THE FLY FISHING CHRONICLES OF YNP (part 25)
|Part 24 can be found here|
In this selection I will continue with the information on fishing streamers as related to Lewis Lake and the Lewis Channel.
In a previous article there was information on brown trout, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout of neither of the last two are found in the waters we are currently discussing however the lake does contain brook trout and lake trout therefore I will share the information on their spawning cycles.
Brook Trout were first stocked in southern end of Yellowstone Park in 1893 and though Lewis Lake was not specifically stocked, brook trout made their way from the tributary streams into the lake. Brookie's are Fall Spawners going through their cycles from mid-September to early November and they spawn in fine gravel stretches of moving water and they create redds as other trout species. However, they can and will successfully spawn in the shallow water gravel along the shore of the lake and will spawn around submerged spring holes in the lake.
They mature quickly and many brook trout reach spawning maturity in their first year, the only live three to six years and become active as the water reaches to forty degrees. The brook trout eggs hatch between February and April depending on the water temperature and the harshness of the winter. When the ice first goes off the lake the brookie minnows are often targeted by the hungry lake and brown trout.
Most of the brook trout caught in Lewis Lake are small in size, however four years ago I took a 17 inch brook trout while trolling streamers during the fall and, according to John D. Varley and Paul Schullery in 1983 volume entitled Freshwater Wilderness, the largest brook trout ever recorded being caught in the Park was a 5½ pound monster taken in Lewis Lake in 1924.
The lake trout were first shocked in Lewis Lake in 1890 and the fingerlings came from Lake Michigan, prior to 1890 there were no fish in Lewis Lake, Shoshone Lake or their tributaries. Lake Trout can live for thirty-five years, however in the waters of Yellowstone Park it has been determined that they only live 15 to 20 years.
Lake trout become sexually mature from five to seven years of age, in the Yellowstone Park waters that means between sixteen to twenty inches. They spawn in the fall between mid-September to December and they spawn in the rocky rubble in water from ten feet deep to one hundred feet deep. They don't build redds but rather they are scatter spawners with the eggs and sperm being broadcast over the bottom where they fall into the bottom rubble. The fry hatch in about 113-116 days at 41 degree water temperature, which means the fry are hatching out between January to early April depending on the actual spawning time and the harshness of the winter weather cycle.
The young lake trout like other young trout eat aquatic insects, plankton, snails and minnow smaller than themselves however once they reach fourteen inches they eat only larger insects, leeches and small fish. They prefer water temperatures between 38 to 56 degrees.
In Lewis Lake look for the lake trout on the lee shore from the predominant winds!
Because all of the trout species of Lewis Lake will feed on minnows I am going list the information on the Utah Chub, Longnose Dace and Redside Shiner.
The Utah chub was introduced to Lewis Lake in the 1950's or the early 1960's; the exact date and reasons for the introduction is not clear though bait fisherman are blamed.
Some rail at the introduction of non-native species into the waters of Yellowstone National Park, however the Utah chub has been a boon to the lake trout and large brown trout found in these waters.
The Utah chub can live for up to ten years and reach 10 inches in length. They spawn in July over the weedbeds and bottom rubble in the shallower water. They are broadcast or scatter spawners and the eggs hatch in 10 to15 days depending on the water temperature. The young eat plankton and aquatic insects and in turn are preyed upon by the brown and lake trout .
I have often taken both brown and lake trout early in the morning or late in the evening using chub fry flies or small chub minnow imitations in the area of the weedbeds from mid-July to mid-August. The fact that both trout eat the minnows has been confirmed by checking the stomach contents on the lake trout and by using a stomach pump on the 14 to 18 inch brown trout.
Again it appears that these minnows were introduced during the 1950's to early 1960's and it appears that they were introduced by bait fishermen. Redside shiners live four to six years and reach seven inches in length.
Though the redside shiner are listed at preferring water temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees but they have thrived in waters on Lewis Lake and the Lewis Channel and since their introduction they have spread through Shoshone Lake as well.
The redside shiners spawn in July and will spawn in both moving water and over vegetation in shallow shoal water in lakes. They are also scatter or broadcast spawners in warmer water they will hatch within three days but normally it take 6 to 12 days in the cooler waters of Lewis Lake. They become sexually mature by their third year and a three inch female may produce 1,800 eggs and five inches female could produce up to 10,000 eggs.
Upon hatching the fry live for several weeks in and around the weed beds and even the adults will form loose schools around the weed beds where they are preyed upon by the trout of the lake.
This minnow reaches sizes of six to seven inches and line four to seven years and the colors will vary according to their habitat. They become sexually mature at two years and they are considered broadcast spawner and spawn over gravel in the tributary stream and in the inflows and outflows of Lewis Lake. They spawn in June or when the water reaches 50 degrees.
Longnose dace are found throughout Lewis Lake but the heaviest concentrations are found in the inflows, outflows and off the mouths of the tributaries.
There is little known about the habits of the longnose dace in Lakes except that they are generally found in shallower water of fifteen or less.
Knowing the habits of the baitfish is important for the stillwater angler who wishes to be successful on Lewis Lake, but I encourage you to go further, learn what the minnow life looks like, learn how they swim and imitate them accordingly.
The next issue of the Chronicles will be used to cover the Streamer Patterns that I use on Lewis Lake and the Lewis River Channel.
Enjoy & Good Fishin'
|Part 26 can be found here|