As a fly angler coming from Pennsylvania to Colorado and never before experiencing fly fishing a lake full of trout, it is a lot different than fishing Pennsylvania’s limestone streams. Although, catching trout is not any more difficult.
If you are brand new to this concept of fly fishing for trout in lakes or just never got around to it, here are the basic tips that should help you catch some trout in those alpine lakes.
Where To Find Trout
In stillwater lakes trout tend to swim in pods and move continuously around the lake. So there will be sporadic periods of catching fish and then not catching fish as they continue on. You’ll just have to be patient as those trout pods make their way back around to your area.
Just like fishing a stream, location is incredibly important. However, finding good fishing spots are not going to be as obvious. You’ll need to scout the lake for coves, shoals, and dropoffs. These critical zones provide a grocery store of food for these lake trout and should be your main focus.
In great conditions with clear water and blue skies, you might be able to do some sight fishing. Although, you have to keep your eyes peeled for water activity such as a fish jumping or rolling. Birds swooping down on the water is also a good indicator of heavy insect activity and you should pack up and head over there.
How To Fly Fish Stillwater Flies
Fly fishing lakes is all about the dropper rigs you set up below either an indicator or a hopper pattern. Your main job is judging the depth of which you need your flies. Typically, you should tie your first fly on a few feet below your indicator on a 9-foot leader. The rule of thumb is the colder the water temperature the deeper the trout will be feeding.
If you have some streamers or leeches on your dropper rig you will want to give it some movement by doing a strip retrieve just like you would with any other streamer. You can give your nymph flies some movement too by doing a slow retrieve — like a hand crawl.
Other than that, let your flies get down deep and wait. Eventually, that pod of trout will circle back around and your indicator will disappear below the water.
6 Favorite Flies For Stillwater
Mini Leeches are essential for stillwater. Lakes support a diverse ecosystem with large populations of leeches in all sorts of colors. Have a variety of beaded and non-beaded leeches in black, maroon, and dark olive. Now these leeches are rather small and flies in size #10 to #12 should do the trick. Woolly Buggers are also a great substitute for these slender leech patterns.
Amy’s Ant is an excellent dry fly for a hopper-dropper rig. It has plenty of flash and floats well even in choppy water. Rather than have just an ordinary indicator, you can toss this terrestrial fly out there and get some dry fly action instead.
JuJu Chironomid Blood
Chironomids are a major food source of lake trout in the summer months. These large pupae are all over the place in open water and drive trout nuts! It’s best to have a wide array of chironomids in all sorts of sizes and colors.
Hare’s Ear Nymphs are just as effective in stillwater as they are in streams and rivers. Their dull colors and general buggy appearance makes it easy to imitate mayfly nymphs, caddis pupae, midge larvae, etc.
Pheasant Tail Nymphs in smaller sizes are a great fly pattern for all bodies of water. And it’s absolutely an effective dropper fly behind a buoyant hopper pattern.
A staple of a trout’s diet is always going to consist of midge larva, which makes Zebra Midges a must. In larger sizes you can easily imitate the jumbo chironomids you find everywhere in lakes. Carry a variety of large size #14 to #12 zebra midges in olive, red, and black.