Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Okanogan Fishing Report

A Lake in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Refuge
In years past, it was Amy who accompanied me on the fall fishing trip. But this year she had a project going that she didn't want to leave. But I wasn't about to skip what has become one of my favorite traditions! So I took Casey with me; our first Father / Son Fishing Trip. We were gone five days which speaks to how much fun we had.

On our first evening, we stopped at the Hansen Ponds in Cle Elum. Those ponds are reserved for juveniles. Casey practiced casting a 'hopper to the rising fish, some of whom were impressively sized and quite willing to rise. He couldn't quite hook one but he didn't care, for him it was all about the casting.

Lake Lenore
Since Casey is 8, I figured the key to making this a successful trip would be to keep the fishing to a minimum and the fun to a maximum; I tried to keep the fishing to just 3-5 hours per day and filling the rest of the time with fun stuff. We always stayed in motel with a pool and we swam first thing in the morning and after every dinner. Casey had his iPod Touch to keep him company on the long driving segments (the Okanogan is a long way from Snoqualmie).

Lake Lenore Caves
On our first full day, we fished for about an hour on Lake Lenore -- there were plenty of other fisherman there and I think they were catching fish, but we didn't. I think we got there too late in the day, when the sun was too high on the water. So we packed the boat back into the truck and drove across the road to the Lake Lenore Caves. I'd seen the sign a million times but had never ventured over there. The Caves were pretty cool! A short walk -- only about 10 minutes to the first cave. There were three more after that, each more impressive than the last.

From 2010 Fishing
From there, we drove three+ hours to the Blue Lake just south of Oroville near the Canadian boder. This highly alkaline lake is a favorite of mine - its full of 20+ inch Lanhontan Trout. When the fish are cooperating its a GREAT time. We were lucky because this night was one of those great nights. Casey quickly caught a beast of a fish, probably 22" and 3+ lbs. I netted it for him and took this picture. And then he unceremoniously dumped it over the side.

"Casey! We should have gotten a picture of you holding that fish!" I exclaimed.

"Nah, too greasy." he said. But later when I was trying to tell people how big the fish was he started to see the logic in having a picture, so next time he'll know.

A Brown Trout, taken on a 'hopper
The next day was the best fishing yet. We visited a favorite lake of mine in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Refuge. There were fish rising everywhere. We fished for an hour, trying to figure out how to fool them. I could tell Casey was losing interest, so I dumped him on shore where he made sand castles and just enjoyed being on a lake. In the meantime, I caught this fantastic brown trout. I was fishing a little snowcone fly underneath a big foam hopper and to my surprise, the trout took the hopper! For me this was the fish of the trip. Later, I saw a bigger brown cruising in the weeds - it was 23" at least. It looked like a salmon it was so big! My hands were shaking as I cast to it, but it was far too smart for me, it took off into deeper water almost immediately.

Roger Lake in the Distance
Next we took one of the most awesome drives in the State -- up the dirt road from Conconully and over Baldy Pass (6,515 ft). We stopped at Roger Lake to look around - all the trees for far as the eye could see were burned black but still standing. We dropped down into the town of Winthrop, where we visited a friend of mine named Tim. He's a student at Liberty Bell high and stayed in my cabin at PNCC last summer. His mom served us some apple crisp she'd made and we had a great chat.

Miniature Golf in Winthrop
We spent a good part of the next day just bumming around Winthrop. Casey liked the town with its western theme. We played a round of miniature golf and ate some ice cream and looked at books. We also tried to fish Davis Lake, but it was just too windy. The fish finder said there's a bunch of big fish in there, but we couldn't catch them. We drove back up over Baldy Pass where we saw a big, slow moving porcupine crossing the road. It looked like a small bear.

Conconully Lake
We tried our hand at Conconully Reservoir and caught a few small trout. The weather and scenery were as beautiful as I'd ever seen it up there. That night we had a long drive toward home -- we were able to get as far as Leavenworth, which turned out to be Casey's favorite part of the trip.

A lovely worker in the Bavarian Village that is Leavenworth
Casey LOVED how everything in the town was Bavarian themed, even the Subway and the 76 gas station. We tried the sausage sampler at Cristof's restaurant that night, then bought and ate some chocolate from one of the many candy stores and then stayed in an alpine-themed hotel. The next day we shopped for two hours (which is an eternity for us). We got three gifts for mom, the last at a Christmas Store where the cashier posed with Casey for this picture.

In one way we didn't want to come home, but in another way, we'd been gone for five days and we were both homesick. We tried Fish Lake on the way home that day but caught nothing except a perch. Of the actual fishing, I'd say there was only about 4 good hours of fishing the whole trip, but that's okay. We had so much fun doing everything else. Casey's casting improved each day as well. On the way home he told me he wants to go with me every year from now on, and I told him we can do that for the next 40 years!


  1. What a great father & son adventure! Casey is lucky to have a father like you! Nice photos! My favorite is the Lake Lenore Cave photo; very creative!

  2. I so enjoy your flyfishing stories. Polly sends me your link because she knows I love flyfishing. We sure missed a lot when my daughter was going to school in Spokane. If I'd only known... Great photos too - your son's face just shines!

  3. Wow, what a trip! Some day I hope to make something similar together with my son.