Mann Lake

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by GAT, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    March always reminds me of the good ol' days at Mann Lake in Oregon. For years it was considered at "secret lake" that held large Lahontan Cutthroat (originally transplanted from the seep lakes in Washington). Funny thing is that the place is so remote that it is hardly worth considering "secret".

    It's basically a large mud puddle on the western side of the Steins Mountains in Oregon's desert. You must drive to the middle of nowhere and then drive a little further. If there's any secret to the lake it is how you survive the place. I don't know how the yearly March trip began but Mann can be one of the coldest, most windy hostile places you can fish. At the base of the snow-covered Steins, the freezing wind blows off the mountains and down on the lake.

    Even on a sunny day, the wind is known to uproot dome tents and send them rolling through the sage brush.

    I guess the idea was to fish the lake during March because the cutts were coming out of their winter slump and beginning to feed on the midges that came off during that time of year. And these are not midge size midges. The suckers are like a size 8-10.

    (you don't need anything fancy for a pattern, this one tied in black or red is all you need 45196733.jpg )



    Also, the cutts hug the shoreline as they swim around the lake. You don't need a floating craft because you usually do best wading into the lake and fishing close to shore. In fact, one tactic is to wade out until you are waste deep, turn around and cast back toward shore. The fish can swim with a foot or so off the shoreline.

    Some March trips to Mann were miserable yet we caught a lot of cutts averaging 16-inches with some in the 20-inch range. Some trips to Mann were just miserable.

    Most of these shots were taken during trips in the 80s. A few years ago, some nitwit dumped goldfish in the lake and the ODF&W had to kill the lake and start over again with the cutts. By now, the goldfish are gone and the cutts have grown back to their original size.

    It is completely an artificial lake with cutts attempting to spawn in small feeder streams but the planting keeps the fishery going. So, if you are so inclined, you can keep the limit of trout you keep but why anyone would want to eat one of the suckers is beyond me. Spin guys from Boise show up and keep the cutts and all I can think is YETCH... how can you eat those things?

    It is an alkaline lake and while the cutts are large, they are certainly not solid. Your hands will suffer the effects of the alkaline water so hand lotion is a must or your hands will dry out and start cracking in short order.

    I tell ya, the place is hostile, yet for many years, our group would head over there in March... fools that we were. The lure of the large and numerous cutts was the draw.

    Large groups of anglers would wade out to fish yet it didn't matter. Once a pod of cutthroat would swim by, we'd all start hooking up. 10-12 of us would make the trip because it is one of the few fisheries were gang fishing works out.

    [​IMG]


    There are no trees so the only place for refuge when the wind becomes unbearable is the sage brush.

    [​IMG]

    I guess this was the point of the insanity:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's the irony....

    One year, the guys and I decided to try Mann in the Fall. There was no wind. No one else was on the lake. It was sunny and warm and we caught just as many cutts as we did in March.

    Still, each March I think about those trips. Some where banner. Some where not. Almost all were cold and windy. So if you're inclined to suffer to catch large cutts, now is the time to drive to the middle of nowhere and then just a little further. And for gawds sake, bring warm clothes, hand lotion and make sure you have good tires -- the 20 or so miles of gravel road is known to eat tires.
     
  2. bkerbs

    bkerbs Member

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    Looks like a mud puddle I would play in.
     
  3. Jeff Dodd

    Jeff Dodd Active Member

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    GAT
    Thanks for the great read. This looks like my kind of misery!



    Sent from my GT-P3113 using Tapatalk 2
     
  4. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Did the cutt plants come from Lenore?
     
  5. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Stonefish, yes, I believe that is where the ODF&W first obtained the cutts. Evidently, they now raise their own in a hatchery and call them Mann Lake Cutthroat but they're still basically Lahontan. I think the reason they plant the Lahontans instead of rainbow is because the cutts thrive in alkaline lakes.

    We call them "slug cutts" because they don't jump or put up much of a fight. The only thing really going for them is their size. Before the gold fish fiasco, it was rare to catch a cutt under 14-inches.

    Over the years, they improved the lake area... Installed an outhouse and paved the parking lot. Originally we fished the Steins side of the lake and I always did terrible. We switched to the opposite side of the lake and we all started doing much better.

    As is the practice in much of remote roads in Oregon, they use railroad grade size gravel for the road to Mann. If you don't have heavy duty ply tires on your rig, flats are common.
     
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  6. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    That was a great read Gene! Some of our out-back fisheries. chickahominy is said to have a good year this year also and would be a back-up from to much wind. I will be a 100 miles east, around the ridge and over the mountain and down the crick to the snake pit, through 18 miles of gravel next week, with snow chains and sun block and a big grin!!!
     
  7. bakerite

    bakerite Active Member

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    I read on the ODFW report this week that they are indeed catching fish up to 20" there again and the ice is off. Looks like time to make a trip! I had an incredible experience two years ago with the Oregon department of transportation gravel, my stupidity for being in a hurry and our AWD Sienna Van going up to Fish Lake out of Halfway to camp with my family. We never made it and it makes me happy once again to live in this part of the country where folks will go out of their way to help someone who is broke down!
     
  8. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Mark, we'd always hit Chic on our way too and from Mann. That's one of the few places the guides on my rod froze up in bright sunlight. It is the ugliest lake I fish. The cold and the wind rivals Mann.

    The upside is the rainbow instead of cutts. The rainbows do jump and put up a hell of a fight. Again, I've done best there during the Fall.

    John with a rainbow he caught at Chic during the Fall when we did well at Mann and Chic (and this wasn't the largest bow we landed):

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    Those right there is what I'm after! reel burning, jumping, head shaking rainbows in large sizes! priceless!!!
     
  10. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Mark, I figured Chic should be back up to speed by now. Every few years they drain it down for irrigation and the bows die off. Then we go through some wet years and the big bows show up again at Chic.

    It sounds like Mann and Chic are back to normal.
     
  11. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    Yep, already talked with the bio in the area, but we will be at zipper lip lake for true hogs!
     
  12. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    Welcome to OFF.com, you guys are killing me, although there never was an end to my season so maybe not so much.
     
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  13. Patrick Allen

    Patrick Allen Active Member

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    I fished Mann my senior year in college in 92'. Funny you mentioned it but I never caught a fish until I got out of my tube and fished the shore. Can still remember I caught 2 nice cutts on a prince nymph on a very slow retrieve. Saw lots of antelope and grouse on the trip. Thanks for bringing back a good memory. I think I went there in April

    SCARBOO
     
  14. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Normally we'd go whenever we heard the ice was off. Usually it was about this time in March or sometimes the first of April.

    As far as the cold wind is concerned, it didn't seem to matter if we hit the lake in March or April.

    Some spin guys would use boats and some fly anglers would use float tubes but they never seemed to catch as many cutts as those of us wading out from shore. The cutts swam so close to shore, I came across a technique I call "land trolling".

    I'd make a long cast and then slowly walk along the shore line while "trolling" the fly.
    It worked! But it was more fun to fish with the group so we could make comments, sing songs about fishing Mann and harass each other.

    One day Tom was catching more fish than the rest of us. He was at the far end of our line of 12 (it was a club outing). We harassed him into moving to the other end of the line because we figured he had first chance at the passing cutts. And of course, even at the other end of our line of anglers he continued to catch more fish than the rest of us. That was the day we decided presentation was more important than the pattern because he was using the same pattern as the rest of us.

    (it was either that or the WD-40 he must have been spraying on his flies :))
     
  15. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Latest reports are that Mann is producing again as it was before the gold fish affair. Right now. This day. This minute.

    Ittttt'sssss baaaack. If you have any interest in fishing a very large mud puddle at the base of the Steins Mountains that holds very large cutts, now is the time to drive to the middle of nowhere and then a little further.

    (BTW: the only reason I hot spot Mann is because of the fact that it is so remote and can be very hostile in regards to road and weather so it is never really over crowded. Once the reports show up on other websites... as they have, the word is out so I see no harm in mentioning it here. A more fragile, easily accessible stillwater I wouldn't be mentioning.)
     
  16. chief

    chief Active Member

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    I agree that Mann is remote enough that you are not going to start a stampede. I have considered making the drive from Portland in the past, and ended up going to Lenore for my Lahontan explorations. It's about 3 hours closer and there are a ton of other options nearby. What I saved in gas paid for my out of state license..... But one of these days I need to see the legendary Mann Lake....
     
  17. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    I know one thing fersure... don't order a chicken dinner in Burns. Normally, we'd stay at a motel in Burns and drive to Mann so we didn't have the wind and rolling tents to contend with. Burns is cattle country not chicken country.

    Rocky and I got tired of ordering steak so we ordered Chicken Cordon Blu at a high end (for the town) restaurant in Burns... they fried it instead of baking it. You don't fry Chicken Cordon Blu, when you do, it tastes like burned breaded chicken with ham and cheese tossed in just to make it taste worse.

    So if you go out to dinner in Burns, order beef. (it's the only place I've found with a phone book of yellow pages just for the ranches)
     
  18. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    I would also say that it is safe to hotspot an Oregon lake on a Washington Fly Fishing sight. I know, I know, a lot of non Washington guys peruse this sight (evidently) but the majority of the visitors are from Washington and they have similar waters much closer. Omak, and Lenore both produce high quality cuts much closer to home.
     
  19. triploidjunkie

    triploidjunkie Active Member

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    Reminds me of a lake over here. Not much more than a wadable mud puddle with alot of smallish lahontans. It right in the open fields and wind is problematic, but you can wear your arm out catching little cutts. I rarely bother with it because there are THREE other lahontan lakes within five miles of it that hold larger fish and are sheltered better from the wind.
     
  20. jakesmylab

    jakesmylab New Member

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    Mann is definately not a lake that one would call pretty. Definately not much more than a mud puddle. If you are making the drive to Mann just for the fish you could definately find a better destination. Spend a week in that part of the state fishing and snooping around and you will understand why people that continue to go back find it so special. Take the .22 and a spotlight for the jack rabbits at night. Stop in Fields for a shake and Burger. Spend a day driving obscure roads that may or may not exist on a map looking for water that may or may not hold trophy trout. A trip to Mann can be ok.
     

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