Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trout Lake Report: I Love These Guys

It was time once again to say goodbye to September on the lake. I will miss the golden afternoons and calm, cool evenings.

The fish were taking advantage of a heavy midge hatch. Several were rising in the weed mats up against the shoreline.

I laid a new orange-bodied muddler in there. A fish stopped what he was doing and came right over and sucked it in. Another brown. I love these guys.

I revived him in the net. As though he needed much reviving. The instant he realized he had a clear shot into deep water he exploded out of there. I love these guys.

I worked lazily down the shoreline heading to the back bay under the mountain.

I cast to a few rises, but they must have been rainbows. They went down until I was past.

The shoreline keeps changing. A big pine went down in the fire. Next year with the high water it will be prime fish-producing structure. Now it reminds me of a Japanese print.

This is the time of year that inspires reminiscing. As I passed the reeds, now high and dry, I fondly remembered when they have been the haunt of big, hungry fish cruising for Brown Drakes. I felt the pang of loss again as I looked at the willows in which one of the biggest trout I ever hooked broke himself off and was gone.

I let the fly drift behind me as I made a beeline for the far shore. One rainbow decided it couldn't resist that orange thing getting away.

Down at the end I searched for rises and continued to reminisce. I have taken some good fish out from under that big log in seasons past. This was one of my daughter Lidia's favorite spots when she was still fishing with me.

I cast the muddler out into open water where a few fish were coming up now and then. Nobody wanted it out here. The rises died down, and soon were few and far between. I saw more and more caddis mixed in with the midges, so I clipped the muddler off, tied on some 5X and finished it off with a little caddis dry. I figured I'd have to wait to find something to cast it to.

But no sooner had I greased it and flipped it out and turned around to get the lay of the water than a couple of risers came up nearby at the same time and started coming my way. These fish were eating with relish, sipping multiple bugs at a time. I knew there was a good chance they'd disappear as quickly as they had appeared.

I just had time for one quick cast. The fly landed two feet from the lead fish--and he snapped it up. No sip, this. It made a loud clop!, like a dog catching a doggie treat in midair. I was as surprised as he was to find him solidly hooked.

He did not want to be caught, and I had to remind myself that I was bringing him in on 5X instead of 4X, but I weathered some runs and a few lunges and got him into the net. What a fish.

That jaw deserved two photos.

I let him go and sat back and again started reminiscing. This time, though, it was about what had just happened. I savored the moment. It will be one of those moments, like all the others tucked away in my memory, that define this place for all time. And once again it was an awesome brown that made the moment.

I love these guys.

River Report: The Salmon Return, and It's Time for a Steel Comb

The salmon season on the river (sockeye and chinook) has been closed since July 18 because of low water and high temperatures. Still, I'm hoping that some salmon make it up to spawn. October is usually when I first see them, but I went early to see how things looked--and to see what else I might catch while there.

The Bridge Run is still long and wide and waist deep. Not bad, considering the low flows. But that's a good news, bad news thing for me. There's a leak in the crotch of my waders that always gets me wet at the lake. I thought with the river so low I'd stay dry this time. But no.

There have been midges swarming in our yard for the last few weeks, and they were much in evidence on the river. I also saw a mix of mayflies and caddis. I watched for October caddis but didn't see any yet.

The Bridge Run usually gives up a trout or two, or a couple of smallmouth.

This time the best I could do was one whitefish. 

It was an easy wade across. I made my way upstream to the Glide. It was good to be on the river again.

The Glide, too, is waist deep. I walked all the way to the upstream end and began to fish my way down. Back at the tail out a big fish splashed and swirled. A few minutes later I saw the unmistakable dorsal and tail of a chinook. That's the last I saw or heard, but at least one salmon has made it this far.

I worked the Glide twice, once with a big deceiver-type fly and once with a bead head nymph. I didn't get a bump. There were rises at the downstream end, and I tied on a caddis dry and had fun with that for awhile. I got many hits and one hookup, but didn't bring anything in. I'm pretty sure they were whitefish.

If there are salmon there's a good chance there are some steelhead, too. So far there are no restrictions on steelhead. The day time temps are now mostly in the 70's and night time temps are dipping into the 40's--and last Sunday some folks were registering in the mid-30's when they got up. So the water will be cooling down and conditions will be improving. I'll be back to work those deep runs with a fine-toothed steel comb.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Total Lunar Eclipse of the Full Super Harvest Hunter's Blood Moon

I drove up onto the flats to get a view of the Harvest Moon well before it would crest the ridge at our house.

It was peaceful. Cattle grazed and the yips of coyotes echoed in the still spaces.

Two respectable bucks came out of the aspens--four-by's. "Four-by" is short for "four-by-four" or, as they would say in the east, an eight-point. They reminded me that the other name for this full moon is the Hunter's Moon.

The recent fires that scarred this area seemed like a distant dream.

The sun went down...

...and the moon came up. It was already eclipsed as it cleared the tree line. As it rose ever higher into the darkening sky it took on substance and became a vibrant blood moon.

Later, as the earth's shadow slid away, the light of the Super Moon burst into full brilliance.

It was a lovely show.

Friday, September 25, 2015