Monday, July 30, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Beautiful Brown, Eternal Sun

You continue to be amazed at how every day on the water is different. This afternoon is hot, with the threat of storms.

There are fish taking damsels up tight against the shoreline. They like your damsel fly, and you enjoy the attention. You miss several careless hits and rolls.

Then a fish comes up under the fly and takes with intent, and you have a beautiful Rainbow in the net.

There's a south wind blowing, and you drift with it on down the shoreline. There are fewer fish on the damsels, and you wonder if there is some subtle barometric change occurring as clouds build in the west. You keep the fly on the water, stripping it slowly between the reeds.

The fly is out past the reeds and over a weed bed when there is a boiling take. It's a heavy fish and you have to strain the 4X tippet to keep it from boring deep into the weeds. You finally get it close: another gorgeous Brown. You wait until it's safely in the net to feel properly grateful.

When you're working the fly out of its jaw it twists, its mouth yaws open, and those startling teeth scrape along your finger. They don't break the skin, but it feels like a communication, one predator to another. Would that you had such lethal grace and beauty.

You hold it up to the sun and the moment is branded into your memory forever as the very essence of Summer.

You want to leave that moment intact, so you switch to a muddler, kick over to the other shoreline, and begin a new search. The clouds pile higher and soon loom over the lake. It appears that they will slide by to the northwest.

Then you hear distant thunder, and, looking behind you, realize that the clouds are flanking you.

You left the rain jacket in the truck, but now, remembering the hail that has stung you even through that much protection, you decide to kick back to the truck and get it before the storm hits. You kick hard, and the thunder rumbles ever closer. But when you get to the little take out channel the thunder has faded and the clouds once again appear to be skirting the lake. So you keep going, and keep fishing.

Then the wind picks up, swirls, and reverses on itself. Now it's blowing out of the north, pushing you farther from the truck. The lake churns. You wonder if the storm is switching direction along with the wind. There's a light sprinkle of wind-blown rain drops.

So you pull in where you are and walk the short distance back to the truck. The wind is fresh in your face. You get the jacket and make your way back to the tube. You're hot in spite of the wind, and there are no more rain drops. So you stow the jacket in one of the tube's storage pockets, kick out, and keep fishing.

The moon is out, and the south is clear. But the wind is stiffening out of the north. You continue to cast the muddler into the rolling waves, but the fish are quiet.

You kick back against the wind, waves splashing down your neck, and try another shoreline near the take out. You get one swirl on the muddler, but miss. You watch the evening fall, and wait to see if the wind might slacken.

But, though the storm is gone, the wind it generated persists. You rock back to the truck, waking the muddler through the waves. On the way home you remember, and a beautiful Brown shines in an eternal sun.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kids Fishing Post: Bad Bet, Good Bass

Jeremiah and his friend Ian got to talking about fishing the other day and got the fever. So for the first time this season Jeremiah asked me to take them to a bass lake. He has gone out a few times with another friend whose Dad has a big bass boat. Jeremiah likes the roostertail Jake can make when he cranks that big motor up. I can't deny it, Jake has a bigger roostertail than I do. But on this day they wanted to fish a channel where they'd heard there are BIG bass. So off we went.

They each had some money, so we made a quick stop at the local sporting goods store so they could stock up on watermelon this and salted that. In a moment of foolishness I bet them I could catch more bass on a fly than they could with all the stuff they were buying. Loser would pay for their purchases. They had confidence, I'll give them that. I'm pretty sure they ran the bill up fully expecting that I'd be paying it.

No, there's nothing wrong with him. This is just how he looks when I ask him to hold still so I can take his picture.

The lake we went to is the one I've referred to on this blog as "the early season lake." I fish for trout on the opposite end in the spring before the other lakes are open. By this time in the season, this end--and maybe that end, too--is full of bluegill and bass.

They rigged up and hit the channel.

I got first fish, but that wasn't the bet.

They worked the channel over pretty good.

I got most fish, but that wasn't the bet.

Just when I thought I was off the hook, Ian caught a bass. He had a six inch soft plastic thing on his line with a hook big enough to catch sharks! How did that little bass ever get it into his tiny little largemouth? I don't know, but I couldn't argue. That's a bass alright. Take my advice. Never make bets with your kids.

Now that the pressure was off they relaxed and let themselves go.

I kept trying for a bass, but every fish I caught was a bluegill. Did I mention I got most fish?

They finally called it quits--just before I was going to catch a bass, I'm sure--and asked me to take them to the other bass lake where they like to swim. It's right on the way home, so off we went.

They had a great time in the water. It never seems more like summer than when I'm watching them swim in the lake.

Of course I kept fishing, hoping for a bass bigger than Ian's. Not so much to ask. But it was not to be. Still, even though it turned out to be more expensive than I thought it would be, it was a great trip.

POST SCRIPT: The very next day, while I was working, Jeremiah convinced Kim to take them back to the swimming lake. He fished off the dock, right where I had been fishing the evening before, and caught a good bass. He kept it, so I could get an eyefull. "See?" he said. "When are you going to pay me?" He likes to keep to the point. That evening Ian filleted it, more or less, and they had a contest to see which one could fry up the best tasting fillet. I tried both, and I can say for sure that it was indeed a good bass.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Trout Lake Report: The Den

You're still feeling relaxed. The south end is deserted, so you pull in. You love this section. It's cozy and comfortable. If the lake were your house, this would be the den.

You tied up a couple of new muddlers for this trip. You're eager to try them out.

You work a few different stretches of shoreline with the darker one, but you don't find any fish. You tie on the damsel--you're feeling really good about the damsel now--and kick back and forth from the shoreline to open water. Every now and then a fish is coming up out there.

You start back toward the far south end letting the fly burble along behind you.

A fish comes up and intercepts it.

You move down to the far south shoreline. There's a light wind out of the north and you decide to prospect the area where the lake narrows into a channel to a small pond. You have found fish here before picking off bugs as they concentrate in the wind-blown current.

They're in there again, and they like the damsel left to bob along in the waves. You catch a few and miss a few.

After awhile you want to try a muddler again. You tie on the light one and kick over to the east shoreline and work back north again. The fly floats like a cork, and it's a pleasure to cast and strip.

Just when you aren't expecting it, a long, lean Rainbow porpoises on it. Always a beautiful sight.

You move on down, and now you're expecting it when two more good fish porpoise on the fly.

This section has been slow the last couple of times you were here. You're glad to see that the trout in the den are getting up off the couch again.