behind us and it even followed my fly for a time before darting away. I changed flies to a Gil's Monster, which is sort of like a cross between a Carey Special and dryer lint. A few minutes later I got a strike as we turned and bam, fish on! I fought a glorious 22" Lahontan trout to the net we got a picture and set him free. The weather was warm now and we were able to free up some clothes and enjoy the October sun on the water. A few other fly fishermen appeared at OMG lake and were talked to them for a while. They left a few hours later, skunked.

We took a lunch break at a nearby resort run by Brian and Dale. We played cards while waiting for our burgers and Brian gave us a tour of the place. We've decided we should make reservations for next year (so we can fish OMG lake).

Back to OMG lake in the afternoon we started getting dialed in. Amy took this 5lb fish on my 4wt - the fly was a pheasant tail under an indicator. Yee-haw! I had no idea the fish were going to be this big!!! I released another six of the beasts and they all ranged from a relatively puny 17" male to a 24" female. One thing that threw me was about halfway through the day I realized that these fish were spawning. Several times we saw pairs of the highly colored fish cruising the shoreline together. This surprised me because 1) I didn't realize they could spawn in still water and 2) I assumed they spawned in the spring like other Trout. We fished until we couldn't see anymore. I hooked another three and lost them. The last fish of the day was a juvenile Lahontan about 12" long taken on a Carey Special. Even though this particular lake allows one fish to be taken we released them all. We couldn't bear the thought of killing such beautiful fish. What a fantastic day fishing for Lahontans on an empty desert lake in the sunshine. Oh, we and we saw 10 turtles sunning themselves on rocks and logs. Very cool.

That night we stopped in the town of _____ for some drinks and dinner. We were a little tight as we left and we drove over some mountain pass in the truck. Things got pretty freaky so I pulled off the road and we pretended we were teenagers for a while. Woo hoo!

Day 3 - Big Twin and the Methow

After a killer breakfast of e & b at the Antler's Tavern in Twisp, we dropped our boat into Big Twin lake. The lake was down several feet from the last time I was there (last summer). There were fish rising unevenly through the lake. We trolled streamers, tried chironomids and hares ears for a few hours but got only one 16" fish. It was a nice fish but I think we were tired of being cooped up on the small boat. We loaded up and fished the Methow the rest of the day. There were steelhead moving through quickly. At the public fishing area downstream of Carlton we fished a pool that probably saw 20 steelies go through in two hours. Of course they avoided us like we were fish plague. It was so frustrating I was actually a little glad when we took off for home.

At some point in the day, fishing an indicator setup, I foulhooked the poor creature shown in the funny photo. It was either a carp or a sucker fish - I'm no expert on soft-mouthed creatures. Amy was a real sport for unhooking the beast for me and he was returned to the river unharmed and ugly as ever.

We enjoyed fishing the different types of lake environments - lots and lots of small (10-12") fish at the mountain-encircled Fish Lake, and then a few large (20+") fish at OMG lake in the desert. It was great to be away just the two of us for three days and two nights. Of course we missed our little guy and we happy to see him when we got back.