Tag Archives: wilderness

Jameson Lake

A coordinated long weekend among a tight group of fishing buddies can provide a game that extends long before and after the days you take off from work. The looking-forward-to and looking-back-on makes a trip a worthy endeavor, despite having to go through the motions of aligning all of our schedules and communicating to our loved ones that this was a great idea. We earned it or we would pay for it were the foundations of every conversation with wives and girlfriends.  The road you took from the get-go dictated your every angle from that point on.

Jameson Lake is about 200 miles from Seattle, north of Ephrata and can be reached from I-90 or Highway 2.  It is in the sagebrush flats region of Washington and quite simply a long lake in the middle of the desert. The 500 acre lake is a split-season and opens the fourth Saturday of April and closes on July 4th until October when it opens again. On it’s east side, Jameson Lake Road extends along the shore and to the top of the upper section or “old lake” which was the smaller body of water that existed before the lake doubled in size.  A study for the Foster Creek Conservation District said that “since first surveyed in the mid-1880’s, Jameson Lake has doubled in size and water levels have reportedly continued to rise several feet in the past 15 years, possibly as a result of agricultural practices in the surrounding watershed.”

Jameson Lake Boat Launch

I talked with an old-timer for a while who had fished the lake most years since 1957. We heard stories about when the lake had been half the size and the fish twice as big.  He was carrying four fiberglass rods rigged with silver or bronze spoons that he had used for twenty years. Friday’s limit was caught on silver spoons and today, bronze spoons were the ticket.  Modern spoons and their fancy split rings didn’t sit well with him, and he was worried that he’d run out of spoons before he died or couldn’t fish any more. The old-timer referenced a plug in his tackle box that had been fished by his grandfather.  I asked him about the chances of losing such an heirloom and he said that if you fished the plug and lost it, you went swimming.  I truly respected his choice of technique. No bait and only targeting fish that will hit hard near the surface from a long way off the back of a boat.

Jameson Lake Cliffs

His fishing partner had been his across-the-street neighbor for thirty years. Her name was Bonnie and I thought back on the morning when we saw them heading out, politely inquiring if we’d stayed dry through the night’s rain. Bonnie and her husband were great friends and neighbors of the old-timer and his wife.  Bonnie’s husband passed from Alzheimer’s and then the old-timer’s did the same a couple years after that. With both of their partners gone and a few years of grieving gone by, the old-timer and Bonnie partnered up. They both liked camping, fishing, baseball and most importantly: one another’s company. They could share the stories of their lost partners, embedded with a context only known by someone who was there when it all happened.  Bonnie and the old-timer and the lost husband and wife had been great friends and shared many memories together raising their families as neighbors in a small community.  Bonnie and the old-timer knew  that together they could watch a baseball game on TV and both agree that it was better than seeing it in person, because you got to see more. They knew they could enjoy the outdoors together and camp and fish  and start building their own traditions together.

It was a dense interaction with the old-timer in that short amount of time. Our campsite forced pleasantries in the least as we were situated right behind the facilities and resort office/restaurant/general store.  We were situated on two of the tent sites available at Jack’s Resort, with the majority of the small property being reserved for RVs. There are multiple boat launches on the lake and Jack’s will rent you a boat without a motor for $30 a day. We brought our own electric motors but if you wanted to use their gas motors it would cost $60. The boats were leaky but tracked well. I wouldn’t suggest anchoring anywhere you couldn’t see the bottom without sonar. The lake runs up to a 130′ deep at points.

Our group fished a variety of methods, with trolling and casting spinners surprisingly being the most productive. Most fisherman were using bait off the bottom and that turned out to work just fine, but was a bit boring and tough to manage from a non-anchored boat on the lake. All weekend there were periodic squalls of sideways rain and with the cloud cover I stuck to bronze spinners, but silver worked as well once the sun came through the clouds. After a day’s fishing we took a break and headed into the surrounding hills to set up a firing range where we could test out our friend’s arsenal of handguns. Jameson Lake is a great, remote lake that provided consistent fishing this late spring. WDFW looks like they stock it again in October and I would love to head back and try it again once the trout population is allowed the chance to get a little bigger.

Jameson Lake Shooting

Twenty at Rattlesnake

I fished at Rattlesnake twice over this past week. On Sunday I fished from the bank, hooking two on a red spinner and struggling when I tried to fly fish due to wind, minimal room for backcasting, and a generally amateurish level of skill at this part in my fly fishing development. My friend and I then drove up to try the middle fork of the Snoqualmie, only to be greeted by the road closure that has much of the best water off limits to everyone except those prepared to hike in (which I may do here in the next couple weeks). Yesterday I headed back to Rattlesnake with my pontoon ready and had a lot of success in both catching fish and honing my fly fishing skill set. I landed about fourteen trout in the first ninety minutes and then committed to staying until I got to twenty, which took about four more hours as I tried different patterns I’d tied up and took some shore breaks for lunch and for watching the show being put on my a couple ospreys who were diving and catching their own lunches. The fly of the day was a woolly bugger with black maribou, grizzly hackle, olive green dubbing on the body, wine-colored thread, and a brass bead. I posted a picture of it below, slowly unraveling and beaten down by the ten trout who had tried to swallow it. I’ve never had to pluck hooks on artificial presentations that were as deep as these buggers got in the fish. They were all barbless and not that small (size 8), but the bigger fish were nearly swallowing these things. I take it as a good sign as Rattlesnake has been a selective gear, catch and release fishery for most of the past year and these bigger planters are starting to feed voraciously on the natural foods available to them in the lake. I hope that as WDFW continues to regulate this lake with these selective gears rules and continues to periodically stock the lake that we’ll see, if they can sustain it for 3-4 years, really big and colored fish roaming about.

Rattlesnake Lake

I fished for fours in a downpour today at Rattlesnake Lake. The plan was to hike the shoreline, but once I arrived and the wind was minimal, I assembled my pontoon and headed out about 150 yards from the boat launch. I caught my first trout on a fly. A red beaded, grizzly hackled, brown tailed wooly bugger that I cast and stripped back in. My casting is improving and I learned a lot today. I used that fly all day and landed four on it. I also had my ultralight spinning rod and was getting bites every other cast on a red Mepps spinner. I landed another five on the spinner. The lake was very active with trout, they were jumping all around all afternoon. The water was bright green and not as murky as would be expected with all of the rain. A great day fishing and I’m glad to have made despite the last two days of rain.  There was only one other angler on the water and he was catching his share too with a nymph below an indicator.

Wading Safely

Simms Fishing Products released this series of instructional videos to help teach the bank angler tactics and tips for keeping yourself alive while fishing in rivers, crossing rivers, and even swimming in rivers all the while suited up in chest waders. It’s a few years old, but the series is still helpful in regards to its content and ability to scare the hell out of you as you imagine yourself bobbing down the river and having to decide if you’re going to go over or under the tree laying across the river ahead (go over).

From Fly Fisherman Magazine

A Steelhead Family

A personal favorite documentary short that provides insight into what it may be like to grow up among generations of rod builders and steelhead anglers in British Columbia

From the Vimeo description:

“What if fishing was so important that you would change your life to pursue it? You would focus your entire life around it and raise your family to appreciate every aspects of the sport for themselves. “A Steelhead Family” walks you through a few days in the lives of the Clay family (Bob, Jed, Kaili, Kathy & Kateri), who have done just that. Headed by bamboo rod builder Bob Clay, this accomplished steelheading family makes the sport of spey casting look easy while illustrating the importance of the survival of these great fish in BC, Canada. A true fishing family in one of the last wild Steelheading strongholds left on earth.”

Created, edit, directed and produced by: Andrew Hardingham – Ubiquitous water Media”

American River

In what has become an annual tradition, I head out to the American River Guard Station off Highway 410 near Naches, Washington every October to spend a weekend playing poker and fishing the American, Bumping, and Naches River for cutthroat. The cabin was built in 1941 and is available for rental  most of the year.

The American River runs alongside the site of the cabin and it’s easy hiking or short driving to holes, slots, and tail outs holding small to medium size cutthroat. On Saturday we drove along a road that paralleled the river and Highway 410 on the other side, exploring a road that wound through a few of the many campsites along that stretch. Hunters occupied the majority of the sites we saw that did have occupants and that the ample rain that started on Saturday afternoon pushed fisherman, hunters, and football fans into the comfy confines of the bar at Whistlin’ Jack Lodge.

We fished using ultralight spinning gear with #0 and #1 Mepps spinners being the lure of choice. I have caught more trout on the red and bronze Mepps than any other brand or color. They’ve worked for me in the Yakima, Skykomish, American, Bumping, Naches, Cle Elum, and Green River along with multiple high country, alpine lakes. When I’m not targeting stocked rainbows and in selective gear waters I’m using these small, red, Mepps spinners to catch wild trout.

 

Lake Takhlakh

Camped up at Lake Takhlakh for Labor Day weekend and the fishing was consistent if not abundant. The stocked rainbows were on the small side although I caught two brood stock fish that were close to two pounds each. I left the pontoon moored on the shore of the lake all weekend.

 

Steelhead Fever

This is a classic BC steelhead bushwhacking adventure filmed by BCXHD Productions LTD. and one that I re-watch on a regular basis. This is true bucket list footage and I hope that I’ll be able to make it up to north Vancouver Island here in the next few years and take my own turn getting a line wet in these protected waters, home of the best steelhead fishing in the world.

Lost Lake II

Camped and fished Lost Lake in Kittitas County with a buddy and our pontoons. We figured to slide into a camp site empty after the 4th of July weekend and were lucky enough to have the entire site and lake to ourselves. Fishing was great on Sunday night with lots of action and we looked forward to more of the same on Monday morning, but unfortunately the bite died down as the winds and temperature increased. It seems to be an evening fishery at Lost Lake during summer months, at least for the type of fishing we were doing with spinning gear. I bet a fly fisherman working the shore in the evening would see even more fish in the net.