The 2013 Lake Washington Trout Derby is in the books. This annual derby brought 86 anglers entered in this years derby, 26 anglers caught fish and entered at least one fish at the weigh-in. The 39 trout at the weigh-in ranged from 11.5 ounces to 3 pounds 0.5 ounces. To the best of our knowledge this is the first year kayaks have made up a portion of the competitors with 6 kayaks entered. Overall, a strong showing from the NWKA crowd. Both Brad and myself posted fish at the weigh in, with my fish good enough to take 4th place. Prizes went 6 places deep and I went home happy with a nice new reel. Here are the official results:
Ryan Fresn 3# 0.5 ounces $300
Richard McIntosh 2# 14 ounces $200
Tom Neu 2# 13 ounces $100
Todd Switzer 2# 12 ounces TICA Kokanee Reel
Fred Pearson 2# 12 ounces TICA Kokanee Rod
Ray Sanvold 2# 11.5 ounces Outdoor Emporium
$30 Gift Certificate
Gerhard Grauman 2# 8 ounces $50 Mystery Fish
Dylan Stanley 0# 11.5 ounces $50 Mystery Fish
The derby is an annual event put on by the Puget Sound Anglers of Lake Washington. The traditional method for fishing cutthroat trout on Lake Washington is to lower the presentation (plugs, lures or herring) down on the downrigger wire to just around the thermocline which is about 35 feet this time of year and motor along at 1.5 mph. This method isn’t too much fun in a kayak, and dragging a downrigger for hours at a time can get old fast.
Brad and I spent hundreds of hours on this fishery over the past 8 months and discovered that leadcore line is a lot more fun from a kayak for these fish. There is hardly any drag compared to a downrigger and you can change depths quickly, letting out line or reeling in as you change depths. It is also possible to change depths by speeding up or slowing down to let the line sink. We even get creative and flake the line down a slope and slow down to let it drop down a steep slope like a bait fish would return to the depths, or do the reverse and make the presentation ascent from the depths to shallower banks. The technique is tricky and cost us a lot of tackle along the way, but the results are worth it. We have landed a lot of really nice fish.
We’ve also realized that cutthroat trout don’t always hang out at the thermocline waiting for a meal to pass by. Although these fish are more comfortable in cool water, from 54 f and less, they can and will spent time in warmer water to hunt food. Brad even saw a group of about 10 of them hanging out together under a dock just a few feet under the surface with the water temps near 62 f a couple of days before this derby, as if they were a group of bass. It seems the more we learn about these fish the more interesting they become.
We hit the water at 630 in the morning on derby day, our earliest start ever. Typically we work this fishery during bankers hours about 10 to 3 and find the best bite of the day is around 1 pm. So we weren’t expecting too much early on. I rigged a large Apex to start with, sort of rainbow trout pattern with a lot of glow and some chartreuse beads at the end. I’ll admit it was an odd choice and a lure I have never caught a fish on it before. I just had a feeling it might appeal to some fish. 15 minutes into the day I marked a fish down at 38 feet and the angle of the slash on my meter told me it was probably a fish ascending from the depths for an early feed. I slowed my speed to let the leadcore line sink down to slowly started up again hoping to keep my presentation just above the fish. It worked and my rod doubled over hard and stayed there, I knew it was a good fish. A few minutes later and it was in the net, the hook set hard in the lower jaw. It had slammed that lure hard. The fish was a solid 21 inch fish, but it was long and lean not as thick as the fish we have been catching lately. At the weigh in it went 2 pounds 12 ounces, just 4.5 ounces from the first place fish and just a bit more the 5th place.
That would be my one and only fish for the day, I was blanked for the next 6 hours of effort. Brad got his first fish about an hour later on a Black Jack Brad’s Cut Plug Lure, then another about 2 hours after that, and his third and largest fish minutes later. He released his first two fish, both went over a pound and kept the largest that was closer to 2 pounds. Brad kept the faith in his lure choice while I switched between lures every 30 minutes hoping to hit on something they really liked. My strategy didn’t work out, but I got some practice tying on new gear really fast. I even went back to my first Apex during the middle of the day, and they weren’t interested.
The event was a lot of fun. We met friends Gerald (aka G-man) and John out on the water and exchanged information and several others at the weigh in. They had a grill going when we got there and some cold drinks on ice. They handed out prizes to everyone that entered, and a lot of us got useful lures or tools donated by the event sponsors, all the kids that entered got rod/reel combos and tackle boxes with some gear. The mood was light and everyone was there to exchange information and help each other out. We’ll be back next year, hopefully with even more kayaks!