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Washington's Park Lake is the Place For Fly Rods at Night

Washington's Park Lake is the Place For Fly Rods at Night Washington's Park Lake is the Place For Fly Rods at Night

I have found that an excellent way to get some good information about fishing at a certain lake is to hang around the fish cleaning station. Anglers are there taking care of their catch, and they are usually more than willing to share how great a day they had, and how and when they got their fish. This strategy has paid off handsomely for me, and it reminds me of how much I can get from a little casual conversation.

I was about to duck into my tent at Blue Lake while on a trip to several lakes in North Central Washington, when I noticed someone under the lights at the cleaning station. It was well after dark, probably near 10:30, and I figured that if I was going to get any “research” done, this would be my last chance.

Sure enough, there was an angler grinning over three fat rainbow, and saying he had just got ‘em at Park Lake, which is just up the road. He said that the lake had come alive just about dark. He mentioned he moved his bobber right down to his slip sinker and was taking fish right on top! I didn’t ask him what he was using on the business end of his rig. I had learned enough to make room in my schedule to hit Park Lake the next evening with the fly rods.

We spent the much of the next day poking around Billy Clapp Lake (I’ll tell you all about this great place in a future article), after a break for a shower and chow, Eileen and I pointed the rig in the direction of Park Lake.

It’s about a 40-mile drive north from Ephrata to Park Lake, and we arrived at about 8:30. The sun had been off the water for a while, and I figured we hit it about the right time. I was off by about a half-hour.

We launched and started cruising the shallows and weed lines. My guess was that the heaviest hatch would be coming from these areas, and it would be the best place to start. I was wrong again.

Surprisingly, when the hatch did develop, it was obvious that the fish were feeding in the deeper water. The trout gave themselves away occasionally with a splashy show. A dimple and ring indicated most of the rising trout. By about nine o’clock the feeding was in full swing, and this is where it got fun

Rather than bother with casting and retrieving to so many different fish, Eileen and I just stuck the rods in the holders and putted around with the “eight-horse” on a slow purr. She already had a rod loaded with what is called an Thin Mint. This is an olive and brown Bugger type of a fly, with some Flashabou tied in it, and it was a size 8. It did the trick, too.

She let most of her 5-weight floating line out, locked the rod in the holder, and wham! The reel was screaming. The line was streaming out fast, and the rod was bent over so far she had a hard time getting out of the rod holder. She was having a great time. Laughing and yelling every time a fish hit. This is her kind of fun.

This was the first fish, but it wasn’t the only one that took a couple of good leaps, tore off some more line, and generally made it a real chore to get it to the boat to release. Before I could even get my line out, she was into another one.

I was goofing around with some really wild patterns, and finally, after releasing a couple more for her, tied on my own Thin Mint. Wow. These fish hit like a freight train and soaked me good before I could grip the fly to let ‘em go.

The rainbow, which is what we were catching, were running a solid 13 inches to 15 inches, and they were about as deep as they were long. These well-fed rainbow were a real hand full and they were all over the place. We were still at the very top end of Park Lake, near some large basalt islands, and within sight of the launch and swimming area. Maybe a three-minute run from the dock—at trolling speeds!

I shouldn’t really have been very surprised at the number and quality of the rainbow at Park Lake. You see it had been “rehabed” at the same time as Blue Lake, which is right next door. Although Blue Lake was restocked with 200,000 rainbow and 10,000 brown trout, Park Lake got 150,000 rainbow and 10,000 browns. I guess that I didn’t expect to find as many really nice rainbow here, as a large State Park, and a large private park serve the lake. This is a very popular destination for vacationing families, and I thought that the pressure Park Lake got over the previous season would have seriously depleted its trout population. Now I have been wrong three times! Hey, its okay to be wrong when you’re having as much as Eileen and I did on this balmy evening on Park Lake.

When the action slowed down (we had to wait maybe ten minutes between strikes) Eileen decided to change patterns. It was really getting dark now, so she picked through my “Bugger Box” until she found something “really twinkly.” She selected a cactus chenille-bodied Bugger, of a light brown with a black tail.

Wouldn’t you know it. She was into another fish immediately, and continued to catch them until it was just too dark to see anything.

We also realized that some parks locked their gates at 10:00 p.m., and if we didn’t want to spend the night in the boat, we had better get scootin’.

Checking my watch, I was surprised to see that it was about 9:45. We had only been on the water a little over an hour and had caught and released over a dozen fish. Not bad for a short evening jaunt.

As it turned out. The gates were still open, and there is a very well-lit parking area for the rig and trailer at the ramp. It was bit difficult to see to get the boat lined up when approaching for loading, but we did just fine.

I can’t think of when this kind of action would quit at Park Lake. It should be good clear through summer and right up till closing at the end of September. If you would like to take a shot at fly-fishing at Park Lake, here’s how to find the lake.

You can take either I-90 from Seattle or Spokane, but Highway 2 will get you there a little sooner. You see, Park Lake is the second in a chain of lakes, Dry Falls being the first. They all run in string to the south below Banks Lake. Traveling from the west, the turnoff for Highway 17 is the first right before you get on the causeway at the very bottom end of Banks Lake. From the east, the turn is to the left just as you leave the causeway. We actually traveled to Ephrata, where there is a range of accommodations, and although our hotel had a pool, spa, and exercise room, we didn’t use any of these amenities. We were too busy fishing.

You can tell by the photos of Eileen that accompany this article that she is having about as much fun as you can have with a fly rod. I had a great time just watching her, and we both had fish on a couple of time. I hope you have the same kind of experience here when you get chance to make the trip to Park Lake.

This article is courtesy of David Graybill. Visit his website, The FishingMagician at or drop him a line at [email protected]

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