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Wapato Lake Report
Chelan County, WA


66° - 70°
Rainbow Trout
51° - 55°

Annual Father/son opening day fishing trip. Air temp 50-55 at 9am, supposed to climb to 70 degrees for a high. Water temp was between 49 and 53. I and my Dad had started fishing around 8:00am. We were trolling toward the shoreline on the SW end of the lake. An older, man and wife couple had rented a 12 foot boat from Kamei (found that out later). They were trolling south, along the shore when I saw them. We were trolling to shallower water, headed toward the same shoreline they are trolling parallel to. We were at a distance, and I kept checking that our trolling paths would not interfere. We had just caught a fish and were resetting our gear behind the boat. Glanced for that boats location as well as others traveling in that same direction, and went about our business of letting out more line.

When glancing over , this time the man was now out of the boat swimming behind it. The boat was listing hard to the starboard side, so much so that the bottom of their boat could easily be seen and most if that was out of the water!!. Clearly the starboard side was under water and the boat is in motion, curling around toward the man in the water!!. I suggest to my dad, who has his back to the incident that has occurred. To quickly reel in, there is a fisherman in the water!! We throttled up the kicker motor and headed for the man in the water, while dragging my two lines (two pole endors.) and fish behind our boat.

There is a tackle box and two seat cushions floating in a straight line between him and their listing boat. We are now 50ft or so away and I can hear him laughing as we approach!! I positioned my boat between him and the quickly approaching, listing, half under water boat. I am thinking I can get their boat and the old guy in one move. I kill our motor and throw a bumper that is attached to my boat, over the starboard side for the guy in the water to grab onto. While on the port side, my dad grab’s the bow of the moving, half submerged boat. As that boat swings around, there is a lady in the boat, leaning against the side that is under water. She is submerged to her waist, calm and quiet as can be, with one hand clutching the submerged side of the boat, the other stretched out as far as she can above her head, with food in it, a strange sight to see.

My dad has the bow of their boat with one hand and the ladies outreached arm that is clutching the food, with the other. The back of the little aluminum boat swings around to our transom. I see the 12v battery is at least a foot under water as I reach back and turn off the electric motor which has been pushing us toward a floating dock on the shoreline. The whole thing is so surreal and you are not thinking as much as acting on some sort of instinct and adrenaline.
For some odd reason the lady never said a word. No screaming for help or calling out for her husband! In one hand she held there bag full of food above her head, while holding onto the boat with the other, going for a wild ride wherever the motor is blindly taking her. I motion for other boats to help, but they are taking their sweet time, mostly watching. As if we have it under control. But we are far from it!

The electric motor had pushed us away from the older gentlemen. Who was still laughing while doing the dog paddle or breast stroke? Another boat pulled him from the water, he never yelled out to his wife to see how she was doing! We asked another boat to come along our port side to aid in lifting the lady form the water and the boat she was in. She had no strength to help, and did not want to let go of the food. So I finally asked if my dad could remove the food from her right hand so she had two hands free for aiding in climbing out of her boat and into a rescue boat. I asked a couple of times if she was cold, but she replied each time that she was not. Our F.F. indicated a water temp of 51 degrees during the rescue. Because she has indicated she was not cold, I am thinking she is hypothermic. At this point we are 10ft from the floating dock, and the homeowner of the dock comes out to the end of it offering a cup of coffee to the lady. Another boat approaches, donating two blankets. It is a struggle to get her into the rescue boat. She has no strength and is stiff as can be, legs not working either. 3 of us are able to slip her over the back and into the rescue boat floating along with us.

At last count there are 5 rescue boats involved, 18 people on board, two donated blankets, and one dock owner offering a cup of joe. While the topic of a cup of coffee not being the drink of choice for the cold, wet, lay. I am transferring their stuff that is in my boat and floating about in theirs, into the rescue boat with her in it. Which, consists of one soggy throw type seat cushion, one lime green tackle box, an oar, a fishing rod, and that clear plastic grocery bag full of soggy food.

So, all wet occupants and their stuff, is stowed and being towed back to the resort using 3 different boats. And I find it ironic, that for the second year in a row. There is a Sherriff’s boat on the water, going from boat to boat performing a floating, boater safety equipment check and verifying your required, valid boat registration is on board at all times.

While, a couple hundred yards away. We the general public, are performing a real, live, unrehearsed water rescue!! As the excitement is diminishing, and the wet occupants are headed for the safety and warmth of dry land. From my vantage point. I can see the Sheriff's boat performing another safety check. Totally oblivious to what had just occurred, in view and during there watch!!

After the excitement. I was wondering, if after being a good Samaritan. If safety checked by the sheriff, if they would let me off with a warning for not having my boat registration on board? It was in my truck glove box at home. We drove my Pops truck this time. I hear it is a $100 fine.


5/2/2012 5:02:00 PM
being in the right place and right time and knowing what to do. Priceless. Good job to you and your dad motoboat.
5/2/2012 6:31:00 PM
I am not quite sure how to edit my report. But we fished 3 rods at all times. Trolling or drifting. Rods were 15 to 40 pulls behind the boat and anywhere between 5 to 20ft deep when trolling. 10 to 15 pulls when drifting. Caught 10 fish between the two of us from 8:00 to 2.00. One rod never got hit and that was the shallow rod. Drifted worms power bait and various lures that require little boat movement to swim them. When trolling we tried wedding rings, rooster tails, dodger with worm or power bait, or mini squid. Nothing really stood out for us. Caught a few fish soon after switching up. Then nothing. Kind of frustrating really. Did see pop gear, gang troll, blade chains, whatever you call it. It was on almost everyone's pole that I saw bring in there gear. And that was a lot of gear!!! Bottom fishers I saw fished all day and did not limit. Same with the pop gear troller's. Not that many limits but most all catching fish.
dave g
5/2/2012 10:57:00 PM
i guess it'd depend what side of the bed the guy got out of that morning whether or not he'd ticket you. it's not really too good of a feeling knowing the cops boat was close enough to all see you guys and apparently was oblivious. not trying to find any excuses for not them not being aware, but i'm wondering if anyone sounded an emergency signal? it's always wise to use sound signals when there is an emergency or a dangerous situation...good job...
5/3/2012 6:45:00 AM
Amazing story!!! An opening day that you will never forget for sure. Good job!!
5/3/2012 7:02:00 AM
Just be glad you were there to help. Another angler on Waitt's lake was not so fortunate after diving into the water to try and rescue his fishing rod when it fell in and he drowned. That makes for 3 water related deaths in Eastern WA already this year. ;-(
5/3/2012 3:53:00 PM
Damn! That's excitement enough for any one day out fishing........ Here's wishing you peaceful trips from here on out! I had lots of strikes at Wapato, not as many stuck as I would have expected. The fish were bigger than expected, pleasant surprise. I used to hit Wapato a couple weeks to a month after the opener, a lot warmer, great trout and perch fishing then, perch schooled in the shallows right at Kamei. Speaking of Kamei, somewhere(internet), it was listed as permanently closed. I was glad to see they are still in business, store and RV/tent sites.
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Available Guide

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Phone: (509) 759-0098