With the official high temperature in Walla Walla Thursday being 90°F, it was urgent to find a place to cool off… to head for the hills and for today it was Let's Go Fishin'. For many of us it has been since last October or November that we had the opportunity to drown flies and give trout and/or steelhead sour lips, for our time and effort.
A couple of weeks ago a message came from Pendleton, that thoughts were passing around, considering an early season trip to Bull Prairie Lake.
Those Let's Go Fishin' plans/arrangements came together this past mid-week, and a Walla² Fly Fishers discussion arose. It was about 6-8 Walla² Fly Fishers discussed plans to meet the group of fly fishers from Pendleton, at Bull Prairie Lake. On the Walla Walla end, Dale was spearheading this project with communications between the Pendleton and Walla Walla groups. As it ended up Dale was the only Walla² Fly Fisher to be able to make it out of town today, so he brought along his non-fishing friend, Buddy to make this trip with him.
Overnight in Walla Walla there was heavy rain on the roof, this morning all was gray and wet, so loading gear was slow, with the anticipation of a 3-hour trip to the top of the mountain south of Heppner, OR. There was no need to be pushed along too fast with current weather conditions.
Leaving Walla Walla at 9:00 AM and glancing at the mountains to the east, there was evidence of a fresh overnight snowfall covering the Blue Mtns. Leaving Milton-Freewater the fresh snow level appeared to be around 3500', Bull Prairie Lake elevation is 4,050.
Following the trail south to I-84 there was clouds hanging over the Blues as far as the eyes could see. Turning west in Pendleton the clouds were parting and in the distance the Cascade Range snow capped volcanoes were shining with the morning sunshine upon them.
The 150-mile trip from Walla Walla to Bull Prairie Lake travels through a number of landscape changes. Going pass wheat lands, wind power farms, climbing into the mountains of high meadows, Ponderosa pines forest and lots of S curves in the road for altitude change.
Once the summit of the Blues (4612’) is reached, one begins to wonder... "When are we going to be there?" Then a sign appears.
From Oregon Hwy 207 it is a couple of miles to the lake, boat launch/landing, and campground sites.
This writer did notice that all of the roads from Walla Walla to the lake are generally better than the street conditions in Walla Walla. Travel is smooth and fast, except for the mountain S curves.
Once at the lake Buddy and Dale noticed that fish were being dragged to the bank by shoreline fishers, and there were 6-8 floating fly fishers out on the lake.
We pulled down to the boat launch area (no gasoline allowed on the lake) and parked along side the folks from Pendleton. There were 7 guys out of Pendleton here today. As Buddy and I got out of the truck to stretched our legs, the skies were clearing, the sun began to shine bright as it was the noon hour. Shortly thereafter the Pendleton folks then on the lake started coming in for a lunch break.
When everyone got to the table, John had finished cooking a rack of hotdogs, and a pot of chili; along with a couple of bags of chips and some sugar cookies everyone ate well. Thank You John.
After lunch everyone geared up again and spent the next 4 hours hooking trout. The fish today range in size from 7" to 12".
Dale started and finished his day using a BS Special, which he was introduced to last year. Each time he now uses this fly, it begin catching fish on the second cast, and today in Bull Prairie almost every other cast thereafter had a jerky strike or a hook-up and run.
As Dale told John, while on the lake... long-line-releases are a good thing. Saves time, no fuss, no mess.
Around 5 o'clock the Pendleton crew had pack up their gear and were heading out. Dale came off the water at that point and fished from a pier for awhile. When he finally made three cast without hooking a fish, he called it a good day done.
This day made a most enjoyable outing; meeting up with ole fishing friends, fishing familiar water, after a few years absence, and leaving a lot of trout having sore lips to have to recuperate during the next week. And heading home with dinner for Buddy and Dale.
The drive back to Walla Walla was pleasant, and before arriving back to Milton-Freewater, there was a beautiful sunset to add to the joy of a peaceful, relaxing day on Bull Prairie Lake.
And so, when all is said and done... dinner is served.
A fishing report by Dale McKain
To tye a BS Special...
Apply a brass bead head to a #12 TMC 200R hook, and using olive thread tye on an olive Krystal Flash tail
Tye in copper wire at the tail.
Tye in a feather tail with a complete plum of olive marabou.
Tye on an orange grizzly hackle.
Wrap the hook with the olive marabou, tye it off at the bead head.
Palmer the orange grizzly hackle up to the brass bead, tye it off.
Spiral wrap the copper wire through the hackle to the brass bead, tye it off.
Whip finish and seal with head cement.
This is one of the best stillwater fly patterns Dale has used in years.
FYI - stillwater diet for trout
Report submitted by
Walla² Fly Fishers