A small alpine lake + cutthroat + dry flies = a good weekend

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by kylesw, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. kylesw Member

    Posts: 55
    Keyport, WA
    Ratings: +19 / 0
    I finally hiked my float tube into a small alpine lake that I normally go snowcamping at. I've been wanting to do this trip for several years now, and it feels good to finally have the trip under my belt! :)

    I've hiked in during the summer before, however a prominent littoral shelf and reed beds make it difficult to fish from shore. I've always seen lots of fish out there, and figured it would get a blast in a float tube. On saturday I packed my tube (along with the rest of my gear) up for an over night trip and some quality time with this little lake.

    The weather on saturday was cold (especially at 4000 ft) and a low pressure system seemed to keep the fish subdued. Instead of hitting the lake right off the bat, we took the opportunity to explore the area, bushwack to small lakes nearby and pick the last of the wild blueberries (delicious!). Not to mention we spotted our fair share of deer, elk, bear, cougar and coyote tracks. What a a beautiful place to enjoy nature's diversity and beauty. The fall colors were in full bloom, and I was constantly rewarded with the little surprises one may find when you stop and look closely.

    Fresh black bear tracks

    These wild blueberries were seriously delicious, I'm kicking myself for not bringing pancake mix! They did make a lovely addition to my oatmeal though.

    Enjoying the fall colors

    On Sunday morning I woke with the cold mountain dew kissing my face from sleeping under an open air tarp. My backpacking staples of instant oatmeal and starbucks via were warming in my belly soon enough, and fueled me for some quality time in the float tube.


    By 9:30 my line was wet, the sun was shining and the insect activity began to pick up. I began by dragging and stripping a couple of my own patterns. One was a maribou damsel nymph I have improvised myself and the other a classic montana nypmh tied with orange in lieu of yellow chenille. I began picking up fish right away - beautiful westlope cutthroat ranging 5"-12". I am still relatively new to fly fishing and tying my own patterns, but I absolutely love the process of designing, tying, tweaking and retying patterns that produce fish in the end. It most certainly hits the same vein of satisfaction and self-sufficiency that gardening and homebrew also fulfill.

    The biggest fish of the day, not bad for a small lake with a short growing season

    As the sun continued to warm the lake, I observed a lot of size 12 caddis coming off of the reeds. I captured one and first thought it to be an october caddis that I hear so much about, owing to its orange legs, head, and abdomen. However, upon closer inspection, the abdomen was entirely gray, which happened to perfectly match a gray bodied EHC I had in my fly box.

    So that settled it. Off with the intermediate line and on with the floating line, taken down to 5x flouro tippet. Now granted these fish were hardly selective, but this was one of the first trips where I felt truly dialed in with technique, equipment, knots, flies, etc. It sure is nice to feel like I know what I'm doing!

    I spent the rest of the afternoon having a blast fishing that EHC. It's hard to beat a fiesty little cutthroat chasing down a meal. Fish were flying a foot out of the water and even porpoising after it when skated, those little guys would not be denied a meal!


    All in all it was a great trip. It's hard to beat some quality time spent fishing and camping with friends in such a beautiful place.


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  2. Skysoldier Trout Hunter

    Posts: 730
    Lost in the woods.....
    Ratings: +185 / 0
    Can't beat a trip like that.............beautiful!
  3. dflett68 Active Member

    Posts: 594
    Ratings: +189 / 0
    great report and pics. thanks.
  4. Patrick Gould Active Member

    Posts: 2,356
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +688 / 1
    That fourth pic says it all...
  5. Get Some Member

    Posts: 104
    The Deep South
    Ratings: +5 / 0
    AWESOME!! great pics and story, thanks for sharing!
  6. Daryle Holmstrom retiredfishak

    Posts: 2,572
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +106 / 0
    Who brought in the picnic table? LOL
  7. SteveA Gnu to the board

    Posts: 280
    Western WA
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Yup. Great stuff!
  8. Mark Mercer Member

    Posts: 1,135
    port orchard, wa
    Ratings: +502 / 0
    Great report and pics, what a awesome little lake.
  9. Broderick Smith SeaToTree

    Posts: 254
    SeaToTree, WA
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    Great photos, love the camping spot.