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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caples Lake

I've been avoiding Caples all summer but finally figured i was due to go check it out.  This past week has been calm sunny mornings.  Perfect conditions for one of my favorite things, sight fishing still waters.  Caples was one of my favorite spots until they drained it this past fall, shocked and relocated most of the fish and pretty much destroyed a huge chunk of the food sources the trout used to thrive on.  As part of their deal though, the EID paid lots of money for lots of big trout to be placed back in the lake over the past few months.  There are plenty of small brookies, Mac's some catchable and sub catchable browns and some HUGE Dobson Rainbows from a private hatchery.  These fish eat a fly well and provide some good sport.  If you have a chance, do yourself a favor and keep an eye on the weather.  If it looks like a sunny day with light wind, grab your 6wt and head up to Caples.  

I like to sight fish from the rocks but stripping streamers from a boat or tube can be productive too.  
I saw lots of big fat rainbows patrolling the shore.  Sometimes they would come in schools of 4 or 5 fish.  There were surprisingly tight lipped though.  For the amount of shot i had, the number of fish hooked was pretty low.  The good thing was that i had almost constant shots.  
Due to the fact that most of the aquatic insects the fish used to eat like Calabeitis and Midges were killed off while draining the lake, the fish haven't really keyed in well on dry flies.  I couldn't get any of them to come up to the surface.  They weren't even looking up at all.  They were eating nymphs pretty well.  I got all my fish on a basic hopper dropper rig with a bead head nymph.  
Sight fishing the rocks is my favorite.  
Lots of big rainbows cursing around.  
The fish were surprisingly leader shy.  I got all my fish on 4x.  You have to set easy and play the fish very gently.  I managed to only land about half the fish i hooked.  The rest broke off.  
Last fish of the day was a killer little brownie.  He didn't look like the planters.  i suspect he was a hold over that managed to elude the shocking crews.  Maybe he can teach the big slobs how to eat dry flies.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FFR 09

Had a fun time at Fly Fishing retailer this year.  Turns out it's going to be the last year in Denver and they are thinking of combining it with Outdoor retailer in SLC.  Could be cool.  

Brent "Fish Pimp" Dawson pimping his fish at the show.  People are really diggin his custom flies.  Check em out at
Mongolia 08 reunion.  Peter and Genevieve and their partner Ken Iwomasa come down to see the new Mongolia video I had in the Drake Film Awards.  Only Currier and Paul were missing.  This exact time last year we were all floating down one of the most remote rivers in the world catching taimen.  It was great to relive those memories and have a get together.  I owe it all to these guys.  
My "River Time Forgot" five minute piece took best story at the Drake event.  It wouldn't have been possible without meeting Peter on that fateful day in a Boulder hotel parking lot.  Next thing i know i'm flying to Ulaan Bataar and i turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.  
Friday night i did a showing of a longer version of the Mongolia 08 video for Patagonia at their reception.  Shown is Bill Klyn, Peter Mullet, Ken Iwomasa and Brent and i drinking beer.  
Had more beers and fish tacos with Bryan Gregson and Bryan Carter after the show.  Lots of laughs and good fish stories.  

Images curtsey of Brent Dawson.  

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Here's a collection of photos by my friend Paul Waters from a backpacking trip we did in August.  Paul, his friend Farzaneh, and myself hiked up to one of my favorite small high country lakes not far from my house.  I love to fish the high country lakes this time of year because the rivers are getting warm and crowed and fish up there in the cold water will still eat drys.  It's always nice to strap on those boots and head out to some of the seldom seen parts of California.  For years this lake was know for it's golden trout.  Five years ago the lake was stoked with Lahontan Cutthroat trout.  We were hoping to catch and photograph some of the spectacularly colored goldens that i had seen in the past.   For better or worst, i think this lake can be described as a success story for the LCT.  They have managed to not only compete with the goldens but thrive and overtake them.  Last time i was there in 06, we caught around 85% goldens.  The biggest LCT i saw was around 16 inches.  This time we couldn't manage to land a single golden.  It was all LCT.  I spotted a couple goldens but couldn't manage to land any.  There were LCT all over though.  We watched them feeding on a variety of insects and each fish we landed was fat bellied.  Paul and i both landed a fish around 20 inches and saw several others in that same range and bigger.  Surprising to see trout that big at a lake almost 10 thousand feet in elevation.  

We were surprised to see 7 other anglers on their way out.  None reported landing any fish.  This guy said he hooked one but didn't land it.  One of the most spectacular views in the area.  Looking out over Washoe territory on the East Side.  
This couple was hiking the PCT and made a detour to find a good swim and a fish dinner.  
A mid summer swim feels great in the high country.   

Camp.  Leave no trace.  
Lahontan Cutthroat trout.  
I don't keep many fish, but i love a good trout once in a while from a clean high country lake.  This was my one trout for the year.  It's easier to justify keeping one when we saw several nice health mature fish feeding.  They don't have the opportunity to reproduce naturally anymore.  They do however have trucks, helicopters and airplanes these days to help them get around.  Paul and i each kept one and had a killer lunch.  
Cowboy cooking over the campfire.  

Everything taste better at 10,000 feet.  

Plucking a few flies from the Dry Fly box. 
Misty Trail view.  We got caught in a pretty strong hail storm on the walk back. By the time we reached the trial head, some of the peaks in the area had so much hail it looked like snow.  Goes to show  you can't even count of August for dry weather in the up country.  

Burl Style Juniper Trees.  Surviving the elements and thriving in a harsh environment.  These monsters have seen many years pass.  The trail winds though some beautiful old growth.  

Photos curtsey of Paul Waters.