I bought a boat!

In my continuing effort to find the best way to get out on the water, I added to my vehicle collection this week.

I have had my mighty blue kayak for 3 years, but it takes two people to launch because it’s so heavy.

I have had my inflatable kayak for one summer. I can take it out alone, but odds of getting very wet in it are fairly high, so it is summer-time only.

And now there is a boat.

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This little guy is a 12ft Gamefisher. My goal was to find something I could take out myself and launch/recover alone. I looked at several larger project boats, like an aluminum StarCraft that needed to be completely rebuilt, and a finned runabout that was rough. They both looked like a lot of work, and would not fit in our short garage.

This boat had caught my eye earlier in the summer because it looked like it was ready to go. Seats, shade cover, 2 motors, fish finder, oars – pretty much ready to launch and go. The trailer even looked like it was in good shape. So I went to check it out with an amount of cash in my pocket slightly less than he was asking. We came to a deal and I dragged it home.

Although I liked those other boats, they all looked HUGE in person, and like a bit of a handful. This boat is small, the trailer is small, and I can move it around by hand if necessary. And best of all, after Dave spent the evening organizing, it fit safely in the garage, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone picking it clean out in the driveway.

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It just squeezed in there!

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This boat has a tri-hull shape to it, which I’ve heard is very stable. I’m not going to be taking it anywhere crazy, just out onto the local lakes. It has a 30lb/thrust Electric motor, and a 5hp gas motor. The electric should be fine for my needs for now.

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It has a livewell which needs to be hooked up, or I guess it would function as underseat storage just fine. And it has an old fish finder, so that should be fun to learn about.

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It needs some cleaning up, and the trailer was missing a few lights and has some rusty spots that could use to be touched up, but for the most part, I think it is ready to go, and I’m happy with this catch – I hope I will have many happy catches in it on the water!


Jellyfish at the Lake

This is worth sharing – better late than never. While fishing at Battle Ground Lake last fall, I saw a little jellyfish in the water, and got it on video!

That was a pretty fun trip. I had taken a day off from work to go fishing, and I almost didn’t go because it was raining. But I put on my waders and a raincoat and went anyway, and I was so glad I did, because it was a beautiful day, with just a short sprinkles early on. I had the lake all to myself almost. No fish, but a nice day trying.

Sprinkles! The only time I briefly used my raincoat all morning. Dave left me out about 4 hours before he came back to get me. It was just a really nice morning out.

My new kayak

I LOVE my Jackson Kilroy DT tandem fishing kayak. It is a Caddilac among kayaks – big, smooth, stable, room for the whole family. I love it just as much when I take it out alone, but on those occasions Dave always helps me launch it, because there is 0% chance I could move it by myself. In fact we would have had it out several times already this spring, except I hurt my back and didn’t want to make it worse by moving it.

I caught a couple fish from the dock already this spring, so I’m feeling more confident about this year. I just need to get out on the water so I don’t get there and find all the good spots on the dock taken.

I love kayaking. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, and good arm exercise too. So I want to get out as much as I can. So after much research I added a new toy to my fleet – an Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable kayak.

This is a tandem kayak, but can be setup as a single fishing kayak as well. Plenty of room, nice and wide so it feels stable, and not very expensive (just under $200). It is light enough I can grab it with one arm and carry it while carrying my paddle in my other hand. I haven’t timed it, but inflating it feels like it takes about 5 minutes. Not bad at all.

It has a little keel that snaps on underneath and I forgot it my first trip out and it was challenging to steer. I put it on the second time out and it was much better behaved.

So tonight I took it out after work and fished around this fallen tree not far from the dock and within 10 minutes I had caught a little perch, this little crappie, and had several bites I didn’t hook up!

Lots of fun! It was very peaceful away from the dock. I stayed out until the sunset started coloring the sky, then headed back to shore. No problem deflating the kayak and loading it into the Flex by myself. I think I’m going to get a lot of enjoyment out of it this summer.

An early start to fishing season

Last year I really stunk up the place fishing. I got skunked almost every trip out. I fished a LOT, and I think I only caught five fish the whole summer. It was really getting embarrassing.

I decided to start out the season by going to a Washington Dept of fish & Wildlife Crappie 101 class last weekend. They were holding it up at Silver Lake, near Mt St Helens, and that was on my list of places to go explore anyway. The lake is HUGE – well, a lot bigger than my home lake – but our fishing was confined to a little canal inside an RV park on the lake.

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They told us that in the winter crappie and perch all gather in this canal. In the summer they will head back out to the lake, but right now it was easy pickin’s here, and good practice for the kiddos who came to the clinic. Pretty much everyone was going to be catching fish if they threw a line in there.

I spent about 10 minutes tying on a couple crappie jigs I bought at the RV Park office, setting up a double jig rig as the instructor suggested, then headed out to the canal. My first cast was ok but didn’t quite go where I wanted it. My second cast went in a tree behind me, and broke off – so both jigs were gone. I went ahead and just tied on another jig I had in my box and tried that, and boom – first fish of the day!

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A nice little crappie. Then another, then a perch, then another perch, and another. I switched to a different color jig, they were hitting that too. Finally I went too deep and caught the jig on the bottom and lost it, so I tied on a Trout Magnet, and it was just as effective. What a joy to finally be catching fish and get to practice landing them for a change!

I was chatting with the nice family next to me, and they had driven up from my area too. One of their kids wasn’t having any luck though, so I let him have my spot and I wandered down the canal to try a spot down past the crowd.

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It was pretty, but there were no bites and if there was one thing I learned that day, it was to ‘fish where the fish are’ – and the fish were back where I had been fishing!

So I headed back down to the other end of the canal and found a new spot and started reeling in perch again.

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Most were little guys like this, but I caught one that was eating-size! Couldn’t get his picture because my hands were full! I did catch & release though, it was a long trip back home to be transporting fish. If I’d been camping there though, I’d have been cooking up some fish for lunch!

So that was a really fun day out, and I discovered Silver Lake is beautiful, and I definitely need to head back there! And it was was a great start to my fishing season, since all told I caught over a dozen fish – more than I’ve caught the last two seasons! And I met some nice folks from my area and got to talk fishing with them a bit and get some tips for the next time I hit the lake. All in all, an awesome day!


Horseshoe Lake (Woodland)


Dave and I packed some snacks, grabbed the kayak, and headed up to Horseshoe Lake in Woodland. We got going a little late, so we stopped and grabbed lunch to eat on the water. After we launched we paddled down past the fancy homes on the shore and found a peaceful shady spot to park and eat and have a little rest, watching the world go by.

Eventually we paddled over to the outside of the horseshoe bend and there were all these old tree stumps or dock pilings sticking up out of the water, so we tied the kayak to one and I enjoyed a little fishing while Dave worked on his script.


The pilings all had these otherworldly globs of something growing on them. They were cool but freaky looking.


I had my usual luck fishing…


A good time was had by all.

No pictures of the following weekend, but Dave launched me at Lacamas while he went to a theater event. My phone camera doesn’t work, so no pics, but I had a lovely time fishing with the help of my new anchor trolley. This allows me to anchor the kayak and move the anchor point to the bow or stern, so when I get the hang of it I should be able to point the kayak in the direction I want and keep it there, until the wind shifts anyway.

Also on that same adventure we got to Lacamas, unpacked, and realized we had forgotten the paddles! Luckily there is a vendor there renting kayaks, and they rented me a paddle for $5, which saved the day, because there was no time for Dave to go get the paddle and still make his theater event. When I got home I decided I would rig our new kayak cart n the garage to hold the paddles so we wouldn’t forget them again (they were hanging on the wall before), then I looked at the kayak and had a realization – and just set them inside the kayak – duh! We will have to move them to load it, so that should solve the problem.



Ashes Lake

We went out in search of bass at Ashes Lake. Ashes is down Hwy 14 almost to Stevenson. It is one of those lakes on the north side of Hwy 14, separated from the mighty Columbia by a berm with a little tunnel between them. I was told it had plentiful small and largemouth bass, as well as pikeminnows, and would be a great place to break my losing streak.

The road down to the lake, visible on Google Earth else I would never have believe it was a road, was an overgrown path between blackberry bushes that was not quite a Flex wide. So unfortunately I culd hear it scraping along the side of the car all the way down to the tiny parking area which only had room for three cars. Luckily there was only one car there when we arrived.

We parked and unpacked the kayak and walked it down the hill to the water. The road was very rough and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the Flex try to climb back up that hill on loose gravel . Pretty soon we were paddling our way out into the lake.


It’s a big lake, and it was really pretty, and a perfect tempurature, blue sky day. But like it often is in the Columbia River Gorge, it was also windy. So paddling was a challenge, and unless we were both paddling, it felt like we weren’t making any headway during gusts.

Finally we made our way to the sheltered west end of the lake, and it was very nice. There was a family of canadian geese floating around, we saw fish jumping, and every tree overhanging the lake seemed to make a shady spot for fish to hang out in the rocks.


I got several nibbles in this area, including one that grabbed my bait and took off, dragging the float behind him! But I was unable to hook up. I certainly had fun trying anyway!

We still don’t have an anchor on the kayak, so we tried drifting up against a log where I could cast towards he shore. The log seemed to be popular with tiny blue damselflies who were hanging around, landing on our paddles. Big dragonflies also zoomed overhead, with clear wings with black spots on them. Strangely enough, the majority of birds we saw were seagulls, and they seemed to be flying around high up in the fir trees around the lake in big flocks the whole time we were there. They looked spectacular, flashing white against the blue sky! We also saw a bald eagle at one point.


We came around a corner and found a secluded little beach, and went ashore. The kayak’s seats are made to come out and be used as beach chairs, so that’s just what we did.


We kicked back on our own private beach and had a snack and watched the world go by for a bit.


Since it was such a nice beach, I waded in and did a little fishing with a bobber and worm. Still no luck, even though I saw some big fish jumping not far off shore. They were not interested in what I was offering.

Finally we decided to head back. While out there we had seen a couple other kayaks and small boats join us, and when we got to the launch the 3 parking spots were full, plus one more truck which they had parked right in the middle of the beach where everyone was launching from, so everyone else had to walk around them! There was a guy there who had come in the truck, but it wasn’t his truck so he couldn’t move it, and there was some younger guy with him who looked completely wasted. So we just packed our stuff back up the hill, walking around them as they made no effort to move out of the way.

All around though, it was a great day, and I could have stayed out on the little beach all afternoon except we needed to get home to the doggies. No fish were caught, but I had some exciting close calls, learned some stuff, saw some things, and spent some great time alone with Dave to catch up on our week. Perfect.




Fishing at Mosquito Lake

We had a rare free weekend for a change, and I wanted to get out and do something fun, so I decided we would go up to Goose Lake, which I have heard has good trout fishing. We got up at 6am and drove up to Trout Lake, and stopped by the ranger’s station to ask about conditions. She asked what we planned to do at Goose Lake and I told her we brought our kayak to go paddling.

She said “This name is going to sound off-putting, but you might have more fun at Mosquito Lake, because Goose Lake is super popular in the summer.” Dave said later she probably took one look at us and went ‘oh, these aren’t Goose Lake people, I’d better send them to Mosquito Lake!’

So we zipped on up there, and almost blew right by the parking area, because it is so small. Just room for 4 cars, just off the PCT, but the lake looked glorious! Beautiful clear water reflecting the perfectly blue sky.



We put in at the beach by the parking area, and then had to weave our way around a little serpentine path to get out to the lake. Along the way we had to go over an old collapsed dock, and it was pretty shallow and narrow. But pretty soon we were out there, and I cast out a streamer on my sinking fly line and let it drift behind us as the breeze slowly blew us across the lake.


No need to paddle when you’ve got wind!


Dave is helpful for holding my rod while I tie a new streamer on after losing one in the reeds. We drifted halfway around the lake before I checked and discovered it was gone – doh!


We paddled back across the lake to the starting point, but we were really fighting the wind, which had picked up a bit. We could only make progress when we were both paddling hard together. Back at the parking lot end I spotted this little area in the reeds where we could park it for a bit and not have to fight the wind. I’ll be glad when the rest of my anchor parts show up – an anchor would have been really useful today!


The water was the clearest I’ve ever seen. You could see all the way to the bottom over most of the lake. There were lots of water lilly pads still under the water. I’ll bet this lake will be packed with them later in the summer.


Sitting in the reeds we could see some little trout – like 2-3 inches. I guess they were trout, they were shaped like trout and had spots. We had fun watching them, while just kicking back, discussing vacation plans, and enjoying the day. When we had enough, I cast out my streamer one more time and we paddled back to the parking area. I didn’t even get a bite, though I saw a lot of big fish jumping. Maybe next time.

The best part of this trip – no mosquitoes and NO people! Yes, we had this little lake all to ourselves. It was so quiet you could sit and just hear the wind blowing through the trees. Sometimes you could hear a car driving by on the forest road, but that was about it. As we were packing up to leave, another car drove up with 2 kayaks on top. Well now they could have the lake to themselves!

On our way home we decided to go by Goose Lake just to take a look at it. Along the way we saw a sign for Natural Bridges and stopped there. The area was a collapsed lava tube.


Kind of hard to get the scale without a person in the shot.


I’m not sure that helps, but it was a really big tube, maybe 50 ft deep. And in places there were natural bridges where the tube had not collapsed fully, and you could cross over the culvert left by the tube.


It’s just really hard to photograph. Neat area though. I would like to come back here next time we are nearby and work on photographing it better. There is a lot of interesting lava in this part of the woods, and Goose Lake itself is right next to The Big Lava Flow, which looks very rugged, but we were too tired to explore today.

We continued past Goose Lake, and although the lake was pretty, it was full of partying people, and so not for us. We continued to Stevenson, where we stopped at our favorite lunch spot for post-Gorge activities, Big T’s Diner in Stevenson, Washington, with a spectacular view of the Columbia River Gorge and delicious Hawaiian Burgers. We enjoyed our well-earned lunch which watching wind-surfers playing on the river below. The perfect end to an unexpectedly perfect day.






Fly fishing from the kayak

Ignore my blindingly white pacific-northwesterner legs, so you can see how much fun I am having casting with my fly rod in the kayak this weekend.

We took the kayak out and I prepared my fly rod with some sinking line and picked up a few streamers so we could try just trolling around the lake. I thought I got one nibble, but otherwise no fun. I did get to practice casting from the kayak, which went really well. I think the high seating position works pretty well. Im also getting the hang of my new PFD/tackle vest. Fly fishing feels kind of minimalist compared to spin fishing. I like the simplicity of it.

Dave paddled us around while I fished. This was the first time the water was low enough to get our big kayak under the bridge and into the neighboring lake! So we had fun trolling around there as well.

As always, catching fish would be nice, but just hanging out together on the water is a great way to spend part of the weekend.

First Flyfishing Outing

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This weekend I went on my first outing with the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers group. I had a great time, learned a lot, and caught a couple fish, so overall it was a success, and I can’t wait to go again.

I only have one picture from the trip because my phone camera has been working intermittently since I dropped it in the lake getting out of the kayak a couple weeks ago. But that picture is of the Kalama River, and it was beautiful. It was basically exactly the kind of river you want to be flyfishing on. I joined a couple ladies from the group, and we went to Beginner’s Hole, while other folks drove farther up river, or went up to The Big Red Barn and put in there to float back down to the bridge. I would like to do that with my kayak someday.

I had bought waders, wading boots, a flyrod, flies, and a new PFD with pockets for fishing (that will be useful in the kayak too), so I was all decked out. But I missed a crucial piece –  a walking stick. So I Tried to use an old paint-pole, which was about the right height, and sturdy, but I failed to properly secure it to my person. We waded upriver a hundred feet to get above the riffles near the parking area, and after I was in it about knee deep and fishing, I turned around to grab my stick and saw it floating downriver! Which is when I realized the value of a good walking stick!

After losing my stick I located an actual stick I thought would do the trick, and more securely tied it to my person, but shortly after that it broke in half, leaving me with half a stick, which was working in a pinch. Until I learned about why we should also have cleats on our boots, and I slipped on a rock and went down hard. I continued fishing, cautiously, but I knew a real walking stick would be first thing on my list when I got home.

I learned to cast at the class/casting clinic with the fly club a couple months ago, and I practiced in the backyard, and then realized that doing it in a stream was a completely different deal. The stream drags your fly downstream, and the wind pushes your line around in the air. It took a lot of casts to get the hang of pulling the line off the water and sending it where I wanted it to go! At one point while standing there resting between casts two big trout appeared right in front of me, did a taunting little dance, and swam away. Smug bastards!

But eventually we moved down to the beach and I had had enough wobbly wading for the day, so I got out of the wading get-up and just enjoyed fishing from the shore. There were butterflies everywhere! I was casting out to a rock in the river when something grabbed my fly but let it go, so I kept casting above that rock so it could drift over it, and sure enough, I finally caught a little 6 inch rainbow. I let him go of course, and shortly after caught a slightly smaller brook trout, and sent him on his way. So I was very happy to have caught anything considering it was my first time out.

After I pooped out I went up to join the club at a member’s cabin to have some BBQ and review our take for the day. Only one guy had got a steelhead at the put-in, and everyone else got skunked except for those tiny trout, which were plentiful. I hadn’t been expecting to catch a steelhead, so I was happy with my little catch. I had a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to go back out. That was a great way to start on a new hobby!




First kayak outing of the year

Yesterday we got the kayak out for the first trip of the year.

It was a little windy, and so we paddled over to one of the little islands and parked in the reeds on the sheltered side and I played with my new sliding bobber rig and a jig, casting it out and watching the wind slowly drift it back towards us. It was very peaceful and relaxing. Dave was fine until his phone ran out of charge!

We headed back but stopped to fish a couple logs along the way, and I cast out between the logs, but I forgot I had put lighter line on the rod (first trip out since I did that), and I WAY overcast, and sent it flying into the bushes! So we paddled over there and with much wiggling got lucky and recovered the entire rig intact!

This was also the first time having the kayak on top of the new Flex. The rack easily transferred onto the new Flex, and the only problem we had was putting the kayak up on top, and it wouldn’t go for some reason. We puzzled over why the hullivators refused to fold then realized we were too far forward and the ‘yak was hitting the roof of the house! So we backed up a couple feet and everything went back to normal. Oops!

Lacamas Lake is so pretty. I don’t know if there’s many fish to catch in it, but it’s fun to go out there and hang out either way.