Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the Water at Last!

As most of you probably know, this past winter was one of most severe on record.  Only recently have the lakes in my area become ice free.   I have managed to keep myself occupied with a number of speaking engagements, seminars and schools.  Getting on the water has been tough both physically due to the snow and ice and mentally as the excitement that precedes a new season could not be satiated!

This past week I flew to B.C. for three days of fishing with my friend and colleague Brian Chan.  Brian and I don’t get to spend as much time as we would like together on the water so trips like this are a treat and we get to discuss future projects, seminars etc.

Six Mile Lake

Each day we visited a different lake.  Day one started at Six Mile Lake.  The weather was great, sunny and warm and a light breeze.  The trout were reasonably cooperative and the day began using small #16 olive or lime green chironomid pupa patterns such as my Pearl Pupa from my first book, Fly Patterns for Stillwaters.  Trout were shallow and we did best in the shallow water less than 10 feet.  Callibaetis duns also appeared in our throat pump samples and in the early afternoon they began hatching in earnest.  Anchored close to shore we watched the duns drift out over the deeper water on the shoal only to be consumed one at a time in splashy aggressive swirls.  Brian took a number on a parachute Adams and I took fish on a bead head version of my Turkey Quill Callibaetis, all in all a great start to the trip.

Callibaetis began emerging in decent numbers during the afternoon on Six Mile

Day two saw a weather change.  Temperatures dropped, the skies were gray, full of moisture laden clouds.  Deciding to stay close to Kamloops in case we had to beat a hasty retreat we launched the boat at Jacko Lake.  Chironomid pupa, black and red to be specific and balanced leeches were the order of the day.  Chironomids were hatching in reasonable numbers and swallows were working the shallows hard dipping and diving to pick off as many of the emerging adults as they could.  Swallows are an excellent hatch indicator to pay attention too.  Fish were not in a terribly cooperative mood due to the changing weather but we managed to do reasonably well in light of the conditions.  As with Six Mile the day before, fish were in the shallows.  By days end were both satisfied and saturated.  The warm shower at the end of the day provided a welcome respite.

Brian releases a small rainbow

Day three started with worse weather than day two.  We were greeted by steady rain and as we headed higher in elevation to Heffley Lake near Sun Peaks Resort the steadily declining temperature gauge in Brian’s truck got us worried about the possibility of snow.  Thankfully were a few hundred feet lower than the visible snow line.  Steady rain stayed with us all morning testing our will, raingear and choice of layered clothing.  By noon we decided to head for shore where we cooked smokies over a small campfire.  Although challenging to get going the heat it provided made all the effort worthwhile.  After lunch the clouds began to lift and rain abated.  Fish were on the shoals and in the relatively clear waters Heffley is known for our quarry could often be spotted cruising the lighter marl patches.  Trout were not concentrated and we moved often to keep in touch with the cruising trout.  Areas adjacent to deep water proved to be our most consistent strategy.  As with Jacko the day before fishing was steady but not spectacular.  Trout were feeding on small chironomids and we did have some success using pupa patterns.  But by far our best results came from hanging small black micro leeches beneath indicators.  Brian and I chatted back and forth as to the reasons for this preference.  We weren’t using balanced patterns for the most part and perhaps the small slender profile of our micro leech patterns suggested staging chironomid pupa?  Most of the pupae that were emerging were olive, dark olive and black.

Keep an eye out for swallows working low over the water, a sure indication a hatch is taking place.

The Kamloops area lakes are starting to get into full swing.  Water temperatures at Six Mile, Jacko and Heffley were all within a few degrees of each other, between 54F and 56F.  Good temperatures, as 50F is the typical trigger point for the season’s first chironomid hatches to get going.

Now that the stillwater season is at my feet I intend to spend as much time on the water as I can, both locally and afar.  Stay tuned for reports from California, BC once again and in June the magnificent lakes of the Parklands region of southwest Manitoba.