Saturday, September 19, 2009

Okanogan Fishing Report

Ready for Trip
Ready to Go
Amy and I both love the Okanogan region; its that upper-right-hand quadrant of the state right up near Canada but not quite into Idaho. We've been looking forward to this trip all summer (we knew Casey would be in Disneyland with his Grandparents). I bought a new camera and Amy got all pretty (see above), though as she points out, by the end of the trip you can't tell the two of us apart.
Before leaving, we fished a local favorite in the tree farm, Calligan lake, just to warm up. Fishing was slow but we did manage to get a few cutthroat on dry flies. The fall sun looks golden on Amy's skin as she casts to some fish rising in a pocket.
Snake eating a fish
Snake Eating a Fish
The next day we drove as far as the Methow river before we had to stop and release the fishing pressure. The river was crawling with other fly-fishermen and the water was very low. In a strange coincidence, Amy found a snake eating a fish in the river. I think this is a bull snake and a sculpin. And, unlike earlier this summer the snake looked like he could complete the deal.
Steer on the road
The Okanogan countryside reminds us of Colorado where we both grew up. But the region is definitely remote -- a town of 1000 is a metropolis. Often on these trips we'd stay in sketchy 2-star roadside motels with bad beds and funny smells. This time we decided to try to stay in cabins and resorts. Some friends recommended Eden Valley Ranch as accomodations.
eden valley ranch
Staying in a cabin
Our cabin was cute and cozy -- a great wood burning stove kept the interior toasty against the cold air coming down from Canada. We watched movies on our laptops and surfed the net on the Ranch's wireless network -- all the comforts of home, really!
Eden Valley Ranch -- has wireless!
2 Laptops, 1 iPhone, 2 coffees, 3 Netflix = Party Time
If you are in the area, I HIGHLY recommend that you stay there -- Robin will take care of you and tell her that David Holmes sent you.
eden valley ranch,okanogan
Panorama from our door at Eden Valley Ranch
The Ranch is fairly close to the quirky little "town" of Chesaw, where our friends from church, Gordon and Kelly Kyle, have a cabin. They were nice enough to invite us up to their property (only one mile south of the Canadian border) and feed us lunch. It was so nice to see them.
Ready for Blue Lake
Blue Lake
If you are a fisherman, by now you are thinking ENOUGH ALREADY, how was the fishing? The lowlights were Sidley Lake, Big Twin, Blue Lake and Beth Lake, where we skunked. The weather at Sidley and Big Twin was cold and very windy so we were unable to fish them long. We pounded Blue Lake for 7 hours, searching for those big Lahontan trout, but, aside from Amy landing one small 12" juvenile, we left disappointed. We also stopped by several lakes which were WAY lower than they usually are even in October, rendering them unfishable. For example, both Conconully Lakes were ridiculously dry, though the other Blue Lake in the gorgeous Sinlahekin valley looked good.
okanogan,spectacle lake
Morning on Spectacle Lake
The only bright spot as far as fishing the Okanogan region was Spectacle Lake. Terri, who runs the Spectacle Lake Resort told us that it was slow at her side of the lake but good at the other side. We had good success, finding fish all over the west side the 300-acre lake. The Cuda 242 fish finder came in very, very handy, as the fish were definitely schooling at specific depths. Amy caught 13 fish there, and she lost a big one before we could get a good look at it.
Speaking of Spectacle Lake Resort, we did indeed stay there for a night. We literally almost blew ourselves up working the natural gas appliances to heat pork and beans that night for dinner. This is when Amy told me that maybe this trip had gotten a little too rustic for her. The resort also appeared to have wireless, but I forgot to ask for the WEP key.

Video of Amy catching a one-eyed-jack
Even though we fished identical equipment, Amy caught the last nine fish in row on Spectacle Lake. Literally the last three hours she caught fish after fish while I had nothing. Just goes to show you, a woman can outfish a man sometimes.
Rocky Ford
The Ford
On our way back home, Amy steered us to one of her favorite fishing spots, Rocky Ford. There, she continued putting on a clinic, catching four respectable trout on dries, including a monster fish that she swears was over two feet long. I was in the truck at the time having a soda and I didn't hear her yelling for the camera. So there is no picture of the fish of the trip and for that I am to blame.
Columbia River
Columbia River
The most exciting part of our trip was when we stopped at the Columbia river just south of I-90 to look out over the smooth, lake-like water. It was so enticing that we launched our little 12' craft and headed north toward the freeway, paralleling the shore. There was feeling of intense anticipation because there are all kinds of crazy beasts in that water, from 3' Chinook Salmon to 8' Sturgeon. Who knew what we'd catch????
northern pike minnow,columbia river
Columbia River Northern Pike Minnow
I caught three fish: all were Northern Pike Minnows. The water was alive with Salmon smolt and these ugly predators were probably gorging themselves on the poor little guys who were just trying to get 500 miles downstream to the ocean.
Demon Eye
Look closely for the Demon Eye
As we neared a large island in the river, we spooked a couple of big fish were were hanging out at the surface. Amy thought they must be salmon. We continued North and saw a few more. We cast to them and they spooked again. But this time when they swirled about 50 other swirls happened all around us! We were frantic to figure out what the fish were. Finally we got a good look at them -- they were carp and some of them looked to be 15-20lbs. We fished to them for hours but they were very shy, fleeing at our every approach. Though we didn't catch one, pursuing them was exhilirating.
Columbia River
Placid Columbia
It was a five day trip which is one of our longer trips. The extremes were freezing our buns off in Sidley Lake to getting sunburned in the Columbia River. For the most part, the weather was good -- too good. You see, we usually do this trip in October, but I was getting tired of the short days and cold weather during our trips. But now I realize that you have to have those short days and cold weather in order to get the excellent fishing. If you go too early, like we did, you get the nice weather, but often the trout will still be in summer mode. We'll see we what happens next year.

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