This fish came to me on a trip to a lake I talked about in a previous blog, “The Experience of Solo Backpacking (Foggy Fishing)”,(https://fliesontheline.com/2019/02/21/the-experience-of-solo-backpacking-foggy-fishing/ ) where I visit a high alpine lake that holds large beautiful cutthroat Trout on a solo backpacking trip.
This location holds a large population of what I believe are either Rio Grand or Colorado River Cutthroat Trout. Alongside Rainbows and hybrid Cutbows. I am a far way from being a fish biologist, however, and could be wrong about the Cutties. Maybe someone reading this can help me to identify these fish correctly
This was our second or third time to this lake, so we had it pretty dialed in. Nothing complicated as they are eager to take dry flies like Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators a good portion of the day and season. We had been catching fish all day so I made a run back to camp for supplies. This lake, like many, has a path that follows the shoreline pretty closely. The outlet on the tail end of this lake forms a shallow lagoon that fish sometimes cruise.
On my way back from camp while walking around the lagoon to get back to the “Honey Hole” I spotted one such cruiser. This fish was on the upper average size of the fish in this lake. I could tell right away that it was out feeding. Luckily for me, the fish was headed in the same direction that I was, putting me positioned perfectly to stock it from behind. I walked slowly as I pulled my fly out of the fly keeper on my rod and pulled some line through the guides. Just as it was turning with the bend of the lagoon and beginning to head back to the main lake I was able to make my cast. It wasn’t a perfect cast but it lead the fish nicely without spooking it and was well within its feeding zone. The fish reacted quickly and slammed my Elk Hair Caddis. With a set of the rod, the FISH WAS ON!
I struggled a little bit to get it in, as it was fighting with might and I was positioned on a rock that was about three feet off the water with no net. I was able to clumsily make my way down one side of the rock while playing the fish to an area of grass where I could land it.
This fish stays with me mostly because it was an unexpected moment I was able to capitalize on. Whenever I get the opportunity to site fish with dry flies, time seems to slow down and create an experience that is hard to forget. Not only that but the colors on this particular fish are deep and beautiful.