Friday, April 21, 2017

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout in Washington State April 2017

Darren Petersen photo

Click on the pictures to make them larger!

This was one crazy trip. There were 10 of us with a few more on the way. It was our annual trip to Washington State to chase lahontan cutthroat trout! The drive up and over Roger's Pass included a nasty snowstorm. Once we arrived at our destination, we went over to the North 40 Fly Shop and got our fishing licences. The sign said the lake was hot, that made us smile until we heard that the road to the lake was flooded and the drive around was going to add an extra hour. Well after talking to our friends from Spokane and Montana, we decided to negotiate the flooded road. That was a good decision. BUT when we got to the lake, we found out that so much mud and run off was spilling into the lake, that the north end of the lake was unfishable. What, our favourite beach was mud. We headed to the south end and the rough road down to the lake was mud and in bad shape. Thank goodness we all had a four wheel drive trucks because we needed it! The water at the south end was fishable. Larry, Darren, Rick and Doug launched Larry's boat and headed about 5 km down the lake to fish a favourite bay that was fortunately clear and quite fishable. The lake was at least 3 feet higher than last year and that left several of our favourite beaches, flooded and not fishable! That was just crazy! The guys did find another stretch in the bay that had cruising lahontans and they were into fish all day. They caught lahontans to 26 inches. Karen, my buddies Leon and Claude were on shore at the south end and we found lots of fish to tangle with too.

Usually we are sight fishing but not this year. The visibility in the lake was low and we could not see the fish. Luckily there was enough visibility that the lahontans could see our balanced leeches, flashbacks, micro leeches and baby damsels!

Well day two had disaster written all over it! The shoreline at the south end had no visibility at all. The mud drifted all 8 miles down the lake with the north wind blowing. Was our trip ruined and destroyed. Not yet. Over the course of the day, the wind shifted to the south and the south end of the lake started to get some visibility. It took until after lunch and then we started to catch some nice ones. The guys went back to their favourite bay down the lake and had an amazing day. The mud stayed out of the bay for most of the day! Doug was the hot rod. He was fly fishing with a balanced Las Vegas Leech! 

Well day three had some nasty weather shaping up so we started at the North 40 Fly Shop. As Doug would say, "Money will be spent!" We got to the lake a bit later. The guys headed off in the boat. They found their favourite bay had very little visibility and the guys had to look for some clearer water. The south end beach and shore was still ok thanks to a south wind. The fishing was excellent. Leon tagged a 29 incher and later in the day, Rick hit the 30 inch mark! Claude caught several monsters and Karen started tagging several biggies. Then the thunderstorms rolled in. Thunder, lightening, hail and heavy rain began. Karen and I called it a day so we could finish our shopping. We also wanted to keep our two elk hounds dry. Well a few hours later, the weather cleared and the fly fishing became hot. The guys caught a lot of big colourful lahontans.

Well on day four we arrived at the lake and we lucked out that a very gentle south west wind was keeping the mud line at bay! Well it did for most of the day! Then we got showered on but the fly fishing with baby damsels was superb! Lots of quality lahontans were caught! By late afternoon, the mud had arrived and the visibility at the lake went down. It was time to get packed up for the long journey home!

Wow, the weather forecast was for rain and a north wind. That will make the visibility at the lake poor in the coming days. The good news is the fact that the mud run off was slowing and the mud will slowly diffuse and the lake will clear.

Certainly  a different trip with conditions I have not seen in several years! Amazing. The 10 of us still had a great time. We always love seeing our friends from Spokane and Montana!

The stormy drive down the Okanogan made the drive home a bit easier to take. We all love this trip, so much fun!

A flooded road had to be negotiated to get to the lake each day!

Can you see the mud line?

The access road got quite gnarly after a while so Karen and I decided to park and hike. 

After only 10 minuted of fly fishing, I caught a monster that was almost 32 inches long. It was a big thick male. It was an amazing specimen. After a few quick pics it was released back into the lake. Well that got our interest!

Our buddy Claude is a lot of fun to fly fish. He was sporting his new ECHO rod and he was bombing out big casts with his new toy!

Darren Petersen photo

Darren with a beauty!
Darren Petersen photo

Doug had an amazing 4 days on the water. We had to drag him off the lake at the end of the day!

Darren Petersen photo

Karen had an amazing last day! So many quality lahontans to hand!

Darren Petersen photo

Larry tagged several beauties too!
Darren Petersen photo
Darren Petersen photo

My dear friend Leon was always into the fish!

Darren Petersen photo

Rick, the rookie, slayed them!

The vampire leech was a great choice! The first two days! Wild horses below!

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