Monday, July 23, 2012

Trout Lake Report: Back In the Saddle Again

Feeling overdue for a few good fish you kick out on the north end. You're thinking of the cold water of the inlet on the other side. You have that new light-winged version of the damsel fly and you tie it on with anticipation.

A strong wind is blowing out of the south. You bob down the near shoreline first, thinking of the usual suspects in a couple of little damsel-rich bays. Nobody's home. You spend some time at the far north end thinking there may be a few opportunistic fish working the bugs washing up in the waves there. But nobody's home there either.

You buck the wind along the far shoreline until you reach the inlet. Somebody's home. You see a fish come out of the water in the little lagoon inside the willow-lined mouth. You decide to work your way in, so you get into position and lay a cast just outside the mouth. A fish instantly whacks it and snaps the fly off the tippet.

Why did you tie it on 5X? You don't know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. You'll miss that fly, but you feel good: it worked. You still have the original version with the darker wing. Maybe it will work today, too.You clip off the 5X and tie it onto the 4X. You move in a little closer and lay down another cast just inside the mouth.

You begin to slowly strip it in, just a little faster than the current. Then, all you see is a big back and the fly is gone. You raise the rod and there's a good fish on the line. You start to horse him out, knowing you've got to get him out into the open to have a chance. You're happy to realize that's exactly what he's thinking. He slips past you into open water, and that's his undoing.

What a beautiful Brown.

You go right back to the same spot and get a quick take. You set, thinking big, and almost yank this little Brown into the float tube.

You still hear and see fish working inside the mouth, so you move right up between the willows at the mouth and start working over the little lagoon.

It's a Brown convention in there. They're on damsels, and they seem to like the original version of the fly just fine. Another one porpoises on it. This one, too, heads for open water.

And so does the next one.

Things slow down in there after that. But as the sun sinks lower a few fish begin to rise out in open water. You kick out and explore up and down the lake for a ways, and you're not surprised to see that the fish are concentrating in the cooler water near the inlet. That's where you concentrate, too.

As dusk lays down you clip off the damsel and tie on a little muddler. It gets lots of attention from little fish along the willows. So you kick back to the inlet and lay it in the sweet spot. A fish takes it hard, but instead of heading for open water it dashes every which way--Rainbow--and gets hung up in the willows. The 4X snaps. You'll miss that muddler.

You look in your fly box. You're running out of muddlers. But a Henry's Fork Hopper catches your eye. Why not? You tie it on.

All this time a fish has been rising splashily about twenty yards out. Earlier it ignored the damsel, but you wonder what it would do with a bullet-headed hopper. So you kick out, wait for another rise, and put the fly in the vicinity. You're stripping it in when the fish hits it. You're thinking, "Just like a Brown." What do you know, it is a Brown.

You can't resist one more check of the inlet. There's a fish working in there again. You're pretty sure it's a Rainbow. So you show him the hopper. He takes it on the strip, and this time you do your best to skate him out of there. You've got him right at the mouth when he jumps four feet out of the water right into the willows. He gets hung up, and thrashes there in the branches. You're able to kick over and scoop him up with the net before he breaks off. He's the best fish you've ever netted out of a tree.

You have to break the branch off to get the line untangled.

By then it's getting dark, so you begin to troll the hopper back to the truck. Just before you get too far away from the cool inlet water another Rainbow grabs it.

What a great evening. You feel like you're back in the saddle again.


  1. "It's a Brown convention in there" Great image. Beautiful fish. I never knew you were out of the saddle. You've been on fire ever since Trout Lake opened. Another nice outing. Words and photos.

  2. Can't say as I've ever netted a fish in a tree. Something to look forward to.


  3. Great always. I'd say you gave those Trout Lake browns an education on the finer "points" of dry fly fishing!