I needed to get out and usually we make an annual run to the Ford during the dead of winter. We made the late call to proceed despite the pass being getting clobbered by a snow storm that dumped a couple of feet of new snow.
We pushed off at 04:30 from Bellevue under cold and cloudy skies to meet snow around Tinkham and 31 degree temps at the pass. The drive was slower but we made decent time to George, with a fuel stop in Cle Elum.
It had been a few years since I fished RF and Ben L. and Phil K. would accompany for a chance at some of those Trout Lodge planters. While folks think the fishing can be easy with hatchery trout they quickly adjust to their surroundings.
Today was about getting some fresh air and desert scenery, and meeting up with the guys. We parked at the mid lot and proceeded for the narrows where the rocks and current help oxygenate the water and the fish and out.
Although we moved around a little around 3 pm to check out the lower section below the south bridge as well as the upper handicapped area. The better class of fish were at the rocks. My best action would come from an 18 Olive flashback scud fished on a hand tied fluorocarbon leader down to a Rio Fluroflex plus 5x tippet.
I also had success with trout beads in orange fished on a a pre tied Gamigatsu thin wire walleye hook.
While the hooked to land ratio was low, only bringing 6 to the net, out of the 13 hook ups, it was a good day to get out.
Ben got a few connects but couldn’t convert to the net. He grew up in Colorado and has fished many well known Rocky mtn waters. He just couldn’t bring any of the large fish to the net on his small hooks. Ben still had a great time, with a 3 month old at home and busy work schedule, the time spent fishing was priceless to him and he was all smiles at the end of the day.
Phil landed 3 after we moved to the lower section and I coached him on the proper nymphing set up and re-rigged his leader and fly set up. He still needs practice on proper drag free nymphing and presentation techniques. His mis-matched mono and non tapered leader caused him to not being able to mend properly and or position the fly into the proper lanes. I think he missed a few takes as he didn’t have the right shotting. The fish were very finicky and he thought it was going to be like the Beaver Lake stocking day.
I’d heard that a group of pelicans had decimated the recent plantings of last month and it was evident the spring creek was lower than normal with fish sightings. Typically, one could see multiple groups of fish stacked at the foot bridges, but it certainly wasn’t the case.
The size of fish I landed were between 5″ and up to 19″ as recorded on the measure net. The fish were smaller below the spillway, and the best action we all saw apart from Phil was at the narrow section in the the rocky current.
The drive back was uneventful part from lots of fog around Kittitas which slowed us down, but we made it back to Bellevue at 18:30 leaving Rocky around 15:30.
The Loomis Max GLX performed flawlessly and one of my favorite 5 wt rods.
Feather craft SCLA 3 cassette reel with Cortland 444SL WF dry line. I also brought my 2 wt. Loomis trilogy and Redington Drift click reel, but never lined it in anticipation of a good BWO hatch that sputtered but never really happened. The best action was between 10:30-11:30, and then it seemed to have shut down.
What would I have done differently? Not much, our starting spot was a good choice and we had several others decending to the rocks to try and catch a fish but we’re met with very poor action. I did throat sample two larger fish and found lots of olive scuds in size 16-20, hence the switch up to the scud pattern which yielded the best success for me.
Being up since 03:30 and sitting for 4 hours and then standing for 7 hours, hiking, and then driving back for another 3 put our bodies through alot. While the sun tried to poke out it never did and the temps forecasted for Ephrata wasn’t going to exceed a balmy 33 degrees. Glad I preparred and bundled accordingly!
To add to this, we didn’t eat a real breakfast, nor lunch and even pushed back to return home to our families for a hot dinner. I am fortunate my wife had a home cooked meal ready for me. I am a lucky man indeed to be able to fish all day and have a lovingly prepared meal waiting for me.
Not sure when I’ll be able to get back out, but despite the long day, it was worth it to get back to the Ford. I recall that it’s been over a decade since I first fished it, and struck out badly. It takes patience and practice reading signs of what the fish are keyed on for optimal success.