Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Cold Water," by Donald Hall

I step around a gate of bushes
in the mess
and trickle of a dammed stream
and my shoe fills with cold water. I
enter the shade
of a thicket, a black pool,
a small circle of stunned drowsing air,

vaulted with birch which meets overhead
as if smoke
rose up and turned into leaves.
I stand on the roots of a maple
and imagine
dropping a line. My wrist jumps
with the pain of a live mouth hooked deep,

and I stare, and watch where the lithe stripe
tears water.
Then it heaves on my hand; cold,
squaretailed, flecked, revenant flesh
of a Brook Trout.
The pine forests I walked through
darken and cool a dead farmer’s brook.

I look up and see the Iroquois
coming back
standing among the birches
on the other side of the black pool.
The five elders
have come for me, I am young,
my naked body whitens with cold

in the snow, blisters in the bare sun,
the ice cuts
me, the thorns of blackberries:
I am ready for the mystery.
I follow them
over the speechless needles
of pines which are dead or born again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trout Lake Report: More Than Generous

In these days approaching high Summer, the lake is vibrant with life, and more than generous with its trout. For the second trip in a row the fishing has surpassed reasonable expectations. I won't tell you the number of fish I caught on this trip, but I will say, as I do sometimes about the length of a good trout, that it was "pushing twenty." I won't post photos of all of them, just the best ones, in hopes that the sight of such beautiful fish will give you some small measure of the pleasure they gave me.

Conditions have been perfect for fishing the north end, with a variable light breeze out of the northwest leaving the best water sheltered. The water is still cold, with plenty of runoff still pouring into the lake at this end. The fish are up along the shoreline, or holding in weed beds, and their predatory instincts have been honed to sharpness over the first part of the season. They are strong and healthy, they'll take line off the reel or out of your hand, and they require a deft touch to get them into the net.

Everything we look for.

I started down the shoreline throwing the Carpet Caddis, a fly from Don Freschi. His is caddis-sized--I tied mine on a #12 long shank hook and fish it like a Stimulator.

I'm tempted to rename it the Brown Caddis since it has proved irresistible to big Browns. I would, if it hadn't also proved irresistible to big Rainbows. This Brown took it on the twitch with a calm but businesslike take.

This one took it on the float before I could begin twitching or stripping.

I made my way around to the far shore where good fish were working the weed beds, and began to work them myself. This is my favorite kind of fishing: seeing a big rise, casting to it with a big dry fly knowing that the fish is there and on the feed, working the fly--twitching, stripping, fast and slow, stop and go--waiting for the take you're sure will come, and then seeing that big head come up. The fish go nuts when they find themselves hooked, and in this shallower water, with the weeds right there, you hang on and try to keep their heads up.

This time there was yet another big Brown waiting for me. Nice fish.

I saw the Eagle on one of her favorite perches, but I couldn't figure out why she was making so much noise. When I looked more closely I realized her brood was with her, old enough to fly but still young enough to cry to Mama for something to eat.

I continued to drift down the shoreline, and I continued to catch fish. This one reminded me that I'm not the only predator the trout need to worry about.

And so the day went. After awhile I tied on a Hopper, and caught fish with that. Later I tied on a dark Stimulator and caught fish with that. Toward evening the rises slowed down, but the fish would still come up to a steady strip.

It was wonderful. That's not to say I did everything right. I missed many takes, and I let the fish that should have been in this photo get into the weeds. I horsed him out again, but just before I could get him up, he ran right off the hook. It felt like it would have been one of the better fish of the day.

At dusk the action slowed down, and then the wind came up strong. I thought I might just go home a little earlier than usual. I started paddling back across the lake letting the Stimulator drift behind. Thirty feet from the take out, in the pitching waves, I had a take and another fish. As I released that fish the wind backed off a little, and I heard other fish rising all around me. So I cast out, barely able to see my fly, caught three more, and got home at the usual time.

See what I mean? More than generous.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

River Watch: Slowly Shaping Up

Some comparisons of today and five weeks ago. I was telling Mark about the good fishing to come in September and October with Steelhead and salmon right here. He said, "Today I'd just throw in a fat night crawler and see what happens." That could be interesting, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trout Lake Report: Oh Boy

Worked the shoreline all around the north end on a beautiful afternoon and evening. Found the right fly this time, and...oh boy.