Warm in Coldwater -- Trip report

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Flyfishing Dad, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. Flyfishing Dad displaced Alaskan

    Posts: 81
    Chehalis, WA
    Ratings: +16 / 0
    Finally decided to take a trip to the National Volcanic Monument for more than the scenery. Had read about the formation of Coldwater lake, been through the visitor center, and hiked the area trails quite a bit with family and visiting guests many times since we live nearby. But never had come back to follow through on exploring the lake with a flyrod.

    Yesterday, Saturday, July 20 just seemed like the right day to try it. My son, now grown and an adult not just "the kid" anymore, along with the friend I've known since 2nd grade and myself were enjoying that second cup of coffee and the conversation of the scrambled eggs perhaps too much. Got the gear loaded and headed too late in the day since we lingered over breakfast. Got to the lake and on the water in early afternoon not really expecting too much since the water was crystal clear and the sun in a cloudless sky seemed particularly bright. It was a very warm day -- felt like about 80-degrees. Debated leaving the waders in the truck, and just going on the floatboat with neoprene socks and short pants with the sport shirt...kept the waders on anyway (good thing since it cooled down a lot toward sunset, but that came quite a bit later.)

    Had an audience at the boatramp getting the pontoon boat and the float tubes into the lake. Two van loads of kids from some summer camp based in California (who acted like they might never have seen a pine tree or a mountain before), several families disregarding the multiple signs in the parking lot and by the lake saying "No swimming," and of course the requisite tourists.

    While launching we notices several fish rising in the boat ramp area, several largish trout taking damsel flies right by shore opposite the boat ramp near the submerged brush piles along the shore toward the boardwalks. One kept aggressively rising beside a twig sticking out of the water about one foot from shore. Had to "investigate" even with the audience we had now accumulated; including the rather loud woman who chose to start up a conversation turned argument with another poor fisherman who had returned from up the lake and was stowing his gear. She took the conversation from curious to rant, and was complaining about how cruel fishing seemed to be, and how cruel fishermen in particular are. Couldn't grasp the concept of hook and release, evidently. "Well, my husband and I tried that. We bought fishing rods and reels once to fish with some friends of ours. But when we'd try to remove the lures or bait most of the fish would go belly up and die anyway. It's a terrible waist, and cruel." The flyfisherman tried to explain that flyfishermen remove the flies a bit differently, and more successfully, often without handling the fish...but she'd hear nothing of it.

    The afternoon turned much more peaceful once she finished here impromptu lecture and left. But I digress...

    Right in the midst of her precious speech, that aggressive fish near the twig engulfed my Royal Wulff Humpy. After a two minute tussle to the wet net, I used my forceps to remove the fly and slipped the 16-inch bright colored fish back into the water who left with a splashy slap of his tail and a dash into the depths toward the brush pile. There were several more rises along that bank, all after damsels, and we hooked and released three more fish there before kicking around the point to in front of the observation deck and boardwalk. There we hooked and released three more fish ranging from 13-inch to 18-inch much to the delight of people obviously not related to the woman at the boat ramp dock.

    Kept kicking past the deck out into the more open water in the middle of the lake there between the decks and the alder lined shore opposite them toward the mountain. Beautiful view of Mt. St. Helens rising above the ridge on that side of the lake. Made for a great backdrop while we settled in to troll the depths with brindled woolly buggers on sinking lines. Kept them on sinking lines above the weedbeds toward that shore, and trolling in a zig-zag pattern from mid-lake toward the hummock island and back toward shore. Never had any hookup if we trolled the other way, always back and forth across the narrow width of the lake rather than long trolls the length of shoreline. After a brief lull we all started catching sizeable fish.

    My son had a floating line with a slow sink tip, while my friend and I were using sinking lines. It didn't seem to matter where we were trolling as long as it was across the narrow width of the lake, not the length. The bite was on, and you would feel several strikes between hooking up with the next fish. They were biting hard and hooking themselves at first, then the bite seemed to go softer toward sunset, but we caught fish consistently through the afternoon and into dusk. Always the same kicking pattern, always on the move, and always on the brindled woolly buggers, black&orange, or black&red. My son did catch some near shore on the same pattern that had taken fish near the boat ramp, but all the others were on the weighted woolly pattern. We each had larger fish strike hard enough that we lost a fly to them. Tippets were no smaller than 4#.

    Smallest fish caught was a 9-inch cutthroat my son took on a dry near the bank in front of the weathered cedar logs on shore. The largest fish was just shy of 19-inches. (Not counting my friend's biggest hookup of the day that was deep bodied, long and dragged out a lot of line, jumped three times, including near enough my boat I could have netted him if I'd have been ready, then threw the hook free on a rather dazzling water-clearing leap into the sunset lighting. The moon had risen over the shoulder of the ridge and was hanging beside Mt. St. Helens while we kicked back toward shore and the boatramp. Made for a beautiful sunset and ending of the day.

    We caught several others after that, but the bite began slowing with the fading light.

    We kicked back to the boat ramp at a slow pace with several more strikes and a couple hookups. Took the boats out of the water accompanied by the splash of rising fish and put away the gear while watching the cove boil with rising fish after an evening hatch. We each had caught plenty of trout, but had elected not to keep any, though the lake rules do allow for keeping one each over 16-inches. Not a bad day's results or conditions for the first visit to the lake.

    We will be going back. Soon.

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    wavejim and McNasty like this.
  2. Flyfishing Dad displaced Alaskan

    Posts: 81
    Chehalis, WA
    Ratings: +16 / 0
    Just noticed this forum thread is described as "trips outside WA..." Unless someone moved Mt. St.Helens, the surrounding environs, or the state lines, then this trip was decidedly inside WA state. So, have posted it elsewhere than here. Though I might remove it from this thread to comply with the description, but don't see anywhere how to do that... Sorry.
    Mark Kraniger likes this.