I’m following in the footsteps of the Trout Underground, which has a winning combination for the extended fishing soiree … first you mention the menu, show a couple of water shots – proving you were able to push yourself away from the table, then you mention dessert.
Unfortunately everything in California has sugar on it, so you have to guess which course is first. “Dessert” was the first fish landed, and it’s strangely fitting that a Brownliner’s pilgrimage to blue water starts with a Brown Trout …
I’ve fished a lot of “mixed” water in the last decade, populated with both Brown and Rainbow trout – but for whatever reason I’ve haven’t seen that yellow belly and red spots since … forever. Our first day on the lake Browns outnumbered Rainbows, and everyone got to see a splash of yellow.
Manzanita Lake is about 5800 feet above sea level, and contains the only fish native to Lassen Park. Due to elevation and ice covering the lake, spawning occurs in late Spring, and the small feeder creek entering the lake provides precious gravel to sustain a natural population.
The above photo, a recently spawned fish that’s much skinnier than normal, almost “snakelike” – freshly spawned, more importantly, hungry as hell. After 14 hours of propelling myself around the lake, I’m not sure whose palette was the more discriminating, but at least one of us got fed.
Our small flotilla chugged around the lake and did well; two kinds of mayflies, midges, and the breeze played havoc with all of them; nymph activity was constant and prowling fish were in evidence all day long. Hatches were morning, noon, and evening – the traditional Manzanita schedule, with Calibaetis hatching at noon and again in the evening. It’s too soon for the big noontime spinner fall, but with “two a day” hatches, it shouldn’t be too long before they’ll add to the festivities.
“The Thrill that comes Once in a Lifetime” was how Ed Zern wrote it in “To Hell With Fishing”; the obscene discovery that big trout and Carp have an affinity for algae colored monstrosities. I didn’t complain much, just kept yelling “Pheasant Tail” to anyone that asked.
I was fishing dammit, and a little white lie won’t add much to the flames of Hell … the last thing I needed was some fellow accusing me of intentional invasive species release – knowing that fly had dampened both the blue and the brown.
Besides, it may have been the irate “Conga Drum” soloist with a ranger in tow.
I’ll post some flies and useful methods tomorrow, I had to get the “fish porn” out of the way, buying me enough time to see if I have any left. It’s the unwritten law of the “best friend” fly tier, “Guys, before we get in the car the flies are a buck, but once my waders are damp – dries are $9.50 each and nymphs are $14.00…”