USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 41.9 ° F
  • Flow: 2960 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 8.48 ft
USGS

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 5600 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 9.08 ft
USGS

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 32 ° F
  • Flow: 3580 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 4.41 ft
USGS

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 44.06 ° F
  • Flow: 323 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 65.97 ft
USGS
Ask About Fly Fishing

Lake Fishing Lessons from a Master

We had an opportunity  to fish with a fellow AFF member that is, in my opinion, a master lake angler. Lance and I are making an effort to fish lakes a bit more. We’ve been off of them for over 10 years and it’s amazing how much methodology has changed. Mike Malone, a long-time friend, offered to help us out in that department.

Mike has lived in the north Wasilla area for over 20 years and has spent most of his fishing time on the local lakes that surround his home. In the Mat-Su Valley ADF&G lists over 80 lakes that they stock, and almost 40 that are managed as wild fisheries. Granted the Mat-Su Borough is huge in terms of square miles, but most of these lakes are near a road, have public access points, and are within a 50 mile radius of Wasilla. As a result, Mike has experience fishing a diverse set of waters.

Mike’s first piece of advice to me was to get a “lake” line. Ouch… almost $80 for a RIO CamoLux Intermediate (1.5 – 2 inch per second sink rate). Lance already had one he picked up last year. His is a Cortland brand, Denny Rickards Clear Cameo/Olive Green with a sink rate of 1.25 -1.75 ips. Both lines meet the need for a slow sink. Mike runs a 7 foot leader off his intermediate line, with a tippet of fluorocarbon.

I worked Saturday afternoon, so we didn’t get on the water until early evening. Mike prefers mid-day to late afternoon for most of his mid-summer fishing, so he and Mike Harsh (another AFF member) started at Cottonwood Lake before Lance and I were available. True to form, Cottonwood quit producing just as Lance and I arrived. We re-packed our tubes in our vehicles, and Mike made a couple phone calls. The calls arranged access to a small lake nearby that is surrounded by private property. (There’s no public access to this lake so it will remain nameless.) The lake holds native (non-stocked) rainbows that don’t get a lot of fishing pressure; just the sort of classroom I needed. After introducing ourselves to the homeowner we hauled our boats down to his launch spot.

Gaining access through private property.

Gaining access through private property.

A small, pre-launch, visitor.

A small, pre-launch, visitor.

Mike had fished this lake before and knew that two-thirds was relativity shallow and unproductive. The other third featured a trench between two areas with lily pads and a deeper hole just past the pads. That’s where we needed to concentrate our efforts. I tied on a brown Laser Leech, while Lance went with a smaller olive damsel pattern. Mike favors a Seal Bugger (developed by Denny Rickards) for his leech patterns.

Mike Harsh in his pontoon raft.

Mike Harsh in his pontoon raft.

The lake was shallow. It was tough kicking out from shore into water deep enough that you didn’t suck up the bottom every leg pump. I was using my float tube for the first time in a long while and had forgotten how taxing shallow water can be on your legs. (I think I am going to like my pontoon boat for lakes.)

Once out into deeper water (I could still see the bottom but wasn’t kicking up sediment.) I threw my line out to troll. First lesson: Even when you’re trolling, a slow sink line will start dragging the bottom fairly quickly. (Here’s the math: 1.5 ips x 60 second = 7.5 feet when allowed to sink without any forward motion. Given the slow troll we use in float tubes, I figure water hydraulics creates only a little lift, say 6 inches over the forty feet of line I had out.) That means that in two minutes my line was probably 14 feet deep; or at least would have been had the lake been that deep at that spot. I needed to cast, start the slow troll, and then strip in line with little twitches. This seemed to work if the water had some depth. If there were weed beds or it was too shallow I snagged up or drug bottom. Lesson two: You need a floating line for top water, hopefully on a second rod that’s rigged and ready to go. (Great… more $)

Mike with his second rod rigged and ready

Mike with his second rod rigged and ready

Not that it mattered on this trip; Mike was right. The fish seemed to be concentrated against one side and around the back of the larger set of lily pads. Not that we didn’t catch a few fish elsewhere, but the majority of our fish came from one small area. The water was on a drop off; just deep enough that you couldn’t see the bottom, but close enough to the lily pads that if you were six feet too close you drug bottom. Mike anchored up at one point and was doing a cast and retrieve, while I did fairly well with a slow troll and strip retrieve on the back side of the pads. Lesson three: Fish will concentrate in areas that meet specific needs. This may vary some, but the basics are: oxygen, water temperature, food, and protection (cover/depth); not necessarily in that order.

The larger of the two lily pad groups.

The larger of the two lily pad groups.

Lance and I both hit fish when we came by this spot on our initial pass, but we continued on to fish deeper into that end of the lake.

Average sized fish that we caught.

Average sized fish that we caught.

Lesson four: If you find a couple fish in a certain area, stick around and see if you’ve happened onto the local hot spot. Had we spent an additional thirty minutes exploring that area, our catch rate would have been significantly higher as I doubt we would have wandered off to less productive areas.

One of the larger fish caught by Mike Malone; Lake Master.

One of the larger fish caught by Mike Malone; Lake Master.

All in all we counted the evening as a success, we were out fishing, right? The grasshoppers learned some lessons from the master, and hopefully the next time out we will apply our new found knowledge and fish a little smarter.

 

Side note: I now believe that a slow sink intermediate “lake” line is worth the investment. It works so much better than my full sink, or any sink-tip I have ever fished. Sorry, more $.

Hope you enjoyed, please share.

Rich

Share

Leave a Reply