Merrill Report 5/4/13

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by aplTyler, May 6, 2013.

  1. aplTyler

    aplTyler Inept Steelheader

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    Here's a brief report from Merrill this past Saturday AM.

    Hit the lake at 8 AM, drift boat in tow... no electric motor so I planned on rowing my Dad around the lake. I've only fished Merrill once (this past Fall) and did pretty well on various buggers, leaches, and chironomids. Figured the same formula would work but was also hoping for an active hatch. Water was well up to the parking lot and the entire "ramp" portion was underwater.

    At the put in, the wind was minimal and there were a few chironomids coming off the surface. After dialing the boat in and launching, the hatch was ON. Bugs everywhere... we saw a few splashy rises near the ramp/shore and figured things would be great... Worked our way to the first spot trolling buggers/leaches we had nary a bump. Then came the wind.

    It was BRUTAL. We anchored up near shore fishing chironomids of all sizes, varieties and combos, and I also cast a sink tip shooting head line out prospecting with various buggers and leaches. Nada.

    After crossing the lake in the wind and not getting any love trolling over, we set up in a semi-sheltered cove with chironomid rigs. Still nothing and the rises weren't happening once the wind came up around 8:30. We fished until noon and then called it a day, tired of being blown around like a damn sail.

    Two other groups of anglers that we spoke with had also been skunked with no fish hooked. I didn't really anticipate the wind to be as bad as it was, nor did I do the math of a high-sided drift boat + wind... the answer to that equation is "not fun."

    Beautiful day irregardless and I'll be back for the hex hatch. I've got other lakes to explore in the meantime.
     
    Nick Clayton likes this.
  2. Bartfly

    Bartfly New Member

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    I have fished Merrill for the last couple of years and have found that it fishes much better in the fall than in the spring. With all the extra water earlier in the year, the fish are really spread out and tough to target. One thing last year that seemed successful early in the year was casting to the edge of some of the brush that was submerged, especially on the south end of the lake. Any signs of the 5 foot long resident sturgeon? Thanks for the report.

    Bart
     
  3. aplTyler

    aplTyler Inept Steelheader

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    No sign of the sturgeon... I tried the casting to the brush technique (it worked in the fall) but the wind made it nearly impossible to get to the south end and back to the launch.
     
  4. Thomas Williams

    Thomas Williams Habitual Line Stepper

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    If you go directly across the lake to that little cove where the fallen trees are lining the banks. You will do well tossing leeches into the cover of the branches and what not. Also on the boat launch side down south there's that little log jamish cove that they congregate in as well. I like to dangle a mid in the middle and hang out. Usually pays off. Merril is a tough lake in my opinion. Big browns cruise at last light as well.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
     
  5. aplTyler

    aplTyler Inept Steelheader

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    Yep. My last two trips were focused on those exact spots! Great water and I love the structure. With such high water right now, it definitely makes it tougher.
     
  6. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    I think the first time Bartfly and I fished the lake was three years ago in July. We went to the flats end and set-up in an old creek channel and caught around 5 triploids one up to around 18 inches. then we moved to one of the coves and I caught a nice brown with chiro's. that first year was very good, we could also go to the south end and indi fish for a fair number of fish every time we went. One time in the wind another friend and I caught about 25 fish along a wind brake (wind line) most being cutts and stocked bows but many nice fish on soft hackles just under the surface where the wind grouped the food.

    the problem is something has changed! that first year we could also troll bugs in the flats end and catch nice browns and stocked bows and fish would be rising just outside the brush line of the flats. the following year most of the fishing (and fish) seemed to be the smaller native cutts! we found them where the tiny creeks dump in in each cove across from the boat ramp. many of the other techniques and areas just did not produce or show fish like the previous year.

    I pulled up management of merrill lake and very little information is given on the WDFW website. it says browns and trips are stocked and sea-run cuts and westslope cuts are present. From what I read a few years ago they no longer plant brown trout and haven't for sometime now! the number of triploids planted last year was a whole 244 for a 344 surface acre lake and only one planting in April or May. makes since the cuts would be the most consistant fishing! The problem with this they are small fish, skinny, but probably wild.

    Now without getting into a wild versus planted issue (yeah, like that can happen on this board) If they want it to be a wild cut and a few wild brown fishery than so be it - more power to to that kind of fishery!
    If they want to add larger fish like trips for large trout fishing then do so with bigger numbers of plants.

    I myself do not fish for small trout and mostly do not target smaller native trout. no reason for me to handle them and see if they survive in the next week or so. as far as the wild browns - well, way to few of them for me to target unless it's during the hex hatch and I have stayed away from the lake that time of the year. I would really like them to plant fingerling bows so they could grow with the lakes feed and be more like wild fish than a few planted trips. I don't know how the brown fishing was last year during the hex hatch and after dark maybe someone can chime in about the awesome brown fishing or if they have seen changes in those numbers also? People know that I fish coldwater for the wild fish but those fish are much larger and stronger than the merrill lake cutts.

    In either case my preference means little to the people who fish merrill i'm sure. But my point is something has changed since the catch and release regs and it is nothing like it was some three years ago. sturgeon have to eat and if there is more than one (or even just one) this could be the change in the fishing at merrill. If you've never seen sturgeon chase 2 to 5# shad clear out of the water at boni on the columbia or 9 footers clearing the water chasing 2 foot long eels - well i have! while sturgeon fishing - plain as day!

    All I would like to know is which way they plan on going in the future with this fishery so I can decide weather I want to fish it! my preference should mean nothing, but my decision to fish it again.

    Any other management information about merrill would be great. it's one of the only fly fishing only catch and release fisheries within a hundred miles and I like management information on any waters I fish from stocking - non stalking - invasives - species - wild - native - all the info I could find is all old, maybe someone else can find what the future holds? thanks in advance.
     
  7. IveofIone

    IveofIone Active Member

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    Mark, your description of the fishery in place now is really alien to me. I started fishing there back in the early 80's and as I recall it was all cutthroat and brook trout. The hex hatch was phenominal-right at dark it looked like it was raining fish. I don't know the history of the lake but it seems the ubiquitous rainbows came along later and the browns well after that. I seem to recall one of my ex-buddies catching a very large brown near the put in on one of my last trips up there.

    Like Browns Lake near Usk it was once a great cutthroat fishery but it sounds like Merrill too has fallen on hard times. That's a tough drive for few or poor fish. Thanks again WDFW-you guys could fuck up a wet dream.

    Ive
     
  8. Thomas Williams

    Thomas Williams Habitual Line Stepper

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    It still has plenty of cutthroats. In fact the only bows I pulled were triploids. Didn't catch any brookies though. I love brookies they are my favorite. About another month and I'll be dedicating my time to a gem for most of July. I missed the hex hatch last year and looks like I will again this summer due to a school in VA.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
     
  9. Paul_

    Paul_ Active Member

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    I probably fish Merrill as much as anyone and the fish and the fishing are same as it was 10 years ago (for me).

    Mark I know someone who can fill you in on the management history of the lake.
     
  10. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    PM contact info please! - thanks
     
  11. Woodcanoeguy

    Woodcanoeguy Member

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    I think Merrill lacks a decent and consistent food source for a good fishery to prosper. It's water level drops so much during the summer any weed beds just dry up. My dad used to fish it when you had to walk in from Cougar. I have fished it for over 45 years and up to the 80's it was decent fishery with larger wild rainbows. Took my biggest rainbow there ever standing in the boat launch during an alder fly hatch sometime in the 70's. Biggest brown came just a few years ago. Last year I had great fall fsihing. But the fishing has been hit and miss the last few years . That said Merrill was kind to me today. Fished three hours in middle of lake and had 20+ hits, 15 fish on and 12 to the boat. 60% were fat trips about 15-17", so WDFW has planted recently.....rest were cutts.....no browns this trip, but I didn't go deep to try either. Eagle had three failed to connects. Nice south wind but surprisingly little rain. Most fish hit on my special red/black seal bugger, some on a green bugger. The bite stopped about 1 pm.....nothin' after that. Only saw one alder fly on surface and only two rises. Two guys fishing shoreline said they didn't get any bites.
     
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