The best body of water I ever fished was a small lake in Eastern Washington called Spearfish Lake. It is located near the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. The lake is about 400 yards long by 200 yards wide and surrounded by sagebrush, without a tree in sight. The Columbia River is just a short walk away where you can see tugboats and barges entering and exiting the locks at the dam.
The lake was about two hours away from where I used to live in the Yakima Valley. My uncle was the first to discover it and it quickly became the fishing destination for my entire family on opening day of fishing season. When that day came several of my aunts, uncles and cousins, along with my mom, dad and I would get up at 1:30 AM and take off in a convoy, over Satus Pass, to the promised lake. We left early to make sure we could get there just before daybreak, because that was the best time to catch lunker trout. We also wanted to get to our favorite spot, next to a large rock, before somebody else got there first. As soon as the sky showed the first traces of light the fishing was on.
Sometimes it was too windy to fish, with the wind howling through the Columbia Gorge so hard we could not cast our lines. Other times it was so cold we didn’t want to get out of the car, but we did anyway. And there were other times when it was so hot we all hid in what little shade we could find. Most of the time we caught fish. And many times we caught lunker trout. The biggest Rainbow Trout I ever caught was from Spearfish Lake and it weighed ten pounds. The biggest trout that I saw caught out of that lake was fourteen pounds. It was caught by my uncle, the one who discovered the lake. Another time my dad caught one about the same size but didn’t have a scale big enough to weigh it. Every year on opening day of fishing season, if we could get our line in the water, one of us caught at least one big trout.
Everybody who used bait would usually catch their limit in a couple of hours. The average size caught with bait was around ten to twelve inches. However, I was always after the big ones so I used lures. My favorite lure was a Blue Fox Spoon which has a orange plastic egg cluster in the middle of it. This lure I called “killer”. I caught many big trout on that lure.
There was another reason why we always had to be at the lake before daybreak. Although the fishing was great at dawn and we could sometimes catch a fish every five or six casts, usually by around 8:00 AM the fish would suddenly stop biting. However, by this time we all caught fish, and most of us caught our limits.
When the fishing was over we would all pile in our cars and head home. Then all my aunts, uncles and cousins, even those who didn’t go fishing, would show up at my house and we would all have a fish fry. We spent the rest of the day eating some of our catch, telling fish stories, and planning our next fishing trip.
Over the years we stopped going to Spearfish Lake on opening day as a big group. The last time I was there was five years ago with my dad and brother. For me the reason Spearfish Lake is the best body of water I ever fished is not only because of the lunker trout, it is also because of the family memories it created.