OUTHELPERS – The boat access site at Amber Lake southwest of Cheney is being improved with the help of volunteers from Spokane’s two fly-fishing groups.
Members of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club and Spokane Fly Fishers gathered before the March 1 fishing season opener to put their muscle into two truckloads of gravel delivered to the end of the asphalt by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Final heavy equipment work to place boulders is scheduled for Monday.
The clubs split the $800 bill for delivering the gravel and devoted two days of labor, said Dan Dziekan, the department’s access manger for the area.
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 that opened Tuesday is catch-and-release only.
A Washington Discover Pass or the vehicle parking permit that comes with a state fishing license is required for rigs parked at state fishing access sites.
For years, the ramp of concrete slabs at Amber’s access has been blocked off because it’s dangerous, Dziekan said.
“The ramp can’t extend far enough into the water to allow a trailer to be backed in deep enough before dropping off a sheer ledge,” he said.
Boaters have tried to launch near the ramp, leading to erosion as they spun out pulling trailers from the water, he added.
The boulders being installed this week will create a barrier to separate a vehicle zone from an area for unloading pontoons and other craft that can be carried.
“We’ve cleared room on the other side to allow trailers to launch small boats in a safer area where boaters will be able to get trailers all the way into the water without worrying about going off the end of a ramp,” Dziekan said.
The separation will make the area safer by preventing trailers from being backed into where anglers are launching pontoons, he said. The fly-fishing clubs spread gravel to smooth the area and make it safer to negotiate.
“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,” said Jim Athearn of the Inland Empire club. “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 launch will be much better for both tubers and boat trailers,” he said.