Monday, June 21, 2010

Fishing Report: I'm Confused

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One more trip Sunday evening. It was cool, it was overcast, it was windy. The wind was out of the south and had the north end all chopped up.
So, I bid farewell to the phantom Drakes and went for what little shelter there was on the south end.
I put my rain jacket on.
I hadn't been there for awhile. Who knows, maybe the Drakes were hatching there this year. But, even in the small sheltered areas, the denizens of the lake were asleep.
I tried various things, including a Drake, the Carpet Caddis, nymph and indicator, trolling. Nothing. I just got cold. Seems that the water is colder on that end.
Then it started to rain.
I trolled through the rain.
I ended up far up along the east side. The rain quit and it got calm. Little fish--little fish--were working on the midges--midges.
I tied on the Elk Hair Caddis and caught a little tiny trout. I released it in the water. Then a breeze came up out of the north. I got colder.
Finally I trolled back to the truck. Black beadhead leech again. Long troll. The sky was dark and the moon shining brightly through the scudding clouds before I made it back.
I caught a fairly nice fish--bigger than ten inches. That was nice. I released it with numb fingers.
I'm confused. What month is this? Do I know at all what I'm doing?

Fishing Report:No Jacket Required

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I miscounted. My trip last Saturday was the third in a row, fourth for the week. It's good when it feels like I've been there more than I actually have. Usually it's the opposite.
So Saturday I continued my campaign to get on the lake as much as possible before leaving for Indiana for a week and a half, and to try to catch the Drake hatch. I drove a borrowed truck, a little four cylinder Toyota. I like the protective coloration.
It was warm. I'll say it again: it was warm. Look at that sun. Felt so good. I took my rain jacket in the tube but didn't need it. At all. Even after dark. That's a first.
I got right down to business and tied on the sparkle Drake. There were many smaller fish busily working, and I got lots of flippy hits, but no hook ups. Seemed like a good sign though.
I trolled a black beadhead leech across to the west side with no results. I got some more hits on the Drake there, but again, little guys with no hookups.
I tied on a Cicada just for the hell of it. It's an Orvis fly, compliments of my brother John, and I've never used it. It's big and floaty and has long, long rubber legs. The little trout were all over it, but it was way too big for them. So I went to a little Elk Hair Caddis and finally hooked a little guy, but he came off before I got him to the tube.
I saw some better rises down where the west side shallows open out into deeper water. I went over there and tried the EH Caddis--and the Cicada--but got no takers, and saw no more rises.
A light breeze had been blowing all this time, and it kept the water clear of most of the cottonwood fluff that can afflict this end of the lake. Then the breeze died, something I usually welcome. But this time the result was that the fluff spread out all over the lake. All over the lake.
I think the trout thought it was snow and froze to death. Activity slowed way down. So I went subsurface with a beadhead nymph and indicator. The indicator is green, but after a few retrieves it would turn white with fluff and disappear.
I sat in the perfect calm, warm and comfortable, and watched the beautiful evening unfold, keeping one eye on the indicator.
The moon came out.
An eagle flew over.
Loon calls echoed to the south.
The sky lit up to the north.
Time to go. I was resigned to a skunking, but tied on the black beadhead leech again and began paddling back to the truck. The bats were out, and Nighthawks were screeching high overhead. Poor Wills called, and frogs called for Robert.
I was reveling in being warm even as darkness fell when I felt that rattling bump that means a trout is taking the trolled fly.
I caught another one a little bigger than this before the tube scraped against the shore. Nice to go home without a skunk. Nice, too, to take the jacket out of the tube and carry it to the truck instead of wearing it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fishing Report: Backslid

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I got back to Trout Lake last evening for the third day in a row, fourth time this week. I hope to get back this evening and tomorrow evening.
Reason? The fabled Drake hatch. "Fabled," as in "used to been."
So far I haven't seen a single Drake, dead or alive. All I'm going on is the report last Monday from my brother of the angle that they had seen some Sunday evening. That, and the fact that I have caught fish on top, and with a Drake.
But it's time. Last year the Drakes were popping right now. So I go in order to be there when that magic moment arrives. It has been a far from typical early season, and there's a strong likelihood that things are just a leetle delayed.
The other reason I'm hitting the water hard right now is that on Monday I'll be packing, and on Tuesday I'm heading to Indiana for a week with Kim and the boys to see daughters and grandsons. Yay!
Maybe the Drakes will pop tonight and I'll get a taste of it for another year. Maybe they'll wait until I'm gone, and I'll miss it this year.
So be it. First things first.
Last evening everything looked real good for a hatch.
Except for two things: it was still cool (How long, O Lord!?), and there were signs that the lake had gotten a heavy rain earlier in the day. I started with a Drake and explored the shoreline on this side. Nothing moving, not even little guys. I switched to the Carpet Caddis. Still nothing.
I decided to head over to the west side. I could have trolled the caddis, but I tied on a beadhead leech instead.
The back slide had begun.
I got no bumps or takes on the way over, and things were real quiet over there. I tested the waters with a Drake, and then the caddis, but things stayed real quiet. There were random rises, mostly little fish, and a couple of times they rose near my dry and ignored it.
So, I backslid all the way. I tied on a nymph and hung it about 18 inches below an indicator. Ah, what a relaxing way to fish. I almost fell asleep listening to the sounds of the peaceful lake.
It took awhile, but I finally had a good take and the first fish of the evening.
With the coming of dusk the fish started working more systematically. I thought about tying on a Drake, but once you've backslid it's hard to turn around again. Then again, there were midges everywhere, and the risers were twenty or thirty yards off the bank and obviously taking them. So I stayed with the nymph and indicator.
The indicator moved, moved again, and then slowly slid under the water. A delicate take by a very nice fish. He gave me one of the more enjoyable fights of the young season. I was a little concerned because I ran out of 5X so I had him on 6X. But I didn't rush him, and got him in the net.
Nice heavy fish. He deserves three pics.
I stayed with the indicator rig as the quarter moon came into view.
The fish would go on flurries of activity, then slow down, then start up again. I missed a couple of takes, and then caught another one.
A breeze kicked up, and I decided to troll back to the van. I tied on the famous Girdle Bug thinking I might be able to dredge up something big. That didn't happen, but it was an enjoyable paddle through the bat filled evening. I know the bats are looking for those Drakes, too.
Today is sunny and warm with just a light breeze keeping things fresh. Maybe this will be the evening I and the bats--and the trout--have been waiting for.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fishing Report: Think Pink

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Back to Trout Lake for the evening. Back to north end, down this hill again with float tube.
Fish biding their time. Started with Carpet Caddis, raised nothing. Watched for Drakes, saw none.
Still, tied on one of my Drakes. Enjoyed watching pink wing post. Breeze came up, riffled water. Dropped fly next to some willows. Almost didn't see take because of reflection on riffle. Missed him.
Dropped fly in same spot. There he was. Good fish, gave me first screaming reel run of season.
Realized why I like pink wing post: matches trout.
Took detour down long channel on west side. Looking for good place for, to use term from radio report on economic crisis in European Union, "Euro nation." Not easy with lake so high.
Found one. Also found pink roses.
Stuck with my Drake. Several hits, bumps, from little trout.
Like this one.

Nice evening. Warmer than yesterday, rain held off. Enough rises to say, "We're still here...." Fished until dark, quit before hooked bat. Happy to catch good fish on Drake. Went home thinking pink.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fly Tying Days

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I suppose if I had just set up camp at Trout Lake for a week of fishing the Drake hatch I wouldn't let a little thing like weather stop me. I'm not saying it has stopped me, but after this long, cold, windy, wet Spring there are certain weather conditions under which I'm more inclined now to stay home and wait for the good days.
For example, yesterday we had a drop in temperature of about ten degrees, and it blew like a son of a gun all day.
A good day for fly tying. So I tied up a few of these, my MOL Drake. (MOL stands for "more or less." I could develop a whole line.)
I'm just being modest. I caught many fine trout on these during last year's hatch. They use a pale yellow dubbing for the body, ribbed with black krystal flash, and touched up with permanent marker. If I had a brown marker I would have used that, but all I have is black.I was ready to go scope out the lake for Drakes today after work and try them out. But rain moved in and the temps stayed cool all day.
So I went back to the tying desk instead. I'd been thinking about trying a yellow synthetic dubbing, of which I have a small sample, for the body. I also used an amber sparkle dubbing for the thorax.
Might make a difference under certain conditions. Or I just like having a choice.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to miss any more of this Drake hatch than I have to. So tomorrow, when it's supposed to be a little warmer (but still rainy), I'll very likely make time to get on the water.
I've got plenty of flies now, so I can't use that as an excuse anymore.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fishing Report: Feels Like We've Arrived

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I went to Trout Lake with the canoe Sunday evening. I remembered the new damsel flies, but I forgot the camera. That seldom happens, but perhaps it's a good thing when it does. The experience becomes more immediate, I think, and it's a good discipline to simply be in the moment without planning shots and prewriting a post.
So I'll just say it was another achingly beautiful evening, it was warm, I caught another fish on a dry fly, and the wind came up at dusk and blew me off the water.
I went back to Trout Lake this evening with the float tube--and the camera. Monday is my official day off, and I do like to get away if I can. But, because we're down to one vehicle again, I had to wait until almost 6 o'clock to make my getaway.
I took the float tube because it loads faster and easier. And, even though it was a bit cooler today than the past few days, it was still warm enough that I thought I could survive another wetting in my holy waders. I was glad to have the tube when I got to the lake and discovered the campgrounds full. That meant launching down the hill on the north end again, something that is much easier to do with a float tube.
While waiting this afternoon for my getaway I took time to tie a new leader and reorganize my fly boxes. When I had the leader finished the fly I tied on was this one:
It's the Carpet Caddis, and it's the fly I've caught fish on the past two trips. So it was on my line when I got to the lake, and it's still on my line tonight. I didn't change flies once all evening.
I started out paddling along the shoreline casting it in to the bank and stripping it back out again. I was thinking Browns, but this precocious Rainbow, still showing its parr marks, came up and slammed it. Bless him.
As I fished, another guy came along in his tube and recognized me. We had chatted last year--he said one year ago today--when we both made a run to the same take-out through rough seas at dark to escape an approaching thunderstorm. He comes for the Drake hatch, and he gave me the good news that they had seen some Sunday evening (he and his buddies were up at the north end, I was down by the channel; they had some protection from the wind, I didn't.)
I kept my eyes peeled for any sign of those big, beautiful mayflies, but I didn't see any this trip. But I saw evidence that the trout may be looking for them, too.
Soon the guy's buddies showed up, four of them, and they were coming up the bank I was fishing heading for the extreme north end. So I headed across the lake to the west side. I decided to leave the Carpet Caddis on and troll it.
Good decision.
Thunder rolled to the north. The main storm missed us, but we got some of the rain off and on for awhile. I worked my way down this side. The fly floated great, and I cast it in toward the willows and stripped and twitched it back.
The fish liked that.
They slammed the fly just like the first little guy did. I missed a few hits, too. It was very, very nice to have the fish so awake and aggressive. Finally. This is definitely Drake behavior, and it should last awhile.
By the time the crescent moon was visible my fly was pretty well waterlogged. So I decided to troll it again in a big long circle that would take me back to the van by dark.
I caught one more fish just as the light was almost gone.
I wrote in a recent post that it felt like things had turned a corner at the lake. Tonight it feels like we've arrived.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fishing Report: Nets Work; Cell Phone Doesn't

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We've finally had some genuinely summer-like weather. The local pool opens tomorrow, but Jeremiah and his friends couldn't wait, so yesterday I took them to a lake.
It was a swimming trip, but they came prepared for some fishing, too--with nets.
I was a skeptic at first. Then they started catching a ton of little bluegill and sunfish. They figured out how to cooperate and drive the hapless fish into the nets. It was like observing firsthand the Evolution of Man.
There were many more fish in this bucket by the end of the day.
Others came to the lake, too. We were at the only boat launch, so we had to make way several times for boats launching and landing. Then a pickup full of young dudes pulled up. They had a big ramp in the back of the pickup which they lugged out to the end of the dock.
Then the show began.
I enjoyed watching them. It also inspired the boys.
Then it was more fishing.
They ended up on the dock, and I got inspired to go over and take some underwater shots.
Out I went and got down on my stomach next to Jeremiah and began snapping away. I didn't get much, but it was fun--until my cell phone slid out of my shirt pocket and sank into the depths. It wasn't too deep, fortunately, and the boys quickly dove in and retrieved it for me.
It's still dead, but us wildlife photographers have to make sacrifices for the great shot: Yes, I'm kidding.