Lakes puzzle me. Help me out.

PooterTooter

Active Member
I consider myself a decent fly angler on a river. Note: DECENT fly angler. I'm not Joe Humphreys. Most of us aren't. But I fish often and have a good time. Occasionally, I like to take the float tube out and hike into a lake to fish. Its generally quiet and peaceful and I enjoy that part immensely. The problem is that my success levels are really hot or cold--a wild rollercoaster ride of experiences on lakes. I just don't really have a clue on how to read the water on a lake--epsecially when its very calm and still.

There have been days when I've caught 30 brookies on an alpine lake. Or get into some decent brown on chironomids on Pass. Then there are days (like yesterday, at Alice) where I see trout rising but I get skunked. Or a lake I hit more than once last summer that I've seen large cutthroat rising and have never hooked up with a fish. Or the last time I was at Lone and left sad. (These are all well known lakes and I don't think this is hot spotting at all, apologies if you disagree.)

I generally know what flies to be using. I know how to present. I know to use long, light leaders. But we all know that doesn't solve everything. Help me out! What should I be reading? What videos should I be watching? What techniques do I hone? What do I need to learn to be more successful on the average WA lake for trout? Why does it feel so hit/miss, even with stocked lakes like Rattlesnake or Alice? I'd appreciate any insight you have.

Thanks in advance.
 

zen leecher aka bill w

born to work, forced to fish
At Alice this early in the season you were probably seeing "rises" to chironomid pupa just under the surface. You will need to sample with an aquarium net to see what size/color to use.... or you can try a chromie in around a #14. I consider the chromie the universal chironomid pattern. It may have been you were seeing an early calibaetis hatch but it is about a month to a month and a half early for you to encounter those. My money is on chironomids. If the trout are rising, use a small indicator and start with the depth setting around 2-3 feet and adjust it deeper if you get no action.
 

Irafly

Indi Ira
WFF Supporter
You have some options.

Books and Videos by Brian Chan, Phil Rowley, Skip Morris are yes, even Denny Rickards are all great sources, but if you just want to flat out do what it takes to catch fish in lakes, look up the first book that @Tim Lockhart put out called Stillwater’s Simplified.
Tim is methodical when it comes taking a lake apart and analyzing it. I’m a good lake fisher, but Tim elevated my game to another level. He is also a float tuber, so his information will be very relevant for you.

Next thing to do is fish with as many people as you can that know what they are doing. If you can’t find others to fish with, learn how to become the friendliest guy on the lake, throw pride out the window and ask as many questions as you can to those who are catching fish. I still do this about every single trip out.

As for those Alice sippers, they are frustrating for the best of us. Fish in lakes don’t tend to feed in a lane like river fish. Trying to target lake risers can be hair pulling because they rarely move in a straight line. I tend to either throw some kind of emerges, or more likely, I’ll toss a chromy a few inches under an indicator. If all else fails, I pull out the white bunny leech.
 
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Beckler

Active Member
I consider myself a decent fly angler on a river. Note: DECENT fly angler. I'm not Joe Humphreys. Most of us aren't. But I fish often and have a good time. Occasionally, I like to take the float tube out and hike into a lake to fish. Its generally quiet and peaceful and I enjoy that part immensely. The problem is that my success levels are really hot or cold--a wild rollercoaster ride of experiences on lakes. I just don't really have a clue on how to read the water on a lake--epsecially when its very calm and still.

There have been days when I've caught 30 brookies on an alpine lake. Or get into some decent brown on chironomids on Pass. Then there are days (like yesterday, at Alice) where I see trout rising but I get skunked. Or a lake I hit more than once last summer that I've seen large cutthroat rising and have never hooked up with a fish. Or the last time I was at Lone and left sad. (These are all well known lakes and I don't think this is hot spotting at all, apologies if you disagree.)

I generally know what flies to be using. I know how to present. I know to use long, light leaders. But we all know that doesn't solve everything. Help me out! What should I be reading? What videos should I be watching? What techniques do I hone? What do I need to learn to be more successful on the average WA lake for trout? Why does it feel so hit/miss, even with stocked lakes like Rattlesnake or Alice? I'd appreciate any insight you have.

Thanks in advance.
I can comment on Alice as I fish it a lot in the spring when I don’t have a lot time for other spots. My experience with those sippers is that they will not hesitate to hammer a stripped bugger if you can get it in front of them. Like others have said, it can be hard to track their direction, but at times they will rise continually in a line and you can anticipate their direction. Super fun because they hammer it hard and are not nearly as picky as risers I’ve encountered on other lakes. I just fish an intermediate for those fish. Good luck!
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
One of the big keys to fishing any given lake is having the right line to reach the level the fish are at. I have watched guys flounder around for hours screwing with a sink tip or intermediate and catch virtually nothing while we were nearby catching fish consistently on Type 5 or Type 7 lines. Questioning some of these guys about why they aren't using a fast sink usually reveals that they have never owned one/can't afford one or the most bogus answer- "They are impossible to cast". :rolleyes:

I primarily fish lakes nowadays and have floating lines in both DT and WF, sink tips, intermediate, Types 3,4,5,6 and 7. Typically I will have at least 4 of these with me at any time and to determine which one to use a depth finder is an invaluable tool. Being able to determine depth at a glance will help you determine that your Type 7 is a bad choice in 8' of water or that your intermediate won't produce much over a 30' dropoff.

In the absence of a depth finder bathymetric charts of most of the lakes in Washington are on line for free. Going to a new lake? Just print out a chart of that lake and give yourself a head start on learning your way around. Once you have your line in the water vary your retrieve. A do-nothing retrieve will often produce nothing. I find that I get better results with erratic retrieves rather than just gliding along hoping that a fish takes notice. Make them notice.

Finally, it sounds like you are a wet side guy. There are a lot of really superb lake fishers over there and it would help if you could book an outing with one or more of them for some coaching.
 

High&NeverDry

Active Member
One of the big keys to fishing any given lake is having the right line to reach the level the fish are at. I have watched guys flounder around for hours screwing with a sink tip or intermediate and catch virtually nothing while we were nearby catching fish consistently on Type 5 or Type 7 lines. Questioning some of these guys about why they aren't using a fast sink usually reveals that they have never owned one/can't afford one or the most bogus answer- "They are impossible to cast". :rolleyes:

I primarily fish lakes nowadays and have floating lines in both DT and WF, sink tips, intermediate, Types 3,4,5,6 and 7. Typically I will have at least 4 of these with me at any time and to determine which one to use a depth finder is an invaluable tool. Being able to determine depth at a glance will help you determine that your Type 7 is a bad choice in 8' of water or that your intermediate won't produce much over a 30' dropoff.

In the absence of a depth finder bathymetric charts of most of the lakes in Washington are on line for free. Going to a new lake? Just print out a chart of that lake and give yourself a head start on learning your way around. Once you have your line in the water vary your retrieve. A do-nothing retrieve will often produce nothing. I find that I get better results with erratic retrieves rather than just gliding along hoping that a fish takes notice. Make them notice.

Finally, it sounds like you are a wet side guy. There are a lot of really superb lake fishers over there and it would help if you could book an outing with one or more of them for some coaching.
I thought I to would get some advice from here, as I rarely to never fish lakes? While I do not doubt the benefits and attractions....WOW, thats a lot of work! :eek: Give me a nice river, some gravel bars and flask....I gladly relinquish my lake spot to the Masters! ;)
 

IveofIone

WFF Supporter
I thought I to would get some advice from here, as I rarely to never fish lakes? While I do not doubt the benefits and attractions....WOW, thats a lot of work! :eek: Give me a nice river, some gravel bars and flask....I gladly relinquish my lake spot to the Masters! ;)
Let me put lake fishing in perspective for you. In the state of Washington there are over 8,000 lakes. How many significant trout streams other than the Yakima can you name? Sure, there are a lot of coastal streams that once had steelhead in them but that fishery has largely dried up.

When I was drag racing back in the '50's we had a saying- "You run what you brung!" With fishing it is much the same-we fish where there is water. I was raised on a trout stream and caught my first rainbow on a fly on July 28, 1951. Since then I have fished streams wherever I have gone but in the past 20 years I have been surrounded by lakes so I have done the work to get good at what I do. By and large I catch more fish and bigger fish in lakes than in streams. Maybe I'm just easy to please but lake fishing has been very very good to me!
 

wetline dave

Active Member
I haver read some of Tim's book and he has a sound approach in my estimation. I do some similar things but with a different twist., Fish react to things rising and or sinking and both can trigger a response.

So to start lets select a fly or two that are pretty much universal, a Carey Special and or a dragon fly nymph, a Pats rubber legs with a few legs removed will do nicely.

I like a type 3 sinking line as I want my offering to rises when I strip it in and sink when I stop,. I generally cast out as far as I can and then use what ever I am in to pull out line until I have about 80 feet of line out with a 9 foot leader. I let the line sink and count down and then create a bit of forward momentum and then start working a strip. This causes the fly to rise. When it as far up as it will go then I pause and let the liner sink and use my platform to pull the rest of the line out.

It is up and down in the water column and I am covering area. When I locate a concentration of fish I will anchor up and cast into the area, counting down to where I think I need to be.

The lake itself is of interest,. If there is an incoming stream and an out flow there will almost always be a "stream bed". This provides a current line. Look for what looks like "nervous" water when there is a soft breeze. This is a mini rip and will concentrate feed. It is there with or without a breeze. Drop offs are good to fish as the shallows break into depth. Any changes in contour are good place to start whether shore protrusions and or mini bays that create flats and definitely the bottom topography.

Just roughly my approach.

Dave
 

vader

Active Member
We have a saying...
"Some days, you're that guy."

As in...
"Did you see that guy?"
"That guy's dialed in."
"That guy's got another one!"
"That guy's makin' me sick."

Fish often and you learn more but it can be chicken one day and feathers the next. Don't get discouraged.
What about "f that guy? Back in the day we walk uphill both ways to get 30 plus fish"
 

troutpocket

Active Member
I fish out of a tube probably 50%. Walk in lakes are fun and I like the paired-down approach that a tube requires. My tube fishing kit includes two rods, one lined with a floater and indicator with a leader long enough to reach the maximum depth I anticipate fishing (typically 12-20’) and a type 5 full sink (occasionally this is an intermediate if the lake has a max depth <10’). Sometimes I bring a depth finder, often not if the walk is more than 1 mile.

With these tools I can quickly determine depth and get my flies working near the bottom. Of course there are days when casting at risers is productive. But in general the action is down within a couple feet of the bottom. Work that zone consistently and you will find out what the fish want. I typically start with my full sinking lines and count down until I know I’m in the zone or snag veg. Move around and pay attention to obvious features of the lake like shoal areas, points, drops, rock walls and deep flats. Lake fish are on the move and will orient to structure. Also look for feeding fish. Fish showing on the surface often means there are others down deeper. Spend some time working structure in different depths until you hook fish. Pay attention and try to repeat it. Once I find a pattern in where I am hooking up, I will often switch to my indicator setup because I think it’s the more efficient way to capitalize on a concentration of fish. You will find out quickly if they are responding to an indicator presentation. If not, go back to the sinking lines.

Notice I haven’t mentioned flies. They are often the least important piece of the puzzle. Carry some standard confidence bugs and put them in the zone!
 

ghetme

Active Member
I am sure it is a basic tip and Dave mentioned this earlier but the advice that helped me the most was fishing the bends of a lake. The topography around these areas has the most change and offer attractive structures. My chances at fish went up when I focused these areas on lowland lakes. Mileage may vary of course.
 

SinglehandJay

Misanthropist
I consider myself a decent fly angler on a river. Note: DECENT fly angler. I'm not Joe Humphreys. Most of us aren't. But I fish often and have a good time. Occasionally, I like to take the float tube out and hike into a lake to fish. Its generally quiet and peaceful and I enjoy that part immensely. The problem is that my success levels are really hot or cold--a wild rollercoaster ride of experiences on lakes. I just don't really have a clue on how to read the water on a lake--epsecially when its very calm and still.

There have been days when I've caught 30 brookies on an alpine lake. Or get into some decent brown on chironomids on Pass. Then there are days (like yesterday, at Alice) where I see trout rising but I get skunked. Or a lake I hit more than once last summer that I've seen large cutthroat rising and have never hooked up with a fish. Or the last time I was at Lone and left sad. (These are all well known lakes and I don't think this is hot spotting at all, apologies if you disagree.)

I generally know what flies to be using. I know how to present. I know to use long, light leaders. But we all know that doesn't solve everything. Help me out! What should I be reading? What videos should I be watching? What techniques do I hone? What do I need to learn to be more successful on the average WA lake for trout? Why does it feel so hit/miss, even with stocked lakes like Rattlesnake or Alice? I'd appreciate any insight you have.

Thanks in advance.
Should find out exactly what they were rising to and make exactly that. Viola
 

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