If you don’t love winter but you live in Idaho, wasting the last day of summer isn’t an option. That’s why I headed fishing to Jenny Lake with friends Rick Schreiber and Andy Asadorian. We had clear blue skies and the temperatures were in the high 70ºs. The only bad ingredient was that this was one of the smokiest days I can remember since the Yellowstone Fires of 1988.
The three of us arrived at Jenny at around 10 AM. The air was so smoky you could hardly see a ¼ mile. The Tetons were in a haze. There was absolutely no wind and Jenny’s surface was like a mirror. You might think you want lakes to be like a mirror for fly fishing but experienced lake anglers don’t like it at all. Fish can see through the surface like a continuation of the water column. The landing of a fly line, the lift for your next cast and pretty much everything scare the fish.
With the windless setting in mind, I focused on going deep for lake trout. I fished my 7-weight Ross RX with a very fast sinking WF-7-S Type V Uniform Sinking line by Scientific Anglers. I used my multiple fly rig with my point fly (last one) being a chartreuse Warpath jig-like fly that sinks like a rock. I dredged this rig steadily for an hour without even a follow. We need two things to turn on the lake trout fishing – bad weather and cold temperatures. Today was the complete opposite.
I took the oars from Rick and he wisely casted a Chernobyl ant concoction dry fly towards the colorful foliaged bank. Andy clung to streamer fishing. We didn’t go far before Rick had a boil on his dry. It was a refusal but interest nonetheless. Then it happened again, another refusal. The trout of Jenny Lake were being exceedingly skeptical of Ricks fly in the windless water. Then we saw a rise, Rick covered the rings perfectly and bam – the first fish was on.
Fish number one was a big cutthroat. He rose and Rick got him. By the time we released him a few more trout were rising. We thought we were about to slay them, but to no avail. For the next three hours the three of us took turns tossing dry flies of all sorts yet we got nothing but more refusals.
The fishing was tough, brutally challenging to say the least. I’m sure our light tippets looked like rope and the trout could see the threads our flies. And the rises we saw were terribly inconsistent. The fish were charging the surface nailing insects but quickly retreating back deep. We were persistent though and sure enough Andy hooked and landed the second fantastic cutthroat.
I had errands to do in Jackson so after Andy landed his fish I said, “Ok guys let’s go.” Well, it doesn’t work that way. They insisted I catch one also. That was nice of the boys but it wasn’t that easy. I put on a bad angling performance. On a day when it was hard to get fish to eat your fly in the first place, I had three huge cutthroats munch my fly and I flossed all three. I pulled the fly right out of their huge gaping mouths!
Me landing a fish wasn’t meant to be. I again suggested we leave. I was ok with my day. It was beautiful out there on the lake and I enjoyed watching my friends each nail a brute. But they insisted I get one more chance. So I tied on the exact same honey ant I fished in the One Fly two weeks ago. The actual fly that kicked butt for me on the Snake. The one, that only because it was tied by Scott Sanchez, had already held up to catching 43 fish. Could it handle a 44th?
I spotted a fish rise in close to the bank around some sunken logs. The rise didn’t indicate a particularly big trout but any fish would clear the skunk off my slate. I made several unanswered presentations then out of nowhere a huge head appeared and indulged my offering – fish on – fish landed.
As for the funny picture of me dropping my cutthroat (in the lake not the bottom of the boat), that was my day. Seriously, on a day when the fish were hard to fool into eating a fly, I couldn’t set a hook on the few opportunities I had. Then when I finally landed one, I couldn’t hold him to save my life. Funny stuff. What was not funny however is that my Cannon G11 camera, the camera I’ve taken my blog pics with for years, has died. This has been a great camera but it’s taken on a lot of dust, sand and salt spray over the years. In fact on my most recent Baja trip the camera took on a complete splash of the Sea of Cortez as we clicked away at a big roosterfish. Since then it’s been slowly dying. When I tried to get photos of both Ricks and Andy’s nice fish, the shutter button was immovable. Rick tried to photograph me with my fish. I kept smiling and Rick kept pushing. As expected, my patient fish wasn’t patient anymore and off he went over the side leaving me with a hilarious look on my face.
You couldn’t have asked for a nicer last day of summer. Amazingly, it appears we have a lot more of this great weather to come. There’s a chance for some rain for our trip to Kubswin Lake next week but then right back to clear skies and 70º temperatures. I can handle it as long as it will come!