Fishing Flies

posted Oct 16, 2013, 10:04 AM by Paul Wagner
P loves his fly fishing, and one of the great delights of backpacking can be found in a quiet backcountry lake that hasn't seen a fisherman in days, months, or years. It's peaceful, the fish are hungry, and P has a ball.  ahem. ©
He doesn't take a lot of equipment, both because he doesn't see the need, and he doesn't want to carry the weight.  He just takes a 7 piece fly rod that fits inside his pack, a reel with floating line, a few extra leaders, and a small selection of flies. 
And he almost always catches fish.  He's been doing this for more than fifty years now, and he's learned enough to be pretty successful. That's a photo of him fishing Lower McCabe Lake this summer at sunset.
But at two different high country lakes this summer, P ran into some recalcitrant fish.  The first was at Return Lake, well off-trail in Virginia Canyon in northeastern Yosemite.  The fish were rising, P was casting, but they weren't interested in what he had on the end of his line.  He usually fishes a small elk hair caddis fly, and it works just about all the timeWith Return Lake in the foreground. ©
But this time, the fish were taking something much smaller.  They would rise right up to P's fly, take a careful look, and then decide that they really didn't want caddis for dinner. 
Hmmph.  Oh well.  It was still a beautiful day on the lake.You can see why in the picture at left.  
Even from the lakeshore
And then it happened again, this time at one the lakes in the Ten Lake Basin.
P's first cast landed a beautiful 10-11 inch rainbow, and he could see many other fish in the lake.  So he cast and cast....and never got another fish.  Again, they were rising, and they would look at his fly, but they were not interested in the caddis.   Maybe the first fish had spread the word. 
Maybe not.
Yeah, he could have tried another fly.  But he guessed that they were eating midges, and he didn't really have any of those in his fly box.  So he practiced casting for a while longer, and then called it a day.
Since he wasn't catching fish, he stopped to take the photo at right.  It was a pretty great place to fish, catching or not.  
And he still has fond memories of the experience. 
That's a gorgeous brook trout below, from Lower Sardine Lake, where P caught more fish that he could count this summer.
P went fishing for brook trout...and caught too many to count, all between 7 and 10 inches long...and very skinny.  But brilliantly colored like this fellow.