Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday Fishing Report: Playing In the Rain

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We've had some nice rains this Spring, good for our semi-arid region. Yesterday was to be a sunny day, and today it was supposed to rain. Well, it rained yesterday.
It started out sunny but the clouds rolled in about Noon while I was fishing with a local kid. I had taken him out in the canoe at an area bass lake--his choice. He's been asking me to take him fishing for four years, and I've always put him off for one reason or another. But he's moving to Hawaii at the end of the month. He doesn't want to; he has to. It's the fallout of a long custody dispute, and it's falling right on top of him. So I took him.
Since I would have the canoe on the truck I figured I ought to hit my lake for the late afternoon and evening. I had everything I needed except waders. I always take them when I expect rain, but it was going to be sunny, you see.
The local river is running high and muddy, and so are area streams. My lake--let's call it "Trout Lake"--is one of a chain of four lakes in a wildlife area, all connected by a stream. I came in from the north this time, and that stream was over its banks in spots. There's a place where it crosses under the gravel road through a culvert, but the culvert was under a foot of water and the road was awash in three places. I should have taken a picture, but I was trying to get the old truck through safely.
I wasn't surprised, then, to find the lake higher than I've ever seen it. This put-in is one of my favorites. I've camped here, and sat by that fire ring warming myself beside a crackling apple wood fire and listening to the frogs sing down by the water's edge. Those frogs would have been in my lap yesterday.

I launched--first time with the canoe at Trout Lake this season--and headed out a ways from the head of the channel. There were passing showers, but nothing heavy. My jeans--no waders, remember--got damp, but dried a bit before the next shower drifted over.
One good thing was that there was no wind. The other good thing was that fish were rising. The water was murky, so I tied on an orange caddis nymph and hung it from an indicator. Not too deep.This hefty trout had no trouble seeing it, and took with authority. He made a nice fight, choosing to run deep rather than jump. The showers were coming more fequently and lasting a little longer. But they always quit for awhile.

Meanwhile, it was a beautiful, peaceful evening, if you don't count the human population of the lake. And their dogs. And the hum of their generators. It tends to get a bit crowded this time of year.
They were fishing around in various craft, carrying on loud conversations across the water. Later they were noisily making supper and building smoky fires. There were a couple groups of gentlemen, all having a grand time away from their work and families. One group seemed to be youngish--I heard one guy talking loudly about catching "yearlings"--and the other was oldish. The old guys turned on some music, something I generally find annoying at the lake, but to my surprise they were playing--I kid you not--The Weavers. I heard "When Will They Ever Learn," Michael Row the Boat Ashore," and other classics of the folk genre. They mixed in some Byrds, some Linda Ronstadt, and some Patsy Cline for good measure.
What do you know, the old guys are my age.
I kept fishing--to musical accompaniment--trying an assortment of flies until this little guy took the Pheasant tail soft hackle.
Dude, whadya think? Yearling? Things slowed down after that. When it started to rain again it slowly increased in intensity. I trolled a bead head Wooly Bugger in a big circle around the upper lake. I had one big bump, what I thought was a take, but when I picked up the rod the fish was gone. After that, nothing. And it kept on raining.
I trolled my way down the channel to see if there were any fish working there. There were some, and I fished John's Cove for awhile, with no takers. The breeze was picking up and swirling some, making it difficult to see the indicator, so I tried casting and stripping for awhile. Nothing. It was still raining steadily, and it didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. I had a big soft hackle nymph on, and decided to troll it to the take-out and call it a day. On the way, though, I saw a couple more nice swirls, so I stopped and changed my rig to an emerger under the indicator. I cast a short line so I could see the indicator better.
But after about three casts a big rumble of thunder from the south made me think my first plan was the right one after all. So I paddled in--practically right up to the truck--and got things stowed and loaded.
I was pretty wet. My jeans were soaked, as were my boots. My hat was soaked, and rain had run down onto my head and down my neck, so my shirt was pretty wet, too. I sat there in the truck and realized it had really been fun.
What I thought about was how, when I was a kid, we used to put on our swimming suits and go outside to play in the rain. And now, my favorite pastime gives me an excuse to still go outside and play in the rain, grownup or not.
Next time I'll probably bring my waders. Or maybe, just maybe, my swimming suit.

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