Chopaka Report

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Tacoma Red, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Tacoma Red Active Member

    Posts: 685
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    Much the same as DP's report earlier. Thanks much DP!

    The weather was unseasonably warm but very nice. Very little smoke (just one day) from the Wenatchee fires. For the week there was little to no wind and the lake surface mostly like glass for much of the day. There was never a dominant hatch, some mayflys, damsels, and dragonflys, all happening throughout most of the day but not one hatching in tremendous abundance at any of the particular times as expected. Cool to see the trout come out of the water and nab the damsels and dragons a foot or so off the surface in mid-air. I had a dragonfly attack my ant pattern on the backcast and get impaled on the hook. I couldn't help but baitfish catching a nice sized trout within 30 sec after landing the flie(s) on the water. Typical chironomid fishing. Lot's of trout activity in the reeds. There appears to be an increasing population of grasshoppers and pretty large ones in that. Maybe I've never really seen them in such abundance in the times before there. Night time fishing was fun and as active as in the past but I didn't stay out as long as I used to. However, I was the only one fishing at night which surprised me.

    Almost all of the campsites were full. This lake has become far to popular in the 40yrs I've been fishing it and I'm as guilty as the rest. Since the kill-off and a little time before that, the fish never really have achieved the 20-inch plus range that they use to attain. Is it fishing pressure, aquatic biologics (pH...), insect population decrease, other? I'm not sure but my answer leans to fishing pressure and perhaps a change in the genetics of the fish being planted. Also, I haven't caught a cut-bow there in a long while.

    The ducks/mallards were in abundance and for several days we were treated to large flocks of western long-necked cranes flying high over head. Wow they are loud and I was hoping they'd land in the lake! It was nice to also see the resident bald eagle again swooping down on the lake for a catch or two. Although I wish it and the hawk/falcon would be more active on the campsite chipmunk population. Coyotes too were in the area in the mornings but you did not see them, just hearing their yelps/howling south of the lake.

    A fisheries biologist had set up a fish counting weir under the small bridge on the creek that meanders South out of Palmer Lake that you cross over on the Toats Coulee road. I'm not sure the name of the creek, Toats??? There were a large number of trout in the weir and many more stacked upstream of it. I'd estimate nearly 200 trout perhaps 18 inches each. As I watched schools of more fish were migrating towards the weir. See last two pics.
    IMG_0556.JPG IMG_0576.JPG IMG_0508.jpg IMG_0509.JPG IMG_0518.JPG IMG_0510.JPG IMG_0529.JPG IMG_0531.JPG IMG_0556.JPG IMG_0576.JPG
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  2. Tacoma Red Active Member

    Posts: 685
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    Problems with uploading too many pics. The weir:

  3. bakerite Active Member

    Posts: 291
    Baker City Oregon
    Ratings: +82 / 0
    Nice report and pictures, Tacoma Red. Chopaka is the lake I miss the most living down here in Oregon. Glad to hear it's still fishing well.
  4. Bob Newman Member

    Posts: 144
    On the edge of ???, WA
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    The creek is the Sinlahekin. It drains Blue Lake and other small drainages from the south.
  5. SteveA Gnu to the board

    Posts: 281
    Western WA
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Very nice. Can you tell me if campfires are currently banned?
  6. Tacoma Red Active Member

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    During the trip the fire dept posted burn ban notices in the campground. I am not sure if the ban is still in force and I'm sure there are places on the web to find out. However, I'd play it safe and assume that the ban is still on as of today.
  7. dp ~El Pescador

    Posts: 720
    .Renton, Wa
    Ratings: +91 / 0
    man, these pictures brought back some great memories from just a few weeks ago. Too bad that work makes these memories slip by so quickly.
    thanks for sharing T Red. Love the water boatman pattern.
  8. Golden Trout Active Member

    Posts: 300
    North Central Washington
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Are you sure these fish were non Kokanee salmon?
  9. Bob Newman Member

    Posts: 144
    On the edge of ???, WA
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    Perhaps you haven't noticed what is happening here on the east side of the mountains.

    We haven't had more than a trace of rain in over a month.

    Daytime humidity is at or below 15%. It's drier than a popcorn fart.

    September daytime temperatures were about 10 degrees above normal.

    We have fires burning currently that total more than 100,000 acres.

    State and federal lands have open burning bans.

    About three weeks ago a fire on one side of the mainstem Columbia upstream of Wenatchee started a fire on the opposite shore.

    Without trying to sound sarchastic, really, a campfire with these conditions ?
  10. Tacoma Red Active Member

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    No I'm not sure but there really were ~200 fish. Many more pooling in front of the weir. Do you think sockeye?
  11. Tacoma Red Active Member

    Posts: 685
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    Just South of Okanogan beginning the drive up 97 to Twisp, the entire valley and view to the South was opaque by a very, very dense haze of smoke. It was very bad in the Mazama valley as well and didn't clear until well West of the WA pass. I hope rain comes soon and those that have asthmatic conditions are doing well.
  12. SteveA Gnu to the board

    Posts: 281
    Western WA
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Perhaps you haven't noticed, this is a big state.

    Without trying to sound sarcastic, you spelled "sarchastic" wrong.;)
  13. Bob Newman Member

    Posts: 144
    On the edge of ???, WA
    Ratings: +20 / 0
    Yes I know it's a big state, all 39 counties of it. Lived here all of my life as a matter of fact on both sides of the mountains. Spent a lot of time exploring it and always pay attention to what is happening on both sides of the mountains.

    Maybe you'd like to spend a month breathing smoke and seeing no relief in sight.
  14. Max Morris New Member

    Posts: 16
    Bothell, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Are you sure these fish were non Kokanee salmon?

    You are correct, these fish are Kokanee. Like clock work every year at this time the start the migration up the Sinlahekin. The fish biologist not only count the fish but the harvest some of the eggs to take back to the hatchery.As of 9-23 at 1:30 pm over 3000 fish had moved up the river. As regards to having a camp fire, there is still a open flame burn ban in effect. You can however use a propane fire pit.
  15. MDK Member

    Posts: 59
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +49 / 0
    I was up there at about the same time. My first trip there. It's a long ways from SW WA. I drove my regular sedan up there - made it but not sure I would advise it or do again. What a road! Throw in the logging trucks and makes for quite an adventure. Despite the road, lots of fisherman.
    I thought those fish in the small creek were sockeye (kokanee) but looked a little big. The owner of the small store in Loomis told me they were trapping landlocked coho salmon (out of Palmer Lake) in that small stream.
    I also caught a number of fish on hoppers and damsel flys. Most of the fish were 14-15" and robust. However, I did catch a few 17-18" fish with large heads and a bit skinny. Not sure what that means but could mean insufficient food.
    I caught one small cutthroat (11-12") and two trout that looked like cutbows.
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  16. Patrick Gould Active Member

    Posts: 2,356
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +688 / 1
    I've often encountered confusion between Coho "silvers" and Kokanee "Silver Trout". One guy swore up and down that Lake Stevens is filled with Coho.
  17. Tacoma Red Active Member

    Posts: 685
    Ratings: +341 / 0

    How very funny because the first time I went to Chopaka...many eons ago in a beat up 70s Volvo 240 wagon, I was intimidated by the initial incline so much (I was chicken $#^&) I drove around the back way which turned out to be mostly 4WD territory. I still can't believe I didn't get stuck and that I found my way back to the lake as it was getting dark. The REAL funny thing is that I wouldn't mind trying it again but in a much better equipped vehicle perhaps taking the forest road from Winthrop/Chewach and maybe finding a few other lakes up there.
  18. Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Posts: 2,904
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    Had a great day on Friday with good friends up there. The ride up is not as bad as the ride down. One of the few places where 4WD low comes in real handy. I had heard that the "back way" was not much better than the regular way up.

  19. Jeff Dodd Active Member

    Posts: 1,627
    Langley, WA
    Ratings: +402 / 0
    I have not made the drive up to Chipoka, but look forward to doing so next year.

    Is it possible to time your trip up to the lake, or the trip out, in order to avoid meeting up with oncoming log truck traffic?
  20. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,827
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,734 / 0
    Washington is not a big state. Compared to Oregon or Montana it is a tiny state. It just seems big when you are driving from east to west. There are just to many damn people there and they all want to fish in the same place. I'm sure glad I moved away 6 years ago. I haven't missed it at all.