Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Fishing Report: Birthday Trout

Yesterday was my daughter Lidia's 16th birthday. She has been asking me to take her fishing--she likes to fish, but mainly she likes to get out of the house and away from her brothers--so yesterday afternoon we made it happen.

There were still plenty of Memorial Day campers, so we put the canoe in at the far northern end of the lake. This is far from the campgrounds, and holds nice fish. Before I had the canoe I fished from the bank here with great success, busting brush and stalking big bank risers. This is where I witnessed my first Hex hatches. I couldn't believe the size of the mayflies popping out of the glassy water, or the size of the trout sucking them in with soft "ploops."
But this was a different time. It was very windy--no surprise there; that's what this lake does--so we drifted and slow-retrieved nymphs. The lack of action allowed time for Lidia to take pictures with her phone. Fortunately the lake is far away from service areas or she would have been texting someone.
I hooked a lively little Rainbow right by the canoe, and he almost jumped into Lidia's lap in the process of throwing the hook. But that encouraged us. Lidia was remembering the 20 incher she caught in this lake two years ago, and I was looking through my bag of tricks.

I have had success with black Cricket and Muddler patterns here for some reason, especially, it seems, on windy days when the wind and current drag them through the waves. But I also remember pods of Rainbows slurping up midges jumping all over a Black Muddler dropped in their path.

So I tied on a Cricket, greased it up, and cast it out. For some hydrological reason I can't figure out the wind and the waves were blowing away from us, but the Cricket was floating back toward us.

When in doubt, strip. I started stripping.

Bang. A heavy take, a deep dive, a thrashing fight--had to be a Brown. And it was. I was glad to have Lidia there to record the moment.
Not only was he crazy enough to hit a Cricket on the surface under those conditions, he inhaled it. It required a bit of work with the hemos to remove the fly.
Here's something you won't see much on this blog: a hero shot. Most of the time I fish alone, and I'm more interested in portraits of the fish I catch. But I'm happy to have this shot. Thanks, Lid. I did get some fine portraits of the fish. This, after all, is what it's about.

I tied a Black Muddler onto Lidia's tippet, and we worked awhile, but with no more crazy Browns. So we paddled to shore for a break.
We did something I keep thinking I would like to do but have never stopped fishing long enough to do: we explored the shoreline. We hiked along a huge embankment that provided epic views of the lake.

Then it was back to the task at hand. The wind had begun to settle a bit, and by the time we paddled way over to the western side of the lake--Lidia liked the looks of a point there--it was almost calm.

We began to see some lazy rises, so I tied on a Caddis for Lidia. I didn't see any caddis hatching, but it's the same pattern she caught her 20 inch fish on, so she thought it would be lucky. She cast it out 10 or fifteen feet from the canoe and settled down to wait.

It wasn't long, though, before she asked for my camera, and she began messing with it, looking at the many pictures we had already taken, taking some more of herself.

Meanwhile I was casting a different Caddis pattern to likely looking spots on the opposite side of the canoe from Lidia's fly. I heard a soft "ploop." I turned and looked for her fly. It had disappeared, and her line was moving slowly away from the canoe.

I calmly advised her that she might have a fish on. She threw me the camera and went to work. The fish was still on and apparently firmly hooked. In fighting a fish, what Lidia lacks in skill and experience she makes up for with fierce determination. She willed that fish in to the canoe. And also practically levered it into the canoe with the heavy rod.

I wish she had. It was a beautiful Rainbow, at least as long as my Brown. I had the net ready and she tried to get it over to me, but it sideslipped and came up next to her. So she instinctively reached out, grabbed the leader and pulled the fish half way out of the water, turned to me and called for the net.

I had grave misgivings. I knew what would probably happen. But I also thought how cool it would be if she could net it herself. So I handed her the net.

No sooner was it in her hand than the trout gave one convulsive twist and was gone. Took the fly and tippet with him. But it still counts in my book.
By then we had the glassy water but fewer and fewer risers at work. We fished until dusk, ending with a long slow drift back to shore, trolling and listening to the evensong of frogs and Loons.
There were to be no more fish stories that day. But who could ask for better ones than what we already had? Happy Birthday, Lid.

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