Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brookie Lake Report: Your Lucky Stars

One more evening trip to close out June. You drive past Trout Lake and down the rutted road through the pines to Brookie Lake. As you expected, this shallow lake is already weeded up. A man and his wife have been fishing from the one place on the bank with access to open water. They have a stringer of brookies, so you know the fish are still in there.

They leave and you try their spot, but the wind is blowing strong right in your face. So you launch the tube and make your way through the weeds.

You fish the pocket water between weed beds. You're throwing a red bead head leech, and you have to account for the wind to hit the target, and start the strip immediately to stay above the weeds.

The first fish feels like you're snagged on a weed, and you yank him out of the water before realizing it's a fish. Feisty little guy.

You tie on an elk hair caddis. A fish bumps it and drowns it. While you're stripping in for the next cast the fish of the day slams it. They're all feisty.

The moon rises and the wind calms a bit. You think for a moment that it's starting to rain, but it's rises, hundreds of them, dimpling the surface.

Minnows. The lake is full of them. You can't find a brookie for the life of you. You've switched to a tiny midge dry, and you can't keep the minnows away from it.

You make your way to the spillway channel. There are bigger, splashy rises right at the lip of the spillway.

They're brookies.

You peer down the spillway. The outlet stream is surprisingly wide and long. Next time you'll come ready to bushwhack and stream fish. You've already heard the stories: a 16 inch brookie taken out of there.

Dusk has settled in and bats and mosquitoes are out as you paddle leisurely to the take out. You pick up one more brookie on the way.

You look up at the moon and thank your lucky stars for the chance to have an evening like this.

Cutthroat Lake Report: The Key

It's warm again. It's been awhile since you've been there. Time to see how the cutthroat are doing.

The lake is June beautiful. A fitful wind comes and goes.  You hope for some risers, but none are to be seen. So you begin a long troll. Down the flower-bedecked shoreline...

Past the islands...

Across to the cliffs...

And past the gnarled remnants of a long ago fire.

You've tried a variety of flies, and found nothing. Back at the west end you look for risers again, throw a muddler along the snags and deadfalls--just in case--but move nothing.

Some people come to swim. One young guy asks you how you're doing. He says, "I hear woolly buggers are doing well." Woolly buggers. You haven't tried a woolly bugger. You tie on a black one with a clear glass bead head and grizzly hackle. You start up the shoreline again.

Halfway up, the lake opens, and the wooly bugger is the key. A big cutthroat pulses at the end of the line. He's beautiful. You let yourself go with the camera.

That feels good. The wind calms and you tie on a dry and bob at the west end hoping for risers, thinking about the colors of that fish. Some callibaetis, some caddis. A few fish rise once or twice, then disappear. Your hopes rise, too.

Then the sky darkens and a rain squall blows through. The rain quits, the wind stays. Dusk settles in early.

So you tie that bugger back on and go back for more. It comes through for you again. You have to buck the wind to get back to the truck. But that's alright with you.

Trout Lake Report: Completion

The Hex hatch is over. It feels good to have the whole lake to choose from. You launch in the channel again, but this time the south lake calls. You answer.

There are two ways to fish: give the fish what they're eating in hopes they'll eat your imitation, or give them what you want them to eat and see if you can get them to eat it. Midges are hatching, and some caddis. A few fish are coming up for them. But muddlers are the menu you offer.

You don't find many fish; you don't seem to be able to make them eat a muddler. After awhile you cast and strip, not to make them eat it, but just to see if they will. You are surprised and delighted when you find two fish who will.

A rainstorm rolls in from the southwest. This one sweeps across the lake. It takes you in like a long-lost friend.

Everything is washed clean. Everything can start fresh. You consider changing flies and tactics, then stay with what you're doing. The simplicity and rhythm, the clean lines of it, feel right. You have already attained completion. Now you want it to last.

You work your way back up the shoreline, each cast like a bead on a rosary.

Back in the channel you cast, then look at the moon, and miss a good fish. But you're glad to be looking at the moon.

A final fish takes your fly.

It comes like a pleasant afterthought.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Long Live the Hatch

Last Saturday, the day of the big Brown. You have really come to see if the Hex are still hatching.

After releasing the Brown you tie on a Hex fly. No Hex are on the water. A few fish are rising in the willows to midges and caddis. Maybe they've been waiting to see if the Hex will hatch, too, or maybe they just remember. When you put it in the right place they come eagerly to the big fly.

Dusk comes. You see a mere handful of big mayflies where before there were thousands.

The fish still come to the fly, but there is something benedictory about their takes.

The hatch has been superb, phenomenal. You remember, too; you won't soon forget. But you accept the truth.

The hatch is spent. Long live the Hatch.