North Park - Thur & Fri October 22-23, 2009
The boys and I planned an overnight trip a great stillwater in North Park back in early September, and the day finally arrived. Planned for two weekdays (Thursday 1/2 day and all of Friday) of getting off work, I was very surprised that I managed to talk 4 of my buddies into skipping out and playing hookie! Shows how much of a good influence I am on them!
The plan was for Werm and myself to drive in one car, Kratt and Dave in another and Scott to come by himself with the boat. We all left at various times on Thur, but we all managed to land in North Park within 30 minutes of each other. Werm met me at my house around 12:30, I changed quick, threw everything in my truck and we were on the road by 12:45 or so. We had a pretty uneventful ride - went very smoothly and a stop at the Fraser Taco Bell.
Pulled into North Park around 4:30, and not 10 minutes later Kratt and Dave pulled in. We chatted, set up tents, pulled out gear and of course started drinking. Kratt, Dave and Werm all hit the shitter at various times to start the trip off right. Scott pulled in after taking a lap around the lake (the scenic route) about 25 minutes later. We chatted some more, put on our gear and hit the lake. Scott and I jumped in the boat and trolled the "outhouse". While the others belly boated-up and hit various spots on the lake. As soon as we set anchor I was into a nice fish on my nymph rig - and although I didn't get him to the boat (14' tippet/indicator rig) I did see he was a nice fish. Not a minute later and Scott was dragging in his first of the day on a streamer.
This was Scott's attempt to make the fish look longer. The crazy thing is that this fish crushed a size 4 streamer that had to be about 5 inches long! The fish were fiesty! Soon I had on a beauty on a streamer as well. It would prove to be my only fish landed on Thursday and one of my best for the whole trip.
Scott tore it up for the next 2 hours or so - working streamers off the bottom. The hot colors were orange/brown streamers, and the fish nailed them pretty good. Each fish got larger than the last and Scott kept pulling them in. I of course did my best net boy immitation and landed them all. It was great to be catching fish, but it was cold and it got dark there very very early (it seemed) and was pitch black by 6:30 or so.
The fish here are all around this size - 18 inches or so and fat as pigs. All are well fed, and they all vary in color and agressiveness. One thing that didn't differ is that Scott and I only caught rainbows - which is a disappointment because this time of year the browns are as colorful as ever.
We all met back at camp around 8pm, had some beers and decided to fish the North side. I have had luck here before, stripping streamers in the moonlight just off shore. It wasn't very good tonight and after only an hour or so, no hits, and getting cold - we all decided it was time to eat and drink. We got a roaring fire going and just sat around and talked smack (most directed at me).
Great headlamp pic of everyone chilling instead of stripping....streamers.
Scott feeling a little fuzzy, maybe it was all the Crown??? You think?!?!?
Dave and Kratt. Kratt always has the drunk smile on his face.
Somehow the flash worked on this pic, and caught Werm off guard!
8 jalepeno sausages later, 2 cases of beer, a bottle of Crown and some frost bite, and I called it a night (yes, I am the party pooper) - I rolled into the truck at midnight - the first to call it a night. I got a lot of ribbing for that, but I'm not much of a drinker, and those guys were passing around the Crown and were nice and warm. Plus, it was going to be a long day tomorrow.....
Friday started around 8am - which is when I rolled out of the truck and out into the frozen tundra of North Park. It had snowed slightly the night before and in front of me was a pile of lawn chairs, wither waders/boots/vests/belly boats and other gear frozen solid and covered in snow. We got the fire rolling and the sun popped up over the east mtns. You couldn't actually feel the sun in the 20 degree frozeness, but the fire was nice. We all put our gear around the fire to defrost and we ate breakfast - and Kratt broke out the Coors Lights. Yikes.
Around 8:30 we got a visit from Mark as he was rolling by headed to North. He was wide awake, and showed us some killer pics of the 23 inch brown he had caught the day before. This fish was spectacular - the kind of fish that most guys put on the wall. It was in full spawn colors and had a black under side to it - absolutely beautiful fish and a trophy for anyone except Mark and his posse who fish this place 50 or 60 times a year and know it like their remote control (in the dark, after a case of beer, even with out all their facilties - they can still push it's buttons!). I was so nice of Scott to get the hell up around 9:15. Of course he wasn't mobile for another half an hour. Crown Royal makes Scott's eyes squint for at least an hour or so after waking up.
It was a nice morning - just cold. Mark mentioned that they were dumping water into the lake and we should start at the inlet to try for the fish that were feeding near the highly oxygenated water there. The boys headed off to wade fish and Scott and I jumped in the boat. We pulled into the inlet and the guys started hooking up - Dave had the first, then Kratt, then Werm - all were slaying them. The fish were all beautiful and took the edge off a cold and windy morning.
Scott too started hooking up, including two beautiful slabs out of the back of the boat - both over 18 inches.
This is Scott's hangover fish, after this he was feeling a lot better!
I, of course, was pulling the big goose egg. I couldn't hook up with anything. Basically I was netting Scott fish and taking his picture, and he was letting me know it. Thank God he didn't ask me to tie on his flies or make him lunch. We kept fishing. We tried moving the boat over to North, but after launching it, we decided that the 2 foot chop was probably not our best bet. Werm and Scott fished a spot near the dam (where we did see a gorgeous 20 inch rainbow in about 4 inches of water - and a foot from the bank - fanning it's tail), with little luck. Werm did manage an ass hooked brown - the only one for all three of us. I moved down, fishing closer to the fence, but had zero luck. I was starting to get a little bummed and worried I'd get skunked.
We all met back at camp to eat some lunch - which was kind of a joke since we didn't feel like stopping fishing, but the bite was off. Werm decided to hit the spot right next to camp - and he parked there for 3 or 4 hours. Scott and I decided to try our luck on the far side of the lake, under the cover of the bluffs and scrub brush that provided some wind relief. It didn't provide any fish relief for me - and we both stunk it up. We decided to troll over to the inlet and I did manage a dink on a streamer. Of course 3 seconds later Scott yanked in a beast of a fish - this one had a beautiful black belly on him.
We trolled the bluffs next to the inlet and hooked and landed a couple more fish - nothing fancy. A few friends were fishing the inlet and we stopped to say hello - MarkB, Sam and Shoe were all on their way out, just trying their luck at the inlet before heading home. It was great to meet up with some more RMF guys and put faces with screennames. We peaked at the browns that had run up into the skinny inlet and were trying to spawn next to the irrigation water flow nozzle. Damn things were colorful as hell and probably 20 inches and 7 lbs each. Of course you can't fish there, or net them, but they were fun to watch. We shot the shit for a bit, and then decided it was time to keep fishing as the day was winding down, and the wind was somewhat tolerable. We said goodbyes and jumped back in the boat.
We decided to troll over to where Werm was fishing next to camp, he was constantly into fish and we knew the spot was on fire. We got up close to him and set anchor. Scott again was slamming them - hooking one of his biggest fish yet - this thing was the size of an oar - literally!
Notice Scott still has the hangover face!
I did managed to get the skunk off in a good way, landing a few 16'ers and I did miss a much bigger fish that I had to horse because it was headed for the anchor.
Werm continued to tear it up to - he was nymphing an egg pattern no more than 70 feet away from us and had on 14 fish the whole time we were there. Here is one of his pics:
We were about done around 5:30 and headed for the boat ramp. On the way there we decided to troll streamers for one last chance. We got about 100 yards away from the boat ramp when I got a slam, then Scott got a slam, then I lost my fish, then I had another fish on, then Scott landed his (a nice 16er), then I landed my fish (a dink of 13 inches), then we turned around and troll back (had to hit the spot again!).
I threw a cast into a foot of water and had a fish on immediately (another dink). We trolled down about 100 yards, and turned abck to the boat ramp. Within minutes Scott had a tank on, this fish was big and wasn't giving him an inch. The fish took forever to reel in, yet never showed itself to us. The boat was going in circles as Scott faught the pig. He got it within 15 feet of the boat, but it was getting too dark to see it - and finally it broke him off. He was pretty bummed, but not nearly as bummed as I was when my line got caught in the prop and broke off. We knew that was a sign the day was over and headed in. We trailored the boat and headed back to camp.
Kratt and Dave had already headed out, Werm had broken down camp and was drinking anything with alcohol in sight, and we knew the day was done. We said our goodbyes, and hit the road at around 6:20pm. It was already dark and the ride home would be a nervous one crossing Willow Creek Pass in the dark. Werm and I hit McD's in WP, and then I had to do a slight pitstop on I70 somewhere in Evergreen to drop a biscuit - it was a brief stop - yank the truck off the road, hit the hazards, grab the tp, drop the drawers, squeeze, wipe, back in the truck. (Ok Werm, are you happy???). We hit Jenny's Market so I could finish and Werm could smoke 6 cigarettes that he couldn't have in the truck (nearly killed him too).
We were at my house at 9:30 and Werm was on his way back to the big P a few minutes later.
It was a good trip - the fishing was ok, nothing spectacular. We didn't catch the big one, no one caught a fish over 18 inches or so. Actually we all had big fish on that we all swore would have broken that 20 inch barrier - but of course the big ones always get away. It was ok weather, so sun, a ton of wind and freezing cold. The best part of the trip was the company - we all (except Dave) knew each other from the RMF board, but none had fished together (I was the guy who had fished with Scott and Werm) or even met each other. We all had a blast - ripping on each other when needed and keeping the egos in check. I did receive a FryFish beat down by Scott, who has now passed my in # of fish and size of fish in our brief angler buddy history. He was quick to point this out, just as I was on previous trips. We had some good laughs (Kratt falling on his ass off the bank and into the water), some bad laughs (I scared the shit out of Scott about 15 times jumping around in the boat - he thought he was going in), and some bad luck (Scott's boat ate Werm's and my fly lines!), but it all worked out! Everyone got there and home safely, everyone caught fish, everyone shortened their lives by drinking too much and eating jalepeno sausages.
Thanks for the good times boys!