Chopaka Trip Report

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by sizematters, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. sizematters New Member

    Posts: 9
    seabeck washington
    Ratings: +10 / 0
    Thanks to all of you who offered me tips on fishing Chopoka. You helped make my first trip to the lake a very successful one. I will return next year.
    For those of you who live west of the Cascades and have not had the pleasure of fishing Chopaka you should be forewarned that making a trip to the lake is a fairly major undertaking. From where I live on Hood Canal it took about two days to get to the lake. OK, I exaggerate – it just seemed like two days. Actually it took about 7 hours with stops (and at my age you have to stop). Another way to measure the distance is that it was an 8 to 10 radio station trip (depending on your reception and taste). The last 10 miles to the lake is on a gravel road that has an initial gradient of about 35 degrees followed by a bouncy, steep descent into the lake.
    I arrived at the lake around 2 pm on Friday, October 4. I set up camp (only about half the total campsites were occupied) and was on the water by 3 pm. It was sunny with a moderate breeze that died by 4:30. I flippered my pontoon south dragging a brown wooly worm. I planned on switching to a carey special as Roper had suggested to me in an earlier post. The brown wooly elicited a few hits so I decided to tie on a sparkly green wooly worm just before 4 pm. I immediately landed a nice chunky 14 to 15 inch rainbow. Within 5 minutes I had a second rainbow in my net.
    About 4:15 I was curious to see if I could get any action using dry flies. I tried an orange stimulater followed by a Joe's Hopper. No action on either fly. By this time I was all the way to the south end of the lake. I put the sparkly green wooly back on and landed three more nice healthy rainbows on my way back up the lake. By this point I knew I was going to have a very good trip.
    I started fishing the next day (October 5) at 8:30. It was quite cool and overcast when I began fishing and stayed that way all day. Within the first 5 minutes I had another nice rainbow in the net. Then, for the next hour, it closed down. I switched to a black and green wooly and ended up with two more nice fish. As I was heading back into camp I hooked a broad-shouldered rainbow of around 17 inches that immediately flew into the air about a foot and snapped off my black and green wooly on his way back into the water. I got out of the pontoon, took care of business brought on by one too many cups of coffee, pinched myself to be sure I wasn't just dreaming about catching nice fat rainbows and then headed out again.
    Although there wasn't much surface activity I remained curious about using a dry fly. I tied on a parachute adams and was lucky enough to entice yet another fish to my net. I missed one other fish with the adams before changing back to a wooly. At about this point in the day my right foot felt awfully cool. I flippered back to camp and, much to my disgust, found out I had a leak somewhere in my right foot. After much searching I couldn't find where the wader was leaking. I resorted to a plastic bag around my foot in hopes that my foot would stay dry. Yeah, fat chance of that working. I fished with a wet right foot.
    October 7 was my last day at Chopaka. Because of my wader leak I only fished in the morning. I was lucky enough to land another rainbow using a parachute adams and one more fish using a black wooly.
    The pictures below are of Chopaka and a few of the lovely fish that consented to be caught. Note that no fish were harmed during the making of this great trip.
    In summary, I had a great trip and was able to catch quite a few 14 to 17 inch rainbows. Green wooly buggers and black/green woolys worked best for me. I didn't even try a carey – maybe next year. I concentrated on the southern shallower part of the lake on both the east and west sides as well as the middle section of the lake.

    One last non-fishing related point: I've lived in Washington for many years and like many other western Washington folk I know that our state produces a lot of apples (in addition to grapes, wheat, corn, etc). However, I had no appreciation of the scale of apple production until this trip. Driving from Oroville south to Wenatchee I swear there are more apple orchards than there are republicans in Utah. It is an unbroken orchard for miles and miles and miles. If you haven't been to Chopaka, make plans to go. If you have been, make plans to return. It is a great fishery.

    chopaka 017.JPG chopaka 004.JPG chopaka 010.JPG chopaka 013.JPG
  2. PT Physhicist

    Posts: 3,490
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +648 / 1
    Thanks for the report. Nice to see you got a little help with your preparation. Chopaka is a nice place to play around for a couple days.
  3. Gregg Lundgren Now fishing on weekdays too!

    Posts: 513
    N. Edmonds / Mukilteo, WA
    Ratings: +89 / 0
    Thanks for posting a great report with nice pics. Those are some beautiful looking rainbows!
  4. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,088
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +967 / 0
    I love your enthusiasm! Glad you found a campsite and some fish. It's never been my cup of tea, just like dry falls and lenice. Loved to death. Every time I've been to Chopaka it was impossible to find a spot on the lake to avoid all the people trolling, let alone a campsite.
  5. Jim Welch Veni, Vidi, Fishi

    Posts: 82
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    My brother in law were up there this weekend also, which campsite did you use?
  6. Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Posts: 2,785
    .
    Ratings: +165 / 0
    You are now hooked on Chopaka. It is one of my favorite spots, not just for the fishing. There are other spots in the area that you should explore.

    Yes, there are a lot of apples over there. I picked up a box fo granny smiths for pies coming back from Oroville. You should also stop at The Cider Mill and pick up some of their fresh corn salsa & chips - good stuff.

    Glad that you got into some fish.

    MB
  7. sizematters New Member

    Posts: 9
    seabeck washington
    Ratings: +10 / 0
    In reply to Jim Welch's question. I was in the furthest south campsite on the lake. When I return to that area sometime next year I do plan on taking more time and hitting some of the other lakes in North Central Washington. I was quite impressed that Chopaka produces the fish it does given its popularity. I hope we all can find a way to avoid "loving the lakes to death" as Triploidjunkie wrote. Catch and release fishing has got to be a strong positive in favor of maintaining Chopaka as well as the other popular lakes.
  8. dp ~El Pescador

    Posts: 677
    .Renton, Wa
    Ratings: +71 / 0
    Chopaka burns an awesome memory into your mind for ever
    glad you were able to experience it
  9. Jim Welch Veni, Vidi, Fishi

    Posts: 82
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    Yep, thought that was you, we were on that other side from that group of guys next to you.
    Wasn't Saturday perfect? No wind, high overcast, fish all over the lake. Did you happen to see what that group of guys anchored in the mid section eastern side of the lake were using? They were nailing them. I am thinking chironomids probably.

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  10. Roper Idiot Savant

    Posts: 4,195
    Glenraven Ranch
    Ratings: +678 / 1
    Love that last photo, make me laugh...

    I'm spending the next week in the Okanogan, Chopaka just might be on the list...
  11. Jim Welch Veni, Vidi, Fishi

    Posts: 82
    Renton, WA
    Ratings: +11 / 0
    You wouldn't know that he is a Boeing Chief Engineer with that look.
  12. Scott Salzer previously micro brew

    Posts: 2,785
    .
    Ratings: +165 / 0
    And you drink good beer.
  13. Greg Armstrong Active Member

    Posts: 904
    Pugetropolis
    Ratings: +244 / 0
    It's been a solid twenty years ago since I last fished Chopaka. Took the kids and wife there and camped over 4th of July weekend. No problem getting a campsite back then, and I remember sight fishing to cruisers directly across the lake from the camping area and getting fish after fish on a size 14 Adams on the surface. It's funny how we remember some of the details from long ago trips.
    Thanks for the report and photos - and the memories!