For years I’d heard it. After driving many miles, pulling strings at work I didn’t have, and dredging my bank account for the umpteenth time I had finally made it to a prime fishing destination. Then on the way to the lake I ask, “How’s fishing been?” of a fellow returning from the water. He smiles and shakes his head.
“You should’ve been here yesterday, the fishing was fantastic! It’s been pretty slow today though.”
You see I am a fisherman and I have a dream of the day when I was there yesterday. Last week. Or sometimes even last year. I cannot count how many times I have been told that I should have been there yesterday. The day you had to hide your fly box when you were with-in 50’ of the lake shore and keep your rod broken down and carry it is if it were a walking stick lest the fish swim through the grass and take them clean out of your hand. I wish I had been there THAT day!
I began to scorn all fishermen, not to their face of course, as yarn spinners. People who as a group had a running joke to tell newer fisherman this litany of unbelievable bounty.
Then one day it happened. I was there yesterday and yesterday was today.
I remember it was
during a little yearly get together I got going simply referred to as the Guy trip. We are just a bunch of guys getting together to catch up, get away, and enjoy our passion of fishing the fly. Peterhope Lake
There was frost on the walls of the tent when we awoke that morning, and the dawn broke clear and calm. The road was wet on the way in, the tail end of a week long front that had moved through and we had just missed it. A short walk to the lake shore revealed a reeded shore with pathways cut through for boat access and a large marl flat extending some 100 yards dropping to deeper water. The shelf was a marl covered 10’ deep and shallower amongst the weeds. These ran along shore for the entire campsite end with small points of them reaching out lakeward , sloping back to small inward scooped out bay areas. There was the occasional reed island in view as well.
After a quick cup of coffee and one to go, it was time to get to fishing. Armed with 2 rods, both 6wts, I headed to the float tube to try my luck. To my amazement I didn’t run into one guy who told me how the fishing was. I felt kind of strange not having the review of doom before I got into the boat but I figured it was on its way. Post mortem to my spirits as it were.
My partner and I kicked away from shore and tried our much discussed tactics. Mine was to troll deep with a type 4 line off the shelf and his was to work the weed line with an intermediate. I was sure I was in the right thinking the fish would be staging off the shelf in the cool weather. We had gone perhaps 40’ when my partner advised “Fish on” and began to play a small rainbow grinning with delight. I calmly assured him that the “real” fish were down deep. I watched him release the fish and toss another cast to the weed edge. The line landed about 2” from the reeds and sank. He gave the line 1 or 2 strips and it went tight, this time with a 14” ‘bow that released itself after 2 fine jumps.
In the time it took me to reel up my line and my pride, switch rods, and join him he had released 2 more fish and one in the 18” class.
I tied on a new addition to the arsenal that year. The olive Feather duster nymph was a pattern that was meant to be the best mayfly nymph imitation out there for BC and I had seen one or two on the water in the short time I had been fishing. I got this pattern from a site on the internet during the winter doldrums.
The address eludes me now as to where I got it but I am sure glad I did.
I put my back to a reed island and cast my weighted fly on a Still water line to reed edge opposite me in the little bay created by the inward curve of the reed stalks intending to fan cast the area. I counted to 5 and began an erratic retrieve of 2” pulls. 6 or 8 strips later I felt the smart tug of a fish and a small rainbow leapt to life at the end of my line. After some wild antics and acrobatics the barbless hook slipped free and he was gone. I stripped in my line to check the fly and as I did I hit yet another fish, this one about 14”.
Surprised, I played and landed this one and sent him on his merry way.
As I was slowly untangling the fly from the net I looked up and noticed the most astonishing thing. The reed stalks were covered in mayfly nymphs, climbing out of the water to dry their newly formed wings after shucking their final molts. The weeds at the points where they emerged from the water were literally alive with them. As I looked on, I noticed that some of the weeds were moving, even though there was no wind present on the water. Peering down through the surface tension I saw what seemed to be a dark piece of the bottom moving this way and that among the weeds.
“Holy mackerel”, I thought. Those are FISH!!! I looked at the weeds in a different way and suddenly before my eyes little “lanes” revealed themselves to me leading through the stems. Just wide enough for a guy to say cast a line into them and possibly retrieve it with minimal hook-ups….!
I took the first cast of many that day and was astounded to find I was right. The deal went kind of like cast into a lane, strip quickly back feeling weed, weed, we.. FISH. We caught fish all day in this manner with the feather duster, and other patterns including leeches but none out performed the olive Feather duster. Rare was the cast that failed to elicit a strike or even 2 or 3.
The day went on and the mayfly hatch made itself known to even the casual eye as they began to take flight in silvery clouds. There was a storm of gossamer wings haloing their thin darker bodies in the ever warming morning air and swarming around us. We fished until we had sore arms. We were loathe to go in for lunch or even the call of nature so as not to miss out on this unexpected stroke of luck. When we finally did bow to the call of food and/or bladder relief and returned to the water, the spell had not been broken and we continued for all of that day to experience fishing that none had ever dreamed was possible.
The evening came and we all gathered around and reflected on the day in the warm glow of success. Few there had seen fishing like we had just been privy to. Spirits were high, and being poured all around as well.
The next morning I got out and fished the same areas in the same manners. I was on the water for about 2 hours and had 2 hits and one fish for my efforts. Puzzled but not unhappy, I paddled back to shore and began to think of breakfast. On my way back an angler approached me and with hope shining in his eyes he asked me,”How is the fishing?”
I replied to him with out missing a beat, “You should’ve been here yesterday……”