Hit Rufus in search of some big trout, and we found them. Started the day at 7:30, after 30 mins of fishing, we found the fish and had nonstop action. Fished all day pulling rapala’s and rippin minnows. Biggest trout was pushing 9lbs, smallest was just under 4lbs. Tons of trout, a bonus walleye and a bonus whitefish.
EXCESSIVELY LONG REPORT:
Well NWFR, I have to say it’s great to be posting, because that means I was back from college in smoggy/congested/overpopulated Los Angeles and hitting the water! This report encompasses some of the story and journey of the trip as well as the fishing, with some commentary mixed in and some discussion after, so thank you for reading, its certainly very long and is a lot to read. I should start this report by saying, if you want to just read about fishing, skip the first two paragraphs….A few months ago, I got a message from Keith Jensen (simply one of the greatest guides ever) saying there was a really great fishery I should try, and he had some spots open in early March. If Keith said it was worth it, I knew it was going to be great. So, I scheduled a trip for the end of my college break to go slay some trout on Rufus woods.
Friday Morning, I wake up to the delicious smell of homemade coffee cake baking in the oven (thanks mom I love you). There is nothing like a warm slice of coffee cake, some fruit, and a couple eggs for breakfast. After such a delicious meal, my dad finished some errands while I packed the truck and we set off for Rufus, stopping at Grandma and Grandpa’s for some lunch along the way. We rolled into Coulee City around 6 and got a room at the Ala Cozy motel, then headed for Grand Coulee, Electric City, and Coulee dam to see some sights and grab dinner. After that episode, we headed back and hit the sack early.
5:00AM the alarm goes off and we, got out of bed, put our gear on, and met Keith at Big Wally’s (the Shell gas station and shop in Coulee City on the shores of Banks Lake). We followed Keith up to the launch, and were on the water just after 7. Our first run was 3 minutes from the launch downstream, where we began our troll hugging the north shoreline (the lake decline is incredibly steep, so we were 10 ft from the shoreline in many places) in about 8-20 FOW. We trolled against the current (which is shockingly strong in Rufus) going about 2mph.
Rods lamiglass tournament kokanee 7’6”/8’ with 8# p-line (keith’s)/10# trilene (mine)
Rod 1: diving Rapala perch color plug set 100’ back
Rod 2: Cultiva Rippin’ minnow brown/gold set 120’ back
about 30 minutes into the troll, rod 1 gets hammered! after a great fight, a 4lb trout is on the deck. At this point, I’m ecstatic. A 21” rainbow gets you excited I don’t care who you are! Oh man I was pumped. We threw that beauty in the box, circled around, and went through the same area again. Just like magic, another huge takedown at the same spot, and a 4.5 lb trout in the box. Circle again, another one! And another one! So in 20 minutes, we had 4 fish all 3.5-6 lbs in the box, released one that was about 3lbs, had lost 3 (one dandy at the boat who is now swimming around with a crankbait in his mouth), and missed 2 smacks on the lure. It was nuts. After pulling in 4 fish, I noticed a surprising pattern: almost all of them were missing fins. All of the big fish we were catching were hatchery, so they were all adipose clipped, but many of them were missing pectoral and pelvic fins. I asked Keith what this was, thinking maybe they were being attacked by some super aggressive walleye fighting for food or something. Keith said it actually happens in the net pens before they were released, catching them on the pens due to being packed with other fish, and some aggressiveness by the fish. I was surprised, but it did make sense…. It was very interesting.
With one more pass through that same area, we picked up another 4 lb trout and released a few smaller ones. When we arrived at the net pens, we saw lots of walleye angers jigging in hopes of some gold, but we didn’t see too many hookups. We ran one pass through the center of the lake and caught a few smaller fish, then headed back to restart the troll. Keith switched the perch Rapala for a brown/gold one and within 5 minutes, I notice a tick on that rod, so I wait a second and it loads up, interesting bite, but fish on! I passed the pole to dad, who was taking a lunch break, and I get the net ready. My dad is not a fisherman. We have a pact together that goes as follows: I catch, clean, and cook the fish, and he eats them. (can you imagine a better deal!). while he is reeling in this fish, he says “it just feels like I am reeling in deadweight. I look about 35 feet behind the boat and say, “that’s a walleye, and a darn good one!” upon hearing this news, Keith jumped up and says “no way”, then he saw the color. WE STRUCK RUFUS WOODS GOLD”. My dad brings in a walleye pushing 20” and we throw the beauty in the box. Keith was shocked we caught a walleye pulling plugs in heavy current, with a water temp of 36. It was super awesome to see Keith so excited… by far one of the best highlights of the trip. We put the line back out and 30 second later, WHAM!!!! An absolute monster hits. I grab the rod, and the fish screams 40 feet of line off the spool. THIS WAS IT! THIS WAS THE FISH! After a fantastic run, I try to gain line back, and I simply can't. I tried to pump the rod, but every time I lifted the rod after I had reeled down, I lost all the line I gained, and I couldn’t tighten the drag because we were using 8lb test! 5 minutes into the fight, my dad says “how long is this fight going to be?”. By that point I had 80 feet of line out on the counter. Finally, the fish tired out and worked him into the net. IT WAS A PIG. He tipped the scales at 8.53 pounds. MISSION ACOMPLISHED. That was my biggest trout ever. What a fish.
After that fish, we made a couple more passes and caught some smaller fish, then decided to head to a little current break and bottom bounce for some walleye. We spent about 45 minutes doing this, caught a nice whitefish, then called it a day. it couldn’t have been better.
We went back to the launch, loaded the fish, got our fish checked by the tribal fish and wildlife officer (for their data purposes) then went to work fileting these beauties. The trout had a beautiful pink flesh, and let me tell you they were delicious. There was a dad and two kids fishing with powerbait at the launch, and they were practicing catch and release, which is against the rules. Someone saw and called the warden, who came down to find, he had no licence, no tribal permit (needed to fish the tribal shore of the river), and him and his sons had all kept 3 fish already. Things got ugly for a while, and that is always sad to see. The man’s fish and gear were confiscated and I heard there was a $1600 fine. Glad someone reported a poacher and that man paid the price for breaking the law. While the wardens were there, they checked everyone’s licenses, another reminder to always have your license with you!
All in all one of the best days on the water ever. Keith is one heck of a guide and a great person too.
If you want to contact Keith, Contact Big Wally’s Guide Service at 509-770-8318
Or [email protected] I recommend you do, and tell him Paul says hello! He is also a guide on the site, his tag is bigwallysgs I think.
Thank you for reading and tight lines to all.
Trips like this and people like Keith remind me of how lucky I am to get to fish. There is truly nothing more thrilling, calming, adrenaline-inducing, and relaxing (yes, that is absolutely an oxymoronic sentence, but it’s true!). This trip was another reminder of my passion for this sport and my want to make a career out of it. I am hoping to find an internship or job in the industry for a month or two this summer, so I can really get a feel for what this industry is all about. From guiding or deck handing, to marketing lures, to retail, to repair shops, there is almost no end to the potential in this industry! Thanks again for reading and tight lines!