Lake Chopaka

David, You plan on taking me fishing there. :D

Don't mean to hijack this thread but what is the camping like there? Is it just a big open parking lot/field? Are there designated locations with fire rings and tables? Or is it pretty much wherever you pitch your tent?
Don't mean to hijack this thread but what is the camping like there? Is it just a big open parking lot/field? Are there designated locations with fire rings and tables? Or is it pretty much wherever you pitch your tent?
There's both. There is a fence that essentially bisects the lake shore. On one side are campsites w/ tables and fireplaces (some may even have pads) and on the other it's just grass. Although there aren't designated campsites, it's pretty clear where people have camped. Chopaka sits in a valley so most of the land around the lake is sloped. So despite a lot of open space near the lake, the good camping can be somewhat limited if you're there when it's busy. It's beautiful, but the weather changes fast and can get nasty real quick. It can get so windy that it's unfishable...but then that's most of Eastern Wa:)


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There are established campsites on both the north and south sides of the line fence. The southern side is WDFW land and has a number of sites, a couple with shelters. The north side is DNR land and three or four years ago that agency improved the access road and established eleven new campsites on short spurs off the main road; they are level, gravelled, and have fire pits.

The ground does slope uphill from the lake and, except for the established campsites, level spots are rather hard to find. It's typical subalpine terrain, grass and sagebrush giving way to ponderosa pine and juniper further up the slope. The Memorial Day weekend is a good one to avoid since the Washington Fly Fishing Club has its annual outing then and things can become rather crowded


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Here's a picture from a little way up the slope viewing the WDFW area. Both shelters are shown, water pump on the right and outhouses in the background.


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Actually the campground and land north of the fence belong to BLM. Below are a couple images of the campground w/o crowds and a recent report.

I fished Chopaka was April 28 – May 1. The weather was dry but overcast for with some sun breaks. Night time temps were in the lower 30’s (just above freezing) and day time highs were in the upper 40’s. For the most part, the wind blew with gust of maybe 15 mph.

The water temperature was 51 in the south end (shallower) and 48 in the deeper north end.

It was cold on the water. Some people were wearing snow mobile suits to ward off the wind chill.

The fish were in 3 classes: 10” – 12” recent plants, 14’ – 16” plants from last year, and 18” – 20” fish (hold overs for when they were planted after the rehabilitation). As many are aware, they retononed the lake a couple of years ago to get rid of bass and sunfish.

I chronimided for the most part using either a grey chronie, size 16 or a blood worm right on the bottom. The calibaetis hatch was beginning to come off when I was there. As the water temps come up there should be a better hatch coming off towards mid day.

I fished the north end on the 29th and took a lot of fish. Nearly every retrieve had a take down or two. I hooked up at least half of the time. There is less pressure on this end but it takes more work to get there and the fishing area is smaller. I hung a chronie off of an indicator at 16’ to get just off of the bottom. The small blood worm pattern was very effective. A couple of guys were fishing shallower and caught many fish, but I did better. Here a line thru type indicator is necessary.

I fished the shallows in the lake’s south end on 30th taking around 20 fish. There is more pressure on that end of the lake but it easier to get to. My method is to find water around 9’ deep with a clear sandy bottom (some spots have weed growth) and hang you fly, scud or chronie just off of the bottom with an indicator. Use your forceps to find the right leader length.


PS – from the spot where the photo below was taken to the next 200 yards up the road (to the cattle guard) gives service on your mobile if you use Verizon. That way you can call home if you like.

BDD, yes to all of the above. If your lookin for seclusion or privacy Chopaka is not the place. But there is a ton of space and all of the camping amenities there.
I was at blue the same time Caveman we were in a green 10ft boat. Early morning fish were rising everywhere but I was unable to match the hatch. It looked like they were taking small gray bugs just as they were emerging the surface. I tried to match it but the fish didn't like it. Guess I should of tried chrony fishing. Did pick a few in the evening with yellow wolly worm down about 20ft.

Greg Armstrong

Haven't fished Chopaka in nearly twenty years. I see the campsites have been improved since then. My family was with me on that camping/fishing trip - kids were little, and I'm pretty sure it was the long 4th of July weekend.

I remember sight casting to gulpers on the far side of the lake near the tules (about where Mike's photo was taken from, the one showing part of his beautiful wooden boat - any more photos of it Mike?). A standard tie, size 14 Adams dry was the simple ticket that day. You could spot a trout working its way up the shoreline and make a cast in front of him to watch in slow motion the rise and innocent take. Weird how details of past fishing trips are brought to mind with such clarity like that sometimes. I may have to get back there sometime soon.

Any more photos of your boat, Mike? I'm building a lighter weight replacement for my heavy older one I used on Chopaka that day and would like to see some more shots of yours - it looks like a nice one!