Attention to Detail Pays Off for Anglers on Agency Lake
By Gary Lewis
Distant storm clouds filtered the afternoon sun. The wind blew a chop on the water and we squinted into the sunlit spray from the bow. A white pelican, wingtips lifted to catch the air, drifted ahead of us, riding the wind ten feet above the water.
It was Perry Parmelee's boat and his son Brent at the helm. A chance meeting at the launch and the offer of a ride had turned into a fishing trip on Agency Lake.
Brent cut the engine and we slid into the channel cut by a tributary.
I guess I'm somewhat of a skeptic. Some people talk a good line and you hear the stories of six to ten to twelve pound trout but you never see the evidence. I looked around and I could see that there wasn't anything frivolous about the boat I was riding in. Everything about it was there for just one reason. To catch fish.
It was a flat bottomed craft, good for working a lake that averages five to twelve feet in depth. Up front was a swivel chair and trolling motor. There was a live well in the middle beneath a bench. In back, an outboard motor delivered the 35 horses that pushed it all around.
Spoons were rigged to the rods. And the rods were seven to eight foot graphite spinning gear with reels to match, loaded with six pound test. But could they catch fish? More importantly, would I catch a fish? Perry and Brent had already fished for an hour by the time I joined them, we would fish for another. Maybe a little longer.
Perry cast a jig and Brent fished a spoon. I tried an olive damselfly larvae, a black woolly bugger and a minnow imitation. Perry had couple of strikes. I felt a tap ten feet from the boat but set the hook too fast. We talked about baseball and fishing and hunting and then played "who ya know" for a little while, both sides winning a hand.
Soon it was time to move and we found the mouth of another tributary and did it all over again.
I could tell Perry was getting ready to call it a day, but he was reluctant because, though we'd had some strikes, nobody had hooked a fish, not even a perch.
He put his rod down and took a sip of his drink. "Why don't you come up here to the front of the boat," he said. "You can really cast from up here." We were drifting with the current and I was casting to the far bank. Well not quite. "Really get it out there," Perry admonished.
It was starting to come back to me, what Denny Rickards had told me about fishing here. Use a leech pattern, weighted at the head; cast to the tules; use a short, hand-twist retrieve.
I broke off the fly I was using and knotted on a brown, weighted leech to my two pound tippet.
Cast to the tules. Twist. Twist. Twist. Fish on! I set the hook and the fish rolled beneath the surface, then dove, surging against the backbone of the rod, line peeling off the reel.
It came out of the water once and again, walking on his tail, shaking his head to dislodge the fly.
My leader held and when it was all over we measured the trout in the water before letting it kick away. At eighteen inches, it was a bit small by Klamath Basin standards but a pretty good fish as far as I was concerned.
Three to five pound rainbows are standard fare for Klamath Basin anglers but those who put their time in on the water will often catch much larger fish. Every year a few lucky anglers will boat big rainbows weighing up to twenty pounds.
I was fortunate to have a good fisherman to put me over the fish that day. And I'm convinced that the best way to learn a fishery is by starting out with someone who knows it already. Hiring a guide is probably the best place to start. For information about fishing Klamath Basin waters or hiring a guide you can call Darren Roe at Roe Outfitters – 541-884-3825.