Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cutthroat Lake Report: In the Mood

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Somehow I was in the mood for cutthroats on Tuesday.

I trolled my way up the south shore to these little islands. Later in the season they'll be under water. I was trolling a fly that I had tied up with this trip in mind, a leechy pattern on a #6 streamer hook with a black marabou tail, purple crystal chenille body, purple marabou wing, and black marabou collar. With a tasteful amount of additional flash added.

I guess this fish was in the mood, too. Halfway up the shoreline it hit the fly. It feels good when someone likes something you made especially for them.

As sometimes happens, I got the mistaken notion that I knew what I was doing. So I kept on trolling. I ranged far and wide, and didn't catch a fish for hours. There was a stiff wind blowing most of the afternoon, so half the time I was bucking that.

I paddled across to the north shore and then trolled back toward the put in. That took me past a popular swimming area, and the cliffs that people like to jump off of. I haven't tried that yet, but Jeremiah was here with friends last year and made the leap. Still too early this year; nobody was in a swimming mood today.

I switched flies now and then, and got just enough bumps to keep things interesting--and to keep my heart rate at an invigorating level.

I made the circle at the put in and went back up the south shore again, all the way back to the islands. Then turned around and headed back.

It was dusk when I made it back to the west end. The wind was still blowing, but there was a sheltered stretch right along the snaggy shoreline. I stopped and watched the smooth surface carefully and finally saw what I was hoping to see: a big rise. There were many midges and some mays coming off, and a few fish--not many--were in the mood to take them off the top.

That was perfect. After all that trolling, I was in the mood to fish a dry. I quickly tied on a little Adams.

The mays were skittering across the surface like caddis, so I flipped out the fly and gave it a good pull. Up came this fish and ate it.

It wasn't long before the rises began to wane. Meanwhile a big fish kept swimming over to hang out under the float tube. Then it would go over to the shallows and take a bug. Then come back. That was a little humiliating.

I don't know if it was that fish I caught or another one, but the one under my feet swam lazily toward shore and out of sight. I looked for rises, but there weren't any more. I made one more cast right up to the shoreline, and a fish took. The biggest yet, and bright red.

I think it was my friend. Maybe he'll be wiser and more respectful after this.

By then it was almost dark, and I saw no more rises. But I flipped the fly out and dragged it slowly behind me as I paddled in. I had no hits, but it was just as well. When I finally reeled in and tried to hook the fly on the hook keeper I discovered that the hook point had snapped off when I took it out of that last fish's bony jaw.

I consigned that fly to the deep with full honors.

I was tired after my marathon troll, but I was happy. It feels good when what happened is just what you were in the mood for.

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