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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you've never been to Dry Falls Lake, the scenery at the lake is spectacular, but the scenery along the drive into the lake is pretty nice too. Right where you turn off the pavement to go on the dirt road is Umatilla Rock, which always reminds me of one of the old Chevrolet TV commercials where they perch one of their trucks or cars on top of a rock like this:

Cloud Sky Mountain Plant Bedrock


Shortly after that is a view down to Rainbow Lake, or I guess it is now called Vic Meyers Lake:

Cloud Water Sky Plant Mountain


I've never fished Rainbow Lake, but one of my friends told me that years ago he caught some really nice carryovers in that lake.

Further in, you'll pass by Perch Lake, which as far as I know doesn't have any perch in it, but is stocked with trout; I've never fished it, but I almost always see a few fish rising when I drive by and I hardly ever see anyone fishing it:

Sky Water Plant Natural landscape Watercourse


Finally, you'll arrive at the Dry Falls boat "launch" (which is really just a hole in the shoreline weeds):

Water Sky Water resources Plant Plant community


The lake surface was mirror-calm when I arrived, but surprisingly not a single fish rose while I was getting set up. I didn't see many fish rise all day for that matter, which in addition to what I was seeing (or actually not seeing) on my two fish finders, causes me to believe that the trout population is lower than normal. Whether that is due to lower numbers of fish fry planted (beginning in 2013) to adjust to the smaller lake size, or partial summer or winter kill, I don't know. But, the fish that remain have a lot more food as a result and most of the fish we caught were very chunky, like this 12 incher that looks like a little football:

Water Fish Fish products Fishing Tail


However, the vast majority of the fish were the 11 to 12 inchers; out of the 29 fish I had on, just 3 were the larger fish in the 18 inch range (landed 17 fish of those I had on, one of which was an 18 incher), but they were almost all great fighters due to being well-fed.

Out of 42 solid hits I had on Thursday, 40 hits came on my T-Waterboatman pattern. I don't think the specific pattern is that important, as I think almost any small, dark-colored fly, like a Prince Nymph, Halfback, Zug Bug or black Hare's Ear will do. More important than the fly pattern, the key was to get to the proper depth, which on this outing seemed to be the 18 to 20 foot depths. If I wasn't ticking the weeds on the bottom once in a while on the retrieve at those depths, I knew I wasn't deep enough. I was using a RIO InTouch Deep 6 density-compensated full sinking line to get down deep quickly.

Even though I had almost all my hits on a water boatman pattern, we didn't see any water boatman on this outing, even though it is prime time for the water boatman to be migrating. But, even when I don't see any water boatman, at this time of the year I know that the fish are getting keyed into them so I fish a water boatman pattern anyway. In any case, there weren't any other significant hatches to try to match. One of my friends throat sampled one fish and found daphnia, chironomids and bloodworms, but the fish took a water boatman pattern. I think the fish just can't help themselves when a water boatman goes zipping by. One of the other guys did well on leeches, so you might try that as well.

My sense is that there aren't a lot of fish in the lake right now, but the fish that are there are quality fish, so the lake seems to be returning to the quality fishery it is supposed to be. A quality fishery is often a tough fishery, so don't expect to catch a lot of fish, but it seemed that everyone hooked at least one of the larger fish.

All in all, it was a nice outing, with decent weather, spectacular scenery and good company.

Rex
 

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Dry Falls will always be special to me. Some great days fishing there. My old donut float tube is long gone but I spent a few
hours in it and enjoyed every one. Haven't been over there for
quite a few years. But perhaps I will make it next year. Perhaps not.
 
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Dry falls today for me. About 15 rainbows. 2 around 18 inches and the rest 11-12. The fish really do look great. My fish were mostly in 15-20 feet of water and took a variety of leeches and white wooly bugger types.

Park Lake had over 50 common loons on it when I went by. This included a flock (or maybe asylum?) of around thirty. Having lived most of my life in Minnesota where loons rule I"ve never seen them to congregate like that. All those smallmouth must make for a great refueling stop.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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Nice report.
Hopefully we get some years where the water level stays up and DF returns to its former glory.
SF
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Dry falls today for me. About 15 rainbows. 2 around 18 inches and the rest 11-12. The fish really do look great. My fish were mostly in 15-20 feet of water and took a variety of leeches and white wooly bugger types.

Park Lake had over 50 common loons on it when I went by. This included a flock (or maybe asylum?) of around thirty. Having lived most of my life in Minnesota where loons rule I"ve never seen them to congregate like that. All those smallmouth must make for a great refueling stop.
Glad to hear you had a good outing to Dry Falls and that the leeches were working for you!

I also noticed a couple of loons on Blue Lake as I was driving by. Aeneas Lake seemed to have the most waterfowl out of all the lakes I drove by. The birds are definitely migrating through right now.

Rex
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Great report Rex! Saw that fishing rod of yours bent quite often! And, I sure do like the take when fishing a water boatman, generally speaking, you know it!
Thanks! Yeah, the fish usually hit the water boatman pretty ferociously, which I like better than watching an indicator go down. The "tug is the drug", as they say. I was using a RIO Fluoroflex Plus 2X tippet (which rates at a strong 12 pound test) to avoid break-offs, but I still had one fish break me off on a really ferocious hit. Of course, that was probably the biggest fish around that got away. ;)

Rex
 

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[Park Lake had over 50 common loons on it when I went by.]

I totally missed seeing loons on Park, would love to have seen that many of them. They're not common around the Basin, like I see (and love to hear) them in British Columbia, so to see that many would have been a real treat. Such interesting birds, very aggressive at times and they learn how to steal trout you release and sometimes even while your fighting a trout. Unnerving to have one "flying" underwater beneath your float tube when you're bringing a trout in.

Thanks for sharing the sighting.
 

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Indi Ira
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watching an indicator go down.
When I fished it two weeks ago, most of the indicators never went down. They would pause, twitch, tilt, turn, slightly tip up, but rarely did they flat out dive down.

I experienced about the exact same as you did. My report was in the Bash thread. Thanks for our reports!
 

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When I fished it two weeks ago, most of the indicators never went down. They would pause, twitch, tilt, turn, slightly tip up, but rarely did they flat out dive down.
So what you're sayin' is consistent with what we've talked about before, the things are "indicators", not the "b" word. Only one time did my indicator bob underwater quickly and I still missed the take (2-pole endorsement sometimes is more trouble than its worth). I was anchored up, had made a cast with the type-7 and was counting it down when my indicator started vibrating. It looked like an old top spinning and wobbling, except it wasn't spinning. By the time I put down the stripping rod, the good vibrations were done. The fly was a clone of the Irablackandredbalancedleechsize8.
 

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Where are the browns?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So what you're sayin' is consistent with what we've talked about before, the things are "indicators", not the "b" word. Only one time did my indicator bob underwater quickly and I still missed the take (2-pole endorsement sometimes is more trouble than its worth). I was anchored up, had made a cast with the type-7 and was counting it down when my indicator started vibrating. It looked like an old top spinning and wobbling, except it wasn't spinning. By the time I put down the stripping rod, the good vibrations were done. The fly was a clone of the Irablackandredbalancedleechsize8.
I don't fish indicators very often, so I may not know what I'm talking about and would gladly defer to the indicator experts, but here's my thinking on the quivering or vibrating indicator problem... I'm guessing that your fly is in the zone where the fish are located, but the fish are just pecking at your fly or nipping at the tail to see if the fly is alive or a fake. I suggest that when you see the indicator quivering that you start a slow retrieve, and maybe one of those fish will think the fly is escaping and then grab it and the indicator will dive down. Alternatively, you might shorten up your leader by 6 to 12 inches to get the fly just above the zone, close enough so that the fish will still be interested, but high enough so that the fish has to swim up to grab the fly and then back down to their comfort zone, and the indicator will dive down. Finally, maybe you have to change the fly to something that the fish likes better and isn't testing so much to see if it is a fake, preferably something smaller so that the fish actually has to get it into its mouth to see if it is real or a fake. But, like I said, I don't fish indicators much, so take what I say with a grain of salt...

Rex
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Where are the browns?
Good question, as the lake is planted with brown trout fry and Tiger trout fry each year (about a 1,000 of each). My hypothesis on this is that the brown and Tiger trout fry are out-competed for insect food by the rainbow fry so most of them die off due to starvation. The small browns or Tigers that do survive are often very thin or skinny compared to the small rainbows. However, if the browns or Tigers can survive to about 17 inches or larger, then they become piscivorous (fish eaters) and start to put on weight. In lakes like Dusty where there are the dace baitfish or Nunnally where there are the pumpkinseed fry, the browns can eat those baitfish and get to be quite fat and big (although browns are not planted in Nunnally any longer). This nice 23" Nunnally brown from 2012 is a good example, but I haven't seen a brown from Nunnally since that year:

Water Fin Fish Marine biology Underwater


However, in Dry Falls, the only baitfish would be the trout fry that are planted, and with the cut-back in the planting rate (in 2016 just 4,508 rainbow fry were planted compared to 11,794 in 2012), the browns have less food (fry) than they used to have and if there was a partial winter and/or summer kill, then there would be even less food. Thus, I speculate that even the few surviving larger browns and Tigers have mostly starved to death, so that's why we aren't seeing them in our catches. I have suggested to the fisheries biologists that Dusty be made a solely brown trout fishery so that the browns wouldn't have to compete with the rainbows and might be able to survive long enough to get big enough to feed on those dace baitfish, as it seems that rehabbing the lake never gets totally rid of those dace. But, I'm no fisheries biologist, so I may not know what I'm talking about. It may also just be that browns and Tigers are harder to catch than rainbows or more nocturnal, so they could be there, but just aren't being cooperative or are more active at night when most of us have gone home.

Rex
 

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Aeneas is a nearby lake that I have fished for over 40 years and caught 2 browns. Have heard several theories but believe yours to be closer to reality. Always appreciate your insightful posts and thoughtful investigations.
 
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Cool report Rex! There is not much I miss about WA, but the basin lakes are one. Dry Falls has always been amongst my favorites as it was one of the lakes I sampled on my inaugural eastern WA lakes trip back in the 80's.
 
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