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Folks, 6 hours is a long way to drive for 2 fish, even if they're the 15-18" broad-shoulder Chopaka trout. Weather was the main culprit. Arrived on Thursday afternoon to blue skies and warm weather. Got on the water just in time for the callibaetis hatch to disappear. Dredged woolly buggers Thursday night for the hell of it. No hooks ups between three of us. Friday the "fun" started. Woke up to sunny, albeit breezy weather. Got on the water a bit late. Fishing was slow and sun didn't last long. It actually snowed for about a half hour in the late morning. Fished chironomids and damsel nymphs. Out of many boats in vicinity, I recall seeing one fish brought to hand. Moved across the lake opposite the camping side. LDR on midge emerger (thanks Ray H!). Later LDR on big tan scud (there were lots of big greyish/tan scuds on that side of the lake). Tried more chronies, hares ears, etc. -- nuttin' honey. In the early afternoon it started warming up some, although it was mainly overcast and pretty breezy. At about 2:30, callibaetis duns started popping up on the surface and trout began rising in numbers, off shore mainly. Caught one 18" chunker on a callibaetis cripple. My angling mates also caught a few fish between them on Adams parachutes and cripples (maybe a Chopaka Emerger in there somewhere). Unfortunately, it was a pretty short hatch, as wind picked up at about 3:15. Tried a bit longer, but hung up the rods for the day at about 4:00, as wind began to howl (all along the watchtower). After dinner, wind laid down a little momentarily and there were some riseforms close off shore in front of our campground. We tossed Chopaka Emergers and midge emergers for 45 minutes or so, but had no hookups; then wind picked up again. Saturday the wind visited us with a vengeance -- all day, with no let up. It must have been blowing 40 miles an hour at times. At some points there were literally 2 foot rollers on the lake. Needless to say, other than 1 or 2 maniacs, no one even went out on the lake all day. We hiked up to the head of the lake, which was about the only place that had some shelter from the gale force winds. We could see decent numbers of trouts swimming in and around the weed beds up there, and flung many subsurface patterns at them, with no success. Went back to camp for lunch, then hiked back up to head of lake in the afternoon. Managed to catch a callibaetis hatch that was meager but lasted for quite a long time (about two hours). Fishing was tough, though. I caught one nice fish on a cripple; had multiple refusals and missed takes (i.e., operator error) on other callibaetis-oriented flies, and some interest but no takers on the Ray H. midge emerger and, believe it or not, a snail pattern I had tied up just for grins. One of my angling mates caught a few (he was high man with about 10 fish over the 2 1/2 days we "attempted" to fish); the other was unfortunately skunked that afternoon. And that was it. We huddled around the camp fire that late afternoon and evening, praying for a turn in the weather while party after party got the hell out of Dodge. We woke up on Sunday to more of the same weather, and woefully broke camp after breakfast. The amazing thing is that once we got down to Loomis, the weather was quite pleasant and was mostly sunny and probably 70 degrees by the time we hit Tonasket. I think Chopaka is an isolated magnet for harsh weather conditions.

As to the conditions of the lake, it is low, but didn't appear much lower than last year. The reed beds continue to shrink (probably due to the lower water levels), which definitely doesn't help fish/insect habitat. We felt we didn't see nearly as many trouts swimming around as last year, though there were few moments when the lake was calm enough to get a good view of what was below us. It was VERY crowded at first, but the less hardy anglers started dropping like flies on Friday and by Sunday morning there weren't too many people left (can't blame anyone for leaving given the weather conditions, but we were stubbornly optimistic of a positive change in weather down to the end). Although the weather was a major factor in a less than satisfactory experience, I think the jury is out on this fishery right now. One would think it would improve if the lake level could be restored and reed beds given a chance to heal. There also was ample evidence (i.e., carcasses along the shore) that small mouth bass have invaded. Somehow they gots to get rid of those pests.
 

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previously micro brew
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o mykiss - Thanks for the great report. Too bad about the number of fish brought to the boat. It is a long way to go for just two fish, but you go for the opportunity!, as you well know. Seems like the wind has been a culprit all over E. WA, out of 6 days at Nunnally, we have been blown off on 4. Last August, we marked fish in the deep water, about 30', and were able to pull them out quite consistently.

Again thanks, our trip over may be in August.
 

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Hi,

This brings up the big question... best time to go there.

My history on this fine spot:

4yrs ago - late June > crowds & more crowds (to be expected), fishing excellent (damsels on the dry variety, BIG fish), weather good, sun & low wind.
3yrs ago > wx as described in posting by o mykiss... to say the least, miserable kicking back up lake in whitcaps! No let up in sight.
2yrs ago > went last weakend of season - October 30, 31. Fishing marginal. Weather sunny, but COLD! Craking ice off my waders in morning isn't what I had in mind. Also, beware of hunters in vacinity!
Last yr > mid September... again - out of a two days at the camp, it blowed and rained, and hailed, and sort of snowed, cold, damp.

I don't mean to sound like a whimp, I mean after all it is Chopaka Lk. and it just a pretty spot to be even if the fishing isn't exceptional all the time. But, since I usually take one trek a yr. on vacation up there(partially due to the 6+ hr. drive each way); I'm just trying to guage the optimum time to go this year (if there is such a thing as optimum?).

What would your guys consensus be - early, mid or late season for Chopaka?
 

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My favorite time has always been mid to late June. The peak of the callibaetis hatch may actually be a little earlier, but the mayflies will still be there, the weather is a little more dependable, and the dry damsel fishing (as you found) can be stupendous (not to mention the caddis, midge, caenis mayflies, and what-all else). You might even see some traveling sedge in the evenings, and the night leech fishing can be scary, in a good way.

The fishing and hatches can even be good into July, though the fish are not in prime shape, and hooking, playing, and landing them obviously doesn't help. The other slight kink in the mid season (June/July) is the absolutely first-rate mosquito hatch at Chopaka (note the large interpretive sign at the campground on the wonder and value of the mosquito life-cycle). Penance for fair-weather angling I suppose.
 
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