Updated Leech Report


Sculpin Enterprises
What a difference a day or two makes for mountain lakes. Unlike the discouraging report by member 6wt on the other Leech Lake thread, the last few days (Monday to Wednesday) have been much better.

Yes, it was windy at times; it wouldn't be Leech otherwise but at least it made the mosquitoes' jobs a bit more difficult. But there were enough times with milder breezes or even calm to allow quality fishing at the surface. In fact, one of the more annoying circumstances in the late afternoon was to have gusty breezes from alternate (and more) directions, changing from one minute to the next like someone was spinning a compass and then blowing the wind from that direction. All three days were mostly sunny with a touch of high overcast in the late afternoon; bring that sunscreen and hat.

Yes, it was busy; I counted 30+ fishers in the late morning on the lake on each of the three days, including a group from the Kent Senior Center and several member of Northwest Women Flyfishers. Yes, that did make navigating a bit of a challenge, but even with that many folks, there was room for all. Double or triple that number and it may seem more like bumper boats.....

But what really changed for the better was the fishing. I saw lots of folks catching fish using a variety of flies/strategies from trolling woolly buggers to float fishing with chironomids, casting and retrieving damsel nymphs, to dry flies like black ants, gray wulffs, parachute adams, Callibaetis emergers, etc. Yes, there were slow periods, but at times the fish were really active and it wouldn't be unusual to see several folks fighting fish at the same time at different parts of the lake. The new triploids are settling in, but they still don't have the stamina for an extended fight, lots of thrashing at the surface. The carryovers, one excited guy called them salmon, will run you into the backing or show some acrobatics. The brookies that I caught seemed bigger than previous years. Of course, one of the rationales that I remember for stocking triploids in Leech in the first place was to thin out the brookies, thereby providing more food for larger fish; if so, this appears to have been successful.

The calender says July, but the conditions in the lake seem more like early/mid June. The reed beds are absent; the new growth has yet to make much of an appearance. I overheard a conversation between two other fishers that the water temperature as 55oF at midday; the inlet streams around the lake are pumping in lots more cold water. The midday Callibaetis spinner fall and following emergence is O.K. (but worth keying on), but it should be stronger (if this were a normal year). There was some flavor of yellow-hued caddis (size 12??) that also emerged in ones and twos at midday, mostly resulting in lunch for cruising trout. I saw some tinier black caddis (size 18?) along the shoreline vegetation and the alderflies that normally form clouds in the shallows in the evening are only now starting to emerge. There were a few damsels emerging, but the peak of that hatch must still be a while off. Without the reeds, they are so hard up for emerging substrates that I found two husks on the walls of my tent over 30 feet from the water. There are some midges hatching in mid/late afternoon, but not much is happening in the evening. In the evening, you can see some small brookies crashing the surface for tiny midges, but not the bigger players; I spent most of the evenings fighting the skeeters, probably should have gone fishing instead just to avoid them. I saw a few monster black ants flying around my campsite, but I didn't seen any on the water. They could be left overs from the rain storms that 6wt mentioned. Still, black ant imitations were successful.

The mosquitoes are in mid-season form. The swarms in the evening rival, but not quite, those that I encountered in Alaska. There is an impression of hunger and desperation in their high-pitched whining.



Oh and really nice report cabezon. I just love that lake. If it weren't for the squitos, it'd be even better. How's the ospreys doing up there this year? My last time up there they were 0 for 3 on their dives, previous to that they were about 10 for 10.



Sculpin Enterprises
Hi Wayne,

There were up to three circling at any one time. From the high screeching, one was probably a fledgling. I saw one successful catch in about six dives. I'm sure the hatchery triploids learn pretty quickly that this isn't like Trout Lodge where they can loll at the surface.

A juvenile bald eagle was after warmer meat; it swooped on a female mallard but was unsuccessful.



Sculpin Enterprises
Leech is opposite the ski area at the top of the White Pass. If you look in the photo on the first entry in this thread, the condos and gas station are over the trees on the far left and the big talus slope is to the far right. Dog is next lake down the east side of the pass, also on the north side of the road.

nice report there cabezon.

im curious, how late did you fish the lake? i was up there a couple weeks ago for the first time, started around 1 and the fishing was great until about 530 or 6. then it seemed the water started to muck up with a lot of algae and crap.

we stuck it out til around 730, didnt catch squat. In retrospect, i may be starting to think that the people who fish there more than i have know something i dont....like the lake turns off at some point....or maybe i just suck?



Sculpin Enterprises
It seems that the evening bite was better a few years ago when there were more small brookies chasing after small hatching midges. Not surprisingly, the catching activity on that lake increases when there is a hatch on. The fish move more and there is more likely to be a coincidence between your fly and a cruising fish. Right now, the peak hatch is in the afternoon. As the seasons shift, it is reasonable to expect that the timing of fish activity will shift as well. Right now, Leech is fishing well during bankers hours, 10 to 4. This gives you the morning and evening to feed the mosquitoes.


Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
Great report, Steve & thank you for the info. May have to give that a whirl (love fishing damsel nymphs). As for the skeeters, when Dad & I fished the Upper Big Hole back home years ago, he used to say, "Skeeters must be thick . . . they're talking to me." Had a spare hour or so this morning, so went out just before daybreak & tagged 4 Golden Bonefish on a big variegated Bugger . . . carp ARE fun on a fly rod, but they worked my 7-weight to the limit. May have to break out the 8/9 next trip. My Lab caught 2, so maybe I didn't do very well after all (but she is courteous & fished down the shoreline from me . . . )?


still an authority on nothing
kickass report Cabezon!
I was up there same time as you- did you notice those medium olive stoneflies? I've never seen them up there before- my wife caught one in camp and showed it to me.
I went home a day early because I was tired of smelling like DEET.


Sculpin Enterprises
Hi Bob,

No, I didn't, but there were things with four wings fluttering around. I assumed that they were the flying ants, but I didn't look at them very carefully. I wonder if what your wife caught were some of the smallish winter-emerging stones or even Skwalas. Everything has been pushed back so far up there that we may be seeing bugs that aren't normally encountered.

A friend of mine tried to hike with his float tube into Deer Lake, off the Pacific Crest trail out of Leech. He got to within a half mile before he had to turn back because of the snow.