Drunken Charlie Lake

I made the ~5 mile mountain bike ride up gated logging roads into Drunken Charlie Lake, northeast of Duvall, on Saturday. It was a cool, mostly rainy day, and I froze my toes off kicking around in my float tube. This lake is one of the most beautiful places I have been to in the Cascades. My friend caught three smal rainbows on a size 14ish mayfly with a yellow body and dark wings around the edge of the lake right by the many logs. I stripped a six-pack on a sink-tip line out from the logs and caught a cutthroat. Then, I switched to a black wooley bugger that I trolled around the lake, very slowly along the structure. I caught a couple of rainbows and had several other bites that I missed because my hands were too cold to work very well. One of the rainbows I did manage to land was one of the most interesting fish I have ever caught. It was almost 12 inches, but was very chunky and was in bright spawning colors, really red, with a hooked lower jaw, grayish belly and mouth, and squirted some sperm out when I removed my bugger from his mouth. I have seen fish spawning in Wyoming rivers, but thay are generally around 20 inches or larger, and not in the incredible condition this guy was in. Really a beautiful fish.

Do rainbows generally spawn in an inky black lake near springs or is there anywhere you can generalize?

Unless the lake has an inlet or an outlet with water running over clean gravel, rainbows won't successfully spawn there. That doesn't mean they won't try though, particularly if there is some amount of current and gravel associated with any shoreline springs. And regardless, the fish will go through the same metabolic changes in preparation to "spawning" season (kyped jaws, color changes, maturing gonads). Lake rainbows that don't get the chance to actually spawn usually have to reabsorb the milt or eggs they develop. A few years of that stress is about all they can take, which is why lake-bound rainbows won't typically live as long as stream fish (or lake fish who have spawning opportunities).

So there's the science lesson (likely warranting some correction around the edges). Maybe more than you were asking for. At any rate, sounds like the pedalling was worth it.
From my experiences and more than a few conversations regarding this lake Drunken Charlie was one of the first outings the Trail Blazers would stock. I've talked to quite a few old timers that told stories of having to bushwack the trip in. Obviously, that is not the case anymore. However, the historical stocking has always been to plant Druken Charlie with Coastal Cutthroat(Tokul Creek stock). Every time I have fished it, that is what I have caught.

Who knows, new stocking practices may included Mt. Whitney RB, but next time you catch a fish, check under its throat. You should see orange slashes. I've found that you almost need to lower their jaw to see them. Also, for some reason, the Tokul Creek cuts, besides being very dark seem to have really dialated pupils. In fact, its kind of strange.. Also, there is no real significant inlet and no outlet, so no effective spawning occurs, which takes away the chance of cut-bow hybrids.

Just a few pointers to look for.

Streams are made for the wise man to contemplate and fools to pass by.
(Sir Izaak Walton)
I'm really glad that other catch and release(I hope) flyfishermen have discovered Drunk Chuck. It's a great place to go be alone with mother nature and catch some gorgeous rainbow and cutts. As you can tell, the forked stick, power-baiting, bring a gun so we can shoot up our empty beer cans crowd has also visited the lake. Someone has gone to alot of work to plant DC so make sure you take a little of the garbage back out with you. Maybe some day people will learn to just visit the lake and not leave their intials scratched into it. OK, I'm getting off my soap box.