Saturday, July 30, 2016

Trout Lake Report: No One's There

It's a scorcher, over 100 degrees. This is July on the semi-arid Columbia Plateau. It's a good day to go sit in a lake.

You've tied up yet another muddler.

You kick out into the channel this time. You want to see how it's doing. Your plan is to work the shoreline down to the west side.

Then you get to the channel drop off. There's a south breeze, and the current is flowing out of the channel. In the past, fish have set up here to get their groceries delivered right to them. You clip off the muddler and rig a nymph under an indicator.

You try several nymphs before you hit one that gets a hit. You must have set late: the fish is hooked on the outside of its lip. That was fun.

You keep at it, drifting your nymphs out over the drop off. You decide again that occasional bobber fishing is good for the soul.

After a whole series of nymphs you tie on a tan caddis nymph and get a quick tug. This time the fish is hooked on the top of its head. How did it do that? Or is it you?

The breeze settles down. You hope that might get more fish working.

It doesn't. Activity drops off over the drop off.

You kick back into the channel. Nothing happening there, either.

A little garter snake feels safe making a water crossing. You can imagine that there might be Browns in this very lake that, under different circumstances, would make a quick meal of him.

You start down the shoreline toward the west side, but you're fishing a deer hair caddis instead of the muddler. The bank seems deserted. You cast out into open water; it seems deserted, too.

You look at the glittering reflections on the lake. This is your silver and gold. You are a wealthy man.

You get halfway down the shoreline and turn around and start back. You still think the channel or the drop off should wake up sooner or later.

The breeze has come back--from the opposite direction. Maybe that will get fish working. It doesn't.

You go back into the channel. The breeze goes away again. Still no rises.

You keep laying the caddis out there, then an ant, hoping to make an offer some fish can't refuse.

But you're all alone.

You extend your tippet, tie on a bead head woolly bugger, and make a big loop trolling.

Have you ever gone to the place where the party is supposed to be--you're sure this is where it's supposed to be--and no one's there?

"Looking at a Lizard" by Barry Spacks

Aboriginal rock art, Northern Tablelands, Australia
Photo: Don Hitchcock

My only purpose this moment
is looking at a lizard.
Does he know he’s not alone?

He breathes with tiny push-ups,
his skin all hairline caverns
soaking up the sun.

I doubt, alive, I’m liable to get
closer to timelessness than this,
looking at a little lizard breathing.

"Looking at a Lizard" by Barry Spacks from Shaping Water. © Gunpowder Press, 2015.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Take Action for Wild Steelhead

The Caddis Fly passes on a call to action from the Native Fish Society to tell WDFW to designate the entire Skagit as a wild steelhead gene bank. Go HERE and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trout Lake Report: Not This Time

You're out on the north end again. You're observing the day to day changes in the life of the lake, as you have been doing since the beginning.

The day is hot and calm. You fish a quasi-hopper all the way around past the inlet. You find one fish working in the shade. You show it the hopper. It doesn't bite. You begin a seductive strip, and five feet from the tube it breaks on the fly. It's beautiful: it comes from left to right and nails the hopper; when it feels the hook it reverses and jumps from right to left. It hangs there in the air glittering in the sunlight...and when it comes down with a great splash it has thrown the hook. Kudos, trout.

You cut across to the other side. The shallows are filling up with weeds.

So is open water. These plants may be ten feet long. In past years, as weeds rise and water lowers, weed beds are created that in turn form "pocket water" in which one may find large fish, especially of the Brown variety, sporting about. You look forward to that possibility.

No large fish on this day. The east shoreline holds only small fish with large aspirations.

At the end of the shoreline you decide on a change.

You've seen a few cinnamon ants again. You just happen to have a couple of newly tied ant flies. It's the same recipe as used on the Henry's Fork--which these trout seemed to reject on a recent trip--but these are smaller and neater.

You cut back across toward the inlet, working the ant.

You get an enthusiastic take out of nowhere. This kid liked the new fly.

You go on a ways and see a faint rise. Then another. A chain riser. It's moving away from you. You lay the fly out on a line bisecting the rises and hope it will come back. It does. It just kisses the fly and you hook him. The best fish of the day, and another vote for the new ant.

You want to do that again. A breeze has kicked up, though, and you can't see any rises in the riffles. 

You head over to the inlet.

The breeze is swirling. You don't see any rises here, either. You switch to a caddis--easier to see--and entice some little fish to eat it.

After awhile, the action slows. You start back to the open water off the take out, trailing the caddis behind.

The sunset is lighting up.

You kick slowly across, enjoying the show.

You wait until dark, hoping that the breeze might leave and the fish might light up.

Not this time.

Land of Emperors

Canadian Rockies. Oh, Canada!

Land of Emperors - 4K, 2.35:1 from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.
In a landscape as immense as the Canadian Rockies, it takes a human figure to help set the scale. In the LAND OF EMPERORS, the mountains rule. And while humans may appear tiny and insignificant, their experience venturing into that landscape is far from meaningless. The journey promises new perspective. From the striking geometry of precipitous peaks forming Canada's hydrological divide to the vastness of retreating icefields and glaciers, it can be an inspiring experience for anyone wandering through this region. This short film reminds us of the striking beauty of the Canadian Rockies and our place, as humans, within those magnificent peaks.

Shot in the beautiful mountain parks of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Over 80 miles and 20,000+ feet of elevation gain were traveled on foot to collect these visuals. Primary locations include Kananaskis Country, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park. To comply with current regulations, the quadcopter was not operated within the national parks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trout Lake Report: Right

You gear up with a fresh quasi-hopper for another turn around the north end.

The weather seems more stable this evening.

Things are pretty straightforward; you lay the hopper out along the shoreline and see if a fish will eat it. Eventually one does.

There are small fish playing around the inlet and in the reeds. You get their attention, but you don't get them--at least this time around.

You cross the border of sunlight and shadow into open water.

A good Rainbow plucks the hopper off the surface as it wakes by.

You head back to the inlet.

It's a fingerling fiesta there.

The sun sinks and the shadows rise.

A teen trout muscles the kids aside and claims the hopper for his own.

You drift the hopper behind you as you kick back to the take out. You're thinking you might work a little caddis or something over the weed beds there, if conditions are right.

But once you get there, the conditions aren't quite right, if by that you mean no fish are rising. And you haven't changed flies all evening. Doesn't seem right to change now and start over. Besides, the evening as it stands now feels just right. Seems like it's time to go home. Right?