Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunday Fishing Report: Like The Old Days

There's a lake I call Cutthroat Lake. It's stocked with Lahontans. It has some problems aesthetically: cattle, turtles, swimmers, homes--including a development of luxury homes going in on one end, traffic on the road that runs along its length, and occasional squatters who tend to trash the camping area. has cutthroats. Big, beautiful cutthroats. And it's a "restricted gear" lake, meaning basically a single barbless hook, which translates for the most part to flyfishing.
I also have a soft spot for this lake. When we first moved here and I was scouting the local lakes, I had some amazing times on this lake fishing from the bank. I would stop by over the Noon hour to find blizzard hatches of Callibaetis and eagerly rising trout. Or I would stop off in the late afternoon and find big cruisers slurping up Damsels two feet off the bank. Or I would stop by in the evening and find big fish who would kill a Hopper pattern dropped essentially at my feet.
I've caught fish up to 22 inches here, and I've been spooled here. But I've also been disappointed here. Recently I have not found the hatches I did that first season, and the fish seem to have changed their feeding patterns since then. But I keep coming back to check it out, hoping that I might hit it at the right time once again.
I was there a few weeks ago during the afternoon. It was beautiful, and the shorelines were teeming with Damsels, but I couldn't find any trout.
On Saturday evening my work took me up to the vicinity of the lake, so I stopped by around 8:00 and fished from the bank until dark. It almost felt like the old times. There was a breeze, but it was from the south, leaving a big calm stretch of bank on the south end of the lake. Caddis and Callibaetis were hatching--not heavy, but a bona fide hatch, and little trout were snapping them up. I caught one of those little guys on a little Adams. But it appeared that the big boys were leaving it all to the little guys.
Then, in the twilight between 9:30 and 10:00, a good fish came by 6 feet from the bank doing the gulper thing. I was happy to see it. I tried to lay my fly in front of him but without success. I waited for another good trout, or for that one to come back around again, but activity seemed to be slackening, and it was almost too dark to see the fly. But I let it sit out there in the feeding lane.
I should have been paying attention. I was looking somewhere else when I saw a rise out of the corner of my eye. Not a big rise, or a noisy rise; just a gentle, lazy rise. I thought, "That was close to my fly. Looks like a good fish...where is my fly, anyway?" So I moved the rod to find the fly and realized that good fish had come out of nowhere and taken my Adams. Too late. I felt the hook almost find purchase, and then slide right out of his mouth. That was my last shot that night.
Tonight, after a very busy day, my work once again took me up near the lake. I had loaded the float tube, intent on going back to see if I could make amends. I got to the lake around 8:00 again. A couple guys were loading their boat as I put the float tube in the water. One was an old timer (older than me) who had apparently done better than the youngster (younger than me.) He said he'd caught one he figured at 23 or 24 inches. "I was getting my hits on a Purple Leech," he told me.
There was a smart breeze blowing, this time from the north. That usually bodes ill on this lake. But it could always die down. So I tied on something purpley and leechy and started to troll while waiting to see what the breeze would do.
I was moving down the shoreline when I saw a good fish come up and take a caddis right up at the bank. I stopped and cast and stripped, covering that area, but didn't see or feel him. So I resumed trolling, and there he was. He didn't slam the fly; he just took it.
I was glad I had a 4X tippet on.
It took awhile, but I got him in the net. The old timer had seen my net and said, "Your net's too small." It was, but it held him.
A very nice fish. Over 20 inches, it's safe to say. I might even say it was over 22 inches.
While I was working him in the wind had picked up and was blowing strong. I took another loop trolling but caught nothing else. But I went home happy.
It felt like the old days.

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