Monday marked the first day of fishing for 2011. Nothing whatsoever through January, February, March and half of April. A sad state of affairs!
The Bing Retreat is a private resort about an hour and a half from home. The owner Chris Fisher does a great job managing the lake, stocking it with rainbows and brook trout. The day rate for fishing it is quite reasonable and given that it was one of the first good trout lakes open in our area, it was an obvious destination of choice.
So the anticipation leading up to today was substantial. Ice out was confirmed over a week ago. The weather has been nasty this spring but it looked like we would have a window of good weather this Monday. Depending on the weather forecast one was following it would be sunny or sunny with clouds and temperatures up to 10C. And the wind – hopefully not as strong as it has been the last few days.
As it turned out the sun never really arrived until after we finished up. The wind never left and the the temperature never hit 10C. But it was still the first day of the season.
Wade, Roger, George and I arranged to meet between 8:30 and 9. Roger was first on the water but I wasn’t far behind. It felt good to be out on the water again – despite the fact it the water temperature was only 42F and the wind was blowing. I started with the brown krystal hackle bugger I had so much success with up at Kenauk at the end of last season but it wasn’t producing the same results today. Rounding the point it was clear that midges were hatching. There were lots of new insects on the surface and pupae just under the film. No fish were rising so I switched to a chironomid pattern for a while but with a clear intermediate line it wasn’t the best set up so that didn’t last too long.
By this time I had kicked far enough that I was along the south shore of the lake. I decided to change flies and switched to one of Denny Rickards’ AP Emergers I had tied up on the weekend. That seemed to be the ticket. I cast, let it sink with the intermediate line and then slowly stripped the fly back in. Almost immediately I had a hit. After a good fight I landed a 16 inch rainbow. About the same time George hooked into a fish not far from me but after a bit of a fight it slipped the hook.
My change in fortune continued with another hit. This time it was a slightly larger fish – approximately 18 inches. I tried for a photo but it is just too awkward trying to manage a fish and take its picture at the same time. So it was quickly dispatched. Between fighting the fish, kicking and the wind, I was now almost at the southeast corner of the lake. I had a couple more hits and eventually hooked into another fish. This one proved to be small, about 10 inches so it was played quickly and released.
My toes were starting to get cold and my bladder was telling me a trip to shore was in order so I decided to kick back to the launch spot. With the launch in sight I had a hit and immediately it was clear that this was a large fish. It took line for a good run and then bulldogged at depth. The ensuing fight lasted about 15 minutes as we exchanged line in and out. Eventually I managed to get him to the surface confirming it was a very big fish. When I finally got him to the net it out he wasn’t that long – maybe 18 inches but very fat. After a quick look he was released. I estimate he was somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds.
The fight over I was reminded of the reason for my trip ashore so no more distractions. Out of the tube and flippers off to deal with pressing matters. I also decided to apply a couple heat patches to my feet in an effort to fight off the cold. Given I was on shore and it was past noon, I grabbed a sandwich but decided to pass on liquids for the time being and was back on the water, waiting for the heat patches to kick in.
I headed back to the south shore and managed a couple more fish in the 16-18 inch range and then a couple more in the 10 inch range. All were caught on an AP Emerger using the same slow stripping approach. The wind continued to blow so I decided to move on around the lake as much in search of calmer conditions as anything. By this time my first AP Emerger was pretty beat up and the only other one I had looked so pathetic in the water (did I say I can’t tie soft hackles very well) so I decided to switch up to one of my Palmered Chenille Buggers. Casting close to shore and slowly stripping I was greeted by a solid hit and after a bit of a battle, brought to net another good sized rainbow.
By this time it had been almost 6 hours of continuous tubing so i started heading back towards the launch. There wasn’t much action so I switched to a Montreal wet fly for no particular reason but it proved successful as I was rewarded by another hit from a solid fish. After a good fight I landed and released another rainbow in the 16 inch range.
I was cold again and quite aware I had been on the water for over six hours. And since Roger and Wade were already ashore, it seemed like a good time to pack it in. George followed shortly behind me.
Other than the three smaller trout, all the rainbows were easily in the 16 to 18 inch range with the one closer to 20 – a good start to the season.