- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
A lake now embraces the old plunge pool at the foot of the Dry Falls, where the Columbia River once fell 400 feet over a front 3� miles wide. Those ancient falls surely were among the greatest the world has ever known, but today the Columbia flows far to the west, and, except for the lake, the Dry Falls are as dry as their name implies. They lie in the arid reaches of central Washington, north of the town of Ephrata, surrounded by sagebrush and loose soil that blows in the hot, swirling winds.
The lake is nearly eclipsed by the towering walls and turrets of the Dry Falls, but it is an intriguing stretch of water. From the 40-foot-deep plunge pool it sprawls southward into shallow, weedy bays and channels amid a labyrinth of rocks that still show signs of battering from the river. And those shallow bays are inhabited by fat, strong rainbow and brown trout that feed on the lake's abundant snails and prolific insect hatches.
It was the trout, as well as the spectacular view afforded by the ancient falls, that had brought us, and other anglers, to Dry Falls Lake on May 18. It was a flawless morning. I had launched my little aluminum pram and was rigging up a pair of fly rods while Joan, my wife, brewed a morning pot of coffee. Our two children, Stephanie, 10, and Randy, seven, were busy exploring the margins of the lake, watching in fascination as fat, stubby dragonfly nymphs crawled out of the water to hatch.
I was sipping the first cup of coffee when the sounds came. At first there was just a gentle ripple in the air, so soft and indistinct that I was uncertain I had heard it. But then it came again, louder, a deep, ominous rumble like distant thunder. Then more sounds came, sharp and distinct, a series of heavy detonations as if distant gunners were lobbing shells ever closer to us. Finally came the loudest crack of all, a mighty swell of sound that washed against the coulee walls like a wave breaking on a rocky shore, echoing and reechoing around the great horseshoe-shaped amphitheater of the Dry Falls.
Frightened, the kids came running to ask what was happening. Fathers are supposed to know everything, but there was no apparent answer for these violent cascades of sound. They weren't sonic booms. Nor did it seem likely they could have carried from the Army's Yakima Firing Range; it was too far away. But then I had a joking thought: "Maybe Mount St. Helens [130 miles to the southwest] blew her top," I told the kids. They laughed and ran away, returning to their play.
The sounds ceased as abruptly as they began and we soon forgot them. The day was still bright and growing warm, and I finished the coffee and shoved off in the pram. Out in the shallows the trout were dimpling, and I began casting to them with a floating line and a favorite nymph pattern.
The fishing was good. Several strong rainbows took the nymph and flashed away in long runs over the shallow, weedy banks. After the initial run it was a struggle to keep them from diving into the thick weed. The hatch came up, the trout rose well and the morning passed quickly, as mornings always do when the fishing is good.
When I glanced at my watch it was a quarter to 12. Simultaneously, I noticed for the first time a long, dark cloud creeping over the coulee rim. A thunderstorm. I thought, heading our way. It looked as if it would be a bad one. But it was yet some distance off, so I continued fishing until a little after noon. By then the cloud had edged closer, dark and threatening, and it seemed as if the storm must soon begin. I decided to head for shore and eat lunch. Perhaps the storm would pass quickly and there would be more fishing in the afternoon. Most of the other anglers seemed to have the same idea. There was a sudden migration of small boats heading for shore.
I pulled the pram up onto the rocky shore and sat under the canopy of our pickup truck, munching sandwiches with Joan and the kids and watching the other fishermen. Many were packing up to leave ahead of the approaching storm.
The dark cloud now filled the whole western half of the sky, blotting out the sun; it had grown noticeably cooler. Yet, strangely, there was no stirring of the wind. The lake remained calm and the trout still dimpled in the shallows. But surely the storm couldn't hold off much longer.