I’ve never been a stillwater/back country fishing fan for various reasons. I generally dislike small brook trout, or really anything small. I don’t think that an 8” fish is beautiful, I think it is pathetic. Thus, I have pretty much stuck to the tried and true locations here in Colorado that offer some large tailwater specimens. This year however, I feel that the Dream hasn’t been as great as it usually is, (due in large part to the flows and the repairs at Cheeseman) and being as that is my go-to fishing spot I have been forced to venture out into different arenas. One of those arenas has been fishing some of the smaller mountain lakes, and I’m glad that I have. Not only can you find some nice fish in many of these lakes, but these fish are voracious fighters, and generally susceptible to flies presented with below average skill.
This past weekend the name of the game was large streamers, preferably in black. I had tremendous success with black beldars, meatwhistles, and leeches. There were some sporadic mayfly hatches in the evenings that the fish would key on but other than those few short hours most of the fishing was with attractor patterns and the aforementioned streamers. Fishing was consistent throughout the day, with the greatest amount of action coming in the early evenings. In the slower water this time of year there was a substantial amount of moss and algae growth. It was here that I lost half a dozen streamers and several of the fish that I hooked.
The best part about fish that don’t get hammered on all of the time is their tenacity and aggressive strikes. If they decide they want to kill whatever you are throwing at them the strikes are decisive. Several times I saw fish move 10-15 feet to chase down my streamers and hoppers. Once hooked the fish really didn’t have much of a shot because I’m a firm believer in 1X and it would take a really big trout or a sharp log to break me off. While most people enjoy playing a fish on light tackle I try to get away with the most obscene stuff I can. There is nothing wrong with fooling a fish on 20lb and roping him in against the current. I will even go so far as to say that it helps promote catch and safe release. At least in a lake they have a few more places to go than they do in a river and so the fight lasts a little longer and is a little more intense. Plus all of the fish are obese, that is pretty awesome.