2012 State of the Stillwater

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by troutpocket, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,776
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    The Columbia basin and shrub-steppe lakes I visited this year fished extremely well. I'll be emailing my regional WDFW bio to say "thanks" for providing some really nice stillwater opportunities. I don’t have a long history on these water as I’ve only been in the neighborhood since 2007. And it helps that I spent quite a few days on the water with Irafly, who can sniff out a bobber bite anywhere there is one to be found. But thinking back over my fishing days this year, there was more consistency and greater numbers to the net than I’ve experienced in prior years. Interestingly, the biggest fish of the year (>20") were mostly found in put-and-take, general regs lakes. It also seems that some lakes produce much feistier fish than others (all 15" rainbows are NOT created equal). How were your home waters in 2012?
  2. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,018
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,596 / 0
    In Oregon, the place to be was Diamond Lake. Regardless of the harvest regulations, the trout were still plentiful in the 14-16 inch range with a few 20-inchers tossed in for good measure.

    A few years ago, the ODF&W poisoned the lake to kill the chub population that eliminated the trout fishery. They replanted the lake and it didn't take more than a few years for Diamond to once again produce plentiful, large trout.

    It is hardly a secret fishing spot considering the numbers of spin anglers who fish the lake.
  3. Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

    Posts: 726
    Wenatchee, WA
    Ratings: +236 / 0
    It was different this past year.

    Largest fish was 28 inches and probably about 8 lbs. I thought I was fishing a pay lake! On that same lake, same day eight more fish. The 28 inch fish was the largest. The smallest was 19 1/2 inches and three and half pounds. The small one I killed and weighed so that was an accurate weight and length.

    So I go back in the fall and catch.....ONE two inch bass, ONE three inch red-eared sunfish, and one 12 inch rainbow. But now I know why that bass fly was such an effective fly on the larger fish. The water temperature in the fall was 55 degrees so I don't know what the problem was four months later. It is a regular regulation lake.

    Found a few other regular regulation lakes with large fish. Hopefully, they will still fish well next year. Might even have to go back and give Disappointed Lake another chance.

    I only fished one Selective Fishery lake. Had great hopes after fall of 2011. I think it got fished out in 2012.

    Different year. Many fewer fish, but much larger on average.
  4. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,159
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +965 / 1
    My two biggest were a 26 incher from a pay lake (won it at the annual club social) and an estimated 7 lber from Rocky Ford. Remainder were a bunch of 18-19 inchers from March 1st opener lakes. I did get a fair amount of 20-24 inchers from Rocky Ford also.
  5. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,631
    Ratings: +638 / 2
    This year was a great learning year for me. I hit 4 different lakes on the east side of Oregon that had average fish size and numbers that the west side lakes can not even touch! I spent some 35 days between late april and june over that way chasing bows from 14 to 24 inches. the learning of the lakes was just as important to me as the fish themselves. but in fall it was quite different, because most these lakes are for irrigation they were only half the size and they drained one of the best ones completely. next year I know to go to central or southern Oregon in the fall - probably diamond since I have a friend that lives about 1 hour away from the lake. I also have a friend that lives on the Williamson river above kalamath lake both of these fisheries I have never fished and the outlook for a good challenge for next year looks good.

    Oregon is going through a lot of changes right now with east lake being introduced with two great rainbow species and it's browns. I still have to learn wickiup res. also. so many waters to learn ----- this year was great but the spring was by far the best! next year is looking just as good! switching to mostly lake fishing has renewed a lot of my fly fishing passion! has hurt my wallet some with new rods-reels-boat-motors-and gear the last two years but what the hell i'm single and the kid is grown and on her own now - what the hell else am I to do ;-)~
    troutpocket likes this.
  6. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,618
    Everett, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +1,053 / 1
    Make sure that you continue to take time to fish with and share with this community. You my dear man have been an incredible asset to this forum!
  7. Tim Lockhart Working late at The Office

    Posts: 1,935
    Mill Creek, WA
    Ratings: +267 / 0
    Ira, you beat me to the punch here. I was thinking WFF Man Of The Year or something. I remember seeing the world a little differently after that.
  8. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,618
    Everett, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +1,053 / 1
    At bare minimum WFF Stillwater Man of the Year. You can be somewhere in the top 5, I'll take top 30, is that to Vain of me?

    Ira..
  9. Shawn West Active Member

    Posts: 276
    Vancouver,Washington
    Ratings: +117 / 0
    I primarily fish the Columbia Gorge for warm water species. I did not get out as often this year as I had last year. That was mainly due to wind conditions. That being said, I definitely caught fewer fish per outing than I had in previous years. That is the bad news. The good news is that the average size of the fish landed this year were much larger. I do know that it took much longer this year for the water temperatures to reach the upper sixties and lower seventies. That would explain the lack in numbers, but not the size difference.

    Shawn
  10. skyrise Active Member

    Posts: 591
    everett, wa.
    Ratings: +51 / 0
    very thankful for just getting out. trying to extend my lake fishing time to not just spring and fall.
    still so much to learn. i like what i read here. any information from you all is great learning.
    thanks.
  11. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,631
    Ratings: +638 / 2
    Wow coming from you two i'm blushing. heck I can't spell - horrible grammar, just an almost washed up throw back steelheader - traveler - hard working, no education kind of guy. but I would say i have fished steelhead since I was 5 or 6 and ran drifters since I was in my teens and now haven't ran rivers for some 7 years for steel and I mean it when I say lakes have given me a new "LIFE" in fishing. I have done almost all the other things that I could of and got bored of it. Thank god for still waters.

    I've and ford and plenty others have help me bunches and if anything help me keep my "EGO" down with your knowledge. many of the rivers and tide waters and bays I fished all my life just were not exciting me anymore, many of my friends didn't understand and I would have to try and explain that I had been doing those things for some 35 years and now am bored - it was a "been there done that" kinda feeling so I truly believe still waters have given me new life in my sport I have loved all my life so much - "FISHING" dissecting new lakes and being successful on them is a reward I have not had for many years. It's new - it's a journey I have never been on.

    My plan is to learn every stillwater I can in the next 10 or 15 years before I die or it gets boring! starting with the best Oregon has to offer and then "WASHINGTON" (although the upper Columbia and okanagon area seems to be haunting me)

    I tip my head down in respect and humbleness to your kind words!!!
    Irafly likes this.
  12. bakerite Active Member

    Posts: 278
    Baker City Oregon
    Ratings: +74 / 0
    I will third what Ira and FF said about you Mark. Reading your post about Theif and then fishing with you a few time has really made me think about what I have been doing.....made me go out and get a fish finder and bobbers! That is a huge change for a guy who grew up fishing Pass Lake. The loss of Thief for a year after I just got a lesson on it is a sad thing for me. Overall though, I think the outlook over here is good. The fish in my local pond are bigger than ever and it had a good hold over of water this fall (over here we have to hope for snow every winter). I'm going to try to take a trip to some other Oregon waters I've been wanting to check out next spring and I'm going to try to make a trip either to BC or eastern Idaho/Montana next summer.
    triploidjunkie and GAT like this.
  13. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,618
    Everett, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +1,053 / 1
    Alright now for a proper response to troutpockets original post and his kind words about me.
    If I think of my stillwater season as starting a year ago, then things did not start that well for me. The day after Thanksgiving last year I fished Lone with several other members of the forum. Those of you on that trip will remember that Lone did not treat us kindly that day. I ended up landing only two fish that came to me within 15 minutes of each other mid day. After and before that though, nothing and based on other reports that day I ended up catching twice as many fish as anyone else.

    That experience left me jilted a bit about Lone and I avoided the lake for the rest of the winter season and most of the spring as well. Which gave me more time to explore Pass and Pass treated me quite kindly over the winter season with almost all days ended with double digit numbers. Evenings in particular were at times quite magical. I fished Pass almost exclusively until March 1st rolled around. Although I did find myself out at Rattlesnake with troutpocket one day and the deeeeeep water anchoring and indicatoring proved fruitful and very educational.

    Once March hit I spent most of my time, energy and money east of the Cascades fishing with troutpocket on both selective waters and general reg lakes and as he already mentioned we found some very nice fish in some of the general lakes, in fact I'm fairly sure this is the first year that in a long time that I never made it into the Lenice lakes or Lenore. As for my ability to sniff out a bobber bite, well my nose is only good if I'm fishing with a partner that doesn't stink. The ability to bounce ideas off of someone who works as hard as troutpocket to unlock the puzzle of a lake that day over the years has made me a much, much, much better lake guy. I like to think about it as a team effort.

    I did manage to spend a few days over on the wet side fishing Pass again and after some effort (massive chironomid hatches across the entire lake dispersed the fish and zoning in was actually harder then it was in the winter) I was able to switch areas and tactics consistently enough to catch fish most of the day each time I visited. After hundreds of fish out of that lake though this season I've only landed I think 2 browns. Rainbows love me.

    Late spring/early summer found me back out at Lone and what change. Some of those days rivaled anything else I experienced over the season in both numbers and size of fish.

    Mark, plug your eyes, over the summer I explored some bass fishing and although I never did find any real big bass this year I did catch quite a few small ones.

    Late summer/early fall found me fishing with troutpocket again for a couple of trips and once again the partnership proved amazingly fruitful. One move on Dry Falls in particular with both of us checking for signs of new life and the electronics almost literally sent off little alarm bells in our brains and we problem solved through to one of the most incredible bites I've ever experienced on that lake. And I will fully agree not all 15" trout are created equal. Heck for that matter there were some lakes that we fished that the 18" fish did not excite us nearly as much as the 12" fish.

    I did manage two trips in fall but I need to find away to shake the fall steelhead syndrome I face so I can focus all my fishing energy on lakes. This was suppose to be the year. One of the trips I did manage though found me back out at Lone again with Jeff and this time Lone again proved to be a great fishery.

    So has the fishing been better or have I just gotten better? Either way, I think I will also thank my regional biologist.
  14. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,631
    Ratings: +638 / 2
    IRA I don't think you have to be so modest as to say 30th! You and pocket and Ford and a few others - Olive- troutpocket - and many more could easily be first in the stillwater "man of the year" race. I was truly surprised to even be mentioned! can't wait to read fords book! and making one of your "teachings for groups" I would also look forward too! none of us will ever know it all!!!
  15. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,322
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,267 / 0
    The "season" so far has treated me very kindly. Some of my favorite lakes made a comeback, after taking major nosedives I was skeptical they would pull out of. I did notice the lack of thirty plus inch trips in Rufus this year. Last year I had at least a dozen that topped the mark, this year zero. On the upside(a major one) I noticed alot more natives in the system. I find myself more and more reluctant to leave it.
    I pushed as much fishing as a hectic work and home life would allow into the end of the regular season closers, and now am back to the year rounders. I'll throw up some pics from the last month(one of a painting of flowers that showed up on a riverside boulder overnight by an unknown artist). Happy Thanksgiving WFFer's

    Attached Files:

  16. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,159
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +965 / 1
    There's a fair amount of good stillwater flyfishermen on here but only a few post about fishing trips and fly pattern experimentation. I have a very good fisherman a couple of miles from me but he doesn't usually post more than 5-10 times a year. Me, I didn't get out much this year, only about 60-70 times. Most of those were before the weather got hot over here. I think I'd been to Rocky Ford about 20 times before the lakes opened up March 1st. First trip was about Jan 4th. Cabin fever was tough.
  17. IveofIone Active Member

    Posts: 3,057
    .
    Ratings: +1,069 / 0
    The long winter, late wet spring and extended honey-do list kept me mostly off the water until around Sept. But once I got started things went quite well although local lakes have been a mixed bag. Some are in decline while others are soaring. Many of us far east siders have been saddened by the demise of Brown's Lake, once one of the finest cutthroat fisheries around. The loss of a major fly fishing only lake is huge when there are so few around.

    But some other general regs lakes have taken up some of the slack. A few are difficult to reach and get in and out of but reward you with fine fishing for decent or better sized fish and very little pressure.
    The comfort, capacity and good mileage of a new van has expanded my 'home waters' considerably and I am now fishing out about 3 hours(Coffeepot, Long Lake in Ferry County, the Okonogan, etc). This about doubles the number of lakes I normally fish and I have had some excellent fishing out at the edges of my range.

    Biggest fish of the year were in the 23''/24'' range but there were some lakes where there were large numbers of 16''/19'' fish that were really hot. This makes for some very enjoyable fishing.

    I learned a lot about chironomid fishing this year and have tied up a lot of stuff for next spring. I have a few lakes targeted for shortly after the opener that I expect to do real well on. Next year will also see me with an annual permit for the Reservation and a few trips over there for brookies, Lahontans and some time on the San Poil.

    I hope to get in a day or two with some of you chironomid gurus and get schooled on some of the finer points. There are few fly fishermen in my region and cronie fishermen are even more rare. Talking to a bait guy with a limit of tiger trout this spring, he told me that the trout were "....pukin' up mayflies when we landed 'em" I asked if he could show me some of those 'mayflies' and just as I suspected they were black chironomids about size 16. I'll be visiting that lake in early May for sure.

    Ive
  18. Bartfly New Member

    Posts: 19
    Washougal, WA
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    Mark, you have my vote. I am new to flyfishing and have been doing it for 2 years or so and it has opened my eyes to a new world of fishing. Mark is the one who introduced me to it and I never would have known about how rewarding flyfishing can be. Heck, it's fun to go to the park and just cast. I used to be a powerbait, worms, spinner fisherman like most people out there, except that I rarely took fish home. The fun is in the fight not the killing. I still enjoy putting steelhead, and salmon on the bbq, in the smoker and in the freezer but flyfishing is so much more of a peaceful/exciting experience if that makes sense. If I fish with anyone, 95% of the time it's Mark. I have learned so much that I almost feel like I should be paying him guide fees. Instead I guess I will split the gas bill and pass on what I have learned to the kids and their friends. Last summer, I had the kids and the neighbor kids in the field across the street practicing casting the fly rod for a couple of hours and they all had a blast. Thanks Mark. As far as this year went, I think we vowed to never again fish Battleground Lake (meat fishery where the gates don't open until 8) or Horseshoe Lake. I still want to figure out Lacamas Lake because it gets little pressure and heavy plantings plus it's close to home. Merrill is kind of a crapshoot because the water levels fluctuate so much. You also have to compete with the eagles, cormorants and sturgeon there. We have had good days in the coves and river channel below the bridge at Swift, but for that drive you might as well go to Coldwater Lake. The scenery can be just as good as the fishing, although the fish don't have the size that the ones out east have, from what I have heard. Kress is a meat fishery, but can be fun fly fishing catch&release. Just with there were some more fly fishing only lakes. I guess I will have to keep up the practice with the kids and their friends to keep the next generation involved so that maybe my grandkids will have more options. By the way, the first time I ever went flyfishing was at Trillium Lake with Mark. My first or second time casting, while I was flailing with the line I hit the side of the boat with the indicator I was fishing with at the time and broke it in half. In addition to rocking the boat back and forth, Mark was patient and taught me what I was doing wrong and I haven't broke one since. It always cracks me up when a majority of the time someone has to ask "hey, what are you guys using?" Mark will have the guy paddle over and show him and even give him a fly to try. The flyfishing world is a lot different than the salmon/steelhead fishing world. You don't get/give any information there. Anyways, sorry to hijack the post, I have been flyfishing 2 years and this is my 1st post so I have a lot of pent up flyfishing energy:)
    Irafly and Mark Kraniger like this.
  19. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,631
    Ratings: +638 / 2
    Now you have your first "like" also Bart! don't let Bart fool you! he's teaching me humbleness!!! Glad you came over to the "bright side" of fly fishing.
  20. Bartfly New Member

    Posts: 19
    Washougal, WA
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    Here were a few good trips. Marks brown at Merrill, the Chinook Chris caught at Drano, the Mt. Saint Helens view on the way to Coldwater and the deer swimming across Kress when we were "beating their lips back" Barts Pictures 377.jpg Barts Pictures 538.jpg Barts Pictures 599.jpg Barts Pictures 922.jpg
    Mark Kraniger likes this.