Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Early Lake Report: Paying Your Dues

It was another March-like afternoon, but without the whipping wind. I was ready to offer the dry fly option to the stockers still getting accustomed to their new home.

I had tied up a pretty little stimulator, and within two minutes of launch I had a fish on the line. I was drifting the fly behind the tube and the fish hit the fly and missed, then followed and sucked it in deep, making sure it wouldn't get away again. I had to use the forceps to get it out.

I released the first fish, flipped the fly out on the water, and began untangling fly line still stiff and coiled from the cold. While I was busy with that, another fish came along and inhaled the fly. Back to the forceps. I tried to be careful, but by the time I had removed the fly a second time it was in bad shape. But it had done its job well.

I went to a muddler and caught a few fish on a lazy drift behind the float tube.

Then the wind came up and the fish went down.

I was pretty sure the wind was here to stay, but after awhile it backed off.

And some fish came back up.

I wasn't the only one fishing, but I was happy to share the water with these experts: a loon, and an osprey.

The osprey tried to call me off as I neared his perch, but I had to pass right under it to reach the shore where I planned to take a break.

This shoreline is across from the road and is a little oasis of wildness on this built-up lake.

There is a grove of trees and then the steep, almost cliff-like ridge face. It would be a hard climb up and down for me, but I have found deer and bighorn sheep in these woods. They had no trouble getting up the ridge when they heard me coming.

I took my break then explored a little. I have found bones and feathers here, and even fishing lures hanging from shoreline branches. This time I found a single downy feather blooming on a branch like a spring blossom.

I launched into a calming lake.

This was what I was hoping for. In the chilly calm midges, a few caddisflies, and other assorted bugs were hatching. They swarmed around me. Would the fish get together for an evening rise?

I cast out a little elk hair caddis and kept an eye on it as best I could.

I was distracted, though, by the swallows. They flew up and down the lake making the most of the heavy hatch. I love these birds.

A few fish rose randomly, giving me hope, and I worked the little caddis as enticingly as I could. An evening rise, however, did not materialize. It will come as days get warmer, but for now I switched to a fat nymph and trolled it slowly toward the take out. Before I got there one more little trout was on the line.

I released it and kicked in to shore. I had been in the water for almost five hours. My feet were a little numb, and I was shivering as the temperature dropped toward a low in the thirties.

I'm eager for warm weather fishing, but I have to admit, there's something appealing about being out there in these early days of the season. At the least, it feels real good when you finally quit and get inside to warm up. At the most, it feels like you're paying your dues and renewing your commitment to the lakes and streams that sustain you all year long.

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