Mountain lake update with bug pictures


Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
I’ve been back three times to the mountain lake that I reported on a few weeks ago (see A Cascade mountain lake report). In the interim, the stocked rainbows are demonstrating more familiarity with natural food and the brookies are still active. But every trip is different and you need to be observant and flexible.

When the lake first opens in late spring, fishing midges under a float is an effective strategy. And it is always good to be prepared for an ant fall; the fish will still be keyed into them even a day or two after the ant fall. But after a few weeks with longer days and warmer temperatures, the bigger lake meals make an appearance. The first trip back, I hit a small Callibaetis emergence. It was enough to draw the brookies to the surface. But the rainbows that had been recently stocked were nowhere to be seen.

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There was also a damsel emergence. Life is short and damsels soon pair up to start the next generation.

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It seemed like that each patch of reeds had been staked out by a brookie to pick off either the damsel nymphs in transit or hanging from the reeds. These brookies proved to be very willing to grab a parachute biot-bodied Callibaetis fly dropped in their vicinity.

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And the rainbows that were cruising around the edges of the reed beds were willing to take this fly as well. I love sight fishing to cruising rainbows on the hunt for Callibaetis duns – so visual!

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Last week, I hit an even more vigorous Callibaetis emergence, at least in the section of the lake where I was fishing. The brookies were dashing up to the surface to eat the duns. The splashes were going off around me like bottle rockets at a city park on the 4th of July. The emergence of the Callibaetis duns was very patchy spatially though; a friend who was fishing another part of the lake saw very few.

But he did well on damsel dry flies, the newly-emerged tenerals. These have not yet achieved their adult blue and black coloration. I had one land on my pontoon boat a few days ago and it posed for a few pictures.

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The Callibaetis duns do not sit for very long once they push through the surface film; this is probably why the brookies strike them so vigorously – snooze and you lose. But I did have one dun land on the oar handle of my pontoon boat last week, a great opportunity for a few pictures. I was surprised at the dark olive color of the dorsal aspect of the body. The pictures don’t show the ventral surface which is likely much lighter. I will tweak the color of my biot bodies in response.

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I was back two days ago and the Callibaetis emergence was a ghost of what it had been a week earlier. Day to day variation? The behaviors of the fish and the swallows seemed to indicate that both were anticipating a better feed but it did not occur. I saw just a few duns fly off the water and no spinners – very strange.

Normally, the Callibaetis action on this lake really starts to die down about 2PM. There are still fish looking for stragglers and cripples for a while after, but the surface action dies down rapidly. On Tuesday, I was anticipating the same. About 2:30PM, I began to make my way down the lake. But I set my path to cruise by the edge of reed beds to see if there were any rainbows or brookies taking damsel tenerals off the reeds.

There was a bit of that going on, but what struck me was the level of traveling sedge activity. I have fished this lake 60 or more days in the last 15 years and I often see a traveling sedge or two motorboating across the surface in the afternoon. But their numbers have always been low enough that it didn’t appear that the fish were targeting them. But this afternoon, the emergence was much heavier and there were explosions of strikes by brookies and rainbows in my area.

I used my net to scoop one of the traveling sedges up for a closer look. Very cool looking bug.

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I tied on a tan EHC and was rewarded with strikes by several brookies and rainbows – saving an otherwise slow day.

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Always a fun lake to explore. Just when you think you have seen it all, it throws a new wrinkle at you.

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Active Member
I must compliment you on the first image. Quite "extra ordinary"... AKA... extraordinary. I liked the other photos, but dang that first one...The fly, the line, the water color (and pattern), the abstract shape of the fish, the separation from surface to submerged etc.. That image is truly an artistic rendition of a beautiful fish.
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Honoring Vets
Steve, another great report. We demand blogging of that quality, sensory overload!

I agree, that first brookie shot. Wow! Reminds me of the very first time I saw a Brook Trout in person, it was 1983 and it was high in an alpine lake, I could not believe the flash of red fins.

That same trip also was my first viewing of Mountain Goats. Never forget first go-rounds with special nature.

Thanks for the flashback !
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Active Member
Awesome report!
I hope to see you (and Hoppers) at one of your other favorite mountain lakes over the next few months.


Active Member
What did you use to shoot the pics? Thanks for the report - it is definitely the high point of the lakes reports.


Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
What did you use to shoot the pics? Thanks for the report - it is definitely the high point of the lakes reports.
I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3. It is an older, now-discontinued, waterproof camera; I think that Panasonic is up to the TS7. If I were to purchase a new camera, I would recommend the waterproof Olympus TG-5 or TG-6 cameras; I own a TG-4 and a TG-5; I also have underwater housings for both and use them extensively while diving. They have better resolution, even better zoom/close-up capabilities, and have the option to shoot in RAW mode.

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