Trophy Trout Guide


Pend Oreille Revisited, Fall 2005


Beautiful Pend Oreille sunsetIt seemed like it couldn't get here fast enough, and then it flew by when it did. Isn't that how most vacations or special trips go? I waited forever for it to get here and then it was over so fast, my head was spinning. It seems that I am never ready to leave Lake Pend Oreille even after a 10 day stay. The lake, and the super strain of monster gerrard rainbows that inhabit it, are magical to me. The fact that we planned on filming for a DVD this year made the whole proposition that much more dreamy.

We had a great cast of characters led off by Jim Bringhurst. Jim is a trophy trout angler with some incredible credentials. To start with, he will, in all probability, end up at the top of the brownbagger list that currently stands at 34 brown trout over 10 Lb. That position is held by Rich Reinwald (at one time the premiere guide on Pend Oreille). Since Rich doesn't fish much anymore, Jim should pass him within the next few years. His current record stands at 32 browns over 10 Lb. including his biggest brown, a giant hen from Flaming Gorge that tipped the scales at 26 Lb. even. He also has several rainbows from Pend Oreille including fish of 17, 20, 21 and 23 Lb. His biggest laker is a 34.5 Lb. specimen from Flaming Gorge, UT.

Fishing with Jim in his boat was my good buddy John "Dink" Werwie. His credentials are also very impressive. His biggest brown went 17 Lb. and change and was close to the lake record that will remain nameless to protect the fishery. John's last brown over 10 was in the late 80's but he did manage to catch 5 over 10 Lb. during a 5 year stretch. He has also caught lakers over 20 Lb. and last year on our trip to the "Pond" he broke the 10 Lb. mark for his biggest rainbow to date.

Gary with an 11.5 pound rainbowAnother good friend and owner of Shasta Tackle Co., Gary Miralles, joined us to be part of the video and to get a little time off from his busy schedule. He runs a very successful tackle business along with being the premiere guide on Lake Shasta and is also the rep. for Walker Downriggers for the Western United States. This was Gary's first time fishing the lake.

Rounding out the rest of the crew was my favorite web guy, Mark, and myself. My old high school buddy John Dennington (John lives in Sandpoint, Id. a couple of miles above the lake) joined us in my boat after Gary left for home, midweek.

Cabinet MountainsThe Halloween Derby had produced a winning kam that weighed in at 24 Lb. 10 oz. the week before, so we were pumped up to the possibility of nailing one of the 20 Lb. kams and getting it all on film. Mark and I had decided just this fall to get our feet wet with a video about several trophy trout anglers heading up to the lake in prime time to hook up with one of the monster rainbows that have made this lake world famous. The two best windows of the year are April and May in the spring and Oct. and Nov. in the fall when the water temps reach the 50 degree mark.

I have to thank Pond Oreille Shores Resort for the plush accommodations they supplied for our shoot. Check them out at (208) 264-5828. It was a wonderful setting at the back of Ellisport Bay and we had convenient boat slips right in front of our unit.

This place is magical!We arrived Fri. afternoon with just enough time to launch our boats and get them ready for the morning drill. This lake is so big (42 miles long by 6 miles wide and over 1100 feet deep) that a very unusual method is employed in fishing this lake, at least here on the West Coast. Large planer boards are used to carry a dacron line from a mast on the boat to the board. The boards, which have angled edges on the face of them, can carry lines out to 150 feet from the boat. The masts have large reels much like a fishing reel and usually carry 150-200 feet of 150 Lb. test dacron. Fishing lures are released behind the boat in the traditional manner but are then attached to a planer board release (miniature downrigger release on a metal shower curtain ring) that is connected to the board line and will carry the fishing line and release out and down the board line to a position on that line where you want to stop. With this system, you can have as many as four fishing lines at various positions (maybe 20 feet apart) on the board line for that side of the boat. With 4 guys in the boat and 2 rod stamps per angler, you can troll down the lake with 8 lines and lures covering 150 feet on each side of the boat for a total of 100 yards of water being covered. What an amazingly effective technique!

One of the standard lure selections and maybe the most productive for big fish on this lake consists of specially tied streamer flies with stinger hooks in both bucktail and polar bear hair. One of the favorite coined phrases for this method is called "pulling hair." Other effective lures are Apexes, Stingkings, Lymans, A/C Plugs and J-13 Rapalas to name a few. We did try most of them before the trip ended.

Gordon Hahn with his beautiful 19lb 10oz kamA couple of other brownbagger buddies, Gordon and Ed "Pops" Hahn, had arrived the week before us and did really well nailing kams of 10, 13 and 19 Lb. 10 oz. We were elated at the possibilities of getting a good kam on film.

The first couple of days were productive on kams but nothing of any size. I think it was Monday morning and we were heading out across mid-lake toward the Monarchs when Gary's rod went off. He was dragging a Halloween pattern fly (black, orange and gold) that was given to me earlier that morning by a local at the ramp. Good thing for us, as that turned out to be the biggest rainbow of our trip.

She didn't put up as much fight as we expected, but we soon learned why. She had recently spawned and it was very apparent. This is fairly unusual because most rainbows are spring spawners though a small percentage can and do spawn in the fall. She measured close to 32 in. and probably would have weighed a couple of pounds more a little earlier in the year. It was Gary's biggest native rainbow to date.

8 pound mackOn Wednesday, I hooked up on a nice rainbow of 6 Lb. Then Mark got into the act by hooking up on a laker off the top on a custom painted Husky 13 Rapala. Though we weren't looking for lakers at all, it was exciting to get into a little better fish than the majority of dink rainbows we had been seeing.


November sunsetThe week ended on Friday with around 50 rainbows up to 11.5 Lb. coming to my boat. Jim and John didn't fair quite as well and their biggest rainbow was in the 4 Lb. range. Thurs. evening was probably the best bite we had going with 6 fish in 2 hours for John Dennington and myself. I think a 4 Lb. fish was tops for the evening. We did have a little excitement when John's rod went off to a good strike with the drag screaming for 10 seconds and then " nobody home". We ended up with 9 fish total for the day and our most productive day for sure. It was a beautiful evening with a sunset to remember!

Friday was a big blow day with wind all day that kept us at the north end of the lake. In fact, it was so windy that 2-3 foot swells turned our planer boards over twice. This causes them to dive and tangles lines and causes a mess that is unbelievable, to say the least. This would be the down side to fishing with planer boards.

30" of snowWith 3.5 hours on tape including the first ever "planer board cam shots" we are not sure what we will do with the footage we have right now. We may be going back up next year to get that big Kam footage we need to produce the video we had in mind. Stay tuned for further developments. We are already planing at least two more video trips for next year and maybe more down the line. I will keep you posted as things take shape.

Tight Lines, Rick


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