Fishing As It Really Is

Why I Keep Coming Back to the Gissberg Ponds
By Howard Waldrop
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On Gissberg Ponds
On the Gissberg Ponds, where the fish make it all worth it.
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So, here I am in a county park 200 feet off the Interstate. It's full of joggers, picnickers, snogging couples, dogs, loose morons, and the usual power-bait slinging incompetents—in other words, what makes up around 90% of the fishing experience in America.

Why am I here?

Because I am catching all kinds and sizes of fish, that's why. The Gissberg Ponds in Washington state are two mineral/gravel extraction quarries out of which part of I-5 was built—the result of which is a steady continuous smooth roar and constant snap-snap of loose blue tarp going by at 70 mph to enhance your fishing pleasure.

DON'T come here on a high summer weekend unless your choler-matic is set on safety; it's not a good idea the first couple of days after WDFW stocks them with trout (2 or 3 times a year, beginning in March, with the last load going in before Memorial Day). Since most of the people who fish here think it's still on the lowland-lake season—last weekend in April to Halloween night—they don't show up till the first of May, anyway....

The two lakes have a small hatch of float tubes, canoes, and boats—you have to carry whatever you launch in from the parking lots—in the afternoons, beginning in March or so. (There are people who know it's open year-round and who like to fish almost as much as me.) Between Labor Day and Easter, you usually have the place to your semi-self—there are scattered diehards, some dogwalkers, joggers, duck photographers, and the idly curious.

Gissberg has saved many weeks for me in the last four years; when it's been raining for three weeks and all the rivers are high and muddy in the fall and winter, after other lakes and the creeks have closed down on Halloween night, or in the El Niqo years, when nothing's shown up on schedule. The ponds will still be clear and fishing. It's always my fallback when everything else fails.

Besides, for a Mom/Dad/Kid/Retiree lake, it produces some amazing things.

Por exemplo: I am watching an 8-pound largemouth cruising like a trout, rising to size 16 caddises on the water. That's very strange, I say to myself, tying on a #14 caddis in 3 seconds and putting it ten feet ahead of where the lady bass will be soon. She comes up for it, stops about a foot away, then continues her cruise. My next cast is 50 feet further down the bank, 15 seconds later, with the same fly but with a 4 pound tippet instead of the 8 pound one like the first cast.

She comes within 3 inches of it, turns up her nose, and goes on.

The explanation of her behavior is revealed when she swings at the end of her patrol; there's a one-ounce white jig hanging from the left side of her lip. She isn't eating anything today big enough to bite her back. Occasionally she goes down to rub her lip on the bottom. These fish are not dumb and they have seen everything.

When I saw her again a few days later, the jig is gone, and she's terrorizing everything in sight, the fat, mean, keen top of the Eltonian pyramid.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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