By: Anton Jones
North central Washington offers wonderful fishing opportunities. My family has been able to run a successful guide service chasing Lake Chelan’s kokanee and lake trout for many years. That downrigging pays the bills. Meanwhile, to entertain grandkids and return to my roots as a bait fisherman I migrate to Mason, Washington, to catch trout at Wapato Lake.
At 195.2 acres, it’s too big to call a pond. I call it a small lake that’s perfect for a small rowboat or inflatable. Fortunately, Wapato has a maintained concrete slab ramp with a small dock to assist in launching boats. It’s on the traditional Lowland Lake Opener list and opens the last Saturday of April. Trout can’t be kept after July 31st.
Wapato is managed as a multi species fishery with an emphasis on rainbow trout. In addition to the mostly 12-16-inch football sized rainbows the lake has a healthy population of 12-15-inch largemouth bass and yellow perch to 13 inches. Rainbows are planted as fingerlings in late July.
I like to go back to my roots as a kid fishing the put and take lakes of Western Pennsylvania when I gear up. I’ll grab a five-to-six-foot long ultra-light rod from and small spinning reels loaded with 4-8 pound monofilament as a mainline. We always fish basic slip sinker rigs, normally consisting of a 3/8-ounce sinker and a bead. Then tie on a swivel and two-to-three feet of leader line. For the leader two and four-pound mono is ideal.
You’ll notice as late spring and summer arrive weeds on bottom grow taller. When this happens lengthen leaders to keep the bait floating at the tops of the weeds. You don’t want your floating dough bait in the weeds, which is why a longer leader line is critical once the weeds take over.
When the weeds are on the prowl hook selection is important. I’ll employ size 10 to 14 trebles and single hooks up to size four. Honestly, the single hooks catch fewer weeds. This presentation works best from the opener through the end of June when the lake typically stratifies, stacking the rainbows into a deep and suspended thermocline. Whether a single or treble we use American Wildfire and Garlic Salmon Egg Fire Bait to catch fish.
By July, the frenzy experience and there are fewer anglers. This is when I prefer to troll and set downriggers on top of thermocline and where we spot suspended fish. Getting them down with a snap or banana weight is am alternative if you don’t have downriggers. We like to troll kokanee gear for the trout, namely Mack’s 0000 Double D Dodgers with Wedding Rings tipped with Pautzke’s Fire Corn. We also troll wooly buggers with a Wiggle Fin action disk. We also drag a Goldstar #2 Kingfisher in Irish Cream. Trolling 1.5 to 1.8 mph works best, but I’ve found running 2.5 mph works better when fishing in the wind.
Editor’s Note: Anton Jones operates Darrell & Dad’s Guide Service. For more info on his guide North Central Washington fishing trips please visit http://www.darrellanddads.com.