You may of read my 2005 trip report (“A ‘Golden’ Kingfish”) where I caught the “Golden” Kingfish for that year and won an award for the best trip report. The following is the other report that I wrote in the hopes of winning another monetary prize for the best report during the year 2007.  (I came in second place this time.)

Bear, Deer and Dorothy Lakes   

Narrative Report               

6-30-2007 through 7-2-2007

Bear Lake camp near the outlet

As the end of June was approaching, I successfully opened up some time for a three-day trip just as the weather was clearing—destination still unknown.  I considered Rainbow Lake, up near Mason Lake, to photographically prove that those rainbows really did feast on salmonberries.  However, in looking at my trip report from 2004, I discovered that I was way too early because it was in September that I had gone before.  What to do?  Of course, I contacted our checkout lake Guru, Bill Henkel, and asked for his advice.  I explained that I had two nights available, didn’t want to drive a long way, wanted a lake at an accessible elevation for the time of year, and it would be nice to be at a checkout lake of some importance.  (A checkout lake is any lake that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wants specific information on regarding fish and habitat.)  He was so kind as we discussed several options.  After some further research, he suggested that Bear Lake, up near Lake Dorothy, would be a good checkout lake to go to.  I readily agreed because I already liked that area for its closeness and endless exploration opportunities.

Viable destination in hand, I e-mailed the following open invitation to members of the Hi-Lakers’ club to join me:

I have been able to arrange some mountain lake time, and with Bill’s help, I have decided to go to one of the checkout lakesBear Lake up by Lake Dorothy, which is SW of Skykomish.

I’m just putting it together, but I hope to leave in the morning (bummed I won’t be up there for the thunderstorms this afternoon).

I have two nights to explore and will come back Mon. am.  I previously have had good fishing before in Lake Dorothy and the surrounding area.

Come on up and join me for a night or twoor even for a day hike.  Riding with me is possible but potentially complicated due to probable work commitments on my way back into town.

Cell 425 503 ####      Radio channel 5-10

Sorry for the late notice.  It seems to be the way it works with me.  New members are especially welcome.

Don Wicklund

No one could commit.  That’s all right, I mused. I can get along with myself most of the time.  I packed well and reasonably light.  (Except for the two beers.) 

After slightly less than two hours of driving, I arrived at the trailhead at 9:30 a.m. to a few cars and a gorgeous morning.  As the sun rose over the snowy peaks, it cast a colorful morning light on the heavy mist rising from the trees as yesterday’s rain evaporated into the clear sky.

By the way, here’s a good trick for your trailhead’s pass—if you suffer from the same malady I do and can’t seem to keep track of it.  Upon purchase last summer, I made copies of it and wrote, “If this is displayed, it is because I have either lost my pass or left it in the other vehicle.”  I put a copy of this in each vehicle we own, and on this trip, it came in handy.  Although the cars in the parking lot were inspected for passes, I did not get a ticket.  Nice huh?  But I digress.  Soon two more cars came in, and (I kid you not) 14 elderly tourists emerged.

I take my time on the trail, especially with a pack on, and soon after beginning my trek, I was overtaken by lively chattering behind and let the long line of energetic and gracious travelers pass.  Still, I was pleasantly surprised to find it only took me 60 minutes to get to Lake Dorothy. 

I carefully cast my spinning lure into the lake’s shallows near the outlet, where I caught decent brookies on the first and fifth cast.  As I was repacking for the walk along the lake, an elderly gentleman and I had a conversation about fishing and bears.  He was especially fearful that he might encounter a bear at any moment.  I eased his worries as I explained that bears are more afraid of people than people should fear bears.  I went on to inform him that as long as he made some noise as he traveled through the woods that bears would run away.  He contemplated my words and exclaimed, “You have probably saved my life”! 

Then junior Rangers “Zack” and “Bill” came down to check for humans walking on forbidden human trails.  We introduced ourselves, and during the conversation, I inquired about the local campfire regulations.  They got that “deer in the headlights” look, and Zack managed to pull a crumpled paper from his pocket.  He pretended that it had valuable information and proclaimed no fires were allowed here on Lake Dorothy—but it was probably okay at Bear Lake.  That’s when I committed their names to memory.  I like fires and here was my permission!

Dorothy Lake is nearly one and one-half miles long.  The part of the trail along the lake seemed to go on and on, even though it only took one and one-quarter hours to get to the far corner of the lake.  Halfway along, I saw one fisherman at the base of a boulder field fussing with his gear.  Enjoying the view down toward the lake full of idyllic islands, I suddenly felt a shockingly painful prick on my thumb.  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something yellow.  I hollered out loud, jumped, and shook it off, thinking I just got stung by a bee.  Nope.  My lure had swung loose from my rod eye and a hook ended up extracting a small blood sample. 

As I crossed the second inlet stream, I spied only one 1-inch trout fry.  Just before the trail winds up the hill toward Bear Lake, I went and found a mossy corner of the bay to have lunch.  I watched the visitors milling about and various backpackers and day hikers trying to figure out where they were.  I caught one small brookie for the survey because—it’s what I do.  It used to be that I caught fish for the fun of it.  Now it has somehow warped into some odd sense of duty as well.  (Can you see me grinning?)

The following is a copy of Bob’s request regarding my proposed survey trip to Bear Lake.  (Bob was a member of the Hi-Laker’s club and an employee of the WDFW).  It is good information for those who do surveys for the club and the WDFW. It’s worth a review:

Don –

This is a hugely important survey.  You may (or may not) know that I put lake trout in that lake to try to control the stunted rainbow.  This is exactly the same test that was done on Pratt, just a different target species.  I have the baseline data on the lake in terms of gill net set cpue’s and fish meristics.  I am planning to do a trip up there in August or so to set gill nets in the same place as I set them before.

I am heading to Vancouver Island this weekend with my family, so I can’t join.

Here’s how you (all) can help: keep every single fish you can get your hands on, and 1) take a total length (nose tip to tail tip) accurately – preferably in mm); 2) weigh each fish as accurately as possible – to nearest gram if possible; 3) make some judgment about how much internal body fat there is in each fish (none, light, moderate, heavy – take some photos if possible of fish inside and outside); and 4) keep CLOSE track on your fishing time to at least the nearest quarter hour for angling catch per unit effort (cpue). It’s best to jot down “active” fishing time on a piece of scratch paper or datasheet to delete time when you are not actively fishing if it is significant – like untangling a bird’s nest (haha) or rafting a long ways before getting back at it.

Write down and or photograph everything that appears to be significant – dead fish, lethargy, or relative fighting quality, numbers of fry or spawners seen in the lake or inlets, etc.  Naturally, if you are so lucky as to catch a lake trout, PLEASE take photos of it, and do a biological workup.  Removing one or two of them for the scientific information they can provide is far more valuable than keeping all of them in the lake.  If you can keep one from spoiling into a soupy mess, try to bring one or two out on snow and I would love to examine it/them.

Talk to Henkel about how to catch lake trout.  Off the top, we had success both casting large spoons from shore into deep water (like Wobblerites), allowing them to sink, then retrieving at varying speeds, and I believe Bill also took one or two deep-trolling a wet fly.  I hope he chimes in here.  (Maybe by “Bill’s help,” you mean he is going along – that would be fantastic.)

Good luck and good data!

Bob P.

My mission clear, I climbed up another 800 feet in elevation and over the snowy pass. In one and one-half hours I found a camp at Bear Lake next to the outlet.  It was quite a brush beat along the lake. I felt fatigued and fished a couple of spots near the outlet and was pleased when I caught a nice rainbow right away that jumped multiple times.  His stomach was mostly full of very small flies.

I continued hiking around the lake, hoping for a more secluded spot near an inlet.  Snow remained in some areas, and my “post-holing” through the crusty snow made it tough going in places.  Those damn “surprise trees” kept me jumping.  You know, in the spring when the snow melts off from the bent saplings—their pent-up energy is suddenly released in an alarming burst of snow and branches that can really startle a weary hiker.  There are some lovely ponds back there, but the ground was either mushy wet or covered in snow.  After I broke through the snow into knee-deep water, I’d had enough.  I headed back to the safety of dry ground at the outlet camp at 4:30.  This is actually a very nice place with room for a tent, or in my case, a hammock.  There are nature’s stepping stones to cross the stream, a now newly rebuilt firepit, a nice view, a few mosquitoes, and too many small fornicating black flies.

With some simple forensic observation, it is easy to see that this campsite has been used for nearly 100 years.  Although campfires are allowed, many modern-day overzealous campers “think” that dismantling the fire ring and tossing the rocks about in the lake and nearby brush is doing some favor to the environment or the next camper.  I’d like to respectfully point out that, although their intentions may seem noble at the moment, the result is nasty black coal debris scattered throughout a camp because the fire ends up being built in different places.  Additionally, we end up with a multitude of black burned unnatural rock littering the nearby lake and haphazardly covering the nearby vegetation.  Then, the next guy tends to go pry up more rock from their natural place for their fire ring and the useless cycle continues.  What’s the point?!  I did as hundreds before me have done: I rebuilt a nice fire ring in the most used and most logical location.  Then I did the right thing and I LEFT IT when I was done, along with a pile of small firestarter wood for the next person.  Let’s quit this game of attempting to make an established campsite look unused.  It’s futile, damaging behavior, and it doesn’t work! 

I caught another rainbow, put it in the snow across the river, and had my chicken and rice with fresh store-bought shrimp for dinner.  I brought up the shrimp because that was great bait when ice fishing in Alaska in the eighties, and I always wanted to try it in Washington.  At about 7 p.m., with camp secured for the evening and a small signal fire going nicely, I began my float upon the lake amongst the occasional rises.  I tried various flies for a short while and decided I had better just catch a fish, so I switched back to a #6 Panther Martin spinning lure—gold with a black and yellow body.

Bear Lake camp

LAKE TROUT!  On the north end near the shore, I was taking in the last two feet of line to recast when the bugger seemed to come out from under the boat and took that lure “out to sea.”  I barely began to play it when I realized that this particular fish was primarily why I was here, and it was imperative to get it in the boat.  So I just hauled it in.  Even in the water, it was an odd catch—looking and acting more like an eel than a fish.  Since I didn’t take the time to get the garbage bag open, he landed in the boat.  I tried desperately to pin him to the floor with my feet.  There was no excited flopping about like an ordinary fish, mind you, just unusually slimy, lethargic writhing agony.  (Enough for both of us.)  It slimed everything like a slug—what a mess.  Still, I was pleased that I had accomplished the goal of catching a lake trout so soon in my trip.  It was 41 centimeters (16.25 inches) and a slim 477 grams (16.8 ounces.)

With the pressure off, I landed two smaller rainbows as dusk slowly followed the setting sun dipping below the western edge of the rotating earth.  The night was very dark with no moon and just a few stars.  Using my dying fire as a guide, I made landfall at 10:15.  In the dark, I worked hard to put the fish on snow and gather wood from amongst the thick brush across the stream for the morning.

Bear Lake rainbows and a lake trout

This first morning of July was reasonably warm and the air loud with the rippling sounds of the stream just 12 feet away.  I thought I had a good idea to put my baggie of leftover dinner in boiling water to heat for breakfast.  Bad idea.  It turned out not to work very well since the baggie melted to the bottom of the pan.  It was all good except for the plastic chunks. 

There were no rises at all this morning.  It seemed odd.  I threw everything I had at them from my Curtis raft at all depths, but this fishing for two hours in the dead calm water was futile—except for the one hit my lure while fishing near camp later in the morning.  During my second and less toxic breakfast, the sun was quickly warming everything it touched.  The rises began, and it occurred to me that perhaps because the water was still really quite cold this time of year, the fish and bugs were becoming more active as the water warmed near the surface.

Lake trout fat content

Lake trout stomach contents

I spent the late morning and early afternoon cleaning up, organizing, and writing most of the notes for this story.  I decided that I had better work up yesterday’s fish for the survey report.  I did a thorough job of documenting the length, weight, stomach contents, fat, male/female, etc., and got some excellent photos of all that gory stuff.  I noted that near camp were two swarms of tadpoles thicker than I had ever seen, and there were also several medium-sized brown frogs that I observed.  Putting the fish back in the snow across the stream for safekeeping, I was content that I had done my job.  I had a nice dinner of fresh rainbow trout to look forward to.  Suddenly, after having done all that intense detailing in an awkward position for over 90 minutes in the direct sun I felt quite overheated.  I wanted to fish Deer Lake, take a nap, and jump in the lake, all simultaneously.  I took a nap.

Late afternoon was chiller, with a light cloud cover and a mild breeze.  The flies were thicker and meaner than ever, and the fish were rising.  However, as soon as I got on the water the air cooled off and the fish seemed to quit feeding.  Deciding that this would be a good time to go and fish Deer Lake, I paddled over to the trail and carried my raft down in that direction.  Approaching the lake, I was surprised to come to an occupied camp that I would have to go through.  I cheerfully shouted, “Permission to enter camp.”  The person turned towards me, and right there was standing our club’s prestigious secretary, Ken Masel.  He hadn’t seen me as he passed by Bear Lake, so he settled at the inlet to Deer Lake.  It turned out we were camping only about 150 feet from each other.  It was very nice to see and talk with him.  While he enjoyed his dinner, I went and fished for one-half hour at Deer Lake with no luck. Then I did a cross-country bush-whack to get back up to where I was camped.  Later he came up to my camp, where we both unsuccessfully fished until dusk for another one of those lake trout.  Ken had a brand new boat with huge round sides and a bow like an icebreaker.  It is actually a one-person river raft that’s still relatively light and a good-looking craft as well.

In the morning, Ken arrived as I was finishing up my oatmeal.  I had a great laugh at his overnight story.  You see, his hammock was new to him.  Like mine, it is a Hennessey Hammock with an attached bug net and rain fly.  They are entered through the bottom and are very comfortable backpacking beds.  Well, (just like Dean), he had somehow rolled that thing during the night and had a heck of a time trying to exit out the bottom through what was now the top.  If only I had a video of that!

Ken started fishing while I packed up camp.  I saw him catch and release a couple of rainbows.  Unable to pry myself away from the lake, I stopped and caught one more small rainbow as I was walking out.  I added it to the bag of snow encompassing the precious lake trout and headed up the trail.  Hiking down to Dorothy Lake, I eyed the lake’s wave action intently.  The closer I got, the more favorable the winds became.  Resting at the water’s edge, I decided to just go for it. 

Some weeks before, I had developed a successful sailing method in my raft.  I took a 55-gallon garbage sack, then using my hiking poles for masts, I created a large sail.  With some practice, I could even angle my down-wind trajectory a surprising amount.  Hoping the erratic breeze would not turn against me, I set up my sail and fishing rod.  Then climbing into the boat, I rolled my pack from a rock onto my legs.  As I sailed across the lake, I trolled a spinning lure.  I ended up paddling quite a bit, and occasionally I would catch a nice breeze.  My error was going into a bay and too near the shore. I lollygagged there for an hour, catching and releasing three small brook trout.  During that time, the wind was rolling nicely straight toward my desired end of the lake.  But as soon as I rounded the point to sail again, the wind died down.  Then it turned.  I dropped my sail and awkwardly paddled against the mounting waves to gain shelter behind an island on the far side of the lake. 

However, fortune from difficulty arose as I caught a nice 13-inch cutthroat in a colorful island cove.  That made it four varieties of fish landed during this trip.  The island was fun to explore, and eventually I had calm waters to ply.  Wouldn’t you know it, just 100 feet from my destination the wind came back with a vengeance, but this time it was in my favor.  Had I had that velocity of wind throughout the day, I could have effortlessly sailed the entire lake in 40 minutes or less, instead of the four hours that it took.

After packing everything up in the now relentless wind, I quickly hiked down the giant human-made staircase of a trail to the truck in just 39 minutes.

Upon unpacking the fish at home, I was pleased to find that there was still snow in the fish bag and that no fish juices had leaked out onto my surrounding clothes.  I cleaned and surveyed that final rainbow and put it, along with the lake trout, in the freezer, ready for good presentation later for Bob’s inspection. He came over to the house about a week later.  Upon looking at the fish, some stomach contents, and my collection of pictures, he declared that his job was done.  He said that I had done all the right things with collecting the data and taking good detailed pictures, giving him a better understanding of the current conditions for fish at Bear Lake and its vicinity.  That made me feel good. 

So I ate ‘em.

The following is the actual trip report that I submitted to the club.

Trip Report:   Bear, Deer, and Dorothy

June 30, 2007 – July 2, 2007

In attendance: Don Wicklund and Ken Masel

Bear Lake, King T24N-R11E-15C/F Lat 47.5738 Long 121.3937. 06/30/2007 (Saturday), five rainbows (21cm-30cm avg. 25.2cm) One lake trout (41cm-41cm avg. 41cm) Good fishing, few fish rising, no fish cruising. Fish condition: thin, it seemed these fish were more on the thin side but without big heads. The fat content was low in all of them. All the rainbows jumped and danced excessively and I was surprised not to have lost any. Two rainbows were caught from shore at camp. Successful lures: spinners. I did try some dry and wet flies with no bites. I tried using fresh shrimp too. I concluded that after the water warmed up near the surface at about noon, the fish would start to feed (rise) and then mostly quit later as the air cooled. Stomach contents: larvae, surface insects, debris, Some tiny flies of some sort. Lots of chironomid pupae. Their stomachs were about 1/4 to 1/2 full. Sensitive species: Tadpoles. Is that a sensitive species? Many medium-sized brown frogs. Time: 2 days, 18 hours at the lake, 7.25 hours fishing. One angler in the party, three other anglers, 99 non-anglers. Lake Condition: clear. There were no non-anglers camping or frolicking at the lake, but many passed by on day hikes or were camping at other locations. Camp use light. Weather: partly cloudy, cloudy, clear, warm, calm, Excellent warm weather. Nicest with a good cloud cover on Sunday. Comments: I caught all these fish on a Panther Martin Gold spinning lure with a black and yellow spotted body. The lake trout and one rainbow were caught on a #15, and the other three rainbows were caught with a #6. Ken Masel was present a portion of this trip and caught fish, but none of his survey info is included in this report.

Please see the narrative for detailed information on this trip. 


LT41 cm477 gms
RB21 cm78 gms
RB23 cm118 gms
RB23 cm81 gms
RB29 cm158 gms
RB30 cm201 gms

Deer Lake, King T24N-R11E-15E Lat 47.571 Long 121.3994. 06/30/2007 (Saturday), Zilch fishing, no fish were rising, no fish cruising. Successful lures: unsuccessful spinners. Time: one hour at the lake, one-half hour fishing. One angler in the party, one other angler, zero non-anglers. Lake Condition: clear. There were probably many persons passing by along the trail that I did not see. Camp use: moderate. Weather: partly cloudy, clear, warm, hot, calm. I only saw one campsite, but there were probably more.

Dorothy Lake, King T24N-R11E-3K Lat 47.5865 Long 121.3831. 06/30/2007 (Saturday), One cutthroat (31cm-31cm avg 31cm) 6 EB (20cm-26cm avg 23cm) Fair fishing, few fish rising, no fish cruising. Fish condition: normal, fry observed. Saw one one-inch fry with par marks at the second inlet and one fry in the south lake shore. Successful lures: spinners, Stomach contents: None kept. Time: seven hours at the lake, two and one-half hours fishing. One angler in the party, one other angler, 25 non-anglers. Lake Condition: clear. If you have a boat and the wind is in your favor—set up a sail with a garbage bag and your hiking poles as I did. Camp use heavy. Weather: partly cloudy, cloudy, clear, windy, warm, calm, I don’t know the exact number of campsites, but there are quite a few—some up the hill from the water. There are two or three pit toilets.

CT31 cm 
EB20 cm78 gms
EB24 cm100 gms
EB26 cm102 gms