I hit Big Lake last Saturday with Tim. Cloudy day, nice chop on the water. We landed 9 between us with Tim landing the majority of those. We were using c’mids under bobbers…found fish just couldn’t get them to go. We were still fishing to the same cutt’s we had been for the past three weeks. Quite a few were still chasing each other around but wouldn’t touch anything. We had to go deep for them.
Tuesday I fished with one of my old AZFF partners, Mike McLaughlin. We never got more than 100 yds past the boat dock and must have landed a couple dozen between us. Same fish, same flies, different day??? Mike went back the next day and the fish had moved out even further. He had to go with sinking line and leeches to get any to play. Good to see and fish with Mike. Seems like we closed down the shop 100 years ago. I miss it.
Today (Friday) I hit Becker with Mike M, Tim and Ron and a buddy of Tim’s. It was the old proverbial news when we got there. You should have been here yesterday. Evidently the lake had a monstrous ant hatch and everyone cleaned up the day before. Fishing was tough for us today. I’m sure the fish were still sated from the ant hatch. Only way we could get any action at all was with #12 JR Hoppers in tan or cream. I tried #10’s and never got bit. Never caught a monster but all but one were in the 18″ range and in great shape. They didn’t fight extremely hard as the water temp was 70 pretty much the whole time I fished it. The fish all swam away healthy though…no floaters. Monsoons are coming in pretty regularly so hopefully it will cool things down a bit.
Hit Big Lake a couple days this week. The cutt’s are still spawning in some areas and they’ll still grab a p.t. or small hares ear presented to them in the shallows. Some that have already spawned are out deeper and will eat the same stuff on a sinking line. Yesterday I had to resort back to the bobber and midges to get some to play and then I missed the first 6…..some days you have it and some days you don’t. Got chased off by the Monsoons that are coming in pretty regularly now.
I had been noticing some boats on Sunrise when I was coming back so I figured they must have fixed the ramps…and they had. The ramp at the store has been extended and because the lake has gone down even further the north ramp is now usable at a slightly different spot. Caught lots of 14″ strong rainbows on simi’s. The first three were on different bugs and then I switched to a small one with a red bead and they ate it really well. Man, I hope we have a good winter….never seen this lake so low. The reef at the eastern end is now out of water and looks like a dam going almost all the way across the lake.
Going back to Big tomorrow
This past week I have been hitting Big Lake about every other day. Thanks to a tip from an old shop customer, I was spanking the spawning cutt’s pretty good. Using a floating line and small pt’s (16-18’s) I was able to get quite a few to eat….all between 16-20″s. All fought very hard, especially for spawning fish. All swam away fine to go do their thing. Bite got tougher about the third day in. Fished smaller flies and today I switched to my version of a hares ear….which actually looks more like a Baetis nymph and landed a few more. I think the major portion of the spawn is done. Many of the cutt’s we first saw back in the coves are gone now. Bite will change again as the fish get in their normal summer feeding habits. Water still looks good, no sign of algae yet. This time last year the water was turning already. I think the late colder storms have helped the water stay in good shape and with the Monsoons soon to be here, we should see some good Summer fishing at Big…..Tons of damsels out but no fish going for them.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I had been hitting Big Lake most every day for the past week. The bite has gotten worse every day. When I first hit it I could get them stripping simi’s. Next couple times I had to go to the bobber with a c’mid. Bite continued to be good but I could tell they were getting less aggressive as time went on. The past few days, Tues, Wed and Thursday I landed one fish. Yesterday I never got bit. I think it is because the cutt’s are actively spawning and most of the fish we were getting into were on their way to their spawning site. They are in now and chasing each other around like kids playing tag. Not sure how long the spawn will last but I think the fishing may be off for awhile until it’s over….at least for me. Maybe someone else can figure it out. So I went to Becker today to get my ego adjusted. Fish were eating c’mids and fought hard. Life is good again!
Water temp’s were 65-66 so let’s hope the rains get here soon to cool things down. Went by Sunrise and it had dropped a foot in the past couple weeks. You’d be up to your knees if you tried to launch there with a kickboat and I think it’s impossible to launch a boat. We need a good solid wet Winter!
Took Sunday off and hit Big Lake again yesterday. Got on the water about the same time, maybe a bit earlier. Forecast was to be a bit windier but optimistically fishable. I’m glad I got on the road earlier because of all the time I spent watching the 200-300 elk I saw coming in. First batch was just outside of my neighborhood. Loving being up here.
The midges were already coming off when I got there about 6:15 so I immediately went to the bobber and c’mid. Using the same midges/setup I had used the two prior days…I didn’t get bit until 4 hours later. I realized there were probably 10-12 different c’mids coming off and evidently I didn’t have the one they wanted at that time…even though I must have tried 10 different ones.
My buddy, Kevin showed up and he was getting a few on one of his concoctions. I finally switched over to one I bummed from him and got my first hit…action at last!! Didn’t actually hook up so I switched back over to the traditional black midge and a big rainbow took me for a ride and finally broke me. I managed to hook up two other fish…a nice cutt and an 18″ rainbow. That was my day ….6 hours, 3 grabs. Fishing, gotta love it. I have to say there are some good fish in there. I have had a good rainbow on every one of the three days I got to fish it. Two broke me. I am off to MT in a few days …..I almost wish I was staying.
Should mention….I got to see Paul Freeman and his buddy, Charles as I was getting off the water. The wind was doing a number on them as well. They were going to hit it again today. Hopefully they got on the water a bit earlier before that wind started howling….because it’s howling right now.
I have been hitting my local lake for smallies when the wind is blowing. Just walking the bank…mainly looking for beds. No beds yet but I am picking up a few fish on assorted simi flies. I have a goal to learn this lake as it is deep enough with constant inflow to hold holdover trout, smallies, lmb’s and walleye…not to mention some nice bluegill. 5 minutes from my house…gotta figure it out.
The past couple days the wind has been good and I have been hitting Big Lake. Yesterday I landed about a dozen with the biggest a beautiful 5.5 lb rainbow. Good cutt’s most around 17″s and some smaller rainbows in the mix. I was able to land them stripping simis early yesterday. Lots of clouds and wind and the midge hatches have been prolific. They were pretty grabby and I took advantage of it to catch some stripping. Today was pretty calm…too calm…and no clouds early. Death to a fly guy. No fish stripping at all and just a couple under the bobber with midges. Later the wind came up and things got a little more interesting. I landed maybe 6-7, missed more than that and had two break me off. One was a good one. I saw him rise before I cast to him and he just ripped me.
Sorry…no pics. One of the hassles fishing alone. I fought the 5.5 for over 5 minutes and didn’t want to fool around trying to get pics of her. She swam off just fine.
Starting to turn on. Don’t know what’s going to happen if we don’t have a Winter this year. Sunrise and Carnero are so low it is a real chore getting through the mud to launch. Crescent’s ph is so high it is unfishable. Becker seems to be hanging in there but things are getting pretty tight up here waterwise.
Hit Sunrise mid morning today. Only day coming up that NOAA didn’t call nasty. I was going to hit Big but my buddy fished it yesterday and blanked….and he knows the lake. Lake had maybe 20 bank fisherman and a few of them were catching fish….nobody on the water. Didn’t see any monsters caught but some 14″-15″ healthy fish. That was as big as I could muster….and that was the only one. I had another decent fish on but he unplugged. The Tribe must have planted some 8″ Apaches too cause they were a little more playful. As I was leaving a I talked with a bank fisherman who was calling it. He had several fish in the 3 lb range so they’re still there…just not very playful for the fly guys yet. That’s ok….I got time. Just nice to know they made it through the Winter.
Got this report from my buddy, Tim Oliver
It rained and snowed Friday (15th) night and a good part of Saturday the 16th, so decided to try and fish Sunday Morning. Am glad we held off, it was sunny and clear with little to no wind until about noon. Bob Boyd and I hit Becker Lake around 8 AM. Never had to get more than 50 yards off the boat launch all morning. Found active fish in 18’ to 21’ of water and never left the area directly out from the boat dock . We fished Black Zebra Midges and Black/Red Simi Seal Leeches under a bobber (roughly 18’ down). The action was pretty hot from 8:30 to 10:30, and slowed as the morning wore on. We both landed lots of quality Rainbows in the 18”to 21” class that were very hot and jumped repeatedly. We also landed many nice 12” to 16” fish. All fish are in great shape and fought very hard. Water temp was about 56 degrees and the water seemed to be about a foot or two higher than when we were there for Becker Best Day. According to Dan Murtaugh, Becker Lake host, there had not been a boat on the water for the prior three day due to the heavy winds they had been getting, so we felt lucky and privileged to have such a wonderful day. It was one of my better days in the last two years.
Bryan Smith came up for some fishing over the weekend. We hit Big Lake Saturday am. The roads opened up April 1 and the lake looked good…. higher than last Fall so it got some runoff. Water was clear and 43-45 degrees. Fishing was slow, probably because it’s a bit early but the wind didn’t help matters either. We ended up each catching one nice fish apiece and missing a few others. Bryan caught a nice hard fighting cutt and I landed a rainbow that jumped 4-5 times. Bryan caught one other smaller rainbow…all slowly stripping simi’s. Bryan tried the bobber for awhile but no action.
We stopped by the store and talked with Rick. He said they had brought in some decent brookies already. AZG&F had stocked them last season as well as in Crescent. Not sure how Crescent wintered. I mentioned in an earlier post that AZG&F only netted one rainbow this past week. Rick said the lake iced over in November and never reopened. We stopped by to check it out but the wind was too bad to fish.
Sunday am we hit Show Low as wind again was in the forecast and Show Low is 5 minutes from my house. It has been fishing slow…as has most everything but Becker. We fished for a few hours before the wind got us again. But not before I managed to land a 4+ lb smallie stripping a simi right tight to the banks. She was a pre spawn female and had to be full of eggs because she looked like she was going to burst…..fought like a mad dog.
Nice weekend spent with a good friend. Fishing was tough but that’s just the way it is sometimes. Going into Big Saturday…we saw herds of elk, muleys and antelope….a nice morning commute.
I got a chance to help AZG&F pull nets on Crescent this morning. Lake is surprising higher than I expected. There’s plenty of water. We only pulled in one trout after a night set. It was in good shape about 17″ and 2.5 lbs. Swam away no problem. I have a hard time believing the lake killed. The oxygen levels tested good all Winter and there was very little ice cover this Winter. The weeds are already up to the surface of the lake. That means they continued to grow over the Winter and it also means they will choke the lake early this season. We also pulled up an 11.5″ waterdog. Had no idea they were even in there but I got a pic to prove it. I have seen them in Carnero and White Mtn Rez but never Crescent.
We found a herd of about 30 muleys on the way in with 6 bucks in it. Several had started to shed their antlers and were a bit lobsided.
Nice day to be out. Spring is definitely here. I’d hit it early this year if you’re making it up. Could be a short season this year.