Monday, November 22, 2010

Another perspective on the fishing

Al Adams one of our "regulars" sent this to me a couple of weeks ago and said I could share it.
In his words:
Our "guys trip" started many years ago (I take notes on all our trips now but the thought didn't occur to me early on). I think we started with 10 guys or so probably 20-25 years ago. The fishing was usually pretty lousy. I don't remember ever keeping many of the fish we caught. Usually we kept just the fish that would not have lived.
Over the years the fishing has been marginal at best as I have mentioned. Anyone who has come up here over the years can attest to that. We continued to come up because Ross Lake is truly an amazing, unique place. We surely would have been in BC salmon fishing if catching was our sole objective. This year was a different story. Our core group of guys dwindled to 3 this year. From barely daybreak to dark we were fishing. The really good news is we caught fish. And not in the typical way. We trolled sinking fly lines with flys. Large flys, size 6 hooks. We tried different patterns each day. We fished so close to the shore at times the inside rod had to be careful not to hit the rocks. We hooked a lot of fish! The pictures we took were only of fish that were at least 17". The largest was 21". On a side note - the weather was perfect. There was virtually no wind, all day, every day. Temperatures were in the high 60's in the afternoon. In fact it hit 71 degrees one day. Unbelievable! We have fished in snow storms in the past. To be able to wear t-shirts in October at Ross Lake was weird to say the least. By the way, we also caught two bull trout- probably would have gone 21+". I think I've caught two bull trout in all the 50 trips I've made to Ross over the years. With one exception, we released all the fish we caught. I would encourage everyone else to do the same. I would love to have to buy 10 lb. tippit material next year.

Al Adams
Eric Brewe
Ken Brewe

The old mans comment:
I would also like to come clean and say I have been one of those fly guys for some time. I personally have no use for that "pop gear" and when some of our guests started to dial in fishing the lake with flys I started to pay attention and I mean "what work" I have to go fishing kind of attention and I must say I fished Ross Lake more this last season than I have in the past 30 years combined and I had a blast! All I can say is stay tuned. If I'm not here to greet anyone next year I'll probably be out fishin.

Winter at the Lake

I think winter has arrived. Right now its 15 degrees F. and the wind is blowing out of Ruby Arm at 20 plus MPH. That makes wind chill at about -19 degrees. Yup its cold. Thank goodness we only have these events about once a year and this one is suppose to break in a couple of days. About all you want to do is hunker down and keep the wood stove burning. I did get out for awhile yesterday and had a nice walkabout behind the resort. Its fun to see all the tracks in the fresh snow. Saw Deer, Bobcat and there is still a Bear out and about who I'm sure won't stay out much longer in this weather

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cold, Clear Water!

Think historically of the Cascade Range and you think of logging. Over the last 100+ years virtually every acre of public land has been logged - except for those areas that were economically not profitable to harvest. Some of that remaining land was the basis for the creation of the National Park and wilderness systems. Today, many leading scientists and former officials of the U.S. Forest Service recognize that the number one ecosystem service of public lands, will not be timber harvesting or grazing, but the year round availability and slow release of clean water.

©Paul Anderson

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Catch and Release?

Editors Note:  I've broached the subject of catch and release above a certain size as a possible means of enabling the wild Ross Lake Rainbows to flourish and create a trophy fishery.  Amongst fly fishermen catch and release is a common practice.

Congrats to those of you that caught these big fish.  Remember how just a few years ago we were scratching our heads hoping to catch a 13 incher?  So we would really like some feedback from many of you about implementing a voluntary program next season?

Would you provide feedback please.  We want to keep this as totally transparent as possible with all of you Sportsmen getting involved with your ideas.

thanks - Paul

From Josh Runestadt

Hey Paul,
I agree with your sentiment about Ross Lake being a special place! My family used to make trips yearly when I was younger and have only just started returning (this being the second year in a row).

I am a flyfishing junkie and fish catch and release always unless I catch a hatchery Salmon or Steelhead. I would totally support Ross Lake being Catch and Release. Ross Lake could probably turn into a real trophy fishery.

I do understand campers wanting to keep a fish for the fry pan, but I do cringe a little when I hear people talking about how big and how many of those recovering wild rainbows they caught and brought home.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

High Dynamic Range Photo of Ross Lake

©Paul Anderson

Sustainability of Large Wild Ross Lake Rainbows

I don't know quite how to broach this subject because I don't want to upset anyone, but I know that the people that come up and stay at Ross Lake Resort year after year after year do so because they love this resort, love the lake and love the surrounding mountains, so  I will bring this to a discussion level that anyone may want to participate in.

This year has been an incredible year for fishermen on Ross Lake - everyone seems to be very happy.

Wild Ross Lake Rainbows over the last 5 years have grown from an average size of 12 -13 inches to 14 to an average now of 15 or more inches.

Many large fish have been caught.  Including a 25"+.  I saw and photographed some beauts.  I applauded and celebrated with you for catching those trophy Wild Ross Lake Rainbows because I know that you have fished here for a number of years when it was lean.

But you still came back because of your love for Ross Lake, the Resort, and the North Cascades.

No one knows - the best fishermen, scientists, Fish & Game, National Park Service, and most certainly not me - what the sustainability of these large Wild Ross Lake Rainbows is going to be if we continue to harvest them in the years ahead.

So I throw out to you - the Ross Lake Fishing Community:  Should we as a fishing community, friends who have been coming here year after year through good fishing and lean years, open the discussion and look at a voluntary program of catch and release on these large Wild Ross Lake Rainbows?

Before it becomes a sustainability issue.

Before scientists make a recommendation.

Before Fish and Game or any agency feels it is necessary to regulate further?

I think as Sportsmen we all know what that answer is or should be.

I think it is a golden opportunity to do something special for an area we love so much. a payback for what was given to us.

Again I applaud each of us that have hooked or netted these beautiful large Wild Ross Lake Rainbows.

Maybe if we do this small but significant gesture, Ross Lake will become known for the large Wild Ross Lake Rainbows for years to come.

I look forward to a discussion with anyone that has an opinion, trollers, fly fishermen, die-hards, professionals, once a year people.

Send your feedback to

Thursday, September 30, 2010

News Flash-News Flash-News Flash-News Flash

A huge wild Ross Lake Rainbow was caught this week.

25 inch +!

More info with photo soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

North Seattle, Bothell, Kenmore, Shoreline and Issaquah!

The guys from North Seattle have been coming to Ross Lake for 23 years now and enjoy each others company, catching the Wild Ross Lake Rainbows, eating fine meals and relaxing under the high peaks of the North Cascades.

Mike Pearce on left, and Paul Olson on right display a couple of their cleaned Wild Ross Lake Rainbows just before heading over to the their groups Salmon BBQ.

Salmon marinated in garlic infused teriyaki and cooked on a cedar plank was on the menu prepared by Eric Lindstrom and Greg Fink. Notice how the smoke from the coals and the cedar plank waft around the salmon and permeates flavor deep into the flesh.

HEEEY!! Whaddchaw Catch Those Fish With Buddy, U Can Tell Me!

Odin Barnett, son of Allison and Jerry Barnett, spent the summer on the boat dock cleaning, fueling, running canoes and boats up lake and learning the resort business from one of the best in the industry - his cousin Tom Barnett.

All these lures were left in the boats and fell out when Odin cleaned them. So, what are people using for lures?  Well, this is an unscientific sampling but it includes Bingo Bugs, Dick Nites, Needlefish, Rapalas, Buzz Bombs, Tomics and several other varieties.

All of you have kept Odin and his 11 year old brother Bode stocked with lures.  Thanks!

Bode is a fishing machine and has recently started using a fly rod!

I asked Odin if he had any tips for the guests?  "Nah, everyone is really cool. I guess if there was one thing I would say is that when they start up lake on that 1st boat ride they look out at those walls and just let their stress ooze away."

"They are on a vacation in a really beautiful and special place here on Ross Lake and in the North Cascades."

A Guys Guy - Doug Horton

all photos this post © Paul K. Anderson

Doug is a Ross Lake friend I enjoy seeing every September.  Excellent fly fisherman, fly-tier, flyfishing model, superb cook.

Doug comes up for a week and when he isn't out stalking the Wild Ross Lake Rainbow or tying his latest steelhead pattern preparing for his trip to B.C. you may find him cooking for Tom, Carol and the staff.

This night it was pot roast marinated in red wine and secret spices, seared with his special coating of flour and secret spices and then slow cooked in a mirepoix with tomatoes, the red wine marinade, garlic, pepper, some more red wine and maybe some red wine.

I heard a noise, looked and saw the mayor and his councilmen pressing their quivering noses against the window, standing in the rain holding up their Wild Ross Lake Rainbows and a bottle of red wine as an offering for a slice of the pot roast. (1 councilman even held up a sorry looking can of Bud Lite - ---    pffffttttt!) alright I used a little literary freedom here I guess  - but it could have happened!

Geeze guys cmon - show some dignity- try bribing with a bottle of single malt and maybe a bottle of truffle oil, or a thick slab of foie gras - Hey for that I'll at least introduce you to Doug and let the rest be up to you!

As Doug put the lid back on the dutch oven he looked over and said "Paul, you should have been there for the mayors party - it was a blast......"


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ruby Creek Art

Andy Goldsworthy is one of my favorite artists.  His works are created from the natural materials found in the immediate environment.  Many of his outdoor installations are fleeting -  lasting until the turn of the tide, the next gust of wind, spring floods, or until the relentless, inevitable pull of gravity takes over and reconfigures the work.

We visited the area where many artists before have stacked the river rock into their own installations.

The base of a large cairn that the teenagers assembled last year was still intact.

Here is a link to an incredible artist.  His books can be purchased at Village Books in Bellingham - my local and favorite bookstore.

Support your local artists, support your local bookstores.

All photos this post ©Paul K. Anderson

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meet Andy and Tamara Bennett

Every time I visit Ross Lake Resort I meet interesting and really nice people. I suppose it is normal that people on vacation are relaxed and friendly but there is something about this resort that generates a sense relaxation or peace that I don't find other places.

Maybe it is the uniqueness and history of the floating cabins, or sitting in the middle of the North Cascades, or knowing so many of the guests that keep coming back year after year.  Maybe it's the adventure of getting here - not all that difficult but certainly a different experience - being so close to the metro areas of Seattle and Vancouver B.C.

This trip is no different.  Strolling down the dock I met Tamara and Andy Bennett from Seattle.  They were sitting out in front of their cabin enjoying their time together sitting in the adirondack chairs reading by candlelight in the deep, deep twilight of this North Cascades evening.

We started talking and I discovered that Andy is a blogger on several sites of his own.

Andy owns and operates 4 fishing lodges in Alaska, British Columbia, the Bahamas and Chili through his company Deneki Outdoors

Check out his website and blog on he has a good blog going and also is an excellent photographer.

Good writing, good photography, good fishing advice and tips!  Can't get much better than that.

Glad to meet you Tamara and Andy!

I plan on reading your blog regularly.

Meet Andy Cassady

Want to meet a good fisherman?  Meet Andy!

Andy is a commercial fisherman I posted about when he was visiting Ross Lake Resort this past July.

He fishes in Alaskan waters commercially for salmon and off of the coast of California for squid.

On his time off he visits Ross and catches huge Wild Ross Lake Rainbows.

Andy fly fishes his own flies - a simulation of the red sided shiner.  He trolls them in shallow water very close to shore with line stripped almost all the way out.

He reminds me a bit of the character Gus Orviston in David James Duncan's book The River Why.

Andy's a guy I would like my 16 year old who is just learning to fish to follow for a day to pick up some of his skills but more importantly his passion for this wonderful sport of Angling.

photos this post courtesy of Ross Lake Resort

A Small Visit to Ruby Arm

click photos to enlarge  all photos this post © Paul K Anderson

Skagit River near NCNP Visitor's Center in Newhalem

click photo to enlarge - all photos this post © Paul K. Anderson

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rockfall on Highway 20

A Penguin walks into a Bar and the Chimpanzee Says...........

We arrived Thursday afternoon and it was beautiful.  Recent rains had waterfalls at levels suggestive of spring, not the banal trickles of late summer.  Mosses and lichens on the hillsides were green instead of the brown, desiccated look of the typical late summer.

After greeting all the friends/guests from years past in nearby cabins we began to hear talk.




The self proclaimed mayor of Ross Lake and his crew counsel had hosted an evening, the night before, for all guests of the resort and staff to meet at an appointed hour and eat red meat (or wild Ross Lake Rainbows if you chose), drink, tell lies, occasionally swear, and generally let their collective hairs down.

As I walked past cabin after cabin everyone who was a guest on Wednesday came out, greeted me and then said "Paul! You have got to go down to the counsel chambers and meet the mayor!"

This from people I've know to be stoic, normal, tea totalers!

So! I did.  Sort of.

First I had to meet the deputy mayor pictured above on the right.  He then tested me to see if I was mayor worthy.

I was tested with a taste of 18 year old Irish Whiskey, then ordered to come up with a joke to tell - I did - the one about a penguin who is driving across the desert and his car breaks down...........

I passed with flying colors and was escorted into the bunkhouse inner chambers to meet the mayor.

Cameras were not allowed in counsel chambers.

But soon the mayor invited me back outside on a political junket and showed me what they had just gotten back from doing.

As I stood there admiring their catch the guests from the bunkhouse next to counsel chambers stepped out, greeted me and said "Paul you should have been here last night!"


Here was a group of Cougars who obviously were straight laced and would never have been caught dead at the Coug at Pullman telling me I missed something special. Hearing their recollections from the the night before, the evening

was obviously an amalgamation for these Coug's of "The Big Chill" and possibly "Summer Vacation with the Griswolds"!  

The mayor stood guard in the background. Ensuring no obvious fabrications of the truth or for the matter the truth itself was released for public consumption.

All I can say is that I had an excellent time meeting politicians and Coug's.  And before we headed back to our cabin the mayor threw his arms around us and said "same time next year."

I walked back by the office and saw Tom sitting outside and sat down with him. Hoping to discuss some photo projects he would like to see. Tom pondered the question for a moment and replied "Man Paul, you should have been here last night - the mayor hosted a party..............


I walked back to my cabin and the resort seemed to be listing a bit.

It was a long, lonely walk.  No one was out in the adirondack chairs to greet me. To guide me.

They had all gone to bed early.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Oh, and did you hear the one about the Husky and Coug who ran head on into each other on Snoqualmie Pass and the Coug says to the Husky..........................

my view after meeting the mayor

another view after meeting the mayor - he bought my vote!