This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
April 9th, 2005

A Weekend Away

My husband JC (or Castwell) and I took off on Thursday morning for a few days over the mountains to eastern Washington for the Central Washington Fish-In. The 'star' of this Fish-In is Rocky Ford Creek, a state owned, public access fly only water. It seemed to us the fish were not quite as plentiful this trip. The water levels were down about 18 inches according to some of the locals who fish it regularly - lower water levels should have actually concentrated the fish, but that didn't seem to be the case.

One of JC's fish in the water

The 'creek' is stocked by the two hatcheries who lease their land from the state as part of an old agreement. I don't know when the stockings take place, but there were certainly enough fish, and big fish, to keep our folks busy and happy.

A great place to stay

The Best Western Rama Inn was 'home' to several of the group - they did put up a nice greeting to our group - much appreciated. They have also given us a great discount the past couple of years, and with gas prices, every little bit helps. It is a super nice place to stay, all the neat things one expects from a Best Western, including a nice continental breakfast - which to accommodate the fisherman - is served starting at 5 am until 10. Very thoughtful.

I had mentioned to the new General Manager, Laura McCracken, when I spoke to her on the phone, I wished there were some other choices for good food in town. She responded there was a new pub next door to the Rama Inn which she recommended. We drove right by it a couple of times, and from the outside it isn't very impressive. Just the other end of the gas station. Friday night we stopped in to at least check out the menu. Hmmm, prime rib on Friday night special? We both are very fond of prime rib so we thought we'd chance it. WOW! Really. The name of the place is Lewy's Tavern and is owned by the same man who owns the gas station next door, (Bass Country Exxon) Ethan Lewis. We made a second trip back on Saturday night for a 12 oz. steak which we split. Really good food, service was dandy and while it is pretty basic looking, it's worth finding. Also, non-smoking.

Stop and see for yourself There is also a brand new fly shop in town. The Desert Fly Angler has been open just a couple of weeks. It is owned by Darc Knobel, who use to manage a fly shop over in Wanachee, WA before it was closed by the out-of town owner. In an industry which some feel is shrinking, Darc has stuck his neck out to open a brand new shop. He doesn't have all his signage up yet, but it is located right next door to the lumber yard, and he has a very nice fly selection (in fact the fly he recommended to Cary Morlan was so effective several of us made a trip to the fly shop to buy a supply).

Local Report

He also carries both Sage and Temple Fork rods, and a very nice selection of tying materials. Vicky Eagle Elk mentioned she found several items she had been looking for at the shop. Darc keeps a blackboard with the current conditions at the regional lakes and streams in plain sight so folks will know what's producing now.

LF casting

We fished several sections of Rocky. There are three parking areas, the first is a Handicap Access, which has a large barrier-free dock for those in wheelchairs. This area has a small pond with a little rock fall, a lovely place to try and get a drag-free float. There are cruising rainbows at nearly any time. That doesn't mean they will take your fly, but at least you get to see them.

Fish On

The 2nd parking lot overlooks a 'stream' section, which is moving water, but pretty slow moving. The greatest majority of the fish at any time are eating scuds. There are tons of scuds. In fact if you let your mind wander a bit it's almost like watching bonefish tailing. The third parking lot requires more of a walk down to the stream. There is a bridge with a pond on either side, one named the 'sipping pool' and while the water is moving, there really isn't any current to speak of.

Just below the 3rd lot

Below the pool is more stream, a low dam and runs and riffles. We were able to find some co-operative trout willing to sip in a few dry flies. We used the fly shown on the front/main page, a size 18 or 20 extended body, parachute BWO (blue-wing olive) which come off all day. (The fly recommended by Darc at the Desert Fly Angler.)

Jay and his first trout on a fly
The Fish-In group was smaller this year, partially since it fell on the Mother's Day weekend and folks had family obligations, and the cost of gas caused some folks to stay home. Several of the 'regulars' had other obligations so we canceled the pot-luck at the Oasis Campground - I hope it will be picked up next time, but things do change.

JC and LF We did meet some FAOL folks we did not know, Danni Guerin and Al Corey, and Ron and Vicky Eagle Elk's friends Jay Barrett and Kim Carnes. The photo of JC and I was taken by Jim from Bonnie Lake - who kindly offered since there aren't many photos of the two of us on FAOL.

Nice fish

Rocky Ford is a great place to fish for beginners and the technical experts as well. There is something for everyone. A few of the folks did make it over to one of the pot hole lakes for panfish as well - with super results. Some traveled up to Dry Falls Lake too.

That's the tail!

We fished an hour or so Sunday morning and headed for home.

JC Beef Barley soup

We did have to make a stop in Vantage, right in the shadow of the big Columbia River bridge. JC had arranged with the cook, Ken at the Golden Harvest restaurant to have some beef barley soup waiting for us to pick up on our way back. I thought JC would pass out when he saw the soup of the day, Chicken Noodle, on the 'fresh list.' The cook had been watching for JC, and came out of the kitchen to assure Jim that his beef barley soup was indeed there. It isn't there any more, it's in my frig.

We did get to play with a 'new' rod - at least new to us. Marc Bale from Sage sent the 7 ft, 4 weight TXL with us to play with. It is a medium action rod, which delivered a dry fly very nicely on demand. It was the rod I mostly fished all weekend, out of choice. I did occasionally switch off with JC depending on if I had broken off a fly - of course that never happens - and you didn't hear it from me. But since it was Mother's Day, I did get some extra special treatment - including not having to cook all weekend.

I do want to mention Al Corey came up with a very neat idea - he created a 'Memorial Fly' in honor of Al Campbell. About business card size, the actual fly, the recipe and a quote from AC all in one nice little package. We need to give some thought as to how best to use Al Corey's idea, but he put a lot of work and thought into the fly. Oh, the fly is the Too Simple Ray Charles. Very nicely done.

As always, any time a group of FAOL folks gathers together, the fishing and the company is just grand. It is always the best. ~ DLB

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