I've been planning this trip for a year. We had such a good time at Blue Lake last year that I knew we'd want another shot at it. I arranged for my mom and my niece to be here from Colorado so they could keep Casey company. Amy and I headed east with our new 12' jon boat hanging out the back of the truck.
Beda Babe in October
We arrived at Beda around noon and joined two other anglers on the water. Fishing was TOUGH. One of the anglers had enjoyed a few in the early morning on chironomids but that was all. Over the course of the day we tried just about every fly in our boxes. The only ones that worked were a damsel adult -- only had one of these and the fish took it with him -- and a silver and red snowcone. Olive or black chironomids had no effect. Unfortunately, Amy only caught two fish -- a couple of tiny perch which I ruthlessly dispatched. I was the king with 4 fish all between 14-17" - the last on a BWO even though there wasn't a baetis hatch to speak of. The fish seemed to be keyed into chironomids all day and weren't interested in much else.
Typical Beda Fish
Towards dark we enjoyed some fat tires and swapped stories with some of the other anglers who were there. They were going to camp it and out try again the next day. We drove north to Pateros and stayed there for the night.
In the morning we continued our northward journey and finally arrived at Blue lake in the Okanogan region around 10:30 in the morning. The wind was strong and consistent -- though probably nothing compared to what it was in the basin from what I heard.
First of many Lahontans for Amy
We headed for the far side of the lake where the wind was a less and found some spawners hanging out near some structure. Amy cast a small streamer to one of them and it chased it to our boat before it bit down on it. I think I got its mate trying to chase away another streamer. Both fish were caught and released quickly so they could get back to making more Lahontans.
That IS my smile - I need a new one
We decided to leave the spawners alone after that and we just trolled around finding fish. Black wooly buggers seemed to work best and even though we were fishing the same fly, on sinking lines, Amy seemed to catch all the fish. At one point she had 7 to my 1. SEVEN.
The Lahontans are so metallic
From 4 to 7 we had consistent action - every ten minutes or so we'd hit or land another fish. Amy ended the day with 8 and I with only three, but the third one was one of the biggest fish I'd ever caught (in a lake anyway). I didn't measure him but I think he's probably around two feet long.
My fish of the trip
Amy said she had a fantastic time catching all those big fish. The smallest was maybe 16" and the largest were over 20". She thought that they fought pretty well despite their reputation. We stayed that night at the Red Apple Inn in Tonasket, which is kind of a nice little town.
This guy was in the room next to ours
On the third day we awoke to overcast, drizzly skies and bad colds. We made the decision to make this the final day of our little trip and start making our way home. So instead of fishing Bonaparte Lake, as our original plan called for, we drove south down the basin. We looked at Billy Clapp lake but decided it was too big to fish without a fish finder.
We spent an hour or so at Rocky Ford, where amy hooked one of the big ones under the bridge. She said she actually had to steer the GRHE into its mouth. But it got off. I wasn't into the RF scene that day so I suggested we hit Lenore or the Yakima. She chose Lenore.
Our new 12' jon boat
Lenore was a total tease. The water was still and inviting when we arrived. there were a lot of older dudes hanging around in their waders taking a break. They all said that fishing had been very slow -- each of them having only hooked one fish which had gotten away. So about 10 seconds after we'd string up and launched the wind came out of the north and tossed us around like the Minnow in Gilligan's Island. Same old Lenore.
We fished off the small island for a while and I hooked a fish but he got off. The wind died down for a while so we got back in the boat and started trolling. Amy picked out a gigantic burgundy bugger (size 2?) and was fishing with that when she hit a big fish. She said it was a gentle take but she quickly knew that it was a big fish. He simply would not budge from his spot, even though the wind was trying to push our boat away from him. He was holding all 400lbs of the boat in place in the wind - that's how strong he was.
Amy's Big Fish
Amy fought him like a pro and I netted him for her. He TOTALLY DID NOT FIT INTO THE NET. Landing him was kind of a joke. He was face down in the net just kind of balancing there with 50% of his body sticking out. But you know, he was very cooperative once we got him up in the boat. He didn't wiggle or struggle and we got some good pictures. I estimate him at 7lbs but I could be off in either direction -- I'm not good at guessing with fish that big. Amy was shaking after she released him. She was glad to have had an audience of older dudes in pontoon boats here and there to see the battle. That turned out to be the only fish of the day, but man it was a doozy. The funny thing is I still have yet to land a fish at that lake.
On the way home we talked about how special these trips are and agreed that, in the interest of marital accord, we should continue doing these trips indefinitely. I need to start planning the next trip.