April 23, 2012
While most fly fishers are scrambling as spring runoff kicks in, the more creative fly fishers shift gears and continue to catch fish. For me that means push the streams aside and enjoy big fish and the challenges of fly fishing the lakes. Today Doug Mcknight and I hit another of his lake connections with our friend Derek DeYoung.
Derek DeYoung has been on the blog before. Last year we ran around Island Park Reservoir together. Like me, Derek is an artist for Simms. Derek is fulltime with his art and if you haven’t seen his work you need to visit his site. Derek’s paintings are incredible!
Doug used his connections to get us on a different ranch property today. We had to pay a small fee but it was more than worth it. Once again, the weather is like we expect here in late June. The temperature reached the upper 70ºs and there was hardly any wind. Hard to believe that last year at this time we were still shoveling snow.
When we got to the lake there were midges flying everywhere. I scoped the surface of the lake and surprisingly there were no risers. Expecting that to change at some point, I tied on two nymphs to my usual long level Fluoro leader on a floating line. My point fly was a bead head hare’s ear size 14 and 4ft up I dangled a black chironomid English buzzer pattern. Derek opted to go with a couple of leeches and on about his second cast he laid into a nice fish. Doug netted it for him and within minutes we were on the board with a fat 17” rainbow.
That fish came within range of the boat ramp, you probably know what that means, fishing got tough real fast. Derek continued to strip his leeches and I kept bumping my nymphs along but nothing. Then Derek took the oars and Dougy grabbed a rod. That’s all it took. Doug changed our luck and we each nailed several nice fish including Doug with this fat-boy brook trout.
We went on a tear for a couple hours. Fish weren’t really rising but were rolling on the surface with regularity. If you could get your flies on them fast you had them instantly. The three of us nailed a few more pigs and even though you should never leave fish to find fish, we moved to a different lake for a new challenge.
There are actually four lakes at this ranch. The next one we hit was small and we walked the edges and each caught one nice fish. It was so small Derek walked right on out of sight for the next lake. Dougy and I were about done too, but Doug spotted a huge trout nymphing the shallows while we were eating lunch. I crept up to the edge and made a cast. As soon as my flies hit I saw the fish. It was a quality rainbow searching the weeds for nymphs. I wasn’t quite sure where my imitations landed but I hoped he’d find them for me. He did. I watched him lunge forward and open his white cotton mouth. I still wasn’t sure if he found one of my flies or a real one but I set. It was me and all hell broke loose. I had line all over the place and clearing it from the weeds by my feet was a chore. Once I did I gained control and landed this beast of a colorful bow.
With this lake now conquered we headed for the third lake. By now the weather changed as the first thunderstorm of the year crept up over the mountains. The wind was starting to gust but the rain hadn’t quite started. Being the dummies that most anglers are, Doug and I launched the boat while Derek wisely opted to continue fishing from shore. Five casts in Doug and I doubled up and filled our net with a pair of huge rainbows at the same time! By the time we let the two chunky fish go we had to make hay for shore and run for the cars. The storm was upon us.
At this point, fishing had been so good we could have all packed it up with big smiles on our face. But as I watched the wind and rain rip across the lake through my windshield I thought about lake number four. What was lake number four all about? Doug and Derek had both been before and simply said it was bigger and so were the fish. That of course sounds great, but the catch is that this lake can be the most fickle of all. When the rain stopped I suggested we check it out.
We all had intentions of getting home at a decent hour tonight. In fact, I told Granny last night that I’d be home for dinner. Heck, I haven’t been home since Wednesday. It was time. But fishing – the fishing was good. Damn good to be exact. It was hard to leave. And even though none of us had cell service to warn the ladies we would be late, we went to lake four.
Let’s just say that possibly getting in trouble with the wife was a great move. Even on this normally fickle lake, we flat out smeared a bunch more fish. Derek nailed one of the prettiest rainbows I’ve seen in a long time ten minutes into the evening. We even caught one more nice brook trout. It was a great ending for a superb day of fishing and an exceptional way to end my jaunt to Montana. At 8 PM we said so long and began my four hour drive back to Victor.
Though I got home for some brief stints, I’ve basically been on the road since January 4th. That’s a long run. I’m very much looking forward to being home for awhile. Tomorrow I’ll unpack my show stuff for the last time. I’m planning to get some spring cleaning going and start an overhaul of my fishing stuff. I also have plenty of artwork to get done. Not only do I have some cool painting ideas but I’ll begin illustrating a book for good friend, Boots Allen.
I doubt I’ll fish again before next week. But the next blog will be a favorite. It’s Granny’s and my annual spring wildlife trip to Yellowstone. This is the best time of year to see grizzlies up close!