Merrill Lake


New Member
Hi all. I have just recently moved to Washington from Colorado and was interested in fishing Merrill Lake in southwest Washington. Has anyone fished the lake recently? I understand the lake has not been stocked for a few years and am wondering if there is adequate natural reproduction to sustain a viable fishery. Any information on major insect hatches would be of great help, as well. :CONFUSED
I've never actually fished Merill, but it is known to have at least two signiture hatches, hexagenia mayflies (in August I believe)followed by a significant fall of cinnamon flying ants. Apparently, there is also a hatch of what seem to be brown drakes in the same area of the lake that harbors the hex population (which makes some sense). I can't quite remember, but it seems to me that accounts I've read put the brown drakes either just before or just after the big yellow mays. Both hatches are later than you might expect, but apparently that's the way it goes.
I fished there last year durring the hexagenia hatch it was either late July or early August. The fishing was good even though I did not have any hex patterns there was a caddis hatch going on that the brown trout were not intrested in but the other trout were. Gets crowded durring the hex hatch must have been 60-70 fly fishers all on the lake that evening for the hatch. I caught about 6 fish all on dry which considering we were all fighting the wind was not to bad.There was about a half foot of chop on the water. Bring an anchor the wind can get bad. If no hatch is going on go to a sink tip line and a leech pattern from what I have been told. I plan to hit it again this summer as well as Coldwater lake on the West side of the mountian. If you want to fish Coldwater a sink tip and a leech is the only way to go. No insect hatches to speak of. Merrill at least last year is set up as a fly fishing only one fish limit MAX size of 12" so few fish are taken out of the lake. I am told that there are some large brown trout in the lake but I have not caught any yet. While down there I talked to many a fly fisher who told me all about the large browns in the lake, but only a few of them caught any browns that day. I am happy to report that while down there all seemed to be catching and releasing. I did not see anyone keeping any fish at all. It was a nice change. One question I would ask is when does the snow melt around lake Merrill.


I have also fished the hex hatch at Merrill, good times. Rainbows, cutts, and browns all inhabit Merrill. One word about the hex hatch; subsurface. I hate to say it but subsurface tactics have worked best for me. I always have a problem hooking up with strikes on the big buoyant patterns required to immitate the hex dun.
I am curious as to how the lake fishes the rest of the year and when does the gate down to the boat ramp open?
I have had good luck fishing Merrill at all times of the year. Even caught five fish on New Year's day about four years ago. The water does get very high this time of year. I've seen it all the way up to the bathroom before. I was actually thinking of driving up there this weekend. I don't think the gate opens until May but you can park up there and haul everything down the road. During the summer a good bet is to fish Merrill early and late and then hit McBride Lake. McBride is up the road about 6 miles or so. I've always had better luck there during the warm part of the day than at Merrill. The fish in McBride aren't as large but there are good numbers of 9-13" cutthroats and brookies in there. Usually can't get to this lake until early June due to the snow.
I fish Merrill as often as I can. The Hex start trickling out in late June, then show up big time after the 4th of July. Fishing in the evening and early darkness works best, but I have had some luck throwing Hex emergers up into the willows in mid-day. This tactic seems to work best early in the Hex season. In late May and thru June Merrill gets a good Alder Fly hatch. I've caught some real nice Browns and Cutts using an actual Alder pattern or any dark brown caddis. In the fall, big streamers and buggers down below and Midges and flying ants (I think they could be termites) on the surface. For an experts suggestions, check with the Greased Line Fly Shop in Vancouver. He's usually up on every thing thats happening at Merrill. Good Luck. :THUMBSUP
Fish till ya drop.
Then suck it up
and fish the evening hatch.

Bob49 is correct, the best early hatch is the Alderfly hatch starting in early May and peaking about mid May. The nymph is best fished during all the hatch. Chironomids hatch in abundance during this time but the bite is hard to nail down. My luck there past years has been so sporadic on chironomids I always concentrated on the Alder fly.

Can't agree that action is good year around. I've fished it in April several times years ago when it had good browns and bows and did very poorly in April on cold years. I used to start second week in May most years.