Friday, September 16, 2011

Trout Lake Report: September Mild, September Wild

The hot weather is gone, probably for good. The crickets and katydids are singing the end of summer. Today down in the valley was September mild with a slight overcast and a lively wind stirring the high clouds.

Up at the lake the wind was September wild, pounding the lake against the western shoreline all day long, and gradually piling in a covering of clouds. Nothing was moving except the wind and the clouds and the swells; I saw a total of two fish jump the whole time I was there. The wind was carrying just a touch of fall, a touch that had a chill to it. I jacketed up, kited the float tube down to the water, and plowed through the waves, making it all the way around the north end by the time I was finished.

I started working the shoreline with the Carpet Caddis. I caught a few little fish like this one, scooped up with an autumn leaf. The signs are proliferating.

I was working in and around weed beds, and the carpet Caddis got hung up. I flipped the rod--hard; too hard--and the fly snapped off. It seemed like an opportunity, so I tied on a Big Bomber. I haven't used it much this year, even though it was Fly of the Year last season. It was a felicitous choice; it was to put in a very good day's work.

I continued to work the shoreline, getting bumps from little fish, but then those two fish jumped at the same time about twenty feet out from the weed beds. I cast the Bomber out into the zone and pulled it slowly along as I fought the wind. It wasn't long before this good fish whacked it.

I passed the channel and heard a loud woodpeckery cry, and a pileated woodpecker swooped in and made a velcro landing on a tree trunk near me. I did not take this photo, but it's exactly what I saw. Great bird.

The fishing got wilder as the wind picked up. I was working the shoreline again, but from a good twenty feet away. The float tube was pitching and I was paddling constantly to maintain a casting position, and the casting itself was a challenge, with gusts collapsing the backcast, or sending the fly clattering around the rod, or, worse, sending it whistling past my ear. But the fish continued to come to an erratic and aggressive strip, and I got many bumps and swirls, and caught a few more small fish.

The west side was especially challenging as I worked furiously to stay out of the giant weedbeds that the rolling swells kept pushing me into. But there was open water in amongst the weeds, and there were fish in them. I had a tough time dredging this very nice fish out of the weeds, but it finally came to the net.

Same with this one.

This Brown came clear out of the water to take the fly.

On down the shoreline I came to the main outlet where fresh water flows into the lake. It's open water, and, on my last trip there, a fish was working it. On that evening I could not get it to come to a fly. This time I went looking for it. I worked the area carefully until I finally had the fly where I had last seen the fish. I stripped and got a splooshing miss. I cast the fly back a little farther down the reed line, and he porpoised on it. Not a big fish, but a worthy opponent.

By then it was dusk, and I had been steadily paddling and casting in the wind for a long time. I cast the Bomber out and let it trail along behind me as I made my way toward the truck. I got more hits, and caught one more small fish.

I had a lot of fun with the wild, but I was ready again for the mild.

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