A Cascade mountain lake report

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
Well, June is certainly a great month to fish mountain lakes in the Cascades. Actually, any place is a good place to fish after a long winter. A friend and I had fished this lake on Monday. I had success catching brookies on Callibaetis dry flies. The newly-stocked hatchery fish apparently were still figuring out what natural food is.

On Monday, we talked about heading back later in week but the weather was questionable in the middle of the week with high winds and some rain forecast. Friday turned out to be the best day of the week.

My friend was just about to head out when I drove up about 9:45ish. It took me 20 minutes to prep the three rods. I placed my sink tip line on the Sage 5wt. and tied on a brown seal leach with an olive seal leach trailer. On the Reddington 3 wt., I tied on a tandem of a bead-head black AP nymph with a damselfly trailer. On the Reddington 4 wt., I tied on a Callibaetis parachute fly. Finally, ready, I launched and finned my way out.

The forecast was for breezy conditions and partly cloudy skies and the forecast was on the money. Air temperatures never broke 50oF. For the most part, the winds were in the 5 – 8mph range from the west with periods of higher gusts and relative calm. Per usual, it was calmer in the relative shelter of the western end of the lake. As is often the case, the wind direction reversed and came from the south or even the east along this lee shoreline.

My friend was set up just west of the east weed bed. As I trolled my way out to him, I trailed the leach rig. I had a few short strikes, probably from small brookies. Then I had a firm takedown with a good hookset. We played around for a bit before I slipped this colorful brookie into the net.


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My friend had been fishing his spot for a half hour. He had a rainbow grab his fly soon after he arrived but it had gotten off. He had landed a small brookie or two. I set up parallel to him. I cast my leach rig to the east (wind aided) and brought the fly back in short strips. On my second cast, I had a strong strike, set the hook, and was into another fish, another nice brookie. It was soon on the net and ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille.


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I headed closer to the north shore. After a few more casts, I had another hard strike. This fish had more weight and I got it on the reel. It was one of the elusive rainbows. It took some line but it never did do a screaming run. My friend caught a nice picture of the bend in my reel.

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It was a solid 14-16” rainbow, one of the hatchery plants with an abnormal caudal fin. This may explain the lack of screaming runs. But it was still a big fish.

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A few casts later, the connection between the sink tip line and the leader broke (very old line….) and I lost both flies. I decided that I didn’t have any effective way to fix it on the water and just tied off the remainder of the sink tip to the innermost guide to prevent losing part of the rod during the rest of the day.

With this option closed, I decided to leave my friend at his spot and fin my way to the far side of the lake. The Callibaetis window, 11ish to 3ish, on this lake was about to open. There were Vaux’s swifts and tree swallows wheeling above the lake. There had been a hatch of tiny green midges and the occasional larger black midge but the main attraction should begin soon.

On the way, I trolled the damsel / black AP nymph combo. It didn’t take too long before I had a brookie-type grab. Shortly afterward, I had a take that stuck, an 8” brookie that grabbed the damsel nymph. I reached the western flat and had another hard take. It was a nice little battle but I soon had a 10” brookie in the net. As I was finning my way, I started to see a few rises and some caddis and Callibaetis on the surface or being carried past on the wind.

I continued into the pool at the far western edge of the lake by the talus slope. While the winds in the main lake were out of the southwest, in the pocket, their intensity was less, even swirling. At times, the winds were more out of the south, even east, in this pocket. I did see a few Callibaetis duns fly off the surface, but there were no spinners surprisingly. These had a more tan hue than the mottled black color that I typically associate with Callibaetis from this lake. There were also a few tan caddis that were a bit smaller than the Callibaetis on the water.

I saw a swirl in the pool and threw out a quick cast. A fish rose to the fly but either rejected it or missed it. I tried to track it by its activity, but I wasn’t able to elicit a second strike. I worked my way around the edges but no one was willing to play. The parachute fly broke off and I replaced it with a comparadun, a change that has worked here in the past. I kept hearing brookies striking the surface behind me in the shallows. I decided to head back to the flats where there seemed to be more willing players.

But before leaving the area, I saw a delicate rise at the edge of the logs that define the eastern edge of the pool. And there was an explosive rise by some logs a bit farther down the shore. O.K., let’s explore this a bit more before departing.

I dropped the comparadun just upwind of the rise at the edge of the pool. It drifted a few inches closer to the spot in the breeze and then disappeared. I set the hook and the battle commenced. This fish made a beeline to the logs and started stripping line. I palmed the reel to slow this burst and finally turned the fish. O.K., this is not a brookie. As the fish turned toward me, I reeled as fast as I could to keep tension on the line. Once the battle was more in the pool, I could relax a bit. The fish took line and I reeled it back. I could see the fly lodge firmly in the top jaw.

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And soon, I was able to slip it into the net.

I dried off the fly and pursued the other fish that had risen. I probed with several casts off the logs stacked up against the shore. Finally, a fish rose to my fly and I set the hook. Soon, it was in the net too.

I finned my way across the flats toward the southern side of the main flat area. I was still looking for risers. In the wind and light, I was somewhat restricted to casting to the north or north west. There was too much glare to see the fly to the east and south and too much wind to the south and southwest. I had lost the comparadun when a wind gust carried a cast into the rod. I tied on another size-14 biot-bodied parachute-style fly with a gray post.

If there weren’t any risers, I fan cast. Even if I did drop the fly near a recent riser, the brookies were often reluctant to take the dry from the surface. I did have several strikes, including several hookups, when I was retrieving the fly for the next cast. The brookies responded to the movement.

These were some nice brookies for this lake. They included this fish.

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And this fish.

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And this fish.

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All in all, I landed two rainbows and 18ish brookies, up to 12”. A nice day on the water.

I saw a mother mallard leading a group of 8-10 mallard ducklings at the east end. Similarly, a mother ring-necked duck led 5-6 ducklings around the lake too. Spotted sandpipers bobbed at the lake edge. At the western pool, two Stellar’s jays ensured that there wouldn’t be too much silence. Two eagles soared overhead around noon. Later in the afternoon, two ospreys checked out the snack possibilities.

I also saw several types of metal birds crossing the pass. In addition to U.S. Army chinooks, a Navy/Marine Sea Stallion crossed overhead.

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I had texted my friend to let him know about the action on the flats but he had left his phone in his truck. When action slowing on the flats, I finned my way east trolling my brace of nymphs. I had more strikes and captures on brookies. The captures were on the black AP nymph – more reflections of the presence of Callibaetis mayflies.

During my tour of the west of the lake, my friend had picked up a few brookies on blood worms and on a sunken black ant pattern. We got caught up. I spent a few minutes in this area but decided that it was time to go. I had a good day. My friend decided to head out too.

I was off the lake at 4:30 and home in time for wings and beer at 7. Nice day on the water.

Steve
 

Gyrfalcon21

Honoring Vets
Great report! Those are the kind of days to remember all Winter!

-just now seeing the photos on a large screen, beautiful fish photos
 
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