Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dusty Lake

Me, at Dusty Lake
This time of year, the weather doesn't always cooperate on the Western slopes of the Cascades (which is why we call it the "wet side"). So Vlad and I jumped in his new Forrester and drove over the pass to the Quincy Wildlife Area to fish Dusty Lake. Dusty has always been a favorite of mine. Its not quite a "drive-to" lake; upon reaching the trail-head, you must hike down about a mile along a dusty trail.

The Dusty Trail
Once upon a time such a hike was sufficient to keep most other anglers away, and one could be assured of having Dusty mostly to oneself. Like other lakes in that area (Dry Falls for one), Dusty is surrounded by towering, crumbling basalt cliffs. Something in the water (alkaline?) bleaches the rocks around the lake giving the whole scene an otherworldly feel.

Vlad Karpinskiy
Dusty has grown in popularity over the last few years as tales of its largish trout got out. Also, sadly, there has been constant poaching by people of all backgrounds. I am hoping that this explains how Vlad and I both got skunked on this trip!. We fished for a good 5 hours; Vlad had two strikes. I had a giant fish on for about 5 seconds (and then he was gone).
At one point, there was some serious yelling and shouting on the lake from a party that had arrived after we did and had set up on the rocks. They were hootin' and hollerin' because a woman had caught her first fish ever. I approached the group and I got a picture of her in her bikini with the fish. She was very excited; at age 44 she had caught her first fish ever! How about that.
Dunno who she is, but it's her first fish ever
If you go: Remember, no bait, no barbs. One fish limit.

Friday, May 14, 2010

McLeod Lake

McLeod and backdrop
Some days it seems like all the bad luck comes at you at once. Friday, May 14th was one of those days. I've had some ill-fated trips but this one was so bad its almost funny

McLeod lake is only 20 minutes from my house, and its a 5 minute walk from the road through the woods in the Hancock Tree Farm.  Again, I decided to take a Float Tube, this time my largish Fat Cat 4, which had just come back from the repair shop.

The comedy of errors began immediately upon my arrival at the parking spot.

10:30am - I open the back of the truck only to find that I'd forgotten half my fishing gear. Fine, so I drive 20 minutes home, get the rest my stuff, stop for a smoothie, and I'm back to the parking spot at noon.
12:00pm - While pulling on my waders, something goes POP in my back.  I'm overcome with a paralyzing pain.  I can't breathe; I'm thinking "this is it, I'm dying in the bed of my pickup with my waders half on, just like I always knew I would."  Eventually the pain subsides enough for me to breathe and move, very, very slowly.  Should I go home?  No, Amy is having a girl party and I don't want to crash it.  Besides, I took the day off, and I figure, if I can get to the lake the water will support my weight and I'll be fine.  So I finish getting ready, very slowly, and proceed to walk to the lake.That 5 minute walk takes 35 minutes as I have to stop every few feet to rest my aching back.
1:35pm - At the lake now.  As I put my float tube down I hear a "POP-fssssssssssssssssss".  The float tube seam has popped (again) and air is rushing out.  I will not be floating in this float tube.   Look up the sky.  "God, am I not supposed to be fishing today?"  No answer.  Well, I did bring a spare tube, and I did take the day off.  So I begin the painful trudge BACK to the truck to get the spare tube.
2:30pm - The round-trip to the truck, which normally would have taken 10 minutes, took almost 60 because the wrenching pain.  I sit down and put a fin on my left boot.  SNAP, the strap that holds the fin onto my boot breaks.  That's never happened before.  I decide that if none of the above things was going to stop me, then a missing fin wouldn't either.  I'd kick around with NO fins if necessary at this point.

Four hours into the trip and I'm just getting wet!

The good news is that once in the water, I felt no pain. The water suspended me and I forgot all about my back. Fishing was extremely slow, though. I caught one fish, on a large snowcone about 12' under and indicator. In fact, it was very nice fish, one of the largest I've ever caught in the tree farm. McLeod can make them bigger than most of the lakes up there for some reason.

I took a picture of the fish.

But I lost my camera somewhere on the way home.

Of course. What a trip!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fontal Lake

If you look closely at the pictures, you might recognize this as a "secret" lake that I didn't want to divulge last year. However, I'm naming names today, and this one is Fontal Lake north of Duvall.  If you can hike your way in there, you deserve to fish it!  Its about 45-60 minutes by foot, and your GPS will not really help you. Good luck!

On the trail to Fontal Lake

I took a Friday off to enjoy the weather and get in some "adventuring", by which I usually mean hiking and fishing. The fishing is much more enjoyable if there's a measure of planning and effort that must go into it. Fontal Lake is a good starter lake for this kind of trip; it's a relatively flat walk but long enough to keep the hordes away. It's remote enough in that if you were to twist your ankle you might be in serious trouble; I couldn't get cell reception out there. Lastly, in the past there have been nice fish taken there, though I haven't seen any (which is why I'm not afraid to name names today).

I didn't see another soul on the way, or at the lake. I arrived and unpacked my gear. Even though this was the location where I was introduced to the magical Trail Boat, this time I brought my trusty Float Tube. You see, there aren't a lot of fish at Fontal, and you might only get one chance, and if that's the case its nice to have both hands on your flyrod. Vlad and I discussed this strategy and he agreed.

To my dismay, my waders had a gushing leak right at the small of the back. I fished while FREEZING COLD, listening to Fresh Air on my iPhone to pass the time. I was wet and so cold that my legs were numb and my teeth were chattering. As I said, there's aren't a lot of fish in Fontal, and you might get only once chance. As it happened, I did get only only chance and I made the most of it. I landed a very pretty Brook Trout.

After kicking around the lake for over two hours I got out, ostensibly to warm up and have a snack. As I dried off I looked back at the lake and decided that I didn't need to catch any more fish. If anything, I confirmed that my winter waders have seen their last days and that I should get a new pair. I changed my socks to the dry pair I'd brought, loaded my gear into my pack and hiked the hour back out to my car.

On the way home I stopped in Duvall at a place that sold Espresso and Ice Cream and got some of both. I like Duvall, nice town. I hope that our street renovations in Snoqualmie make it look more like what they've done up there. When I finally got home (about 8 hours after I'd left) I was surprised at how tired I was.

It was a good start for "Adventuring".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Flies for the Snoqualmie Valley

Our April fishing trip has inspired me to get some tying done. I only tie about six different types flies; these are most of them. From the top left around clockwise...
  • A black Bunny Streamer. Also tie them in Olive.
  • 5 diffent types of Carey-Specials.  Amy swears by the two on the right, the Olive Willies.
  • Five San Juan Worms.  So easy to tie, ahhh.  The key is to use a lighter on the ends.
  • Blue Winged Olives - The only dry I tie anymore.
  • Snowcones - black, red, silver and olive, in sizes 14-18
  • A Hares Ear - really need to tie more of these, they are so versatile
  • 5 Prince Nymphs - Actually use these in the Yakima more than anywhere else
In fact, I'm thinking of blogging a series of "Flies for the Snoqualmie Valley." If you have some recommendations, please send them to me and we'll talk!