They say the definition of insanity is doing the same action over and over and expecting a different result. If you’d like to go fishing in Crater Lake – you’d best be a little insane; but it’s worth it!
For those who like to skip to the end of a story; the fishing is amazing, one 3 hour stop on Wizard Island landed us five rainbow trout ranging from 9″ to 16″. For those who want the saga behind the 3 hour tour; read on. If you want to fish in Crater Lake you have two options; each involves a 1 mile 1000′ vertical hike; bring water. You can fish from Cleatwood Cove or if you are very determined and patient you can get on a boat tour to Wizard Island. There are two ways to get your boat tour tickets: 1. Go to the internet and email your desired departure date, time and duration on the island. You do this largely on faith; there is no posted schedule of availability. If you get your reservation, you will receive a return email with further instructions. If you do not get your reservation, you will receive no notification at all. The first option is to drive to the lake and purchase tickets from one of two kiosks in the gift shop by the west entrance. The second option is in the lobby of the Lodge on the lake rim. I only knew about option 2 as I drove to the lake two days prior to my desired departure time to take a shot at getting my reservation; and did not know. The key to the kiosks: you can only reserve tickets at the kiosk for that day or the next day. As I tried two days in advance, I had to head back down the mountain and try again the next day.
At 8:30 am the day before I actually wanted to hit the lake I punched through the kiosk screens in anticipation; it’s kind of like video poker that way. Only to have the entire kiosk screen go bright red with white letters saying; “There is no availability for your desired time. Please try again tomorrow.” Crestfallen and out of gas money I decided that trying the kiosk route three days in a row might land me in an asylum. So I drove down the mountain again, taking photos along the way and wandered into the gift shop. If I couldn’t take the tour, I’d at least get a t-shirt. By then it was 10:00 am and as I entered the shop I found myself face to face with that “Option 1″ kiosk I hadn’t known about. What the heck, feeling insane I again began punching in my desired departure time and – “13 Seats Available for the 9:30 Tour”. Wait, what? Ninety minutes ago it said “try again tomorrow”.
The upshot – from the kiosks you can literally buy tickets up to 24 hours in advance – a hard 24 hours. Don’t expect the kiosk to do the math for you – recall it said “Try again tomorrow” at 8:30 am – not “Try again in one hour”.
Now armed with my success via trial, error and that touch of insanity you can head to the lake and get to fishing! Get some rainbow trout or even some kokanee salmon! Again – it is so worth it. The tour guides on the boat tours are fabulous, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Crater Lake is an international destination for a reason and though they sure make you earn the privilege of that up close view, it is a view you will never forget.
One last lesson; while hiking up the brutal Cleetwood Cove trail I met a man who was just over halfway in his descent, fishing rod in hand. I had to bear the bad news that there is no bait fishing allowed in the lake and leave him to his choice of “Am I feeling insane enough to hike back up to my car for my fly rod.”