Returned last night from a weekend flyfishing excursion to Oregon’s East Lake. My fishing experience was not as I would have expected, but live and learn. However, a few individuals seemed to be dialed in with a black Woolly Bugger and caught beautiful brown trout (more to follow with picture). I fished well and after two days I had a paltry dozen fish to account for hundreds of casts and presentations at all levels. One thing I did notice (first excuse) was indications of Spring Turnover ( This is something I have witnessed in the Fall and have seen firsthand the influence on the fishing. Spring turnover occurs several weeks or so after ice off and lingers as the lake stratifies and adjusts. I won’t say the entire lake was in turnover, but I did see some common traits: the lake was fairly calm (the wind had died down for once) and one could see all manner of debris boiling to the surface. Big clumps of moss, dead weeds and reeds were rising to the surface on the West side of the lake, from the Pumice slide, south to the private property and around the bend to the ‘birdhouse’ area. OK, that is my first excuse because I know turnover does account for reduced success on a lake, so I am using this as the only possible real excuse I have.

Now that does not mean we and others didn’t catch some nice fish. I will hopefully post within the next few days a wonderful picture of Mike with a 22″+ brown, weighing at least five pounds. The photo (I got a glimpse of the shot on Rhonda’s digital camera) shows an immensely happy flyfisher and the beautiful fish. And Mike’s son, CJ also caught a beautiful brown. But, Mike and CJ aside, few fisherman were successful this weekend. I did catch one Rainbow at 19+” that took the Minnow Bugger over by the Pumice Slide. I caught a 20″ Atlantic on the Calico Bugger. The other fish were all Browns of 12 to 18″ on The Orb or Little Fort Leech. I could not find a Rainbow Trout to save my soul, except the one nice one.  I methodically fished all depths and did notice several dozen quick hits and no hookups.   

 All things considered a ‘normal’ fishing event for my son and I would have resulted in a much higher catch rate and many larger Rainbow Trout. I have fished here in mid-June before and this experience was in stark contrast with past June’s. Zero weed growth, some algae bloom on East end of lake. Water temperature ranging from 47 degrees to 55 degrees (a good possible excuse). I did have one good outcome and that was The Orb. It was a productive pattern, but not now I had envisioned. There were no Callibaetis hatches, so I did not fish it as an emerger. But, I pulled it under with an Intermediate line and it caught fish, got hits and temporary hookups. It was at least better than total refusals. So, later this Summer I will try The Orb during a hatch as the fly was intended to be used. However, the limited success of the pattern as a subsurface nymph, down 10-15 feet was encouraging.    

When the fishing is slow and frustration has to be rationalized away, one looks about and dutifully finds things to be thankful for: nature’s bounty, camaraderie, some diversion to take the edge off the lack of hookups and denial of the moment(s). Well in this instance, it was easy to do. A hunting Bald Eagle and Osprey, the beauty of Newberry Crater, a thunder storm and downpour, the warmth of the mountain sun, the ice of a sub-freezing morning, the beauty of young ladies working at the East Lake Resort. But, the best diversion was the meeting of Tim and Mike and their lovely spouses and families. The weekend allowed for the sharing of flyfishing strategies and flies. Of helping to repair waders and giving advice on how to cast and what to use. The sharing in the moments of beautiful fish caught. It was one of the highlights of the weekend to meet such pleasant men, women and children.    

 The flyfishing experience also encompassed the mechanics of fishing. How did that go? I had not been out with the pontoon boat since September. The process of loading and unloading the boats was accomplished some half dozen+ times on this trip. My recent (February) shoulder surgery was a hindrance to me and my son as we hoisted the pontoons on high to the top of the pickup canopy. Not a lot of weight (maybe 100 pounds of so) but so darn awkward to raise it and slide it on top of the rails. The gear was fine. I mostly fished a 3 wt. and Tony fished a 5 wt. The 3 wt. handled the nice Rainbow and Atlantic just fine. The Intermediate line was unusually tangly (a word? oh, and a good excusere time lost) and the cold water and air temps made the coating appear glue like at times. Really the mechanics of the fishing were pretty easy. The first day, I went out without my anchor (I ignored that inner voice that said bring it…don’t ignore that inner voice) and got a workout over by the Pumice slide trying to hold over the spot where I caught the one nice Rainbow trout.  This site prompted a moment in clumsiness. I wanted a fish pic of the nice rainbow. My son never seems to be near. We tend to fish our own ways and locations. He works a spot to death and I move about exploring. Both have their merits and moments. So, I catch the nice Rainbow and bring it to the net expecting to gently extricate it and use my other free hand to snap a close up photo of the vibrant colors. I hold the net in the water, while extricating the Canon XTi. I took off the lens cap, put it on the close up mode. Then the inevitable question arose..’hmmm how am I going to do this?’ Camera strap around neck, camera dangling, grab the too thick trout in the left hand and hoist it. No, wait take the hook out, then hoist it. Ok, ready…wet the hand, grab the fish and raise, also grab the camera in the right hand. Camera on fish and focus. Where is the fish? There..oops…fish flexes and shoots out and away and I fumble about with nary a shot. Pretty clumsy…where was my kid!      

      So, it was a pretty pleasant weekend being with my son, Tony. We met, as I said, very nice people. We enjoyed our stay at the East Lake Resort. A review of our limited flyfishing success showed Tony had success with the Lightning Bug nymph and I did well with The Orb, Calico Bugger, Minnow Bugger and Little Fort Leech. It was a touch early for us I think. Although I had heard recent accounts of success on East Lake you would not have seen it born out this weekend with any flyfisher (save Mike and CJ’s microcosm of success), troller or plunker. Maybe just an off weekend and I was there to experience it. I will opt for July or August with weeds, insects beyond Chironomids and large Rainbows porpoising in the surface, making the heart race. OK, so no excuses. Just possible factors that in one form or fashion are always there. Sometimes we are just dialed in and sometimes we are not. Of course, let me tell you, I have long since been done with “well that why they call it fishing…ha, ha” Oh for God sakes we need something new and quaint to say when fishing sucks.  Next time! (where & when in July)