Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Spring Green, Spring Blue, Spring Brown

I was waiting for Monday. After a week of overcast, cool temperatures, and rain, Monday was to be warm and sunny. Tuesday is to be warmer yet. So I loaded the truck and drove up to the lake Monday afternoon with plans to return on Tuesday. There are fewer RV's and people at the lake now, but I still went to the north end, farthest from the campgrounds.

It was warmer than the last time, but a stiff wind was blowing out of the south, so a jacket still felt good. I began with a scud under an indicator again, the rig that got me my first fish last trip, but the lake was probably too choppy this time. Scuds swim with a darting motion, but they don't bounce up and down.

So I rigged up with a big bead head nymph and began trolling to the other side.

That bead head did the trick this time.

This is the one I used on Monday. In this lake natural colors, black or green work best, but that won't stop me from using red or purple or white--and I've caught fish on those, too. I also find that bead heads like this tend to find the right depth at the trolling speed I can maintain in the tube. But I've also had some luck dredging classic streamers and big woolly buggers. But when I need to catch a fish, I'll go to a bead head.

On the other side I went back to the scud, and had a few bumps along a point, but I missed them. I tied on a non-bead head nymph--I'm nothing if not consistent--and drifted with the wind along the shoreline. That's a nice way to travel. I passed the inlet stream, which is now quiet, its job done. The lake is full.

I made the turn and started along the far north end.

I was halfway across when I heard a big splash behind me. (It was ahead of the tube, but I'm facing backwards in the tube, if you see what I mean.) I twisted around and saw an Osprey sitting in the water about ten yards away, its wings splayed out on the surface. I was able to watch as it raised its wings and lifted itself out of the water with powerful downstrokes, a trout twisting in its talons. Always awesome.

I thought maybe I would have caught that trout if the Osprey hadn't gotten there first--it was right in my path--but as it was I hadn't caught anything on that nymph by the time I pulled over and took a break.

When I went back to fishing I decided to work that Osprey's fishing hole a little bit. If I could have flown up and dropped down on an unsuspecting trout I would have, but instead I went back to the indicator. I tried the scud and got some more bumps, but no hookups. I tried a chironimid nymph and didn't even get bumps.

So I changed tactics. I knotted on a Muddler. I didn't grease it, wanting to fish it just below the surface. Then I started paddling back around the shoreline the way I had come towing the Muddler behind me. I didn't necessarily expect it to work, I just wanted it to work. And it did. This Rainbow hit it hard.

That gave me confidence in that Muddler, and I had a plan now. I got back around to the inlet stream and started working the line of newly submerged willows around the little bay there. This has traditionally been a good spot for fish, especially in the heat of summer when the inlet stream keeps the lake there nice and cool. It has also, incidentally, been a place where I have found a few good Browns.

Was I thinking Brown Trout? Not consciously, but you better always be in a Brown mood if you start working any of those weedy bays over there. I cast the Muddler up to some willows, and the water moved, something swirled, I felt a bump--or just a brush. Things were fishy. I stripped in fast and got a follow. I cast back and stripped and got a take, but it let go. The next cast I hooked up with something, but it quickly came off.

I slowly worked my way along, casting in to the willows and stripping back fast, and had another hookup and a few strong pulls before that fish came off. Then, finally, I was stripping away and the fly just stopped. I set and was on to a good fish. I didn't know what I had when I took this photo. I just knew it was a heavy fish.

It was when the fish kept boring down and boring down that it occurred to me it might be a Brown. No more messing with the camera after that. I got down to work, hoping that the well-used 5X tippet would hold. It took awhile, but I got the fish close enough to see a flash of yellow belly, and I knew what I had. Then I really started sweating it. I wanted that Brown. It was a great relief to feel its weight settle into the net as I lifted it from the water. What a beauty.

I didn't get any more takers from that bay after that, but I didn't care. The wind was backing off and the day was ending, and a few trout were rising to a thin cloud of midges over the water. But I stayed with the Muddler.

I began to paddle in ever so slowly, dragging the Muddler along, and caught a few more Rainbows.

The Spring greens and Spring blues were merging in the fragrant, peaceful dusk. But that Spring Brown was still vivid in my mind.


  1. Jim
    Outstanding post!!What is the temp in this lake in the summer months? The colors on that rainbow are amazing. Do you fish with the Tungston beadhead or just a regular beadhead. I have used both and the Tungston seems to have a faster sink rate than the regular beadhead. I will always go to the Muddler when nothing else is working for me, it seems to bring out the hits. Thanks for sharing a great post!!

    1. Don't know the temp of the water; need to get a thermometer some day. I used regular beads, but I like the tungsten; have used them on steelhead flies. I have always found the muddler or a stimulator or other big waking fly will get results, to the consternation of chironimid purists.

  2. Wonderful story of what sounds like a great day on the water. Those are some nice trout , especially that big brown ,what a fish!
    That last shot almost looks like a watercolor painting...beautiful.

    1. That last shot surprised me. I had been messing with camera settings and somehow the "compensate for shadow, compensate for brightness" setting--I think--gave that low light shot it's graininess.

  3. Great report, with wonderful photos. That Muddler is going to be one your staples. It's a producer.

    1. The muddler already is one of my favorites, in various shades and sizes. I usually fish it dry. And stimulators, don't forget the stimulators.

  4. Hi Jim. Just found your blog and added it to my blogroll. Mark from Northern California Trout (northerncaliforniatrout.com). Wonder how a tungsten bead head Thin Mint would work in your lake. It's been a killer for me.


    1. Glad to have you along; thanks for taking the time to comment. And for the tip on the Thin Mint. I'll look that one up and give it a try.

  5. Great story. I was with you the whole way. It's cool that you took the cue from the Osprey. They know. Like big time know. Muddlers are awesome. So versatile. A streamer or even a dry. Trolling in a tube must be pretty wild. I liked how the day started as an exploration, the climax of the brown,the cool down with a few rainbows, the peaceful ending with green and blues. A truly amazing day. Thanks so much for taking us along.

  6. My great pleasure. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Greatly appreciated. Trolling in a tube is like it felt back in my running days when you hit your pace and feel like you could go on forever. Of course I don't; I often stop to take a photo of this or that.