Rule No. 86 proves true while angling on Tucannon lakes



Students from Richland's Jason Lee Elementary School and Camp Wooten learn angling skills at Spring Lake.


Rainbow Lake reflects a clear sky for one angler on a recent weekday.


Fishing can be boring, but an inventive angler can always find a way to be entertained.


A rough-legged hawk catches a thermal on Hartsock Grade.

Normally when I see a lake along the Tucannon River drainage without any anglers, I pass on by.

It's Rule No. 86: No anglers equal no fish.

For vice-versa, read Rule No. 87 (Many anglers equal many fish).

Yet, when a man picking up trash ambled by with a white bucket near Rainbow Lake, I stopped.

"Has Rainbow Lake been stocked with trout?" I asked.

"Yep," he said.

"I know it's cold," I added. "But I'm surprised no one is fishing."

"Yeah, me, too." he said.

"Must've been a crowd here yesterday," I suggested.

"Sure was," he said and lifted the trash bucket for me to see that it almost brimmed.

So, I parked and joined together the spinning rod already loaded with a small, pink, rubberized shad steelhead lure.

It looked like a trout lure to me.

Anyway, as Nora the Schnauzer and I headed around the lake, casting all the way, the wind rippled across the water and into my face.

Nora rippled along the bank from scent to scent.

We had driven to the Tucannon lakes area on Patit Creek Road and Hartsock Grade from Dayton.

As usual, we saw deer and turkeys on the way.

Then, along Hartsock Grade, a redtail hawk rested in a tree. I stopped and fired off several photos before it flew.

In a lucky turn, the hawk circled low and back over the car, as if to check it out.

Two minutes later, a rough-legged hawk floated on a thermal for 99 seconds above the canyon.

Eventually, near Cummings Creek Bridge, we slowed at Blue Lake. No anglers there. Pass on.

At Spring Lake, three bundled up people fished from the bank. A man said they'd camped at Camp Wooten, and they weren't catching any fish. Pass on.

So, as we neared the Fish Hatchery Bridge, four Rocky Mountain sheep grazed high on the canyon-side above the hatchery.

As we crossed the Tucannon, an American dipper zipped under the bridge. The dipper bobbed up and down on a rock below the bridge.

We reached Rainbow Lake with no anglers, but we stayed.

And, as I said, we headed around the lake, casting all the way. The wind rippled across the water and into my face.

I tossed the shad lure endlessly without a strike.

Then I snapped on a yellow-bodied Rooster Tail spinner, and threw it many times...

Then I attached a hammered brass, with a single hook. I slung it out several times. It was heavier than the others. It sailed out 81 yards, against the wind.

But it caught no fish.

On the way back around the lake, and taking a clue from an empty package for a Vibrax Blue Fox spinner that lay on the ground, I perked up.

Three Blue Foxes lurked in the lure box that I pulled from my jacket pocket. I picked a fox and hurled it against the wind.


The wind had stopped.

The water lay mirror smooth.

The sky had cleared, and the temperature touched on spring-time balmy.

Anyway, I sailed the Blue Fox across the water again and again.

Finally, I'd given fish ample opportunity to hook themselves, but they'd declined.

So, we left.

At Spring Lake, I watched about 30 kids from Jason Lee School in Richland rig up to fish.

They reminded me of Rule No. 87. But play anglers didn't count, so I ignored the rule.

After that, we stopped for coffee and snacks at the Last Resort and headed home.

Along Patit Creek Road, we saw deer and turkeys again.

About three miles from Dayton, I wondered why we hadn't seen a coyote.

Then, while still wondering, a scrawny coyote with a near-naked tail appeared 70 yards out in a green field.

I braked, left the car, climbed a bank and peeped through the weeds. The coyote stood like a statue, peering back over its shoulder.

"You know, Nora," I said as I slipped behind the wheel. "We should have fished with all those anglers at Blue Lake, huh?"

She didn't lift her head from behind a paw.

I yawned and drove on.

Contact Don Davis at


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