Every once in awhile you have one of the best days in
your life. The last fly fishing trip of the season became
my greatest day ever! I would like to share it in hopes you
will enjoy the experience as we did.
With summer gone and October just around the corner, my fishing
buddy, Fuzzy, thought it would be really fun to take his son,
John, fly-fishing before the season ended. For me this entailed
getting permission to skip wood carving class on Friday night and
my work for the hackle ranch. Fortunately for me, things were
pretty slow, and I could play hooky. Thanks Dad! Unfortunately,
John was already camping in Idaho and would be unable to join us.
Fuzzy, being an Air Force Survival Instructor, has tromped
all over the northeast section of Washington. Through the
years he has found several out-of-the-way ponds. We decided
on a small pond that would offer some cutthroat trout action.
Fuzzy informs me "cutthroat are business fish. They don't
begin biting until 9:00 am and quit about 5:00 pm." I am
thinking these are my kind of fish! We still planned to
get up early Saturday morning just in case.
Whenever you travel you should always have a map, right?
Right! Not just any ordinary map! When we travel we take
a 7 ½ minute military map that is about 20 years old! I get
to play navigator. There is an art to reading one of these
maps I am sure. I have just the hardest time, so we make
several 'read the map' stops. Sometimes we find a road we
want to use has been closed off. Well, this trip was no
exception! We get within two miles of our pond and the
road we need to turn on is closed. Well, now what? After
checking the map and looking at our options we had two
choices. We could turn around and go 40 miles back the
way we came in hopes of finding roads open on the east
side, or try this newer looking road, noted as a dead end.
Perhaps it could not hurt to go a couple of miles to see
where it goes. Luck was with us, the road did not dead
end, it went directly to the pond we were looking for!
When we arrived, about 9:30 a.m., the day was chilly, a
slight fog in the air, with the sun just coming over the
ridge, ready to spill sunshine on the pond. We quickly
located a campsite and unloaded our gear. Upon checking
the water we found one small boat with two fishermen.
They appeared to be using the standard garden hackle.
We also noticed fish rising! We could not get our waders,
rods and belly boats ready fast enough! I am a true dry
fly fishing lady. I get the most enjoyment out of watching
the fly float on the water top just waiting for the fish.
Since I was given a belly boat for my birthday, I have come
to enjoy flyfishing from the water top as well. Today my
choice of fly is my old faithful elk hair caddis.
Finally in full gear we proceed to the water. The water
level is very low and it appears to be a mucky mess before
hitting the lilies and deeper water. Well, a little muck
was not going to stop me. I waddled out in the belly boat, rod
in hand. I made it about four steps before my flippered
foot sunk to my thigh. The next step wasn't much better and
soon I was stuck in the muck! I was unable to move my feet.
I could not pull my foot up or move it in any way. I was
frustrated and feeling trapped in quick sand. Since I am
determined to free myself from this doom, I decide to lay
back in the boat and try to kick loose. After many struggles
I was able to wiggle my feet from the muck and slowly move
through the bottom sediment. Fuzzy tried a different port
of entry but with about the same results. Before too long
(although it seemed like an hour) I had reached the deeper
water almost exhausted. But I had made it!
Within moments a fish pops the top of the water in front of me.
I begin to reel off some line and kick my way out into the pond.
Upon my first cast, as the fly hits the water a trout grabs it.
Soon I had landed an eight-inch trout! I am one of those
people who get very excited when I hook a fish. I start
calling, fish on! Fuzzy is watching and still struggling
through the muck. I release my first catch of the day and
begin to send my little fly out over the water again. Bam!
As soon as the fly hits the water a trout rolls over the
top of it. Fish on! Fish on! Fuzzy is still struggling
out of the muck. Well the third cast produced no results,
but the fourth one was a prize! This fellow hit and rolled
hard over the fly, I set the hook and knew he was a larger
fish. What fun it was to have him dive straight to the
bottom and pull and stay down forever, finally to appear
from the depths and fight as I play him to the boat. He
measured about twelve inches and was the fattest chunk.
Fuzzy finally makes it out of the muck. He chooses to go
across the pond from where I am fishing. His usual first
choice of a fly is a wet.
I continue moving around this small area and kept getting
strikes almost every cast and just hooting it up. I had
to be careful (only a little) because of the echo. Even
a whisper seemed to give you a return call. I was getting
the biggest kick out of hearing, "fish on!" repeated. I
have never caught more than six fish on one outing.
Normally I call that a great day. Today I quit counting
at six. I figured everything over six was a bonus! I just
never knew there could be so many fish in one spot.
After a bit I notice that Fuzzy isn't catching many fish,
so I offer to share my spot. Perhaps the fish were holding
in this particular part of the pond and I didn't want him
to miss this fun. He declined and kept on fishing around
the pond. It wasn't too long though and he had moved closer.
He has changed his fly to a dry. Look out Loretta! He begins
catching fish! Over and over we were calling "fish on!"
Hey, we got a double! Fish are popping the water all around
us, so close we are getting wet. You load the line on your
rod and as the fly sails close to the top of the water, the
fish jumps up, trying to catch it before it lands. And when
it does, bam! The fish has rolled over the fly and he's
playing with all he has.
We stayed on the water about three hours having the time
of our life. The sun was warm, a slight breeze now and
then - a perfect morning on the water. In all we probably
landed around 100 fish between us. All cutthroat trout,
ranging in size from eight to fourteen inches. And we
know who caught the big ones!
I hated to leave the water, but camp needed to be set up
and we were getting hungry. Oh no! The trip back to shore!
I have never in my life seen a lake bottom as soft as this
one. Getting through this muck took an act of Hercules.
To say the least it was worse getting out than it was coming
in, but we did finally make it. Oh, by the way. . .the two
guys in the boat, they never caught one fish the entire time
they were there. I think I may have scared them off with
After setting up camp and having lunch, we did a bit of
hiking to check out the area. We had the small campground
to ourselves. We found the boat launch area and trails
going around the pond. Beautiful tamaracks as tall as 100
feet, lots of other large firs and pines.
About 2:30 we decided it was time for some more fishing.
We noticed the trout had never stopped hitting the top of
the water. There was no obvious hatch that day. We saw
fish jump from the water and catch a spider that was
floating overhead on his silk string. The water was clear
with no algae or other debris floating in it. The entire
edge was covered with the muck, then water lilies before
dropping off to depths of at least 10 feet to who knows
We decided the boat landing might be a better way to forge
our way out to deep water since there was a bit of a trench
there. No such luck! Still the same struggle through the
muck. We chose to fish the other end of the pond which was
a larger water area and much deeper. We caught fish all
afternoon just like before. Almost every cast produced
a hit and many were missed. We hooted and called nice fish!
We stayed on the water right up to 5:00 p.m., and believe
it or not, the fish turned off! No more anything, complete
silence. Banker's hours. . .hum?
We did some sight seeing before having dinner. The evening
cooled off quickly, so we headed to bed with visions of
trout dancing in our heads. Boo Hoo! It rained all night
and was a wet and chilly morning, so we packed it up and
headed home early. We were disappointed we had to leave,
but what a trip is was! One we will always remember and
you can bet I'll be taking my Dad with me the next time
I go pond fishing.
Good fishing. ~ Liz Conrad