Alpine Lake Fishing

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Schemy, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. Hello all. My post are few and far between, but I enjoy gaining the knowledge all you west coasters have to offer. That being said, here is my question.

    Over the weekend while camping with the wife, we got back into an alpine lake that had a number of brook and brown trout in it. Looked like a really good population in this lake. Real healthy fish. However I am completely oblivious as to how to catch these fish on a fly. I do not quite understand how to present a fly to these fish. I mainly focused on dry flies as the fish were rising to a number of different bugs on the water. I went with a elk hair caddis, but had minimal (read zero) luck. Any suggestions on presentation or fly selection.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. wooley bugger...
  3. Tie a couple of feet of tippet on the elk hair caddis hook and then tie a small bead head nymph on. The elk hair caddis will have the dual purpose of fly and strike indicator - if the caddis suddenly moves or submerges, set the hook. I have a lot of luck with this technique.
  4. as above.. try a very small wolly bugger in black, dark brown, or olive... try dries common to the lake... look for terrestrial insects that the fish might be feeding on as well (bees, ants, bettles, or crickets/grasshoppers.) Usually if you can somewhat resemble a food source you can take these high mountain fish, however sometimes they are very easily spooked because of the super super clear water or because of the bright sunny day... which means you just gotta get sneaky and your chances of getting a fish in the middle of the day are alot lower.
  5. Thanks for the replies. As far as presentation, should I let sit for a bit or peel back in slowly. This seems to be my main dilema, as I don't know how to fish the still water.

  6. I would go with a size 12 hares ear soft hackle. fish in alpine lakes aren't very selective. So a general imitation of a lot of different things is best. And fish usually like the subsurface fly because they ahve to spend less energy to get it.
  7. Everything that people have mentioned here will be dynamite. I favor small buggers as well or para hoppers to risers. Look at the water, being that most alpine lakes are gin clear, cast to gulpers (ie: Fish that are looking on the surface for a tasty treat).

    In the late afternoon when the mosquitos are eating you up, cast anything surface or sub surface and make short strips and you should be hitting fish on every cast. These fish are always so hungry and want anything that resembles food. Very fun!!
  8. I agree with all the above, and will add:

    if you have some kind of flotation to troll behind or can cast/strip (e.g. there's space to back-cast), go with the soft hackle, timerline emerger or ... spruce fly. i don't know why the spruce fly works, but it does. for a variation on the soft hackle (kind of a soft hackle/timberline emerger combined): grey soft hackles with grey tail (hackle and tail grey partridge)

    if you are fishing dries - just lay a small regular adams or parachute adams out there anywhere near they are rising. if they are rising, they will sooner than later cross paths with the adams and refusals are rare.
  9. Thanks guys. I am anxious to get back up there and catch some of these fish. If nothing else the scenery was great.
  10. Try a misquito pattern, mayfly pattern also. They hit almost anything on top that is small.

  11. Has anyone been up to any high lakes yet this year? I'd love to hear some news.

    I hiked to hidden lake in the Rainier Park last sunday. There was still a lot of snow up there, as my sunburned forearms will tell you! :) I got there about midday so the fishing was slow (read nothing caught!) but there was a very interesting mayfly nymph in about size 16 swimming in the shallows! There were both dark gray and sulphur colored versions. Despite the evident food source I never hooked up. The hike was great though...

    Is this year really snow packed or what?
  12. You didn't mention what kind of bugs the fish were keying on which could be a vitally important piece of information.

    Here's why. If for instance there was a mayfly and a chironomid hatch going on concurrently but you presented a caddis, that could go a long ways towards explaining why you got blanked. Match the hatch is still good advice, no matter how old it is.

    Another factor may be the size of the fly you were using. If the fish were keying on small mayflies but you were pitching a size 10 or 12, you weren't matching the hatch, even if you were using the correct pattern.

    This said however, sometimes when fish are gorging on the real thing, there may well be nothing you can show them that will tempt them away from a sure meal. During those times,it might be best to simply watch and enjoy.

    I usually don't use an attractor pattern unless there's almost no hatch or regular feeding activity. Then prospecting make better sense than starting out with a wooly bugger or a GRHE and hoping it works. If there's obvious feeding going on, look for clues and then try your best to match the natural.

    Hope this helps,

  13. My advice for alpine lakes other than wooley buggers is small baitfish mentioned in a few of the posts above. Of course buggers can work, but you might want to tie up some baitfish with a little red on the throat or tail. Depends on the lake, but the one I fish is pretty shallow and I can see fish swarm my its pretty brainless, and a small bailtfish pattern stripped erradically knocks em dead.

    The last time I went to my fave alpine lake, I took a bunch of clouser style flies that I had tied and cut the tails off to make them shorties - increased my hookup ratio bigtime since a lot of the fish in the lake are smaller, and would otherwise "nip" at the tail of a normal sized clouser. In fact, I met a guy walking the other direction on the trail who claimed "there aren't any fish in that lake!". Of course, after asking what he was using and seeing the size 10 royal wulffs he produced from his vest...I wasn't too suprised. I would guess that I caught about 15-20 that day...standing on shore. Not really that tough once you get the hang of it.

    Bottom line is that a lot of the fish in high elevation lakes are dumb, but not that dumb. Don't expect to throw just anything at them and catch em.
  14. I have found the secret to be twitching the fly as if you were fishing for bluegill. They tend to key in on the movement. I think it is because a lot of what ends up in high lakes, especially in the afternoons and evenings, are terrestrials. Black ants, beetles, small green woolly worms, peacock and black wet flies in the surface film, peacock caddis, and parachute adams have all worked for me. Also, I fish flies in the size 14 range unless I go subsurface with something like a mohair leech.


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