It’s good to be home trout fishing again, and today was especially good to be trout fishing on one of my favorite lakes, Island Park Reservoir. Best of all, I was with my buddy and lake fly fishing expert, Phil Rowley from Canada. Phil has quickly become one of the authorities on fly fishing lakes.
Phil is often found during the winter months giving clinics and seminars on how to tackle big finicky trout on lakes. If you’re not familiar with Phil than check out his website Fly Craft Angling. There he has everything including a blog, special lake fly patterns, and a store that includes his flies, books and DVD’s. I’m lucky we’re pals because he gave me a copy of both his latest DVD’s, Conquering Chironomids Volume I and Conquering Chironomids Volume II.
Island Park Reservoir is famous amongst lake fly fishers. The challenging reservoir, formed by the Island Park Dam on the Henry’s Fork, has huge rainbows and has been on Phil’s bucket list. When I fished for Team USA it was imperative that I knew how to catch trout on lakes so I practiced on Island Park Reservoir and learned it well. It was my honor to fulfill the lake guru’s dream!
The day was cool with a high of 63°. We had clouds and varied winds. Many folks don’t fish lakes solely because of wind but wind creates an advantage because it disturbs the surface of the water making fish less spooky. All in all conditions were excellent but even two guys that know how to fish lakes have a tough time now and then even with all Phil’s great specialty fly patterns.
My lake fly boxes have some slick patterns as well that weren’t working. We knew the fish were there. We saw occasional rises and much worse, there was a family in a big boat dunking worms with marshmallows and they were catching a few rainbows. We had to figure things out.
That’s when I went back to the basics. I knew our neighbors were fishing bottom so I switched spools on my Ross to one with a Uniform Sink Type III and put on three small leech patterns, a heavy black one on the point, an olive one half way up the leader and my top dropper was burgundy in color. Sure enough I got the skunk out of the boat quickly with this hefty bow on the burgundy.
It wasn’t like we cracked the code. I went on to land two more during the afternoon on the same burgundy colored leech and lost a few others, most on the take. Phil also caught one on a burgundy leech and also took one under an indicator on a chironomid. But after all the hours we fished – only five fish – today was one tough day of fishing!
Challenging days of fishing happen no matter who you are. I’ve had plenty of blanks on Island Park Reservoir so Phil and I’ll take today. What today did was inspire me to get back on my lake kick. Lakes have no crowds, usually bigger fish and always keep you honest – they can be tough.
Phil and I celebrated our get together with some beers and great food at the Trout Hunter on the Henry’s Fork. As with most Trout Hunter nights, afterwards driving isn’t an option so Phil climbed in the back of his truck and I put in my second night sleep this week in my new silver Exploder. Summer is just getting started for me!