I must have been crazy to want to fish Rattlesnake Lake on the opening day, but after the recent stocking of 9500 stockers + 500 or so Triploid Rainbow Trout, I wanted to get out and try my luck. My wife was out of town with her sister, so I had some time on my hands and lots of yardwork to do, so what better way to spend a weekend then to float with 200 of my ‘best’ lake fishing friends on Rattlesnake Lake. When we (Jeff H.) and I arrived on the lake, there must have been at least 30-40 boats, crafts, tubes, pontoons, and kayaks trolling, stripping, casting, dunking, bobbing and twitching in hopes of landing a few trout. Jeff and I decided to hold off from hitting the lake too early, since it was opening day. The weather didn’t look to promising with wind, rain, clouds and cooler temps, so it was a good bet to wait until noon so that we’d have some space between us and them.
Immediately, we decided to row to the far south end of the lake into deep water, 37-43 feet. I had previously adjusted my Hummingbird 110 sensitivity for fish on high and set the alarms for fish, low battery and some other fine tuning to make it a little more user friendly. Im not sure if I trusted the finder part of the sonar, but I did get to test it out and I do believe that it was working very well on the last two days. Im really only looking for three things with my finder: depth, structure, and temperature. Who cares if it spots fish, if you don’t have the right flies, or techniques to get to them, it doesn’t mean much.
Both Jeff and I started off trying to fish traditionally with our deep water Chironomid set ups, but its not the easiest to be able to cast a 40′ leader even from a pram. After noting fish, big and little fish at the bottom were not taking our bugs, I decided to changed up flies, tactics (Dry Line), intermediate, sinking tips, didn’t prove to be successful. It was odd… fish rising, rarely a hatch, the odd swallow swarming around the surface scooping up the adult Chironomids. It was odd????
Then, noticed that along 15-17′ there were many smaller fish that were swimming in the suspended part of the lake. All the surface feeders were the planters which were taking emergers and the adults. So, I thought, why not suspend the bugs and give it whirl and see if this fish finder works. Well, that decision was a good one, as once I did, I started catching fish!
I landed 7 in succession of casts, and released, something was right. Water temp was 54 degrees and clarity was beautiful with the acqua green color. We like to fish that far end of the lake as most of the trollers and kickers end up staying near the launch and even with that much traffic, it wasn’t too bad. I did make a good decision to bring along the Minn Kota 44 lb thrust electric kicker. It gave me time to set up my rods from the launch while motoring over to the deep water without breaking a sweat. Jeff called me a wuss for bringing the motor, but Im not going to troll, I just want to make it from point A to B in the fastest line, so I can soak my bugs and put up some numbers =) I found that I am competitive natured and want to create new bugs, new techniques and new methods to improve my fishing.
I had to leave the lake by 4:30, but inthe 4 hours of fishing, I’d landed 23 bows ranging in size from 9″-15″ with the average 12″ fish. Flies that worked were Chromers, Rusty Nails, and my RLS (Roche Lake Special). size 16. Throat sampling revealed numberous Daphnia and size 18 Chironomids, brown and black. The fish didn’t seem to care much for the pattern, but depth was very critical. Also the correct hand twist, twitch and timing helped in the take downs.
I got a later start then I wanted to and got on the water a 4 pm, but since I’d left the water about that time the day before, I figured it would be good to fish the evening bite and see if it would be better. I have my gear and launching all down to a science and can get the boat unhitched and launched within 10-15 minutes. Another 5 minute motor over to the deep water, and I was set. Anchor down and I was fishing within minutes. I set my indicator to 18′ noting that the fish were hovering around 20′ today. First cast, I was into my first fish. Chromer on the Chromer, size 16. I was in the zone after the lesson from the day before, and fish after fish, it started to get boring with the average fish around 11-12″. Some pulled hard, but half of them didn’t put up much of a fight. I did end up keeping my limit as my parents greeted me as I was leaving the house and asked me where I was fishing. I don’t care much for the taste of trout and release every fish, but mom wanted some fresh fish, so I ended up bonking them for the grill.
Flies that worked were the Chromer and the RLS size 16. I guess, Im not much for wanting to change up when it works. I DO, however want to find how to get down deep and find a few triploids to take. I’ll have to work on devising a better way to cast and manage a 45′ leader??!??!?!!! I was even thinking of bringing my 6126 doubled handed rod with floating line to better cast that much line. I’ll let you know about that if I end up giving it try.
I only ended up fishing 2.5 hours and landed 21 trout, not as good as the day before, but since it was on the water a shorter amount of time, I considered it a better day. Weather and fishing. Im not sure if I want to fish Rattlesnake again tomorrow, but I do want to figure out how to fish the deep water with alot of confidence. One thing that I forgot was my camera, so no photos, or video on these outings. Perhaps, if I can dial in the deep water set up, I’ll have to document how that goes.
I’ll be bogged down for the next few weeks, so this might be the last report for a while. Gil C. and Thao T. are heading out for a few days of fishing to Eastern WA. They’ll be fishing Dry Falls, Blue, and Park lakes in Grant county. Hopefully, they’ll have some good fishing after hearing of tougher fishing at Dry Falls. Wishin’ I was Fishin’ with them this week.
I had a good email as a reminder for those who think Chironomid fishing is boring. It might be boring for those that don’t know how to fish them effectively, but since trout feed and key on Chironomids I find it challenging to key in on them. Whether its a wild trout lake or a stocked lake, its not like these fish were going hog wild for all the junk that all the other typical fisherman were using: flashers, lures, leeches, woolley buggers. The smart fish were at the bottom of the lake probably gorging themselves on Daphnia. Why bother getting close to the surface or in suspension to only open yourself up to predation by one of those Osprey or Bald Eagles that were flying around the lake? Might as well go for the easiest most protein packed punch by lazily feeding off those twitchy Daphnia and the occassional Chironomids.
Here is an interesting note I received from Chuck G. to consider, which I’ll pass along for your consideration:
“You have to remember that the majority of my fishing consists of Chironomids, so I look for the fish where I know the chironomids hatch on a consistent basis. Chironomids make up around 50% of a trouts food in spring and early summer, so why not give them what they want, where they want it, which is mostly in deep water. If you look at the structure of most lakes, the vegetation/marl/weeds usually only grows in water 15 feet deep or less, and there is certainly lots of food available in those depths, so the fish do feed in those areas. However, Chironomids prefer a muddy/mucky bottom which is usually in the deeper water with no weed growth. As many as 2,500 chironomids inhabit a square yard of suitable habitat, so that means when they start to hatch, there is a plethora of them available for the fish to eat, and they don’t have to chase them through the weeds to catch them like they would a scud or leech etc…. Thus less energy expended for lots of protein. On the good chironomid lakes, my boat anchors go down in the mud sometimes several feet, as evidenced by the stains 2 to 3 feet up on the anchor ropes and the difficulty at times of extracting the anchors from the mud. When I find bottoms like that, then I know that the food is there for the fish, so thats where I concentrate my efforts. I have had good chironomid fishing in shallower water and don’t hesitate to fish there when I see bugs coming off, but I prefer the deep water because it makes more fish available to me that have not been pressured much, as evidenced by the scarcity of fihermen who attempt to fish that deep. There is a gradual move by fly-fisherman to the deep water, especially in BC, but I have noticed that most who attempt it do not extend there leaders down deep enough because of the increased degree of difficulty of managing them, and thus don’t seem to reach the fish on a consistent basis. I will fish down to 40 feet with an indicator and 38 feet of leader, and 50 feet with a dry line and 50 feet of leader. A hassle to cast and manage, but deadly when the fish are deep. A lot of it has to do with confidence also. The other day at Dry Falls, we were casting our dry lnes with 32 feet of leader (no indicator) 80 or 90feet out into 30 feet of water and waiting a long time for our bugs to get into the zone before starting our retrieves. Several people saw us catching fish, anchored near us, asking questions, and we told them what we were doing. One fellow in a pontoon boat even set up a rod with a long leader and made a number of casts, trying to emulate us. During that time, I caught 4 fish and Jim caught 2, while the pontoon boater did not have astrike. He finally hoisted his anchor and left while telling us he did not have the patience to fish that way. Go Figure! As far as the fish chomping on “Buggers”, I know they do grab whatever comes by sometimes, but I have watched leeches in the clear lakes of BC swimming through the water column, and they do not go nearly as fast as most guys I see trolling do. They are very methodical and I have seen them dive down through the marl and then reappear only a few inches from where they entered it. Thats why I think fishing a micro-leech under an indicator is so deadly at times, because it slows down the speed of the retrieve while keeping the bug visible to the fish for an extended period of time. I know these are just my ramblings, but there may be something of valuefor you in them none the less. As always, Chuck G”