Our Man In Canada
June 17th, 2002

Successful Lake Fishing
By Jeff Moronuck

Venturing out to a new lake can be a real challenge. I find myself looking around and not really knowing where to start. I think we can all feel this way when looking at unfamiliar water. There's something about fishing new water that I enjoy. The tales of 20 pounders or an alpine lake with a fish a cast, I just need to find out what it's really like myself. Before I even unload the boat I like to look around for possible fish holding places. If it's spring time I'll look for shoals full of weed, if it's summer I'll look for those cool drop-offs. Just as on a stream, turning over a log or some rocks can prove rewarding. A freshly emerged damsel draws a smile over any experienced anglers's face.

Once on the water look for any sign of a hatch. This takes some guess work as you won't really know what the fish are taking until you feel that hard pull on the end of your line. Searching patterns are very important at this time. Most anglers have their "ace in the hole." I tend to put a lot of faith in the Marabou Leech while others like Halfbacks or scuds. That first fish is very important. Using a stomach pump can show you the last few items taken by the fish. After looking at what the fish has eaten you should try to match it as closely as possible. [Use a stomach pump carefully, see the instructions in What About Stomach Pumps?" HERE]

The lake itself can be divided up into four separate zones. The shoreline zone is where fish spawn and generally little feeding is done here. The shoal is where the majority of the feeding takes place throughout the year. The water is warmer here in the spring and fall and insects are abundant. Chironomids to leeches will all be found and fish are very aware of this. Summer can push the fish into the deeper, cooler water, but as the shoal cools down in the evening fish will move up again to feed into the night. The drop-off zone is important as well. Many insects live deeper and make their move to the shoreline before they hatch. Dragonflies for example, swim or crawl to the shoreline just once in their life time. During this emergence swim they may be taken by fish from the deep water zone to the shoreline. Fish spend much of their summer day time on the drop-off. It's cool enough and has plenty of feed. The deep water zone is often where the big fish hold. trollers have an advantage and in some lakes it's necessary to get down over 100 feet. Fish cool themselves here in the summer and the fly fisher has difficulty reaching them. Many lakes only reach a maximum depth of about 50 feet. This is a good depth because the bottom can still hold enough feed and the fly fisher can reach the bottom with most available sinking line.

There are countless methods of fly fishing on lakes. The common day fly fisher most likely has at least a couple of rods and a few lines. When people ask how to fly fish, I like to start people off on the right foot. Trolling in a float tube is easy and at times it's extremely effective. For a beginner fly fisher it's very important to get the feel of fighting a fish on the reel and off the reel. Float tuging bring almost every aspect of fly fishing together. When deciding what lines to use it's simply a matter of imitating the natural movements of the insect you're imitating. For instance, it makes sense to fish a mayfly dun on the surface with a dry line. Rods and reels are for the most part, just personal preference. Three lines I consider necessary include a dry line and two sinking lines, a fast sink and a slow sink. If you are a beginner, I think it's best to try and get out with someone more experienced. Most quality anglers have all learned from someone older and better, no amount of reading or watching can compete with hands on learning. ~ Jeff Moronuck

Credits: This article is from Angling in the Shadows of the Rockies distributed by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission!

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