Dave Graybill - 5/4/2012
The weather that greeted opening weekend anglers on the lowland opener couldn’t have been better. Clear and calm were the words to describe the conditions throughout the region. Combined with catches of bigger than usual rainbow, this had to be one of the better openers in years.
My wife, Eileen, and I left the Jetcraft at home and hit the road with our camera gear on the opening weekend. In the past we have driven up through Soap Lake, then over the hill past Jameson and end up at Wapato Lake. This year we decided to visit some of the lakes in Okanogan County. We visited a total of seven lakes, including Alta, Twin Lakes, Patterson, Pearrygin, Leader, Conconully Reservoir and Conconully Lake. There were plenty of happy anglers at all of these lakes, and we saw some very nice rainbow on stringers at most all of them.
One nice surprise was running into Zack Taylor and his friend Stony at Leader Lake. I had met Zack while ice fishing at Patterson Lake a few years ago, and it was great to see his granddad was still ferrying him to his favorite fishing holes. While most anglers were fishing for trout on the opening weekend, Zack and Stony were interested in bass, perch and bluegill. I got a photo of them holding their biggest fish for the day. Stony had a largemouth of 7 pounds and Zack had a 5-pounder.
We met some other great people, like the folks at Whistlin’ Pine Ranch, which is at the end of the road at Alta Lake. We had never been all the way down here and we liked the place so much we had to set up our video gear for some shots. We met owners Diana and Brian, learned that not only do they take care of anglers right here at Alta Lake, but take packhorse trips into the Sawtooths and the Pasayten Wilderness Area. Spending time in the high country fishing for wild cutthroat would be tremendous fun. We talked about having Diana giving us a demonstration of how she cooks for their camp guests for one of our Cooking TV Shows. This was our first stop, and although we could have spent more time talking to Brian and Diana Varrelman, we had more lakes to see. We got some photos of some of the big trout people were catching at Alta and then headed up the Methow Valley.
I got a report from the Department of Fish and Wildlife that gave me the results of the fishing success on 17 lakes in the region. I will share with you the top ten best producers from Saturday of the opening weekend. At the top of the list was Deep Lake, which is just north of Park Lake. Anglers here caught mostly limit numbers of rainbow that averaged 11 to 13 inches with some to 17 inches. Number two was Warden Lake, near Potholes Reservoir. Anglers made very good catches of rainbow of 10 to 14 inches. Third on the list was Alta Lake. Most of the rainbow were 11 to 12 inches with good numbers of triploids to 17 inches. Fourth on the list was Beehive Reservoir, on the road to Mission Ridge. Anglers caught trout to 15 inches here. Clear Lake in the Wenatchee Heights ranked fifth, and anglers caught trout to 16 inches. In sixth place was Wannacut Lake, north of Tonasket. Most trout were 10 to 11 inches but many 15- to 16-inch fish were taken, too. Seventh on the list was Park Lake, where fishing was much better than last year, and most fish were 12 to 14 inches with good numbers of 15- and 16-inch fish taken as well. Fish Lake, north of Omak, came in 8th with lots of 11- to 12-inch rainbow on stringers, and fair numbers of 15- and 16-inch trout were also caught here. In ninth place was Wapato Lake, near Manson, where catches weren’t as good as other lakes, but most of the fish were 14 to 18 inches. Jameson Lake ranked 10th, and was visited by a very good crowd of anglers. Trout to 17 inches were landed on Saturday. Trout season is off to an excellent start this year, and I hope you and your families get out and enjoy it. Fishing will be great for weeks to come.
This next weekend I will be attending the Fly Fishing Fair in Ellensburg. I have wanted to go for years, but wouldn’t miss this one. My wife’s grandfather, Syd Glasso, is being inducted into the Washington Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, and we will be there for the occasion.
Right after the Fair I will be heading down to do some spring salmon and walleye fishing in the Columbia River Gorge at Drano Lake. I also hope to fish off the Wind River mouth, and I’m not sure where I will be fishing for walleye. I’ll tell you all about it when I return, which will be just in time for the Trippin’ with the Triploids Derby in Bridgeport on May 12th. I hope you have your tickets. This is going to be a fun one. To get all the details and a registration form, go to my web site, FishingMagician.com, and click on Trippin’ with the Triploids on my Home Page.
It was really something to see all the families that turned out for the opening of trout season. It reminded me of the many trips I made with my family when I was young. It’s great to see so many people continuing with their family traditions, and making fishing memories that will last a lifetime!
By Dave Graybill