July 25th, 2005

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Exploring Flyfishing Opportunities in Ferry County, WA
Becky Garrison, NYC, NY

Located 125 miles Northwest of Spokane, Washington, the historic town of Republic (population 954) and county seat of Ferry County still maintains the authentic charm of the Wild West during the days of the Gold Rush. With its unspoiled wildlife, majestic mountains, and crystal clear freshwater rivers and lakes, this area provides flyfishers ample opportunities to land a trout or a bass in an idyllic mountain setting. As Ferry County only has one sporting goods store that sells flyfishing gear and very limited professional guide services available, anglers can cast their line these relatively undiscovered yet publicly accessible rivers and lakes without being surrounded by throngs of tourists.

The small cluster of lakes contained within the Colville National Forest (Ferry Lake, Fish Lake, Long Lake, and Swan Lake) offers fishing, camping, hiking and boating. While Ferry Lake remains open for fishing year round, the season for the other lakes starts on April 30th and continues until October 31st. Rainbow trout are planted in Ferry Lake, Fish Lake and Swan Lake. Cutthroat trout American (N American spotted trout) can be found in Long Lake, and one can land an occasional Eastern brook trout in Swan Lake. Electrically powered powerboats are only permitted on Ferry Lake and Swan Lake.

Starting in the late spring, Long Lake, a 14-acre flyfishing only lake attracts anglers looking for solitude. Motorized boats are not permitted on this lake, allowing anglers to enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighboring chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional black bear in search of huckleberries. Fry-planted cutthroat trout can yield some nine-to 17-inch catches.

San Poil River, which is part of the Colville Indian Reservation, offers catch and release flyfishing, where anglers can target Eastern brook trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon. A portion of this river runs through the K Diamond K Ranch. At this authentic working ranch, they have two gear flyfishing outfits available to their guests. Also, check out Ten-mile Campground, a remote primitive site for hiking, camping and fishing runs adjacent to this river. A Colville Indian Reservation Fishing Permit is required to fish the San Poil River from 13 mile (Hwy. 21) and South of 13 mile on the reservation.

Other area lakes and rivers include Curlew Lake, an 870-acre multi-recreational lake containing largemouth bass, tiger muskies, as well as fry-planted and net-pen reared rainbow trout. At times, the heavy boat traffic on this highly popular lake can be detracting to those seeking a more solitary flyfishing experience. Another favorite fishing spot, Kettle River, affords anglers some excellent late-winter mountain whitefish angling during the special November 1 through May 31 whitefish season. Anglers cannot target other species during this time so as to protect the native spawning rainbow trout. Selective gear rules are in effect from June 1 through October 31 during open season.

Also flyfishers can try Davis Lake, Ellen Lake, Empire Lake, Renner Lake, Trout Lake and Ward Lake for some additional angling action in Ferry County. (Ferry Lake is shown below.)

Gary Dougherty, owner of the Republic Sports Shop, offers specialty tied flies and free fishing stories to traveling anglers looking to test these local waters. At the beginning of the season, Dougherty recommends nymphs and woolly buggers in dark colors. As the summer progresses, check out spinner flies, dry black ants, renegades, caddis flies and mosquitoes. During the fall, switch to weighted nymphs to target the fish as they retreat to the bottom when the weather turns cold. Commericial tier, Joan Lake has designed some flies for local stream fishing and trolling for trout lying at the bottom of these lakes. She notes that the trout appear to be especially attracted to her brightly colored trolling flies.

Most flyfishers find that a 5 to 6-wt. fly rod works well. While a floating line may work when the fish are feeing on the surface, often an intermediate or sinking line is needed to land the bigger cows lying at these deep bottom lakes.

According to Dougherty, his favorite times for trout fishing are June through July, though sometimes a September Indian Summer can bring some 'rings of rises.' However, there are a few select diehards who will fish Ferry Lake even when snow covers these lakes.


Backpackers Pantry
For those who want to camp in Colville National Forest, these freeze-dried easy to prepare meals and snacks are definitely a tasty gourmet alternative to canned camp fare.

Colville Confederated Tribes
Fish and Wildlife Department
(509) 634-2110, www.colvilletribes.com
Information about obtaining a Colville Indian Reservation Fishing Permit

Colville Forest Information (509-684-7000) and Republic Ranger District (509-775-3305)
Information about fishing, camping and other activities in Colville National Forest

Eich's Merchantile, (509) 775-2846
Sells fishing licenses and Colville Indian Reservation Fishing Permits

Fishing in Ferry County

Lake Trolling Flies
http://store.yahoo.com/trollingfly, or info@trollingfly.com

Republic Sports Shop, 509-775-3040
Sells spin casting and flyfishing gear, fishing licenses, and Colville Indian Reservation Fishing Permits. Fishing stories are available free of charge.

Washington State Fishing Licenses

Republic Regional Visitors and Convention Bureau
Full listing of activities and lodging available in the Republic area. ~ Becky Garrison

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