"Icewater Lake"


Sculpin Enterprises
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On Sunday, a friend and I headed up to “Icewater Lake”. This lake has a history of being a blast…. We had been avoiding “Icewater Lake” for the last several weeks; we were concerned that because of high water temperatures, we would stress any fish that we might catch and release. But after several days of cooler weather and even some light drizzle in the forecast, we anticipated that the surface water temperatures would have cooled. We were very wrong about the surface temperatures and I should have been able to have predicted this.
Now, I teach this stuff in two of my classes but I had obviously not internalized the fundamental physics here or thought this situation through. This is a deep lake, with a maximum depth of 180 feet. So, what happens when cold air interacts with warm surface water? The surface water cools (and the air warms). But then what happens to that cooled surface water? Its density is now higher than the warmer water just below it. Therefore, this surface water will sink and be replaced by more warm water. So, to really cool the surface water, the whole depth of the lake would need to cool and that wasn’t going to happen after just a few days. Bottom line: we were very careful to bring the fish in quickly and be sure that they had recovered
When we launched our pontoon boats, there was a light breeze blowing and a light drizzle falling. We were both glad that we had packed rain jackets – a fall day in mid-August. The cloud layer was just about the elevation of the lake. As the day progressed, the cloud layer rose and thinned, and the drizzle let up. There was a wind chop most of the day. Neither of us saw anything hatching, but the swallows were patrolling the surface of the lake intently, including several close inspections of my flies.
We both started out with sink-tip lines, my friend with a Carey special at the end of his line and me with an orange seal leach trailed by a dark brown seal leach. He headed to the channel while I buzzed closer to the bank. He had success on that Carey special all day.
The fish in this oligotrophic lake are VERY responsive to terrestrials. We had been hoping that there might even be a hopper fall but the cool temperatures shut that off – not flying weather for hoppers. I got bored of trolling my leaches. I started to work over the shallows with a tan stimulator pattern that I had tied on my 3wt. Encouragingly, I had a few smaller fish attack it, but the bug was too big for them to swallow. As I worked over a boulder field, a nicer fish missed the fly twice (or was trying to drown it) before it grabbed the fly well enough to be hooked. It put up a good fight for its size on my 3 wt. and I was soon able to net and release it.
Soon after a larger fish rolled on the fly but did not hook up.
As I slowly finned my way from one boulder field to the next, I let the stimulator trail along at the surface. I had not gone very far when an even larger fish just inhaled the fly and started taking line. I was able to get it on the reel and we started the to-and-fro battle when the tension on the line disappeared. The fish had not been hooked but was simply holding the fly in its mouth and had let it go. Arrgghh.
But this set the pattern for the day. I picked up a few fish spot casting the stimulator, especially to drop-offs.
I picked up a few fish (and missed several more) trolling the stimulator at the surface. And I picked up a few fish trolling the brown seal leach.
As we rolled into the heart of the afternoon, the deck of cloud cover was dropping and we decided to call it a day. All-in-all, we hadn’t experienced the hopper hatch that we had been hoping for, but we both caught and released enough fish to call it a satisfying day. And there were only two other anglers (excluding the bald eagle and the osprey) on the lake the whole day.


Nice report. I know you mentioned the water was warm - but did you happen to get a temperture?

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