Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday Fishing Report: Drakes

It was all about the Drakes. Before leaving home I tied up a few, my own pattern, quick and dirty but effective. I use moose mane for the tails, four or five since they keep getting broken off (the bug has three.) I dub a body and cover it with yellow floss, then touch it up with a black Sharpie ( I'd use brown if I had one.) The wing is white poly yarn and the hackle is lots of brown and grizzly, trimmed on the bottom. Yellow thread. My flies tend to be workmanlike, and they work. That's all I care about.
When I got to the lake I drove past a spinner flight of Drakes way up by the road. When I got on the water there were a few popping but no risers. So I cast along the bank enjoying the easy drift with the wind. Then a few fish started working, some right up by the willows, others 10 or 15 feet out.
I chased a riser near me, letting the fly sit. No notice. So I began to strip it in, slowly and smoothly, and this nice Rainbow was on it.
That became the method for the rest of the day, working the fly, and even drifting it behind the float tube. When I stopped to observe I realized that I was seeing very few Drakes resting on the water. They were coming out of the water and launching into flight quickly--"popping," as I myself said; so it seems the fish were keyed to heading them off at the pass.
I drifted on down the bank past the Damsels at rest, watching a Flicker come in and out of her nest hole in an old snag, listening to and watching the Kingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles and the Redwinged Blackbirds and the Violet Green Swallows. The Kingbirds and the Swallows were also keyed on the Drakes, and I could hear their beaks snap shut as they swooped out over the water and intercepted them in flight.
I came to this stretch near the far northern end of the lake and worked around that blowdown. But I had no hits until I got way down there to that clump of willows at the far left of the picture.
I dropped the fly right at the base of the willows and stripped it a few times, then raised the rod to lift the fly out of the water for another cast. The fly swept under the surface, and it was just at that moment that a fish hit it. Hard. It was the best fish of the day, a snaggletoothed, big-shouldered Brown. I seldom have Browns make my reel sing, but this one did, even though I had the drag cranked up. I took my time and got him in the net.
He flipped off my lap and into the water at one point, and I cupped him with my left hand and then--throwback to my bass days--started to lift him by the lower jaw with my right thumb. Bad idea. Bass don't have teeth like this guy did.
I fished my way back to the dead pine and paddled back and forth along this bank until dark. The wind died, and it was flat calm, just like the old days I remember so well. I caught fish the whole time, none as nice as the first two, but all strong and beautiful. And I lost a few, though I kept my fly. And I never hooked a bat.
A great day. Think I'll tie up some more Drakes.

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