Two More Tenkara High Lake Trips - A Week Apart
My first high lake piece was done in a special place, with much better than normal results had there on a consistent basis for more than 40 years now. The next two high lake fishing experiences I just had were more problematically normal, meaning that the fish were much harder to catch and not nearly so plentiful. Generally speaking the high lakes fish best early and late in the angling season. Mid summer the high lakes usually encounter the summer doldrums, that time of year when the days are at their longest and the water temps are at their warmest. The best way to fish under these conditions is to backpack in and camp at the lake you want to fish, so that you can fish it during the cooler air and water temperatures of dawn and dusk. However these were both single day trips, which impart explains the slow fishing results that I had.
July, 25Th, "C" Lake
The Fishing Conditions: I left to drive up at 3:40 in the morning and started hiking about 6:30. There was so much smoke driving up that it appeared to be fog in the head lights. We have a major lightening started wild fire going. I drove by two small road side lakes with out seeing any working fish, never a good sign that early in the morning. It was hard to tell with all the smoke but it was also overcast, still at first on the lake but breezy later in the day. The lake was down about 18 inches and there were few fish to be seen or working.
Flies Fished And Their Results: Although it was too late in the day for any significant midge activity by the time I got into the lake, the few rise forms I was able to spot were subsurface midge feeding fish, so I put on a size 12 Orange Midge Pupa first, and it eventually caught 10 fish on it. A size 12 Gray Sheeps Creek Pattern went on next for the overcast conditions, but the rainbow trout were not responding as well to that pattern as I thought they should be, so I changed patterns after landing only 4 fish on that fly. A size 14 Peacock Sheeps Creek Pattern went on next and it landed 5 more fish considerably faster than the previous fly had. By this time the fish had mostly gone down for the day, and the wind had already come up. A size 12 Two-toned X-rated Ant Pattern went on next, and it scored my final fish of the day, which is not the kind of showing I am used to getting on that fly.
Tackle Notes: I fished a Blue Ribbon Flies' 12 foot long Floating T-line made out of a Sage 000 tapered fly line, with about an 8 foot long hand-tied tapered leader, and 3 to 4 feet of 5X FC tippet. The rod used was the Daiwa 43 MF - a 12 foot 5 inch to 14 foot long zoom Keiryu rod, which gave a line length of a little better than 20 feet plus the rod's 14 foot length. That length proved to be a little troublesome in trying to land the fish.
Conclusions: The fishing was tough for me on this day. Most of the fish were out over the deep water and there were few shore cruising fish. I believe the shallows were too warm for the fish's comfort at this time of the year. The last time I fished this lake (10 or 11 years ago), I caught a lot of nice sized brook trout. I caught only one brook trout this time, and it was the smallest fish that I caught. But the rainbows were deep bodied, fought long and hard and jumped high. My best fish was 13.5 inches + in length measured against markings on the rod and taped after I got home. I really got soaked hiking out - it hailed for more than an hour and the stoned were big enough to be painful. It was warm enough that I didn't bother with my rain gear, you would just get soaked from the inside out with rain gear on. This sure did not turn out to be the kind of day that I hoped it would be.
August 2Nd, "H" Lake
Conditions: Left at 4:40 in the morning. Still smokey. Started hiking in at 6:45. I saw 4 backpacking fishermen hiking out - 2 teen age boys and their dads. And they had fished the lake I was going in to fish. It was clear at the lake though, cool to warm, and breezy early on. Again there were few fish to be seen or working. This is a very shallow lake, timbered right up to the water in most places, and with extensive marshy areas. Wading is the only practical way to fish this lake. It has a mud bottom in most places and you can go into oxygen dept just trying to break a foot loose to take a step. The lake was down some and the fish, what few were showing, were well out into the lake. I spent most of my fishing time just standing in each new casting location waiting for a fish to come a long. The fish high in the water would take. The ones grubbing on the bottom wouldn't look at a fly subsurface or on top.
Tackle Notes: So I went with a 14 foot length of orange RIO 0.024 inch diameter Floating Running line as my T-line, with about an 8 foot long hand-tied leader, and 3 to 4 feet of 5X FC tippet for the line set up. The 43 Mf rod did fine on this lake as well. And even tough I felt I needed all the reach I could get in rod and line length to reach the fish, landing them was troublesome again with such a long line, and the sedges I had to wade out through to reach the open water didn't help matters any.
Fly Patterns Fished and Their Earned Results: A few midge feeding rise forms were observed, so I went with the size 12 Orange Midge Pupa first. It got some takes and a couple of hookups but the wind came up before I succeeded in landing a fish on that pattern. The size 12 Two-toned X-rated Ant Pattern went on next, and I missed some and had 6 fish get off in a row before I succeeded in landing two. Then I lost the fly and my tippet to a tree on a back cast. The next fly up was a size 16 Two-toned X-rated Ant Pattern, and the smaller fly did much better with the fish than the larger one had - 14 nice sized rainbow trout were landed on the size 16.
Conclusions: The fishing on this lake was even tougher than the lake the week before had been. Every fish I caught had fresh hook scars. One rainbow was bleeding out of its gills. It wasn't my fault, I hooked that fish in the upper lip, on the end of its nose. While 16 rainbows was not a bad showing, it is far from what I could have done on this lake at the end of deer season last fall. There were a lot more fish in the lake back then, which was 2 years after they had been planted as fingerlings. And the fish were much tighter to the bank back then. Unfortunately, I didn't have my fishing tackle along. You can see this lake from the trail and it is just far enough in that most backpackers would stop here on their first day out, so the lake gets a lot of fishing pressure. Still, considering how hard it had just been fished (I found a brand new black and silver Rooster Tail that had been dropped on a rock), 16 hard fighting, deep bodied, high jumping rainbows is a result that I will gladly take any day that I can get it....Golden.