Plenty Of Trout Still At 2 Seattle Lakes

Who would have ever guessed that rowing very slowly around a lake all day would make a person so sore?

Not exactly a glowing endorsement for my pontoon boat’s manufacturer, I know, but it was worth it as I look back over this past weekend.

With the Missus and boys down south, I was able to spend much of Saturday and most of Sunday on a trio of Seattle lakes, catching and releasing over 30 rainbows and losing about half that many more.

I had my best luck at Green Lake — yes, that Green Lake, the one that people stroll/power walk/jog around in Seattle — in the rain yesterday, catching 18, but on Saturday, 11 came to the boat at Lake Ballinger, three at Echo Lake. Both of the latter two lakes are near the Shoreline Costco off Aurora.

Big fish at all three went about 14 inches; it was the first one I caught at Green and it nearly ripped the rod out of the boat, The Creek Company’s ODC XR 10 pontoon.

Two others were just under that mark while an 8-incher brought up the rear.

An olive Woolly Bugger did most of the damage, catching rainbows at all three lakes under sunny, overcast and raining skies, but a brown one performed well too while good ol’ Dick Nites in half-and-half and white-and-red yielded a handful at Green during a lull in the action.

While there was a whole pile of other boats trolling an array of gear at Ballinger — two guys in a raft dragging PowerBait had a pretty nice stringer going — there was only one other guy on the water at Green, a float tuber.

That guy claimed Green fishes best in the rain, and that’s what I found — good in the morning drizzle, slow around midday under just cloudy skies then better fishing when it began misting again. He caught a 16-incher on some sort of white fly that the fish destroyed.

Despite the lake’s reputation, the rainbows at Green are in beautiful shape, are chunky and most fought well while the fish at Ballinger might as well have been weeds as I reeled them in.

I worked around Green’s entire perimeter, and found fish near the bathhouse, along the north shore and in the bay by the boat rental, but the best area was south of Duck Island.

The water south of Ballinger’s island, the lake’s deepest, was also the most productive.

On Echo, it was the east side of the lake, from the dock with the blue canoe and pink Adirondack chair south 50 yards or so.

My setup at all three lakes was pretty simple: a 5-foot hank of 6-pound-test Pline leader behind an 1/8-ounce bullet weight and small barrel swivel on an ultralight trout rod.

My trolling speeds varied from just about dead as I worked the sharp dropoff on Echo’s east side to walking pace at Green to keep my setup out of the weeds. When I got home and looked up Green’s contours in my Lakes of Washington book, I was surprised to see that the water I’d primarily concentrated on was only between 10 and 15 feet deep.

From Green’s bank, there are all sorts of access points to plunk or fish with a bobber. Interestingly, though, I didn’t catch any fish while trolling in front of shore sitters.

That said, I was surprised so many fish were still available at Ballinger and Green, and I would guess that as long as it doesn’t heat up significantly, good fishing should continue at both.

Green has been planted with 21,000 8- to 12-inchers and 638 1.5-pounders, Ballinger with 5,000 catchables and Echo with 1,000 of the smaller rainbows.

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