In a word, Lewis County lake fishing is: slow
Buddy Rose / The Chronicle Bruce Gale, 76, of Puyallup, enjoys the early spring sun while angling at Swofford Pond. There weren't any fish biting, but he and his wife had a great time visiting the pastoral little lake. A former Alaska bush pilot and skydiver, Gale entertained us for much of the afternoon with tales of his adventurous younger days.

Fishing is again this week best described as slow in the lakes and reservoirs of Lewis County.

The weather continues to slowly warm up and the nights aren't as cool than a couple of weeks ago, but the water temperature in the lakes is still pretty cold and the fish don't seem to be all that interested in chewing on whatever scrumptious morsel you have to offer them.

At Riffe Lake, there are lots of anglers at both sides of the dam and several boats show up on the lake on almost any day when the weather is good. Finding someone with a fish, however, is difficult. Finding someone with more than one fish seems nearly impossible. A few landlocked coho are still being caught but the numbers just aren't that impressive.

The totals are even less impressive when you consider the number of people fishing. The good thing is that nice weather like this in March is enough of an excuse to go fishing, even if the prospects of catching something aren't that great.

It has been pretty much the same story at Mayfield Lake. Several anglers are at the beach near the Mossyrock Trout Hatchery almost every time we visit but rarely do we hear of more than one or two trout being caught. There have been a number of boats on the lake, especially near the Tilton Arm, but you just don't see any fish being netted.

One angler reported that he landed a couple while trolling off shore from the trout hatchery last weekend. That was after several hours of fishing.

Swofford Pond remains slow as well. Even last week's lukewarm action in the pool below the outlet seems to be tapering off. The Swofford area remains popular with anglers. It is such a nice spot that just being there is a pleasure when the weather is nice.

We met and talked to one angler from Puyallup on a visit to Swofford Pond this week who sort of typified the fishing attitude of this early spring season.

Bruce Gale, 76, was sitting on the shore in his chair enjoying the sun while his wife relaxed in the nearby car. Neither had had so much as a nibble in all the time they had been there. Nevertheless, they were having a great time.

Gale pointed out some courting Canada geese across the lake that seemed to be acting sillier than usual. Two or three at a time would fly around in tight circles then all would crash into the water with a great commotion. Spring brings out the most bizarre behavior in most animals, and those geese were joined by a lot of ducks exhibiting the usual pre-spring hormone rush.

When fishing is slow and the sun warm, tall tales tend to replace any preoccupation with coaxing a bite. So it was on that balmy March afternoon. Gale told some great stories of his life as a pilot and skydiver.

He had been a bush pilot in Alaska for some time and told a hair-raising tale of once rescuing a climber from the side of Mount McKinley. As Gale readied the special-equipped, supercharged light plane for takeoff from a glacier at 16,000 feet, an avalanche began beneath the plane.

His takeoff occurred with moving snow underneath, whiteout conditions surrounding the plane and a sheer rock wall in the flight path. Counting the seconds to estimate the distance to the wall while flying blind, he was able to gain enough air speed and turn soon enough to avoid crashing into the mountain.

That's one of the wonderful things about fishing. Even when the angling isn't all that good, there's always a good chance that you will meet someone and have a great time exchanging stories about the big one that got away, or just about anything else you can imagine.

It sometimes seems that nothing fans the winds of memory quite as much as a quiet campfire in the backcountry or a slow fishing day on a pleasant little pond. That's how it was on that sunny afternoon at Swofford.

It just doesn't get any better than that.

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