Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beaver Creek

The Upper Lake

Jared's Birthday Wish
Jared really wanted to fish for Kokanee for his birthday fishing trip. But we had too much going on earlier this summer, and without a fish finder and down riggers, the fish at Wallowa Lake aren't really reachable for us this time of year. So I asked him if he'd want to fish Beaver Creek, Olive Lake, or somewhere else. He thought Beaver Creek sounded good, so he invited his big brother Cole to come along and we headed out early Thursday morning to catch fish and have a great time as father, sons, and dog.

La Grande Reservoir
The Beaver Creek watershed was closed to fishing for ever; its actually a water storage area for the town of La Grande (the reservoir is actually called La Grande Reservoir). The reservoir was stuffed with undersized brook trout, rainbow trout with poor body composition and I guess some bull trout, though I've never heard of anyone catching any. With the threatened listing of bull trout, and the overabundance of non native brook trout, there was a push to reduce the number of brook trout in the basin. I have heard rumors they want to allow fish passage up the stream, past the dam, but I can't verify that information.

The story I got from the manager of the area (probably 8 years ago, the first day this area became open to the public for fishing) was that he suggested the public be allowed to do the dirty work and remove the brook trout for the agencies involved. Honestly you will never completely remove them, but if everyone does their part you can reduce the population size some. The current regulations are unlimited number of brook trout per person (any size), two rainbow trout, and all bull trout must be release, unharmed and without taking them from the water.

8 years ago, the brook trout were puny at best. They had larger heads, tiny bodies, with little meat, and the rainbows were snaky. I'm going to guess that someone is doing their part, because today the brookies are actually big enough to keep, their bodies are conditioned well enough to get a meal out of them, and the flesh is wonderfully red with a mild flavor. Most of the rainbows are still snaky, but larger than they were whenever it was I fished for them last with Tyler and Corey.

We left later than I wanted and took mostly spinning gear--I did take a fly rod but didn't really use it too much. They boys made the mile and a half walk in pretty easy and fished around the entire lake. The fish were biting, the brookies were fat and we did our part to kill as many as possible.

A Keeper Brookie

Cole's Fly Caught Rainbow
I wasn't sure what the limit on rainbow trout was and with warmer water the fish weren't recovering very fast, so I'm a LITTLE ANAL about how the fish are being handled! Jesse shows off his new found swimming ability in this video. His lowest score on his NAVHDA natural ability test was on water retrieves. He has always swam, it was just really splashy, slow, and without style. It was more like drowning slowly rather than swimming!

A Double Rainbow

A String of Keeper Brookies

I AM SCUM! I lost the biggest brookie of the day by breaking my own rules! YOU NEVER HOLD A FISH NEAR WATER WITHOUT HAVING A HOLD OF THE GILLS! I felt really bad for losing Jared's monster fish.................I guess I'll have to take him fishing again to make up for it; dang it!

Cole Catches His First Keeper
Cole caught more rainbows than anything! It took him most of the day to catch a brookie. Jared mostly caught brookies with a few nice rainbows in between. All counted the boys caught somewhere between 30 and 40 fish today; it was a lot of fun!

The Final Catch

8 years, or so, ago, I took two little boys to the same spot and caught lots of fish, though not as big. We laughed, had fun, told stories and took home a mess of brookies that day too. But those two boys are now 15 and 13. It was fun to take two young boys (6 and 9 years old) with me and relive that time with my two older sons that are now young men. To share with Jared and Cole the experience I had with their older brothers and make all of it a part of their lives. Its amazing how fast time flies and how many opportunities we miss out on if we don't act. I have a list a half a page long of things I wanted to get done this summer, now it's the middle of August and all those tomorrows and next weeks are gone! Tyler will be a sophomore this year and Corey a freshman next year........time is going too fast and there is too much to do in the short time I have with them. At least I have these memories with them to relive and retell; it makes a young, but aging father feel a little better!