Fisherman gives away favorite spots in high lakes guide

MOUNT VERNON - Fishermen, by nature, are a tightlipped group.

Many reveal their favorite lake, river, creek, fly or lure only to relatives or friends.

It's definitely hush-hush.

Ask an angler what the fish are hitting, and you are likely to get a reply that is mumbled, garbled or altogether inaudible.

John Moore of Mount Vernon has decided to spill the beans. He has authored "A Fisherman's Guide to Selected High Lakes of Northwest Washington."

It includes lakes in Skagit, Whatcom and Snohomish counties.

"I've always loved to fish, and I've always loved to get back into the mountains," said Moore. "I originally started out just taking photographs of everywhere I went. Each lake I take a picture of. In fact, every lake picture in the book, I took.

"It started out with some handwritten notes. Then once I got my first computer, I started building files on all these lakes I was going to. With the files I was building and the logs I was keeping of my fishing, I was able to track different patterns such as times of year the fish are the most active, what they would hit one time of the year over another. It was all strictly for personal use."

'Rabid' fisherman

Moore is an avid fisherman. Well, "avid" may be an unstatement. How about "rabid."

Growing up in a family of commercial fishermen, Moore took to the water - and the mountains - early.

"I grew up running around the mountain in Rockport with my dad as a little kid," Moore said. "That is where my interested in the high lakes came into being."

Need proof of just how serious Moore takes his angling efforts?

Take his living room. It's like entering an aquarium.

Forty-one mounts of various fish species caught by Moore cling to the walls.

Each salmon species is represented. There are trout - rainbow, cutthroat, tiger, bull, eastern brook, golden and steelhead. There are grayling, bass, bluegill, Dolly Varden, pike, mackinaw, catfish, sucker, crappie, sculpin and bullhead.

Among them are 10 certified state record holders. Some have since been surpassed, while several remain on the books.

Before the book, Moore's files were for personal use.

Except when state biologists came calling.

"I began to provide some of that data to state fishery biologists," Moore said. "I continue to supply them with plenty of information.

"For years, I was the only one who ever saw my fishing logs. Actually, even the ones the biologists get are composites. It's a breakdown for each lake. What I caught, fishing time, size range, that kind of information. As far as the logs themselves, those are still only for my review. For the lake files, there were a few friends I would print copies for. Maybe a couple family members."

Now, for $19.95, average fishermen can find seldom-fished, high mountain lakes on which to ply their trade.

They will be told whether or not fish are to be found in those waters and, if so, what species and if they tend to favor flies, lures or bait.

Tips for anglers

Anglers can learn what time of year offers the best fishing, what sort of effort it takes to get to the lake and where it can be found.

"While the majority of the fish I catch are on files," Moore said, "I am not a purist fly fisherman. I usually release what I catch, so I don't fish with bait very often."

Moore has files on about 750 lakes.

"I just finally reached the point where I had accumulated enough information that it was time to do something with it," he said. "The people that have seen the files always said that I should publish the information. So the seed was planted by a number of people a long time ago. It's something that I enjoy doing very much."

The book includes the lakes' size, elevation, depth, species confirmed, species reported, fishing tips and overall characteristics. Directions are down to 0.1 of a mile.

For Moore, whose full-time job is with the Skagit Public Utilities District, it's all about details. Some of these lakes are frequented mostly by wildlife - and for good reason.

"Some (information) is more detailed than others," Moore said of his entries. "Some, where there is a lack of a good trail or the trail just seems to end, there is information on where fishermen trails can be picked up. So you can find your way without having to hunt like I did to find a trail."

Some of the lakes have maintained trails. Others are nothing more than bushwhacks.

"Well, I've never been lost," Moore said of getting into and out of the more remote lakes. "There's never been anywhere that I've been that I haven't made it back from. Some of the places that I have gone into, the way in was so bad that I took a different way out."

For his book, Moore wanted a good mix of easily accessible lakes as well as difficult ones.

"There are some you can drive to," he said. "There are some that have well-maintained trails. And there are some that are well back in the middle of nowhere that I wouldn't want anyone to go to unless they were in good shape and are really willing to work their butt off.