Spring 'toon fly fishing in Idaho's lakes and reservoirs

Published online: Apr 14, 2011 News Roger Phillips - The Idaho Statesman
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Spring can be a cruel season for fly anglers. Rivers are either closed to fishing or running high and murky.

This year's snowpack is ranging from 100 to 160 percent of normal, so it's likely many rivers will be tough to fish even when they reopen Memorial Day weekend.

Many fly anglers head to reservoirs in the spring, but others sit on the sidelines because lakes and reservoirs require a different set of skills, tactics and gear.

But if you learn a few basic lake techniques, you will be surprised how effective you can be at catching fish.

Spring is usually the best time of year to fish stillwaters because fish are waking up from the long winter and are hungry and aggressive.

Water temperatures and conditions are prime for trout. The ones that live in stillwaters tend to be of larger average size than those in rivers, and you can catch some real monsters.

Lloyd Rogers of Boise has been fly fishing for trout in stillwaters for more than 40 years.

The 73-year-old angler spends about 100 days a year fishing lakes and reservoirs in several states. He often sees fly anglers making the common mistake of fishing the middle of a lake with a floating line and dragging a fly behind them in hopes of getting a strike.

Some people are overwhelmed by the size of the lake and don't know where to fish.

Rogers says an easy way to narrow it down is to stick to areas that are 10 feet deep or shallower.

He fishes from a float tube or pontoon boat and casts toward the shore and strips his fly back.

Trout often feed in as little as a foot of water, and, unlike river fish that are often keying in on one insect, lake fish tend to be opportunists that will eat whatever is in front of them.

Rogers focuses on two key areas: the shallows along a shoreline and the weed beds in 4 to 6 feet of water.

He looks for trout feeding on bait fish in the shallows and on insects in or near the weed beds.

Mike Smith of Eagle is another angler who exclusively fishes stillwater, and he targets big trout.

"If you want to catch a better quality of fish, you've got to fish the lakes," he said.

Smith likes minnow patterns, and in spring he often uses a tandem rig with a larger fly up front like a minnow or leech pattern trailed by a smaller fly that imitates an aquatic insect.

He fishes sinking lines with about 10 feet of fluorocarbon leader and frequently fishes a 2X or 3X tippet (about a 6- to 8-pound test).

He ties his flies to his leader with a loop knot, which gives the flies better action than a clinch knot or similar knot that tightens against the eye of the hook.

Smith warns that while a double-fly rig can be effective, it can also cause you to lose fish because it leaves a hook dangling when you're fighting a fish, which can snag on weeds, rocks, a log or other structure.

Both anglers use depth finders and pause and count after a cast so they know to what depth their fly has sunk before they start stripping it back (to learn how, read about sinking lines in the basic stillwater gear section later in the article).

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/04/13/1966905/spring-fly-fishing-in-idahos-lakes.html#ixzz1JWp8DKe6


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