UPDATED Feb. 27 after second day of work.
FISHING -- Preparing for the March 1 fishing opener for selected waters in the region, Spokane area fly fishers are working this week to improve the rough boat launching site at Amber Lake southwest of Cheney.
Amber is a quality trout-fishing lake prized by fly fishers. Special "selective gear" rules limit the catch and require anglers to use single, barbless hooks and no bait. Internal combustion engines are prohibited. The season opening March 1 is catch-and-release only.
Members of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club and Spokane Fly Fishers gathered on Wednesday to put their muscle into a huge truckload of gravel delivered to the end of the asphalt by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"We spread it as far as it would go but we needed at least another truck load to finish the job," said Jim Ahearn of the IEFFC. The volunteers said they would be back at the lake today to spread another load of gravel.
The clubs are paying for the two loads of gravel.
"When we finish (today), gravel will have been placed in the area to the left of the ramp that will become the trailer launching area," Ahearn said. "There have been boulders there limiting access and these will be moved to open up the space.
"The area to the right of the concrete ramp will be filled in to provide a more gradual slope that will be the staging area for float tubes, pontoon boats, etc. There are a few ruts in the area that will also be filled.
"After we are done, WDFW will have someone come in with heavy equipment and do the rock work. The boulders blocking the concrete ramp will be moved in front of the concrete slabs and a fourth boulder will be added to completely block off the ramp.
"They will also place boulders along the right side of the concrete ramp over to where the shoreline drops off. There will be gaps for the tubers to have access but they will block boat trailers on that side. This will eliminate the past problem with trucks spinning wheels and eroding out all the new gravel trying to pull boats up the steeper slope.
The ramp should be useable for the March 1 opener, but work won't be complete.
Here's Ahearn's report from work completed on the second day of effort:
With a second load of gravel, we were able to finish off the new trailer launch site on the left of the concrete ramp and fill in the area to the right of the concrete ramp that has been severely eroded over the years. The new ramp for the boat trailers has a less severe slope and should be easier for launching boats. We also cleaned up the concrete ramp so it will be good for staging by all anglers. The boulders we had hoped to be placed around the area reserved for tubers and pontoon boats will not, unfortunately, be delivered until next Thursday or Friday (March 4) at the earliest (soonest the haulers were available). Daniel Dzieken (WDFW person responsible for ramp maintenance) will post signs and put up a temporary barrier explaining that the ramp is still “under repair” and where boat trailers and tubers should launch.
Hopefully everyone will respect the signs and not try to launch trailered boats on the right side where they have done so in the past. The gravel on that side is loose enough that vehicles will likely sink in and either get stuck or just damage the area by digging ruts.
"This has been a great cooperative project by both clubs and I think the ramp will be much better for both tubers and boat trailers," Ahearn said.