It was to be a solo trip, Del offered to go with if we slept in and went somewhere close to home. Atley couldn't fight his way out from between his sheets, and Caden didn't even flinch when I tried to wake him in the morning. While en-route I called my Dad who I thought would be working just to find out he wasn't, and probably would've gone if I'd thought to invite him earlier. Time out fishing with my Dad doesn't seem to happen nearly as often as I'd like, so I was still kicking myself for missing that opportunity as I passed the first lake.
My first stop was a small lake where Atley, Caden and I caught some nice tiger trout on a previous trip (See the video Here). That trip the fish were willing to come to a slowly worked bugger, so that's where I started even though I knew that rarely does it happen the same way twice. I worked the fly in close to the bank, then out into deeper water, trying to figure out what it would take today. After fishing all the easily accessible shoreline I decided to put my float tube on the small lake to better unravel some of it's mysteries. The float tube was a gift from Del and the boys for Father's Day....last year. The house building project had distracted me from taking it out, but I plan on breaking it in - thoroughly - this Summer. I figured this would be a great trip to start with and I was pretty excited as I pumped it up. It was once the boat was ready that I reached for my waders, only to find that I had forgotten them.
The deflating boat seemed to succinctly describe my mood as I returned it to the backseat of my truck. There will be other trips, most likely in the near future, but I was disappointed with the loss of an advantage I obviously needed. Instead of giving up I changed flies to a Tri-Colored Nymph (see how to tie the fly Here) and started working some of the harder to reach shoreline. Just when I was sure this approach wasn't going to work either, I missed a small fish that struck only a few feet from where I stood. He looked at the follow-up cast but only to memorize what had bit him, in order to never try and eat one again (I assume).
A cast to the deeper water required a creative roll cast (or two) but I got it out there and let it sink to a ten count. Once the fly came into view at the water color change a nice tiger appeared out of the void beneath a log and took the fly like it hated it. The fish fought like it was still hating the fly but I got it in the net after a few nice runs complete with a memorable tail-walk before sliding across the bow of my net.
I worked that fly around the rest of the lake, but when it turned up only a couple of half-hearted strikes I decided it was time to move onto lake #2. This lake has been kind to me in the past, providing fast action for little cutts and tigers with a few notable exceptions. One of those "exceptions" was one of the best splake I've ever caught, both in terms of size and color (read about that trip Here).
Rising fish were waiting for me after my short hike, so I put on a family favorite Barber-Pole fly and started catching fish right away. Beautiful tiger trout that seemed to be a little bigger, and a little healthier, that the last time I was here. The fish seemed ridiculously eager to take my fly and it seemed like I caught or saw a fish on every other cast. I took pictures of some, but only the most impressive by size or color got the photo opp. Fishing slowed as the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. Fish were still rising, so it took me a few minutes to realize something had changed.
The rises were much more aggressive now, but more infrequent. So I thought maybe they were taking water boatman flies and I changed my rid to a dry dropper set-up. I like the dry-dropper in this situation because I can let the bottom fly (a Copper John because I didn't have any water boatmen in my box) sink and if that doesn't get a strike I'll retrieve in short strips which brings the nymph close to the surface and then I can pause again and let my bottom fly sink back down while keeping tabs on it to detect a strike. At least, that's what it looks like in my mind and as far as I can tell from shallow water tests. No one is as sure of themselves as a fisherman who's catching fish, no matter how little evidence he has to support his hypothesis.
My catching continued as I worked my way around the lake and across the boulders that make up much of the shoreline. Beautiful tigers and one little cutthroat all saw the bottom of my net. From the top of a large boulder where years before I had sat with Caden and caught cutthroat, I stood and caught an amazing looking little tiger. The pattern on him made his back look like leopard print and I wanted a picture. Worried that his time out of the water might be too much for him I tried to hurry with my phone. In my rush I dropped the phone, it bounced off the boulder and out into the water. The phone was surely ruined, but, after releasing the fish, I still took off my shoes and tried tried to wade in after it. The clouds in the sky made it hard to see into the water, but I thought I could just see the phone if I was on the right angle. The breeze that had come up with the clouds seemed to have a cold bite to it now that I was up to my thighs in the water. Once the shivering started I realized that letting the phone go and getting out of there was probably the smart move, no matter how mad the wife was going to be or how large the bill to replace it.
On the drive home I thought about how much I wanted to return with someone that would appreciate the amazing fishing these lakes offer, and sense enough not to tell anyone about them. It would be a bonus if they could manage to take pictures without dropping the phone (or camera).
Hope you're as lucky,