WFF Stillwater Series_2: Solving The Puzzle

Gregg Lundgren

Now fishing on weekdays too!

I enjoy your writing, as your thoughts and experiences are both affirming and provocative. They run parallel and tangential to my own, yet they open new avenues to explore. I realize just how little I know about fly fishing, and appreciate those willing to invest their time in order to help boost some of us along. Thank you for sharing!
Wow! And I thought I was a lake junkie. Excellent read. I am going to print both articles and re-read before the next trip - even before I plan it. Great insights. W
Ford -

The puzzle is the drug.

I had a good day of steelheading earlier this fall (my first steelhead trip in almost two years and I brought home some nice fillets) and at the end of the day I caught myself wondering what was happening on my local lakes.

Another great chapter. I'm waiting for the next from a fellow Lake Rat!;)
FF that was an excellent post, spot on in most aspects.
One of of my best fishing experiences was during a damsel hatch in the middle of the day.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us...

Jeff Studebaker

Kayak Fly Angler
Thanks, FF. Another thorough, well-thought-out treatment of my favorite topic (well edited too - an increasing rarity on forums). Can't wait to apply the knowledge. I still have the occasional stillwater skunking, and this gives me some more tools to tackle it.
Great article, looking forward to more in the series.

I do a lot of stillwater fishing, but still feel like a complete novice. I don't feel I've ever really "solved the puzzle" on a given lake, just ocassionally happened across something that worked for that day.

As you acknowledge, much of my "where" and "when" for stillwater fishing is dictated by work/home schedule, though now that my wife has taken an interest in fishing, that has opened up the schedule dramatically. (plus it's been a great way for us to enjoy ourselves together sharing the hobby.)

But there's still pretty much the overwhelming feeling that I have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to stillwater fly fishing. Take today for example- we went to Offut Lake in Tenino. This is a location where we've fished several times, both off the docks at the resort and many times from the canoe. We like this like both due to its size as well as it's relative isolation. Even on busy days the lake rarely seems crowded. The lake has a good population of both rainbows and cutthroat as well as both smallmouth and largemouth bass.

The lake was stocked on Wednesday with almost 2500 trout. Not huge ones (1.6 per lb) but still an impact on the lake. We've had reasonable luck there the last few weekends, and we figured a few days after stocking would be even better. (we'd actually planned to fish Offut today even before we heard they had stocked it again.)

Unfortunately, we had terrible results today. We spent about 6 hours on the water, and the only fish caught was a small bow caught on bait that I immediately released. The whole time we were there, I was watching for any signs of insect or fish life on the lake. Conditions were good- water was 54 degrees and pretty decent visibility. Some wind early in the day but it died out by late afternoon. No insects coming off the water. Late in the day/early evening, there were a few small midges here and there, but that was it. No rising fish until just before dusk, and then it was only a few.

We tried a variety of tecniques and tackle. We tried trolling as I rowed (my wife trolled a wedding ring setup off her spinning rod, I trolled a wooly bugger then a Stayner Ducktail off my fly rod). We also anchored in several places, trying to target locations where we new there were dropoffs, particularly those locations where we'd had luck on previous outings. I fished streamers, leeches, nymphs, scuds, chironomids, and even a dry fly in the early evening. Nothing worked, and other than one nibble without a hookset on the wooly bugger, it was a dead day.

We're going back tomorrow of course, and are hoping to have better luck, but it really does feel like luck at this point. Without a visible hatch, signs of insect life, or rising fish, I feel like I'm pretty much just trying things at random.


Addicted to flyfishing
The true measure of another mans intelligence is the degree with which he agrees with your thoughts and ideas. Well written and thanks for reinforcement of much of my lake knowledge and tactics.