My husband JC (or Castwell) and I took off
on Thursday morning for a few days over the
mountains to eastern Washington for the Central
Washington Fish-In. The 'star' of this
Fish-In is Rocky Ford Creek, a state owned,
public access fly only water. It seemed to
us the fish were not quite as plentiful this
trip. The water levels were down about 18
inches according to some of the locals who fish
it regularly - lower water levels should have
actually concentrated the fish, but that didn't
seem to be the case.
The 'creek' is stocked by the two hatcheries who
lease their land from the state as part of an
old agreement. I don't know when the stockings
take place, but there were certainly enough fish,
and big fish, to keep our folks busy and happy.
The Best Western Rama Inn was 'home' to several
of the group - they did put up a nice greeting
to our group - much appreciated. They have also
given us a great discount the past couple of years,
and with gas prices, every little bit helps. It
is a super nice place to stay, all the neat things
one expects from a Best Western, including a nice
continental breakfast - which to accommodate the
fisherman - is served starting at 5 am until 10.
I had mentioned to the new General Manager, Laura
McCracken, when I spoke to her on the phone, I
wished there were some other choices for good
food in town. She responded there was a new pub
next door to the Rama Inn which she recommended.
We drove right by it a couple of times, and from
the outside it isn't very impressive. Just the
other end of the gas station. Friday night we
stopped in to at least check out the menu. Hmmm,
prime rib on Friday night special? We both are
very fond of prime rib so we thought we'd chance
it. WOW! Really. The name of the place is Lewy's
Tavern and is owned by the same man who owns the gas
station next door, (Bass Country Exxon) Ethan Lewis.
We made a second trip back on Saturday night for a 12 oz.
steak which we split. Really good food, service
was dandy and while it is pretty basic looking,
it's worth finding. Also, non-smoking.
There is also a brand new fly shop in town.
The Desert Fly Angler has been open just a
couple of weeks. It is owned by Darc Knobel,
who use to manage a fly shop over in Wanachee,
WA before it was closed by the out-of town owner.
In an industry which some feel is shrinking,
Darc has stuck his neck out to open a brand
new shop. He doesn't have all his signage
up yet, but it is located right next door to
the lumber yard, and he has a very nice fly
selection (in fact the fly he recommended to
Cary Morlan was so effective several of us
made a trip to the fly shop to buy a supply).
He also carries both Sage and Temple Fork rods,
and a very nice selection of tying materials.
Vicky Eagle Elk mentioned she found several
items she had been looking for at the shop.
Darc keeps a blackboard with the current
conditions at the regional lakes and streams
in plain sight so folks will know what's
We fished several sections of Rocky. There
are three parking areas, the first is a Handicap
Access, which has a large barrier-free dock for
those in wheelchairs. This area has a small pond
with a little rock fall, a lovely place to try
and get a drag-free float. There are cruising
rainbows at nearly any time. That doesn't mean
they will take your fly, but at least you get
to see them.
The 2nd parking lot overlooks a 'stream' section,
which is moving water, but pretty slow moving.
The greatest majority of the fish at any time
are eating scuds. There are tons of scuds. In
fact if you let your mind wander a bit it's almost
like watching bonefish tailing. The third parking
lot requires more of a walk down to the stream.
There is a bridge with a pond on either side, one
named the 'sipping pool' and while the water is
moving, there really isn't any current to speak of.
Below the pool is more stream, a low dam and runs
and riffles. We were able to find some co-operative
trout willing to sip in a few dry flies. We used
the fly shown on the front/main page, a size 18 or
20 extended body, parachute BWO (blue-wing olive)
which come off all day. (The fly recommended by
Darc at the Desert Fly Angler.)
The Fish-In group was smaller this year,
partially since it fell on the Mother's Day
weekend and folks had family obligations,
and the cost of gas caused some folks to
stay home. Several of the 'regulars' had
other obligations so we canceled the pot-luck
at the Oasis Campground - I hope it will
be picked up next time, but things do change.
We did meet some FAOL folks we did not know,
Danni Guerin and Al Corey, and Ron and Vicky
Eagle Elk's friends Jay Barrett and Kim Carnes.
The photo of JC and I was taken by Jim from
Bonnie Lake - who kindly offered since there
aren't many photos of the two of us on FAOL.
Rocky Ford is a great place to fish for beginners
and the technical experts as well. There is
something for everyone. A few of the folks
did make it over to one of the pot hole lakes
for panfish as well - with super results. Some
traveled up to Dry Falls Lake too.
We fished an hour or so Sunday morning
and headed for home.
We did have to make a stop in Vantage,
right in the shadow of the big Columbia
River bridge. JC had arranged with the
cook, Ken at the Golden Harvest restaurant
to have some beef barley soup waiting for
us to pick up on our way back. I thought
JC would pass out when he saw the soup of
the day, Chicken Noodle, on the 'fresh list.'
The cook had been watching for JC, and came
out of the kitchen to assure Jim that his
beef barley soup was indeed there. It
isn't there any more, it's in my frig.
We did get to play with a 'new' rod - at least
new to us. Marc Bale from Sage sent the 7 ft,
4 weight TXL with us to play with. It is a
medium action rod, which delivered a dry fly
very nicely on demand. It was the rod I mostly
fished all weekend, out of choice. I did
occasionally switch off with JC depending on
if I had broken off a fly - of course that
never happens - and you didn't hear it from
me. But since it was Mother's Day, I did get
some extra special treatment - including not
having to cook all weekend.
I do want to mention Al Corey came up with a
very neat idea - he created a 'Memorial Fly'
in honor of Al Campbell. About business card
size, the actual fly, the recipe and a quote
from AC all in one nice little package. We
need to give some thought as to how best to
use Al Corey's idea, but he put a lot of work
and thought into the fly. Oh, the fly is the
Too Simple Ray Charles. Very nicely done.
As always, any time a group of FAOL folks gathers
together, the fishing and the company is just grand.
It is always the best. ~ DLB
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