Monday, December 1, 2008


I borrowed a friend's Kill-A-Watt to do some power testing around my house. For years I'd been eyeing an old electric pencil sharpener from the 1980's and wondering if it was drawing too much energy. Well, the short report is that I didn't find any sneaky ancient energy-wasters like I was hoping. In general, I was surprised at how little power most things used! The only exception is the Plasma TV's, but we'll get to hat in a minute.

My house used 2000 Kilowatt Hours (KWH) last month. A quick glance at my last few electricity bills shows that's a little high but not out of line. The power company charges me about 8.7 cents per KWH. So let's take a look at how many watts are used by some different computer things in my house.

By knowing how many watts a device is drawing, I think you can calculate the dollar amount per month like so:

Watts x <24> x <30> / <1000> x $0.087.

Or to make it short

Dollars per month = Watts x 0.0626

So with that simple calculation let's look at these values I recorded. Not all of these are on 24 hours a day though.Old Linux Server (34) Watts = $2.13 per month Old Computer Speakers (8 Watts) = $0.50 per month 2 x 42" Plasma Television (2x300 Watts) = $37.60 per month

10 lightbulbs at 50 Watts = (500 Watts) = $31.30 per month

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pretzel Nostril

I didn't ask him to do this. He was sitting there eating pretzels and I noticed he had one in his nose for about 10 minutes before I went and got my camera.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Boyle Lake Nasties

On Saturday I was determined to get at least one more backpacking / fishing trip in before the rainy season really set in. The mountains were going to be too cold and anyway I got a late start. So I decided to fish Boyle Lake in the Snoqualmie Tree Farm.

With winter waders, fins and float tube the pack weighed about 25 pounds. The hike to Boyle from the Spur 10 Gates was 45 minutes of solitude. Didn't see another soul (or animal). Weather was cold, like maybe 50 degrees. Arrived at the lake at 1pm and fished unil 5pm.

boyle lake
Boyle Lake

I've fished Boyle before and never caught anything. I've heard that Boyle sees almost NO ONE all season long but that's not entirely true: someone is maintaining the trail and the primitive launches. Whoever they are, I didn't see them on Saturday.

I caught one very blackish looking cutt of about 8" by the launch and then nothing for a couple of hours. I listened to Car Talk podcasts on my phone and after a couple of those I caught some bass at the far side of the lake; the largest of them was maybe 10".

Finally a mayfly hatch started. Nice big mayflies that happened to match the ones in my box! Over the last hour I caught perhaps a half dozen of the NASTIEST trout ever. The first fish was about 12", darkly colored and INFESTED with fish lice. I couldn't help it. I WAS OVERCOME WITH AN URGE TO PULL THEM ALL OUT, so I did. I used my forceps and pulled about 8 of the lice off of the dark beast.

Example of Fish Lice

I was totally grossed out. But I did it for every fish I caught for the next hour. One fish that I hooked came tail-walking across the water toward me; it was so dark and muddy looking that I recoiled in horror and was glad when it got off before it got to me.

The walk back to the truck was a long, cold walk in wet pants. I guess my neoprenes have a leak in them. I was exhausted by all the hiking and kicking around. That's a lot of work for those nasty fish. You'd think that much work would get you big, pretty fish but not this time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

2008 Marital Harmony Okanogan Trip

Blue Lake (Loomis)
Blue Lake (Loomis)

This was the third annual "Marital Harmony" fishing trip to the beautiful Okanogan region of our great state. We use this time to get away, just the two of us, for four days of fishing and re-connecting with each other. It is a very special time for the two of us in an area that we both think is incredibly beautiful. Also, there are big fish there!

Fishing highlights of the trip include:

  • Rocky Ford Creek - 3 big trout for David
  • Blue Lake (south of Loomis) - 5 trout for Amy, 4 for David
  • Blue Lake (south of Oroville) - 1 trout for each of us
  • Conconully Lake - 5 trout for David, 3 for Amy
  • The Yakima River in Easton - 3 trout for David, 2 for Amy
David: 14 rainbows, 1 brown, 1 Lahontan cutthroat Amy: 10 rainbows, 1 Lahontan cutthroat Ha, ha, I win. Actually it wasn't really like that (yes it was).

Amy Casting at Rocky Ford

Not wanting to do the 6-hour drive all in one go, on day one we stopped near Ephrata to fish Rocky Ford Creek. Even though it was a Tuesday, there were 15 guys there! They were the Vancouver (WA) Fly Fishing club on an outing to Dry Falls but the wind had forced them off the water and over to Rocky Ford. They were monopolizing the downstream fishing areas but Amy and I had to upper area all to ourselves.

Fly Caught in Hair at Rocky Ford

Fishing was generally difficult and slow. Sadly, Amy didn't hook anything except her own hair.

David Playing Rocky Ford Fish

I caught 3 fish, including one that was 20" -- your typical Rocky Ford chubby trout, but I caught them on flies that you wouldn't think would work there: San Juan Worm, a large Royal Wulff and an Adams.

Rocky Ford Sky David

After rocking the Ford, we drove three long hours north to the town of Omak, where we stayed at the Omak Inn and had TV dinners from the Wal-Mart. Now THAT'S livin' large! Actually the Omak Inn was pretty good, I'd stay there again.

Amy tying on at Blue Lake
Tying on at Blue Lake

There are two lakes named "Blue" in the Okanogan area. We visited them both the next day. We arrived at the one south of the town of Loomis just as the sun was breaking over the ridge. It was cold but still and there were fish rising all over.

Amy at Blue Lake

We fished the lake for the next four hours, regularly hooking up with the eager rainbows. The surprise of the day came when I hooked and caught this nice brown trout. I didn't even know that there WERE brown trout in this lake!

David's Blue Lake Brown
Surprise!Brown Trout from Blue Lake

In the afternoon we moved operations to the OTHER blue lake, where fishing was slow until we figured out that we needed to fish DEEP for the lahontans. When we got that figured out we were each able to get one fish before it became too cold to stay out any longer. Here's Amy's fish.

Amy's Lahontan Cutthroat
The Biggest Fish of the Trip

The next day we awoke to a fierce wind, so we headed up to the old resort town of Conconully. At Conconully Lake Resort there is a funny "Party Pooper" box -- they put it on skis and it won some crazy awards or something. Here's a picture.

The Party Pooper Portapotty
Party Pooper Portapotty

Even though Conconully lake was somewhat protected by steep canyon walls it was still quite windy when we launched onto the lake. We found a quiet bay and caught several fish like this one. For every fish we caught we probably had three more strikes. That place is LOUSY with fish. I would love to go back there when its not so cold and windy!

Amy's Trout at Conconully Lake
Conconully Lake

That afternoon we went back to the Blue Lake south of Loomis for another try at the fish there. We got skunked but you know what? We had so much fun trying to catch the rising fish and just being with each other that it was the best part of the trip. It was all about reconnecting and it was so nice. Best time I've ever had getting skunked. Afterward we started the long drive south, determined to get at least part of it over with. We ended up getting as far south as Chelan where we stayed at the Apple Inn, which was pretty good actually!

Dry Falls
Dry Falls Overlook

On the last day it was windy everywhere. We stopped at Dry Falls and waited for a calm period but didn't get one so we moved on. Eventually we ended up exploring some new water on the Yakima River on the way home where Amy caught some fish with an october Caddis on the top. Here's a picture she took; she said she always wanted to take a picture like this so here it is.

Amy's Yakima Trout
Amy's Yakima Rainbow

So for the four days, the fishing was good, but the marital maintenance was the main thing. We are good together again.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall fishing on Nunally, Yakima

Nunally Lake
Nunally Lake, a Desert Fishing Boutique

Took another day off to try to squeeze out just a little bit more sunshine out of 2008 before its gone for good. The west side of the mountains were going to be soggy so I packed up my cooler, audiobook and all my fishing stuff and hit the road going east. An hour later I was parked at the Nelson Siding Road and exploring a new (to me) section of the upper Yakima. There were a half dozen corpses of hatchery Chinook in the shallows -- its always surprising to see them up there, it seems so far from the ocean.

This week saw a couple of melodramas at our church and while ultimately they are probably meaningless they really got under my skin today. I couldn't stop thinking about what people said and it was making me angry. I got so caught up in my head that I almost stepped in several holes that would have been emergency situations. I hooked some fish but didn't really care, they weren't anything to write home about. Soon I was so upset I wasn't even enjoying myself. So I went back to the car, again nearly stepping right into some dropoffs. Nice looking water anyway.

I kept driving East, to Nunally Lake. Never been there before. I was the only person on the whole lake -- it was windy but manageable. The walk to the lake was only 5 minutes. In another 5 Minutes after that, a 13" tiger trout got himself stuck on my olive willy. Pretty fish; only the second I'd ever caught. I tried to be thankful for catching a fish so quickly but it was hard to stay focused. I again became internally consumed, replaying the melodramas over again.

Nunally Rainbow
Nunally Rainbow

A few minutes after that, some large fish fish swirled on my olive willy and broke me off. It felt big. I tied on another, this time using only 3X tippet and kept fishing. Not 5 minutes later, a 16" rainbow cooperated for the above picture. Nice fish but he didn't fight at all. Again, I tried to be thankful about it but I just wasn't enjoying myself. After not very long, I turned to head back to the "launch" area, which was just an annoyingly small tunnel in 20 feet of reeds.

Nunally Rainbow
Caught and Released

The wind was blowing hard now and all the reeds looked the same. I couldn't see any exit! Heart started beating a little harder now. I kicked east for a while. Was it this way? Then I went west for a while. Where was that exit???

Suddenly a 19" rainbow exploded out of the water with my fly in its mouth. He launched several times and was not cooperative at all! I was able to get him onto my apron for measuring but he was too squirmy for a picture. Fantastic fish, wow! As good as he was I was still looking for the exit. Eventually I found another, different egress and bashed my way out through the reeds and then hiked back to the car again.

On the way home I stopped at Wanapum state park. I stood on the beach and actually considered wading out into the Columbia and fishing for whatever was there. If there had been a single rise I probably would have done it. But instead I trudged back to my car and kept driving home. At some point I came to some conclusions and my mind finally calmed somewhat.

As the sun was setting, I stopped at Ringer Loop on the Yakima and fished an October Caddis in some new (to me) water. I caught an 8" wild rainbow and somehow he was the best fish of the day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Secret Lake #2

Image "borrowed" from

After having so much fun on my previous outing I took another day off to repeat it. I had plans to revisit the Hyas Lakes but instead I got a late start and changed my plans for a closer location. I'm very glad I did. I won't name this hike or this lake but if you've been there I'm sure that you can take a single glance at these pictures and know precisely where it is.

Flowers in Summit Meadow
Flowers in Summit Meadow

Like the previous hike, the trailhead for this Secret Lake #2 is only 30 minutes from my house. I arrived there at 1pm. Soon I was hiking across the meadow above. I was very hot in my waders and by the time I reached the saddle at the top (1 mile and 500 vertical feet later) I was soaked with sweat.

Beaver Pond at Saddle
Beaver Pond at Saddle

Just on the other side of the saddle is this funky little beaver pond. I bet it gets fished a lot but it doesn't look more than a couple of feet deep at most. I was so hot that I was tempted to wade into it to cool off but instead I kept going. The trail descended into the forest, leaving the roaring sounds of I-90 behind.

L Lake
Secret Lake #2

One mile on the other side of the saddle is Secret Lake #2. Its not a secret, I'm sure its on every map and its probably even in some guidebooks. This particular lake is about 8 acres and round in shape. The forest creeps right up to the very edge of the lake so there is no casting room for us fly fisherman. Total hiking time to get to the lake was 1 hour, so I guess I hike at 2 miles per hour. Told you I was slow.

I inflated my tube and floated out into the lake. Small fish were splashing here and there, taking the damsels and dragonflies that were quite active on the surface. On the far side of the lake, just as I was practically falling asleep in my tube, my rod jerked forward and a surprisingly large trout rocketed out of the water in front me. He was a 13-14" male rainbow with dark spawning colors. I didn't measure him exactly and once again, I had no net so getting him unhooked took a long time. I was quite pleased with the size of this fish!

I fished for three hours and caught two more rainbows, both about 11" and they also put a good fight. I had several more hits but didn't convert them. I only fished a carey special and an olive woolly bugger -- action was just consistent enough that I never really considered switching away from them. The sun went behind the trees around 5:30 and it became quite chilly so that's when I hiked my way out.

L Lake Trail
On the way out

Hiking back out requires ascending another 500 feet to the saddle again and then walking back down through the meadows. All in all, it was an easy, satisfying afternoon trip. 6 hours door-to-door, 4 miles hiked, 1000' elevation (500 in, 500 out). The best part was enjoying the warm golden fall sunshine in a small, alpine lake.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Perfect day on a Secret Lake

There's this Secret Lake about an hour from my house. Its not listed in any of the major guidebooks, probably because it resides just outside the Alpine Lake Wilderness. One tiny regional guide mentions it but has little to say other than "watch out for Devil's Club" and "produces small rainbows." The trail that leads to the Secret Lake is a fisherman's trail, meaning that there are no fancy switchbacks and the trail is basically straight up. I'd fished this lake once before a few years ago and caught a couple of those small rainbows.

Valley View
Valley View

I woke up this morning with an itch to fish the Secret Lake. Actually the itch is more like a compulsion this time of year: its almost as if I didn't WANT to go but I felt that I HAD to go. So I grimly loaded my gear in the car and then procrastinated for a long time. I checked email, drank coffee, sent out some letters and packages and then finally hit the road for the Secret Lake. This time I was going to hike to it in my waders, and packing a float tube. With gear and lunch my pack was about 20 pounds. About half way up the trail I ran into a couple of guys who were shooting off a handgun. In fact, when I turned the corner on them the guy with the gun was pointing it my way; I politely asked him to point it somewhere else. They were nice enough campers who had been camped in the valley for a couple of days. They said there had been no one at the lake for days and they themselves were just leaving.

Secret Lake
Looking across the Lake

I once met the Slugman on a trail somewhere. He called himself that because he said he was the slowest hiker in Washington. Well I think I can give him a run for his money: It took me a leisurely 90 minutes to ascend to the lake. The trail doesn't mess around, it goes straight up and gets steeper and steeper as it goes. Wearing waders turned out to be a good thing because there WAS a lot of devil's club up there (the book was right?).

When I finally dropped my pack at the side of the small,sunlit, secret lake, I realized I was the happiest that I had felt in months, if not years. I felt like the luckiest guy within 20 miles in any direction. There were fish rising all over the lake and I was armed with all my best fishing gear. I was the only man in the whole upper mountain valley.

Half of the Secret Lake
Half of the Secret Lake

80 breaths inflated the float tube. I kicked around the 5 acre lake, expecting to hook up with a multitude of small rainbows, but I got nothing. Exactly nothing. Not even a tap on my line. I saw fish rising here and there and there were bugs all over the place. Why do dragon flies seem to get larger the higher the elevation? These ones seemed like bats they were so big. Finally I had kicked around the whole lake and was right back where I started with nothing to show: it was puzzling. I switched to a floating line and put on a pheasant tail which had worked for me here before. I cast it toward shore (right where I had launched from) and was rewarded with a tug. And then some head-shakes. What? Small fish don't make head-shakes. Well it wasn't a small fish. It turned out to be a 15" rainbow with big shoulders. Clearly this bad boy has been eating well and clearly that regional guide was wrong about the lake producing only "small rainbows."

Fat Trout
Fat Trout

I was incredulous, I had no idea that the little secret lake, which looked so barren, could support a fat 15" trout. It must be the dragonfly diet. A few minutes later and I was fishing in very shallow water -- maybe 2 feet deep at the most when I got some tugs. Aha, I thought, here comes a small fish. Suddenly the water in front of me exploded and another big trout flew skyward with my fly in its mouth. I could scarely believe it but apparently there's enough food for two 15" rainbows. I almost quit fishing right then because my fishing lust was satisfied and I was so cold.

secret, rainbow
The Biggest One of Three

But I caught one more. This one measured at exactly 16". He put up a great fight, jumping a few times and going deep a few times and then rolling over so I could get the fly out of his mouth. He was the most beautiful trout I think I'd ever seen. By now the sun had gone behind the high valley wall and my teeth were literally chattering I was so chilly. As I packed up my gear, the fish continued rishing all around the lake. Who knows, maybe they are all 15 and 16" fish in that lake! I made it back down to my car in 35 minutes and was back home an hour later.

It just could not have gone any better today, really.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Bird Trap and the Tooth Fairy

On the last morning of our road trip to Colorado, we were in the gift shop of a Best Western in Vernal, Utah. They had a bird house for sale at a great price ($11) so I bought it. Casey and his cousins River and Rain were interested in it and Casey asked me what it was.

Mind you, Casey will believe just about anything I tell him so I have gotten very good at keeping a straight face while I tell him some real yarns. This is one of those times.

"Why, its a Bird Trap, son," I said, "See we'll put some nails around this hole here and the birds will fly in and they won't be able to fly out. When the trap becomes full of birds we put the whole thing in the microwave and they pop like popcorn. Then we open this door on the top and pour them into a bowl. They're yummy."

The boys seemed kind of grossed out but they quickly went back to looking at their plastic dinosaur that we'd gotten them.

When we got home and unpacked the car, I just tossed the "bird trap" onto the porch so I could figure out where to hang it later. The following day, Amy saw it and asked Casey where it came from.

"Its Daddy's Bird Trap, mom!" He said enthusiastically, and then he related the whole bit about how it traps birds and we eat them like popcorn. He clearly had completely believed me.

When Amy told me about it later that night after he was asleep I could not help but laugh and laugh and laugh til I was crying. I mean, inside he must think I'm a pretty gross character but he's not only willing to put up with it he still likes me. Its hilarious and kind of sad at the same time.

A few days later, Casey's first tooth fell out. Amy put the tooth in a glass of water next on Casey's bedside table and told him that the Tooth Fairy would come while he was sleeping and replace the tooth with money. I immediately began scheming.

I told Amy that I was going to find a large dead moth or bird or something and put it in the water and say that it was the tooth fairy and that she had drowned in the water. But Amy would have none of it, she said we were going to do this "normal". Okay, fine, so we did. We left him $2, figuring that this would ultimately cost us $40 when all 20 teeth were accounted for.

Casey was SUPER EXCITED the next morning and he repeatedly showed me the 8 quarters. He told me all manner of things he was going to do with the money. But you know what? When he and I drove to church the next day, he announced simply "Dad, I'm going to put my tooth fairy money in the collection plate."

I was surprised and I said "Did your mom suggest that?"

"No" he said. It was his idea. And it was.

And he did.

He's so awesome.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Colorado Fishing Report

Silver Jack
The Silver Jack Reservoir

I spent the last week of August 2008 fishing around Montrose, Colorado. The region is still feeling the affects of the long, wet winter previous: the two main rivers crossing the town, the Gunnison and the Uncompahgre are running high, the latter is practically unfishable in town. Which is sad because THERE ARE HOPPERS EVERYWHERE and one could be throwing giant foam bugs behind the Mexican café downtown! But that didn't stop yours truly: four of the five mornings I got up early, grabbed my hat and slipped out the door before the kids were up.

East Portal of the Black Canyon, Gunnison River
Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Because of the high water, most of the "spots" on the Gunnison that had produced for me last year were not fishable this year. I fished the East Portal of the Black Canyon three times this trip and each time I hooked the same big 20" rainbow in the same spot, only to lose him before he could get into the net. Most of the Gunnison fish taken this trip were actually taken on a dry fly: a rubber-legged caddis to be exact. Fun fishing.

Silver Jack Rocks
Cimarron Creek

For a change of pace, and to get away from the 95 degree heat of the valley, I drove up to the Silver Jack reservoir near the headwaters of the famous Cimarron Creek. I fished the creek below the reservoir for a couple of hours but I must admit I’m not a very good pocket water fisherman. The scenery and the cool mountain air was better than the fishing. The size of the fish in the creek is pleasantly surprising – I was able to see some of them as they rose and inspected my hopper and humpy. I had plans to fish the beautiful reservoir itself but an afternoon thunderstorm came through and drenched the valley; the open range cows were bellowing about it as I drove back to Montrose.

Mesa Lake
Mesa Lake

The highlight of the trip was a whole day fishing the amazing Grand Mesa. This region of 300 lakes resides at the 10,000-foot mesa east of Grand Junction. This is the start of the off-season so most of the lakes that I drove by had ZERO anglers on them. They all beckoned to me to come fish them! Beautiful mountain lakes ringed by meadows, aspens and evergreens. 100 of the 300 have fish and most of those are heavily stocked.

Mesa Lake Stringer
Stringer on Mesa Lake

Mesa Lake is a popular lake near a small resort. It has nice facilities and drive-to access. The water in this gorgeous little lake is bright turquoise and there are all manner of aquatic plants. It was astonishing how many trout one could see in the water. In some places they were so thick you could count a half dozen rainbows swirling around in a depression. And you may not believe this but for two hours I got a hit on 95% of my casts. At one point I counted 20 successive casts with either a hit or a fish on or a fish landed. It would have been more but I lost my fly in a fish and didn’t bother to put a new one on. In 90 minutes, I caught 16 fish and lost 20 more and kept four (the limit in the Mesa) for my mother.

Griffith Lake
Griffith Lake

Nearby, but less accessible, is Griffith Lake which requires a short hike through a forest and a meadow. The meadow was full of heifers and calfs. They mooed at me and turned to watch me trudging by in my waders, wearing a float tube on my shoulders. I chose Griffith Lake because I wanted some solitude and the fish are supposed to be bigger there. The lake was warm and very, very dirty. Visibility was perhaps three inches. I simply had to fish it though, having spent an hour trying to find it and then another 30 minutes hiking to it. There appeared to be one deep part of the lake and that's where I hooked one holdover rainbow. He was the biggest fish of the day at around thirteen inches. One of the cows chased me a little bit as I was walking back to the car.

Rainbow Trout on Griffith Lake
Bleeding Rainbow

I also fished Sunset and Island lakes for a time (and caught a few more fish) and took a short driving tour of the mesa. I wished I had more time to explore the mesa. Sometime I'll spend a week up there.

People in Montrose are so lucky to have all this great fishing so close by. I feel like I barely scratched the surface while I was there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chewey & Ella Love Fest

Too cute.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hyas Lake

casey, hyas lake
2 mile trail to Hyas Lake

Took today off to get in some more family summer fun time. Amy still has a cold so she stayed home. I've always wanted to see Hyas Lake. It supposed to be a great pay-off for such a short, easy hike. And it is, sort of.

casey, hyas lake
Casey on the Beach at Hyas Lake

It took two hours to get to the trailhead from our house. My guidebook said it was 1.5 miles to the trail, but the signs at the trailhead say 2 miles. And you know what? It's definitely 2 miles because it took us an hour on the trail. The trail itself is in great shape and very easy. There's just a limit to how fast Casey can hike and apparently that limit is 2 miles an hour.

casey, hyas lake
Warm Water

The first camp site we found had a great little beach. We emerged from the trees onto the beach to the sight of the brilliant green, clear water and rising fish. The water was very slack and looked like it had been that way all day. Most of the rising fish were small but every now and then there was a slurp that suggested a bigger fish. I strung up my flyrod but the fish were always 20 feet out of reach no matter how far out I cast.

Hyas Lake, Casey
Casey Makes Friends

After a while, some real campers showed up and I assured them they were welcome to the site since we were leaving soon. They had three young girls with them. The girls came out and saw Casey and I'm not sure who started showing-off more; Casey or them. They were all putting it on pretty thick. Casey actually asked me to time him running up and down the beach as if he were some kind of olympian doing casual training.

casey, hyas lake

Eventually the sun went down and we started heading back to the car. We had DEETed at the trailhead but playing in the water had washed it all off. The mosquitoes became merciless. We hurried back to the car as fast as we could but again, we could not make it in less than 60 minutes. I think we left a couple of pints of blood back there. Then we had a two hour drive home, but we stopped in Roslyn for some Father-Son pizza time. After Pizza, Casey fell right asleep on the ride home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cedar River Trail

Cedar River
From a bridge on the Cedar River trail

Took today off. Biked the Cedar River Tail from Riverside Park upstream to Maple Valley to Big Bend Park. I thought, it being the middle of the work week, that I'd have the river to myself but there were fishermen in almost every pool! I did manage to find three pools and I fished them hard but only had a few nibbles. One worthy fish on but it came unglued before I could get a good look at him.

In one pool I hooked something inanimate and started dragging it up the river. "Come on! Please be a shoe with a foot in it or a hand!" I had high hopes of fulfilling my dream of finding a body. But it turned out to be a diaper. Oh well.

Got about ten miles of bike riding in. Saw some pretty serious bikini action too.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Combining Fly-Fishing and Mountain Biking

My Trek Navigator Hybrid

The Iron Horse Trail (also called the John Wayne Trail) parallels the Yakima river up and down/stream of the town of Cle Elum. The Trail is perfect for riding and the river is perfect for fishing. This time of year the water up there is low and easily wadable. You don't expect to find big fish up there this time of year though.

Anyway, I had earned a full fishin' day on Sunday. I got up early and packed up all my stuff. I grimly looked at my flybox. It was practically empty. All out of prince nymphs. Almost out of chironomids. Only a few copper johns left. And just one gnary Pat's Stonefly. The only one I've ever tied. It was on the wrong size hook and for some reason had an odd number of legs. It was truly pathetic but I stuck it in my hat anyway. I figured it probably wouldn't matter because recent reports from the river had been terrible.

Bike on the Iron Horse Bridge
On the old, rail-less bridge: The Cle Elum on one side

An hour of driving got me up to Cle Elum where I parked the car at the Depot Cafe along the Iron Horse Trail. In one of the pictures above, you can see what a 9 foot flyrod looks like sticking out of a pannier. I only ran into one other person on the Iron Horse Trail all day, and no other fishermen, which is somewhat surprising given how beautiful the weather was and the fact that it was a weekend day. The trail was hot and dusty but the water was green and cool.

Upper Yakima from Iron Horse Bridge
Now looking the other way up the Yakima

In the second pool that I fished I let my hare's ear/snowcone combo drift to the back of the pool and hooked a nice fish! I was so excited because I honestly wasn't expecting much. My delight turned a little mellow when it turned out to be just a whitefish. Hey, it was still a good fish though. Moving downstream, in the next pool there was a 10" rainbow; I figured that would probably be the best fish of the day. Boy was I wrong. Around the next bend, in the very next pool in front of some ladies standing on a front lawn, I hooked a true giant of a fish. When I finally landed it I was somewhat mystified. It wasn't a trout, and it seemed too big to be a whitefish. It was about 18" and about three pounds. It had the mouth of a whitefish but large scales like a carp. He had taken the bottom fly: the black snowcone. I was trying to get it back when the fish bolted out and broke the line. I honestly don't know what it was but lets just say it was a giant whitefish I guess.

Rootball Hole
About to catch three big trouts!

Downstream from the houses I fished an elbow in the river very hard. This particular curl of the river is very productive and in fact there's a trail that goes right to it from the main road. But this pool yielded no fish. That's okay because I was still smiling from that giant whitefish-thing. Now there was time for a decision. If I crossed the river I could get to another three pools that have fished well for me in the past. But the crossing was tricky and a little dangerous and I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for it. Also, coming back would be even more difficult. I decided to go for it. Nothing ventured nothing gained right?

Yakima Trout
Very Cooperative Fish!

On the other side, I tied on that lame Pat's Stonefly from this morning. On the second cast into the pool the indicator drifted slightly too fast so I set the hook. Aha! Another good fish! This time it wasn't a white fish. It was a big wild rainbow and he'd taken the stonefly. He and I had a long fight and in the end he was wrapped up in both flies. Getting him off and back into the water took a long time so I didn't get a picture. He was beautiful though: probably around 17". A few casts later I hooked an identical fish in the same pool. Either this one was foul hooked or it maybe it was the same rainbow that was just released and he was embarassed because he never showed his face: only his tail came out of the water. Eventually he got the hook out of himself and got away. Oh well.

The smaller of the big fishes of the day

In the very next pool the indicator did that funny drag again so I set the hook and was surprised by a THIRD nice trout. This one I managed to get a few pictures from as he was quite cooperative. He was smaller than the other fish: maybe 14 or 15". He, too, was quite pretty and fatter than the others. I could scarcely believe my luck: catching these nice fish during the wrong month, during the wrong time of day using a terrible fly in the wrong part of the river. I'm not complaining though!

I continued riding the trail and later in the afternoon fished mostly terrestrials (read: grasshopper flies). I hooked a few smaller fish in the fast water below the confluence of the Yakima and Cle Elum rivers. I called it a day kind of early and came home to happy family. What a great summer Sunday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fishing Mason Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Mason Lake Hike
Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake

The trail to Mason Lake had beaten me in 2006 and 2007; in the previous years I had attempted to make the hike only to be turned back due to lots of snow on the trail (2006) and lots of weight on my person (2007). With a free day yesterday, no snow on the trail in mid-July and weighing 24 lbs less than when I tried it last year, I made plans for a Sunday morning assault.

Ira Spring Trail
Looking back down to I-90.

Mason Lake used to be somewhat inaccessible but earlier this decade the Forest Service re-graded and moved the trail and made it much friendlier. But its STILL a long hike (to me): 3 miles each way with 2000 feet elevation gain. That's about 1900 vertical feet more than I like on a usual hike.

Ira Spring Trail
Looking back from the saddle

I was by the far the slowest person on the trail and that's saying something. I was even passed by a confused elderly immigrant who was fully dressed in completely inappropriate garb. He was sweating profusely and had no water with him and he was more shambling than walking. And even though he looked near death he was STILL faster than me.

Mason Lake
The Outlet

Two and a half-hours after leaving the car I descended the saddle into the cool trees. Taking it slow had at least conserved my energy so that when I got to the lake I felt like I had just left the car. The water was amazingly clear: perhaps 20 or 30 feet of visibility. An 11" rainbow trout was brazenly cruising in the shallows at the outlet. However, he was not to be fooled by my crude spinning gear. All that I had brought were spoons, powerbait and salmon eggs. The line itself seemed like ROPE in the crystal clear water.

Crawdad at Mason Lake
2" Blue Cawdad

Two other times I saw fat trout in the 10-12" range cruising within inches of the shore. There is irony for you; I had left my fly-fishing gear behind and brought spinning gear so I could cast farther out into the lake. I would have traded it all for just some leader and some flies. You wouldn't even need to cast!

East Bay

Besides seeing numerous fish rising, I saw the biggest crawdad I've ever seen in Washington state and two 4" salamanders. Midges, damsels and dragonflies were all active at the lake. And while the pictures don't show it there were dozens of people at the lake the three hours that I was there. Most were concentrated on the easily accessible NW shore (opposite me). By bushwhacking on the SE shore I had that half of the lake to myself. I hopped from boulder to boulder about a quarter of the way around the lake.

Mason Lake
Boulders on the Lake

I fished for three hours but didn't get a bite or even a bump. That's okay; just having the ability to sight fish such a beautiful mountain lake was a reward in itself. It took 90 minutes to get back to the car and my knees were achin' something FIERCE by the time I got to my car. Best time I've had gettin' skunked ever.