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Old 01-16-2014, 01:58 PM
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Default Fishing High Mountain Lakes

I am relatively new to the fly fishing scene, I was a bait chucker for many years before that. I seem to have the river/stream thing down, at least I have it down in theory. I can typically find fish in moving water but I am stuck finding anything in lakes and ponds.

I live in the Sacramento area, less than an hour from the Sierras and I spend quite a few weekends during the spring and summer high up in the mountains enjoying Gods country. I would love to bring my rods and catch some beautiful mountain trout but I don't even know where to begin.

I assume the choice of flies is relatively the same, trout eat the same things. But presentation has to be different because there is very little water movement.

I can understand streamers and nymphs, use them to imitate what is really living in the lakes, but dry flies are my real question. After I cast out, how long do I let them float before casting out again? Do I try to create a little movement by ever so slowly stripping in line or should I just let them rest?

When using sub-surface flies, should I nymph along the bottom or do streamers/something that looks like it is swimming work better? I would imagine that the trout are scouring the bottom of the lake for food but you can't really cover water well if you're retrieving flies at nymph crawling speed.

What do you guys typically use for trout fishing in smaller mountain lakes? Please help a newbie out!

Thanks
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

While I have never fished a high mountain lake, I have fished some pond like pools created by natural damming on a couple streams. A wooly bugger worked real well, some terrestrials fished under some overhanging trees. Used some BH princes also that performed well. But that's here and no telling if they would work there, except for the wooly bugger..... Trout seem to love them no matter where ya fish em. When fishin a pond I do sort of a fan pattern but go right side to middle, left side to middle...if that makes any sense. This works from the bank or would work if you were on the water as well.


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Old 01-16-2014, 05:28 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

I fish them here in Colorado. How to fish dries depends on a number of factors. Usually when I fish there is some breeze (sometimes too much) and the slight wave action on the water surface imparts some action to the fly so I don't do much from my end. I leave it there as long as I can stand. I very often fish beetles since they work well for me. I think they fall/get blown into the lake and drift around till they sink. The wave action lets the rubber legs or hackle wiggle and give it some life.

When you fish, do you see naturals hatching? If so, do they move on the surface or just float and fly away? Are fish taking naturals? Often times fish patrol in still water meaning they may not be in one spot like in streams. In this case, if I see some fish surfacing I cast near them and let the fly sit until one passes again. If they are taking bugs around yours and don't take yours might be time to drop your tippet size or switch flies.

If you're sight fishing that changes the game since you can see the fish's reaction to your fly and change presentation, wait time, etc accordingly.
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

The others have offered very good advice, seeing how you are fishing the high lakes of the Sierras, I'd suggest you get Ralph Cutter's book "Fish Food". You also might be interested in listening to his episodes on Ask About Fly Fishing Internet Radio. He has two episodes there on on Golden Trout in the Sierras and the other on his book Trout Food, which is an excellent book by the way, not only does he cover the different food sources, but he explains the best way to fish those imitations.
Golden Trout of the High Sierra | Ralph Cutter | Fly Fishing

Amazon.com: Fish Food: A Fly Fisher's Guide to Bugs and Bait eBook: Ralph Cutter: Books Amazon.com: Fish Food: A Fly Fisher's Guide to Bugs and Bait eBook: Ralph Cutter: Books

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Old 01-16-2014, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

Dry flies and Stillwater go together like oil and water. Chironomids and Stillwater go together like rice & beans

Seriously if theirs a serious hatch... say a travelers sedge, calibaetis or hatching Chironomids, you can target the fish with sporadic success. But if you want action, you'll want to fish the chironomid pupa. A really easy guide to get started is ANYTHING written by Brian Chan or Phil Rowley. Heres a good start Rigging for Stillwaters - the Canadian Secret | Scientific Anglers

ive fished chironomids with Brian on his home waters and all down the west coast and into the rockies, and one thing is common, its deadly everywhere! It is a great way to give you confidence in still water and youll be able to advance from there. Chironomids are sort of a "gateway drug" if you will They are THE easiest fly to tie. they are durable and they just work! You are in agreat area for it!
Also, as was mentioned, Ralph Cutter is in that area and he is very generous with advise. he is fairly easy to find as he frequents some nor. cal. forums. Lance Gray is another guide/guru in that area that has knowledge beyond any dollar amount.
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Old 01-17-2014, 10:07 AM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

I am fishing the stillwater lake 100% and just like Jbird wrote, Chironomids pupa are the jack of all trades in stillwater. The Chi are available all year round and you can fish them in many different ways. Brian Chan and Phil Rowley are the gurus for stillwater, they have a series of introductory videos on youtube for stillwater fishing. That was how I started.

Jbird is a lucky guy to have fished with Brian Chan the guru, I fish with Chris.

While the Chi the #1 technique for stillwater; I have more success fishing leeches pattern #10 and #12 with 1/8 beadheads. The key is depth control, you can achieve this by stripping or using an indicator to hang your leech, the waves will bounce that leech and drive them nuts.

I usually use floating line-Fluoro leader-fluoro tippet for leech. Change to intermediate line if your high mountain lake starting to get windy. My lake is usually starting to get windy around 11am, it is time to go home anyway.

May the force be with you.
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Old 01-17-2014, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbird View Post
Dry flies and Stillwater go together like oil and water. Chironomids and Stillwater go together like rice & beans
I totally agree with what Jay is saying, that has been my experience also, but will tell you that I did a four day horse pack trip into the Wind River Mtn Range two summers ago, fishing small lakes above 10,000 ft and we fished nothing but small dries, those high altitude cutthroat just went nuts for them and it made it all the more exciting in that the water was crystal clear so you could see them rocket up from the depths to hit that small dry. We were mostly using small black Godard Caddis patterns, I think they were size 18's. A couple other patterns to think about are scuds and damsel nymphs, especially where you have lots of weeds.

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Old 01-17-2014, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

I've only had the privilege of fishing a mountain lake twice, and one of those times (Potato Lake north of Durango CO) parachute Adams was the ticket. Unfortunately, there was very little room to backcast, so I spent half the time picking the Adams out of the cedars. But boy, those trout loved it.
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:22 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

Tex,

Sierras eh ...?

Start HERE:

Lakes


Mr. Schalla has ya' covered...click on maps if you want the skinny on a particular location...


PT/TB
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:31 PM
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Default Re: Fishing High Mountain Lakes

Thanks guys, I have a lot of reading to do. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction!
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