Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good trips, bad trips, you know I've had my share

My first trip to Coffeepot Lake was magical. Must have been around 2006. Scotty and I had a good day fishing from the drift boat at the Northeast end of the lake. That afternoon, we met Bill and his dog, Scout. Bill was an unemployed heavy machine operator from Spokane. He was spending a few weeks camped at Coffeepot. He told us about the fantastic chironomid hatches at the Southwest end of the lake and vowed to tow us down there the next day. Given that Coffeepot is about 3 miles long and can become extremely windy, we were grateful for the tow.
We had a blast getting to know Bill and fishing with him over the next two days. The weather was gorgeous, bugs were plentiful, and we caught many good fish.

Our second trip to Coffeepot was not so wonderful. We arrived late on a Friday night. As we set up camp in the dark, the extremely drunk guys in the next campsite decided to drop in on us. These were the obnoxious and inebriated, uninvited guests that would never leave--my least favorite part about camping in public campgrounds. 

On the next day, the lake just seemed to be in a funk. Soon the heat gave way to high winds, and we were back in camp with time to kill. Too hot to be in a tent, too windy to be outside. Plus a neighbor was running his loud generator all afternoon. The combination of hot winds and generator noise made staying in camp like flying in a open airplane over the desert with no wind shield.

Trip #3 to Coffeepot was a cherry. We hauled all our gear to the other end of the lake and camped in an unimproved site. The lake had just turned over, the water was murky, and it took about a day for us to figure out the fishing. We caught most of our fish from a bay where the water was just a few degrees warmer than the rest of the lake. I learned that following turnover, the fish suspend in the top 3 to 4 feet of the water column. Once we figured this out, the fishing was fast.  Our good friend, Andy Towell, professional photographer, took many beautiful photos on this trip. To see his work, check out: Andy Towell's Coffeepot Gallery

Last week's spring break on Coffeepot may have been the best yet. My boat stayed anchored reasonably well in the wind, the chironomid hatches were good, and the campground was nearly empty. On our last day we drove into Odessa to get more firewood. The nice ladies at the local supermarket told us where we could find some pallets for free. We loaded up the back of the truck and returned for a warm evening by the fire.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Brief Visit to the Upper Columbia River

Last week Scotty and I made the trek to Northport, WA to fish the Upper Columbia. We had a great morning fishing with Doug Lochner of Northport. Doug is a tournament bass fisherman who knows his stuff. He showed us some beautiful runs along the East side of the river. The Upper Columbia was flowing at half the volume of the normal summer flows. Nevertheless, I opted not to launch my boat. Even at winter flows, I was nervous about going out there with my little motor. Part of me wished I had tried while another part of me reminds me that I'm usually right when I'm in doubt about something that might not be safe.

That morning on the Columbia I managed to land a healthy 4-pound rainbow on a cone-head Bow River bugger and Doug got a 17" cutthroat. At the end of the morning, Scotty and I decided to head to our old favorite, Coffeepot Lake. The forecast for the desert was considerably warmer and we were looking for hatches and sunshine.

We had a wonderful evening camping at Steve Bird's place up near the border. Steve is still down in California for the winter, but he will be guiding the UC again this summer. Meanwhile, check out his blog at http://columbiatrout.blogspot.com/. If you like what you see, order his book: Upper Columbia Flyfisher. Steve's approach to fishing, writing, and guiding is as unique as any I have seen. Moreover, he is invested in the future of the Upper Columbia rainbow fishery.