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Rock Lake Report
Whitman County, WA

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02/20/2018
Rainbow Trout
Afternoon
02/20/2018
3
4007

We decided a couple of days ago to try Rock Lake for the first time and began hearing about basalt columns just under the surface in multiple locations throughout the lake. We checked out all the sources on the internet about the lake and its hazards including a good discussion on NWFR. There were also warnings about the unimproved launch. Several videos on Utube showed some days of fantastic fishing on Rock so I went to bed bent on going to Rock Lake today. Not surprising it was not a good nights sleep as I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, especially on a sub freezing day.

An early morning dental appointment kept us from an early start. We were discussing just going to Sprague Lake enroute but the last couple of cold days had Sprague entirely frozen over. Nature made the decision for us so off to Rock we rolled. Water visibility at the launch was limited but it looked like it dropped off quick enough. We had no difficulty launching and were able to get close enough to shore just right of the launch to pick up Al.

We went only a couple hundred yards and began trolling flickershads and an Old Goat Lure. The lake is 8 miles long and over 300 feet deep in places and initially we stayed as far away from both shorelines as possible with a constant gaze on the sonar and one hand on the throttle. After 90 minutes without a twitch we pulled the gear up and headed to the North end. I stayed in the middle of the lake and gradually increased speed although the fear of these basalt columns never left my mind.

Put the gear back out and it took only a few minutes to hook a very small brown trout followed shortly by a small rainbow, both on an orange OGL. We trolled back down lake and worked shallower water and along deep drop offs. We C&R 6 more rainbows during the afternoon. 4 were 16-17 inches and the others smaller. One on an orange Kekeda fly and the rest on the orange and perch OGLs. We used 1/4-1/2 ounce weights with speed 2.0-2.4 MPH. We marked a fair number of fish 20-40 feet down but heavier weights did not yield any fish for us. We saw a few of the basalt columns rise up rather quickly when we were in water less than 60 feet and one came within 3 feet of the surface. At trolling speed I had time to alter course since I never took my eyes off the sonar for long.

We were able to get my 18 foot Lund out of the water without difficulty but I would not have wanted to try it without 4 WD.

I apologize for the lengthy report but wanted to share my first time concerns and experience at Rock Lake. We didn't sink the boat and the launch was useable, therefore it was a great day on the water on a cold day and after a dental appointment!


Comments

T-Bone
2/21/2018 6:32:00 AM
Nice report...Thank you and you answered my personal interest on the ice situation at Sprague Lake.
weld22
2/21/2018 7:58:36 AM
Thanks for a great report. Is an 18 footer about as big as you would want to try retrieving on the launch? thanks
fishindoc
2/22/2018 8:01:49 AM
With the lack of water visibility hard to guess. I suspect water level plays a big role. A friend has seen larger boats on the lake.
SPAWN.TILL.YOU.DIE
2/28/2018 7:51:32 AM
In high water all but the largest boats are launchable here. Come mid-summer through fall the lake levels drop and launching becomes more difficult. In very low water there is a slot on the up lake side of the launch area where "the ledge" is not nearly as abrupt but lining up your trailer on it is a bit counter intuitive. One of these days I will try to overlay the best launching lines over some google earth photos for you guys. Busted props are not fun.
kenbarb
3/8/2018 1:13:16 PM
We launch our 21' Northwest Jet Boat without any problems, the trailer is tandem axle. I back the boat in far enough to submerge the pump intake, then my wife backs it off the trailer, we use the same routine for taking the boat out of the water. Don't worry about the launch, it is very easy.
strikezone
2/21/2018 8:05:26 AM
Nice report. I was there in Oct I think with my 16.5 foot Lund also. Water was real low then and it was so windy I didn't get out on the water till just before 2:00 pm. I also used Old Goats successfully in the same two colors and did quiet well. Those lures are amazing. A fun way to catch fish. Denny
oldgoatlures
2/21/2018 8:14:06 AM
FishinDoc: Thanks for the report and for putting the Old Goat lures to work out there. Appreciate both! (The perch color is our favorite on Rock. It's the lure I start with whenever we fish there.)
outtheresomewhere
2/21/2018 8:34:42 AM
It's always what you can't see that gets you - nailing one of those columns at 30mph would ruin ones day. this would make a great topic
for a forum - best launch I've seen at Rock was late last summer when three seniors in a 20' Hewes jet launched and retrieved in a good
breeze - one in the boat, one in the water and one in the truck - they were real smooth and looked to also have close to their limits too.
Maps and charts I've looked at for Rock, Roosevelt and Banks show only a few of the larger columns/piles, the rest are I've annotated
on the chart as a result of the sounder picking them up - new helix w/chart installed this winter, will be interesting to see what it "knows".
Thanks for the info/research/report - I will be even more cautious now.
SPAWN.TILL.YOU.DIE
2/28/2018 8:11:10 AM
None of the columns/spires/Kraken's are more than 100 yards or so from the shore line and can be seen during low water years on google earth. There is no need to worry so much. The lake is a giant coulee that was formed by the Missoula Floods. These floods eroded through many layers ancient basalt flows as seen on the cliff lines. The seem between two of these flows just happens to be just below the surface of the lake. This can forms steps near the shoreline where erosion was less intense. I like to imagine this as a continuation of those stepped cliffs continuing underwater. If you have read this far I am happy to share that these sharp drops tend to hold the largest fish so they are your friends more so than your enemies.
bob johansen
2/21/2018 6:26:05 PM
Nice detailed report. I had the opportunity to fish Rock Lake one time but my son and I were fishing for Largemouth Bass. We did quite well and 2 of the bass were in the lunker class.
Carmanrandy
2/24/2018 5:26:09 PM
I launch my 20ft Starweld with a tandem axle. If the lake is low, I have to back one wheel over a ledge and pull the boat off with the motor.
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Available Guide

Available Fishing Guide:
Website: Ross Outdoor Adventures

Phone: (509) 750-7763