Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday Fishing Report: The Mayflies Are Here

Winter seems like a dream of a dream. These are the longest days of the year, and the world is infused with light and warmth. From the fading of the light in the west to the rising of the light in the east is a mere four hours. Everywhere life embraces life, and all things, from the mountain to the eagle to the tiniest nymph, are in place and whirling like a galaxy in the great dance. The present is a calm lake that holds eternity in its depths, and moments flit by like trout-colored shadows. The mayflies are here.
It was hot and windy in the valley, and storming at the lake.
A short time later the storm blew through and I got the float tube in the water. The sun broke through the ragged clouds as I launched, and a shower broke through the sunlight. It would rain off and on as storms passed near trailing their long skirts behind them. The wind would blow, swirl, calm, and blow again.
I found a fish working between two old blowdowns and stopped to tempt him with the Stimulator, but he was cagey and stopped rising. So I tried a Callibaetis spinner and got a hard take, a sharp tug, and a broken tippet. Goodbye, Callibaetis spinner. I found I was out of Callibaetis spinners, so tied on another spinner. But he was finished.
Then I saw what I had been hoping for: the Drakes were coming off here and there. I found this cripple on the water to show you what one looks like. The Western Brown Drake, though many here call them "hexes." They're big, and pop out of the water and fly away like little helicopters. You tie the fly on a #10 2X hook.
I tied on the biggest mayfly I had and began to drift the bank casting to likely lies. I caught this Rainbow early on, but it would prove to be a day of misses.
But what a gorgeous day. I got caught up--lost--in the rapidly changing light, and in the rhythm of casting.
I moved down to this bank very near the truck. This is the place, three years ago BC (Before Canoe), that I first saw the Drakes hatching on one long, calm evening. Then that big dead pine was standing tall, and there were pods of trout rising with abandon just off the bank, and it seemed that any big fly thrown in the middle of them would get a hit. I ranged up and down the bank and had a genuine experience. I came back as long as it lasted, fishing right up to dark and still finding big solitary risers cleaning up along the bank after the little guys were home in bed.
This is also the place where I caught several bats. They swoop down and pick your fly right off the water. Most came unhooked quickly, but one hapless bat managed to get airborne while still hooked and flew around in circles at the end of my line, a little bat kite. A sharp tug sent him on his way.
This time the water was rougher, but the trout were still at work. I tied on a Hex fly that I bought long ago in Michigan. The coloring is similar to the Drakes, but it's about a hook size larger. That didn't bother the trout. I got many hits, netted a few small trout, and lost many more.
The most memorable lost fish was a Brown that slammed the fly and then went berserk. He jumped--I could see it was a Brown--and then just kept jumping. And jumping. And jumping. He didn't stop until he had snapped the 5X and taken my fly. I have never seen a Brown do that. I've never seen a Rainbow do that.
The weather kept changing, the evening deepened, the fishing began to slow, and I gradually came to. So I paddled in and loaded up, already making plans to be there the next day.

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