Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fat Stacks of Greenbacks

I have fished Lily Lake for many years. Done well, most of the time…but regardless of the quality of fishing that particular day, I invariably lusted after the middle of the lake. There just had to be more and larger trout out deep. Just had to be. So, I have always promised myself to one day get out there in the middle. Belly boat. Canoe. Hell…one day just tie a streamer onto my ankle with 3x and swim out there! But, I did not have to strip down and swim. Not today. Erin Block and I lashed a canoe to the roof of her Toyota and made haste to the lake. Was a beautiful day, not too much wind and, unlike our last trip to Lily Lake, there was not eight inches of ice covering the entire surface. Lily is slightly less than 9000 feet, so it will usually be one of the first high cutthroat lakes to ice off. It is also relatively shallow, so the water tends to get warm fast. It is already up to 64 degrees, making the fish a tad sluggish after even a short fight—the main reason to fish this lake early and then leave it alone for the rest of the summer.

Lily Lake also happens to be the most accessible lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park (along Highway 7 several miles south of Estes Park) so we were expecting not to be alone. And were right…there were maybe a dozen other anglers. About half spin fishermen (having no luck) one hapless, ill-advised old man with a Tenkara pole—it’s from Japan, he told us—and the other half wielding fly rods. All were shore-bound. Erin and I shared the middle of the lake only with a small inflatable raft being paddled around by four or five underdressed college girls. Row row row your boat… They would all try to sing in unison, then smack the water with their paddles and continue a high-pitched blather about dating some boy. Poor boy…hope it was worth it.
We saw no fish rising, but did see some midges around and two larger (when compared to the midges!) callibaetis mayfly adults on the surface. So, we rigged black leeches with skinny tan callibaetis nymphs behind them. When the wind was pushing us around we would set the rods down and troll, only picking them up to cast during the moments of calm. And we caught greenbacks. Not many, though. Ironically, it took us beaching the canoe and casting from shore before we really got into the fat stacks! Blind casting was delivering nothing, either. We found the most productive approach was stalking the bank and sight cast to cruising fish with one of Erin’s micro-streamers. Lily Buggers, we took to calling them…

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