August 8-9, 2010
It isn’t easy rolling out of the sleeping bag when its 39 degrees in August. Yet that’s the exact temperature it was yesterday morning when Derek and I got up at 6 am. Why get out of bed at 6 am for trout fishing? Because Hebgen Lake often produces the best Callibaetis May Fly hatch you can imagine. The hatch typically occurs shortly after sunrise and brings big rainbow trout to the surface by the bucket load. I can honestly say that when I remember my ten best lake fishing experiences, most were early mornings on Hebgen Lake in August. Just the thought of another will get me out of bed no matter what the circumstance is for the rest of my life!
Despite the unusually cold morning, we got the coffee going ASAP. Meanwhile, Derek and I checked our leaders and tied on size 16 parachute Adams, one of the best Callibaetis imitations there is. Once the coffee was done, we filled our cups and made the short drive to Hebgen from our camp on Quake Lake.
We launched the boat quick and in no time were motoring to my favorite spot. The cold temps caused some major fog but it was starting to lift with the sunrise. I was surprised there were no other boats or float tubers. It made me worry that perhaps the fishing wasn’t what it’s supposed to be on a typical August morning. Once to my spot I cut the motor and Derek fired up my stove for another batch of coffee as we drifted and awaited the Callibaetis to hatch.
As we drifted along on the nearly calm Hebgen Lake we saw the occasional rises. They were one time rises not the typical “gulper” rises that rise continuously allowing you to get a cast to them. Although the rises caught our eye, they were not continuous enough for us to put down our coffees.
A slight breeze picked up so I tossed out the windsock to slow down our drift and started slowly retrieving Callibaetis nymphs. I prefer to do this with my Rio Aqualux on my 6-weight Ross fly rod but that rig is on the bottom of Quake Lake. Instead I used my floating line and 5-weight, but worried I wouldn’t get my nymphs deep enough. Derek randomly bounced his parachute Adams around hoping a fish would find it. Miraculously a small rainbow did but he missed him.
We drifted through my favorite area about three times and never saw more than a random rise. Then, just when I was ready to try another spot I saw a rise that continued – a true gulper. I still had my nymph rod in hand so I shouted to Derek. By then I realized there were several gulpers working towards my boat. Derek saw them and dropped a perfect cast. To my delight, Derek’s fly got sipped down by the lead gulper and the fight was on.
Hebgen Lake fish fight hard and are typically larger than the ones on Quake Lake. Derek’s fish lived up to its reputation and I broke out the net to scoop up the gorgeous rainbow. After a few clicks with my camera we released him. Moments later as we were kicking back in celebration, when only a short cast in front of the boat was another gulper. Derek looked to me to make a cast but my dry fly rig had a nymph on it so I frantically told him to go for it. He did and it was another good cast followed by another great eat from a slightly larger rainbow.
That would be the last fish of mention of not only yesterday but also today. Soon after Derek’s second Hebgen rainbow the weather took a turn for the worst. A gust of wind blew us off the lake. We took a lunch break in hopes things would improve but it got worse. Thunderstorms roared through with heavy rain, hail, more wind and way too much lightening to think about wetting a line. The storms lasted the rest of the day and all night. It was bad enough we had to eat our ramen noodles with forceps let alone in the rain. And we even awoke to a storm at our Quake Lake camp this morning. With the weather like this, another lake day was not in order. Instead we drove to the Henry’s Fork and waded the Ranch. Unfortunately by the time we got there the early hatch of PMD’s was over and then the storms moved in again. We each landed a couple of scrappy 13”ers and called it trip – and a darn fun one at that despite the weather.
It was and incredible three days of fishing and great to fish once again with Derek. Now its Granny’s days off and she has big plans to chase fish around some of her favorite haunts – stay tuned.