Washington, DC

Hiking and Fly Fishing Cherry Lake Washington

Steve B Howard

Sometimes hiking, bushwhacking, and climbing sort of blurr together when you are trying to get to a small high elevation lake that has both Cutthroat Trout and Brook Trout. When I was younger and my knees were in much better shape I once hiked up to Cherry Lake in search of Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout.

Searching out small high elevation lakes that not many people fly fished, usually because nobody else was willing to hike into them, was a bit of an obsession of mine for a few years. There were several times because either the hike was too difficult or because I simply couldn't find the lake after a few hours of hiking (this was way pre-Google Maps), I gave up.

Fortunately the time I hiked into Cherry Lake I was with a friend who lived in the area and had been there many times before to fly fish for the Brook Trout and Cutthroats. Even with my friend as a guide it still took us many hours to reach Cherry Lake. There was some hiking on flat ground at the start of the hike. There was a lot more bushwhacking though. I'm glad my friend was along otherwise I doubt I would have been able to stay on the trail. We also spent a lot of time climbing over fallen trees and logs that seemed to block the trail through the heavy undergrowth every two hundred feet or so. Also, it had rained about fived days before our hike, so the trail was still pretty muddy.

The upside of this hike is that there are a couple of really beautiful water falls to see and there are actually fish in Cherry Lake. If I remember correctly, that day I caught three small, but gorgeous, Brook Trout and two slighly bigger Cutthroat. My friend caught five Brookies and three Cutthroat, one that was at least thirteen inches. Cherry Lake is only about three acres, but it is also extremely brushy. Be prepared to do some roll casting. Probalby due to the rain five days before, the water was off color and we couldn't see the fish that well, but they came readily to our dry flies. We would have stayed longer and I think caught and released a lot more Brookies and Cutts that day, but it started to rain and we were a little bit worried about how slippery the trail would be on the way back. It was worth the hike, bushwhacking, and climbing though for the fish we did catch.

The one big mistake I made on this trip though was not bringing a good pack rod. With as much brush as as there is on the trail during the hike in I spent a lot of time working my two piece rod through the brush. If I had of brought a good pack rod in my backpack I think that would have made things a lot easier. Also, have both hands free would have made it a lot easier to get through the brush and get over the fallen trees.

A light pack fly rod, no more than a three weight with a full floating line is perfect for this little lake. I'd bring one fly box of standard trout flies with me. As I said, these fish didn't seem to be picky at all. It takes some effort to reach Cherry Lake, but I think for the Brookies and Cutts it is well worth it.


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I mainly write about fly fishing in Washington State, Classic Muscle Cars, and Stand Up Comedy.

Seattle, WA

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