Lake Almanor Fishout

After our five-hour drive, June and I arrived at the Lake Almanor campground for June�s first fishout with the club. Tom Kilfoil�s directions were right on the money. While we waited for the people to return from fishing, we set up our motorhome next to the PFF group's campsites. They soon arrived, Tom carrying a brace of sixteen-inch trout. Before having one for dinner, Tom showed its distinctive pink-colored flesh to those of us who had never before seen a Lake Almanor trout. He saved the other fish to take home to his wife. Tom was very kind to have two of his special Hex flies waiting for us to use. That evening Tom, Dave Harris, Bear and his fiancee Sunny, Del from Del�s fly shop, Art Harris, and I float-tubed to try to take advantage of the hoped for Hex hatch. Everyone was extremely helpful to me, a new flyfisher, with appropriate tips on how to fish the hatch. Around 7PM we began fishing the nymph swimming to the surface, searching the lake for strikes and waiting for the emerging stage to start. As I recall, Tom, Del and Dave landed several fish and Bear or Sunny landed a nice one from his boat. Fishing was not that good, though; the hatch was not strong there that night.

DAY FOR PANFISH

The next day clouds came. We headed for Round Valley Reservoir for bass, bluegill and crappies. This was a first for me again and they showed me how to use poppers to catch both the bass and bluegill. Tom worked on his invention that would allow him to steer his float tube with his feet while his electric trolling motor scooted him along. Dave caught several bass, Bear and Sunny caught a never-ending supply of bluegill. Meanwhile I gave up on the bass and went after the bluegills and did pretty well. Time came for me to leave to join June back at camp. Dave took over my bluegill spot and quickly caught a nice bass! On my way out I saw Tom stuck up on shore with his new invention, cheering about the bass he was catching. Never did hear another word about his invention, never saw it again either.

On my way back to camp the threatening rain finally began. Dave Harris decided to leave-rain and his pup tent didn�t sit well with him. No fishing that night, just good stories and some bear stew cooked by Tom. The next day the rain continued, so June and I decided to see Lassen National Park. The cloud cover was so thick on the mountain that we visited one area of mud pots and steam vents, then headed back to camp. On the way back it began to clear up. I had the thought of going to Crater Lake. Back at camp I discovered Tom was in the mood to go, as well. Just seeing this beautiful little lake was worth the hour's drive, and good thing, because I did not catch a thing. I finned over to Tom, who was catching them left and right. We were both using hares' ear nymphs and he was fishing right behind me. Turns out, I was fishing as close to shore as I could get. Tom started out about twenty-five feet from shore and worked his way in to about seven feet. He killed 'em and I learned another lesson on how to fish a lake.

EVENING FOR TROUT

That evening we headed to a new spot on Almanor to fish the hatch. It was much better there. We could really see the hatch occurring in all of its stages. Everyone was hooking up fish. One of the inspiring events was the arrival of the bats and swallows as the Hex emerged. Sitting ducks, they were devoured in short time.

The next evening Tom, Art, and I got into our float tubes and joined the ten other fisherman there fishing from tubes and the shore. June joined Emmett in his boat. Osprey were putting on a wonderful trout fishing display within 100 feet of us. One caught a trout so large it could not take flight again. It held onto the trout while floating on the surface, every once in a while struggling but unable to take flight. We watched this drama for ten minutes. The osprey finally gave up, released the trout, and took flight. Meanwhile deer grazed along the shore and a pelican joined in the fishing.

The hatch started early, about 7:30PM. All of us were hooking up while the Hex entered the emerging stage. I had the dubious honor of the most long line releases, frustratingly more than twelve. The fish kept getting off the hook! I did catch two very large ones, both over eighteen inches. One I took to my mother for her birthday and one home for my family to enjoy. Most enjoyable was that June caught her first trout on a fly.

As the evening continued, the hatch grew stronger. About 9PM there were emerging Hexs EVERYWHERE. The water looked the yellow shag carpet popular in the late '60s. The bats and swallows attacked, the surface was exploding with sounds of trout gorging on the feast lying on the surface. We were all awed, exclaiming our amazement at the sight before us to all who could hear. As suddenly as it occurred, it stopped. At 9:15PM the lake surface was cleared of the duns. Those that lived had flown off. The bats and swallows disappeared into the darkness. The surface was silent. Not many fish were caught in that fifteen minutes, but we all knew we had just experienced something very special. Words cannot tell what we felt; all we could talk about was the hatch. Our catch was not mentioned; it could not compare to the experience of the hatch.

CAN'T FAKE IT

This was Junes first fishout and my first time with the Hex hatch. We can come up with one only word to describe our fellow club members: generous. Tom was most generous with his food, his own flies, tips on fishing, and his time. He even lent June his extra float tube so she could fish the hatch. Emmett asked June to join him in his boat and helped her catch her first trout on a fly. Dave made special efforts to teach me the many ways to entice fish to the fly. Emmett and Tom shared their favorite guides to use on the Green River and on the San Juan River for our trip to New Mexico this fall. The thing about generosity is you cant fake it, you either have or you dont. This group has it.

Dennis Marguet