2012 State of the Stillwater

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
There's a fair amount of good stillwater flyfishermen on here but only a few post about fishing trips and fly pattern experimentation. I have a very good fisherman a couple of miles from me but he doesn't usually post more than 5-10 times a year. Me, I didn't get out much this year, only about 60-70 times. Most of those were before the weather got hot over here. I think I'd been to Rocky Ford about 20 times before the lakes opened up March 1st. First trip was about Jan 4th. Cabin fever was tough.


Active Member
The long winter, late wet spring and extended honey-do list kept me mostly off the water until around Sept. But once I got started things went quite well although local lakes have been a mixed bag. Some are in decline while others are soaring. Many of us far east siders have been saddened by the demise of Brown's Lake, once one of the finest cutthroat fisheries around. The loss of a major fly fishing only lake is huge when there are so few around.

But some other general regs lakes have taken up some of the slack. A few are difficult to reach and get in and out of but reward you with fine fishing for decent or better sized fish and very little pressure.
The comfort, capacity and good mileage of a new van has expanded my 'home waters' considerably and I am now fishing out about 3 hours(Coffeepot, Long Lake in Ferry County, the Okonogan, etc). This about doubles the number of lakes I normally fish and I have had some excellent fishing out at the edges of my range.

Biggest fish of the year were in the 23''/24'' range but there were some lakes where there were large numbers of 16''/19'' fish that were really hot. This makes for some very enjoyable fishing.

I learned a lot about chironomid fishing this year and have tied up a lot of stuff for next spring. I have a few lakes targeted for shortly after the opener that I expect to do real well on. Next year will also see me with an annual permit for the Reservation and a few trips over there for brookies, Lahontans and some time on the San Poil.

I hope to get in a day or two with some of you chironomid gurus and get schooled on some of the finer points. There are few fly fishermen in my region and cronie fishermen are even more rare. Talking to a bait guy with a limit of tiger trout this spring, he told me that the trout were "....pukin' up mayflies when we landed 'em" I asked if he could show me some of those 'mayflies' and just as I suspected they were black chironomids about size 16. I'll be visiting that lake in early May for sure.

Mark, you have my vote. I am new to flyfishing and have been doing it for 2 years or so and it has opened my eyes to a new world of fishing. Mark is the one who introduced me to it and I never would have known about how rewarding flyfishing can be. Heck, it's fun to go to the park and just cast. I used to be a powerbait, worms, spinner fisherman like most people out there, except that I rarely took fish home. The fun is in the fight not the killing. I still enjoy putting steelhead, and salmon on the bbq, in the smoker and in the freezer but flyfishing is so much more of a peaceful/exciting experience if that makes sense. If I fish with anyone, 95% of the time it's Mark. I have learned so much that I almost feel like I should be paying him guide fees. Instead I guess I will split the gas bill and pass on what I have learned to the kids and their friends. Last summer, I had the kids and the neighbor kids in the field across the street practicing casting the fly rod for a couple of hours and they all had a blast. Thanks Mark. As far as this year went, I think we vowed to never again fish Battleground Lake (meat fishery where the gates don't open until 8) or Horseshoe Lake. I still want to figure out Lacamas Lake because it gets little pressure and heavy plantings plus it's close to home. Merrill is kind of a crapshoot because the water levels fluctuate so much. You also have to compete with the eagles, cormorants and sturgeon there. We have had good days in the coves and river channel below the bridge at Swift, but for that drive you might as well go to Coldwater Lake. The scenery can be just as good as the fishing, although the fish don't have the size that the ones out east have, from what I have heard. Kress is a meat fishery, but can be fun fly fishing catch&release. Just with there were some more fly fishing only lakes. I guess I will have to keep up the practice with the kids and their friends to keep the next generation involved so that maybe my grandkids will have more options. By the way, the first time I ever went flyfishing was at Trillium Lake with Mark. My first or second time casting, while I was flailing with the line I hit the side of the boat with the indicator I was fishing with at the time and broke it in half. In addition to rocking the boat back and forth, Mark was patient and taught me what I was doing wrong and I haven't broke one since. It always cracks me up when a majority of the time someone has to ask "hey, what are you guys using?" Mark will have the guy paddle over and show him and even give him a fly to try. The flyfishing world is a lot different than the salmon/steelhead fishing world. You don't get/give any information there. Anyways, sorry to hijack the post, I have been flyfishing 2 years and this is my 1st post so I have a lot of pent up flyfishing energy:)


Active Member
Now you have your first "like" also Bart! don't let Bart fool you! he's teaching me humbleness!!! Glad you came over to the "bright side" of fly fishing.
Here were a few good trips. Marks brown at Merrill, the Chinook Chris caught at Drano, the Mt. Saint Helens view on the way to Coldwater and the deer swimming across Kress when we were "beating their lips back"
Barts Pictures 377.jpg
Barts Pictures 538.jpg
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Barts Pictures 922.jpg


Active Member
Since this thread is about this years fishing, this is my brother with brain cancer and this year we caught a lot of chinook over the summer and Bart helped in taking him out as did other fishing friends. he's losing his battle right now but we were able to have a bunch of good times this summer. I don't like thinking this could be the last year we fish together. but it's reality! thank you Bart for being a part of his life that he loved so much all his life - fishing!