"Learning still water" report - Merrill Lake

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Dan Nelson, May 20, 2012.

  1. Dan Nelson

    Dan Nelson Hiker, Fisher, Writer, Bum

    Oct 20, 2007
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    Puyallup, WA
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    First off, I've been fishing dry flies on moving water for more than 35 years (and I'm just 46 years old). I taught myself to fly fish at age 11 with a cheap Eagle Claw I bought at my local hardware store using money earned from mowing lawns that summer.

    Because I fished solely on the river running through town (the Touchet, in Dayton) I never progressed to learning still water techniques. In fact, I never really got into nymphing until about 8 years ago.

    Anyway, recently bought a Scadden Assault XXX raft so my wife and I could do simple floats on the Yakima. But before we hit moving water, we wanted to do some shake-down outings on still water. So last weekend, we hit Rattlesnake Lake. Very slow day there, as we figured out what the heck we were doing, both with the new boat, and the new deep-water fly-fishing techniques. We also spent some time teaching Sophie, our yellow lab, to ride quietly behind my seat. No fish taken at Rattlesnake.

    Yesterday, we drove south to Merrill Lake.

    Sophie proved to have learned her lessons well. She rode on the stern of the boat wonderfully -- sometimes sitting up and looking over my shoulder, but mostly reclined with her chin resting on the side of the raft, watching mergansers zipping around the lake.

    More importantly, Donna and I learned our lessons. I developed a nice smooth trolling stroke, and Donna learned how to work a woolly bugger perfectly on a full-sinking line. That olive woolly bugger brought in several 14-16 inch rainbows. Several other anglers were out during the day, but we only spoke with three and they only had tree small strikes/bumps and one fish between them so we felt GREAT at the end of the day.

    Next up will be our first river float – hopefully flows will drop a bit for a nice run down the Yakima Canyon.

    As for the Assault XXX, we love the boat. Nice and maneuverable. Big enough for the two of us and our dog. We could put a third person in the stern if we leave Sophie at home, but it'd be tight. Don't think we'll ever do it.

    The Assault XXX is a step-through design (like a Watermaster) so I'll probably invest in some fins for gentle trolling/maneuvering on lakes. It weighs a mere 45 pounds and inflates/deflates with a hand pump in 10 minutes. If I go with a 12-volt pump, that will drop to 5 minutes most likely.
  2. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    Nov 18, 2010
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    Ellensburg, WA
    Sounds like you has a great outing. The Asasullt XXX looks like it will be the perfect boat for the Yakima and other low gradient rivers.
  3. Woodcanoeguy

    Woodcanoeguy Active Member

    Aug 11, 2007
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    Ridgefield, WA
    Merrill has picked up lately. Water is down about 5 feet in last three weeks. After several trips with only a few fish each trip I went up Sunday mid morning. There was a big hatch and feeding frenzy in the middle of the lake. I took 13 fish in 2 hours....missed a couple dozen other strikes....two strikes broke off my fly....thanks to F&W triploids. I got about 1/2 cutts, 1/2 trips with one medium sized brown. Water temp was 57'. Eagle made two failed attempts at my fish....yo!
  4. MDK

    MDK Active Member

    Apr 27, 2011
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    Camas, WA
    I was up at Merrill couple weeks ago and water was very high and cold. I got not strikes and saw one fish rise. Glad to see it is picking up. I only have a float tube and lake is a bit big and windy for a small float tube. I also saw the eagle. Nice small campground.

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