Quaempts lands lunker Indian Lake trout on ultralight rod and reel

Logan Quaempts and the 6-pound, 6-ounce trout he took out of Indian Lake in June.

By Wil Phinney of the CUJ

INDIAN LAKE – On his way out the door, Logan Quaempts grabbed the 6-foot ultralight rod he uses to sneak up on brook trout hiding in the shadows under logs and behind boulders in the North Fork Umatilla and up McKay Creek.

His wife, Sierra, was heading up to Indian Lake to do some work on a video project for Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center and he decided to tag along.

Ten casts into killing time, Quaempts hooked a lunker trout that measured 243/4 inches and weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces. It measured 15 inches around at the girth. He’d like to hear if anyone knows of a bigger fish coming out of the man-made lake east of Pilot Rock.

That little pole Quaempts grabbed off the porch had a Rooster-tail spinner tied to the end of the 4-pound-test line. He switched out the 4-pound for 10-pound best, but he didn’t take a tackle box or any other gear.

“She asked me to go and I just threw the fishing pole on. I wasn’t expecting to catch anything, maybe a catfish or something,” said Quaempts.

But it was only a couple of minutes casting from the bank in the middle of the campground area on the north side of the lake when a hog-of-a-trout, what Indian Lakers would likely call a granddaddy, smacked that Rooster-tail.

“He hit it good. It was super unexpected,” Quaempts said.

With two hooks in the bottom jaw and one hook in the top lip, the fish was “caught all nice, fair and square,” but it was a matter of landing the big boy.

The fish stripped line and bent the tip of the short rod to the reel. Quaempts worked the buck for maybe 10 minutes to the water line and told his 5-year-old daughter, Hazel, to go grab it. She saw it and backed away quickly.

“I didn’t realize how fat he was until I got up to him and then I freaked out,” Quaempts said.

He hollered for Sierra to come over while he began working his way back up the bank. Sierra couldn’t do much but watch.

Since the fish was stripping line, Quaempts kept the tip up and walked backwards away from the water line, pulling the fish toward the bank. Then he’d walk toward the water reeling in the loose line. He had a wide open bank so he could back up 10 to 12 yards at a time without getting tangled up in trees.

Quaempts, the end of the rod, and the tired trout finally met at the edge of the water about 5:45 p.m.

“I’ve been fishing that lake my whole life. It’s one of the spots where I learned to fish and I’ve never seen a fish like that pulled out,” Quaempts said.

Quaempts fishes within the Tribes’ ceded boundary for salmon on the Columbia and at Looking Glass, and he fishes for pan-sized and sometimes bigger trout on the North Fork Umatilla and McKay Creek.

But this guy was a “once in a lifetime trout.”

“I haven’t caught one like that in 30 years. People tell me that’s an old fish right there,” Quaempts said.