Since my last entry in late May I seem to have been in a constant state of travel to and from various destinations across western North America. My travels have taken me to California for a Stillwater School with Bill Forward from Forward Bound Guide Service. During my time there I also had the pleasure of speaking to the Davis Fly Fishers and even managed to sneak east for a day on famed Pyramid Lake. Then back to BC to film an episode with BC Outdoors Sports Fishing T.V. on Horse Lake followed immediately by a Learning with the Pros Seminar with good friend Brian Chan at Ruddocks Ranch. I was also back home briefly where I spent one day chasing trophy pike on nearby Wabamum Lake. It has been a busy stretch. Here is a summary of my experiences.
|California Stillwater School Participants|
On May 19th I hopped a series of flights from Edmonton to Vancouver, Vancouver to Seattle and finally Seattle to Reno for a stillwater seminar on Lake Davis California. This was the second time I had the good fortune to be in the Sierra Nevada region of California. The scenic peaceful beauty of the region is something to behold. I once again partnered with Bill Forward from Forward Bound Guide Service to provide a comprehensive stillwater seminar over the weekend on May 20-22. Over 20 enthusiastic students joined us. Bill and I provided classroom sessions on a variety of subjects and students were able to practice what they learned on nearby Lake Davis.
|Willows or cattails adjacent to deep water produced best|
Compared to last fall when I was last on Lake Davis the lake had changed dramatically due to high water. Lake levels were up at least three feet. Areas that were high and dry last season are now new cruising grounds for trout. The challenge is targetting the right regions. Cattail or willow outcroppings close to deep water produced well. Too far back into the freshly flooded areas and you were casting over barren water. Few if any trout prowled these regions as the invertebrate population had yet to recolonize these regions. Small black and red or dark olive #16 chironomid pupa suspended 5-7 feet beneath and indicator worked best.
Bill and I plan on doing additional stillwater seminars, perhaps as early as this fall depending on my schedule. If you are interested at all please don’t hesitate to contact me.
|Fishing from ladders or 'high chairs' is part of the game when fishing Pyramid Lake|
On Monday May 23rd, prior to a speaking engagement I had with the Davis Fly Fishers, Bill took me for a one day trip to Nevada’s Pyramid Lake. Pyramid is famous for its huge Lahonton cutthroat trout and is one of North America’s hallowed stillwaters. Though it doesn’t not contain Lahontan’s to sizes that first made it famous Pyramid Lake is still home to some pretty solid trout.
|Fishing from a ladder is a Pyramid standard|
For those not familiar with Pyramid fly fishing there is unique, done almost entirely from shore using step ladders to gain access to deeper water and the edges of the drop off. Some season Pyramid anglers have taken step ladder evolution to new heights in comfort and functionality.
|Some have taken fly fishing from a ladder system to a whole new level|
We arrived late in the season as the typically large schools of Lahontan’s that cruise the shoreline margins had begun to disperse. We fished primarily at Pelican Point. I only managed to land one 20 inch fish choosing to spend the windswept gusty afternoon talking with fellow fly fishers about my stillwater experiences. One angler next to me managed a Pyramid grand slam, a number of Lahontans, a Tui chub and a large Sacramento perch! Bill soldiered on and landed a 30 inch, 10-11 pound monster on #10 Zebra Midge suspended about seven feet below an indicator. Pyramid is a unique fishery all stillwater fly fishers should experience. Located on tribal land, an inexpensive one day $10 license gets you into the game. I was pleased to strike Pyramid off my stillwater bucket list.
|Bill Forward with a Lahontan monster 30 inches long and estimated between 10-11 lbs|
After returning home from my California trip I was back on the water chasing pike with two clients on Wabamum Lake. Wabamum is a trophy pike fishery located roughly 45 minutes west of home. The weather was warm and the winds were light, near perfect conditions. In years past Wabamum was noted for its warm water discharge that originated from a power plant. The warm water discharge helped gather and concentrate clouds of baitfish which in turn attracted large numbers of hungry aggressive pike. The plant shut down last year and the pike have since dispersed. The large fish are still around but you now have to roam and hunt them down. From a guide’s perspective it was nice to have fish concentrated in one area but for the resource it is better to spread the pressure out. The good news was I found pike in every area we tried. We even ran into a couple of larger females one of which I managed to hook on a fire tiger Half N Half of mine while taking a few casts at the request of my client. She weighed out at just over 15lbs in my Moby cradle. However, just as she first swam into the cradle she performed a quick unexpected about face and with the near vertical rod position I had my 10 weight snapped at the tip section just above the ferrule. Bad angle it would seem.
After spending the weekend at home I was off to B.C. to film an episode of BC Outdoors Sports Fishing T.V. on Horse Lake located near the town of 100 Mile House. As most of you know, winter decided to hang on this year so everything was about two weeks behind. Water temperatures were cool and the lake level was up about two feet over last year. Callibaetis where just starting to stir but I was quite happy taking fish on chironomids as you might imagine. Horse is a long, clear lake that contains rainbows, kokanee and lake trout. We were hoping for a grand slam of all three species but only managed rainbows and lakers on the fly. The kokanee where still too deep for us to get at with our fly gear.
|Bruno makes a few casts on Horse Lake|
We stayed at Cariboo Bonanza Resort during our stay, a beautiful place for both those that like to camp or take advantage of their rustic and luxurious cabins. Resort owners Bruno and Dora Sprecher were wonderful hosts and Bruno was keen to point out all the best spots to try. If you ever need to find Bruno the best place to look is on the main dock that reaches out onto one of the better shoals. Bruno loves to spend a few moments whenever he can staying in touch with Horse Lake and its residents.
After finishing filming host Mike Mitchell and I were heading to the Lytton area and Ruddocks Ranch to meet up with Brian Chan for our first Learning with the Pros stillwater seminar of the season. Over 20 students joined Brian on the ranch’s private lake, Ruddocks Dam, an intimate body of water known for its trophy rainbows.
|Brian releases a Ruddocks Dam resident|
Students camped at the lake so provided all of our seminars lakeside, a beautiful backdrop for the weekend’s events. Brian and I along with the BCO staff that joined us had the good fortune to stay at the ranch house, a short 20 minute drive from the lake. The ranch house sits above the Fraser River and offers a stunning view. The accommodation was wonderful and provided a welcome respite after a day under the sun. If you have a group of anglers looking for a place to stay and fish Ruddocks Ranch makes an excellent choice. Contact Kevin Estrada for booking information.
Over the course of the weekend Brian and I provided seminars on a variety of subjects including lake biology, entomology and specific presentation techniques. Brian and I also spent time with each student on the water. I enjoy these one on one exchanges with students and working with them on specific questions or challenges they may be having. Often I learn as much as the students through the exchange of information and experiences.
Trout were in 12-15 feet of water feeding steadily but not heavily on a stream of small #14-#16 black and dark olive chironomid pupa. Hanging matching pupa anywhere from 10 to 13 feet below and indicator proved quite successful. I also did well on an olive body burnt orange tail Balanced Leech suspended beneath an indicator.
For the most part Ruddocks Dam trophies did not want to play but there were enough three pound trout to keep our students happy. Gary Elgear from Riverside Fly and Tackle in Port Coquitlam was on hand to help out. He managed the largest fish of the weekend that was an estimated 10lbs.
As we were packing up for the return trip home carpenter ants began falling on the water in numbers great enough to garner the trout’s interest. It was tough not to grab a fly rod and toss a large Chernobyl Ant at the fish that were taking the large ants in aggressive splashy rises! You have to a love a lake or body of water that leaves you yearning for more!