Brown's Lake? Don't bother.


Active Member
On Wednesday a couple of us older guys took our act to Brown's Lake-not because we expected such good fishing but because it was an hours drive north for him and an hours drive south for me. With our combined ages of 149 years we were just trying to keep things simple and maybe catch a few fish on a fly fishing only lake. It just didn't work out. In about 3 1/2 hrs I caught 6 fish the largest being 11'' and the smallest being 11''. And they were all rainbows. A few years back this was one of the premier cutthroat lakes in the state and it's relatively remote location and fly fishing only status kept it good for years. As it's demise by virtue of rainbow introduction has already been well documented I won't comment further except to say that it is certainly not the lake you remember if you fished it years ago.

To add insult to injury there are signs posted that say your Discovery Pass or the pass you received with your license is not valid and you must pony up five bucks just to park there and launch a tube. So the bottom line is it cost more to get there due to gas prices, the fish and the fishing are inferior and then you have to pay more once you are there for the diminished experience. I have seen Brown's Lake for the final time but have fond memories of fishing it back in the mid nineties when the fish were big and plentiful and all cutthroats.

We left early and went to lunch at the Usk Grill. There I had the best hamburger I have eaten in years and my friend had an enormous Ceasars salad with chicken breast that he said was just excellent. If you are near Usk you could do a lot worse than to stop in there for lunch.

From there we drove north to Yocum Lake which is mercifully primarily a cutthroat fishery. I started out with a floating line in hopes of some surface action and soon changed to an intermediate. Still no action so I went to a Type IV with similar results. Finally I spooled up the Type VI and immediately started catching fish. The fish weren't big but at least the action was more consistant and they were cutthroats instead of hatchery zombie cookie cutter rainbows. The weather was perfect for the first day of summer and it was just nice to get out after so much foul weather. Final tally for the day was 19 fish to hand and one broken fly rod. I was responsible for 18 of the fish and the broken rod. Cabelas graciously replaced my L-Tech 5 wt so should it ever stop raining again I'll be going out again soon.



Active Member
Good report Ive, I can relate to a guy who appreciates catching westslope cuthroat, dare I say even prefers them to rainbows. Good on you but too bad about the demise of Browns Lake.

I wonder if a few calls to the WDFW District Bio would help restore the lake?

Vladimir Steblina

Retired fishing instead of working
To add insult to injury there are signs posted that say your Discovery Pass or the pass you received with your license is not valid and you must pony up five bucks just to park there and launch a tube.

That's because the lake is managed by the Forest Service, not the state of Washington.

Your Senior or Golden Age pass should be all you need to use the site. Call the Newport Ranger District to confirm that information. IF your over 62 or disabled the Federal passes will in "most" cases get you admission to day use sites that have a fee associated with them. Also they function as a Northwest Trail pass.
Seem to remember something about this lake being illegally stocked with carp which are difficult to eradicate. An eventual predator fish was stocked after attempts to rehab the carp failed. Bla, bla, bla,

This has now led to rainbows?

Sad to hear because good cut lakes are getting harder and harder to find.
Browns, one of my favorites, was improperly stocked with rainbow several years ago by WDFW, after years as a quality cutthroat lake. Like a double breasted suit, it used to go in and out of style, but always could produce eager, wild fish to a fly. Now, it's just somewhere to take your kid to kill a limit of hatchery fish or their progeny.

The lesson here: the work of many over years can be destroyed in 10 minutes by an uncaring, unfeeling individual, and cost gazillions to remedy, if in fact it can be fixed. Sort of a microcosm of western fishery history, I guess.


Bird Dogs and Fly Rods
Fished it two years ago and it was loaded with rainbow fry. Not a fish over six inches to be had for a couple evenings effort. Shame to hear it used to be great. Hope it may recover.


Active Member
Gangly, it was great a decade or more ago. It seems like the average fish was 13-14'' with many, many much larger than that with some over 20''. All brightly colored cutts that jumped and spun and just went crazy on a fly line. Dry fly fishing for those things was a real giggle and late evening summer caddis hatches up in the corner of the lake were just epic. It was a place you could visit with joy and anticipation because you knew what was in there and that you were going to do well.

It is just a heartbreak to see what has happened there and you can only ask yourself: Why? Why was something so good so utterlly F----d up? Sadly someone used our tax dollars to make that mistake and the Peter Principle says he was probably promoted for it and is still out there wreaking havoc on the fishery somewhere. Flippin' burgers at Jack In the Box is too good for that SOB.


Eric Denny

Summer is over but I'm still fishing!!
So I see this thread is a couple years old anyone been there lately??? How is the fishing or is it still just rainbows?