Rainbow Trout fly fishing at Gwen Lake
I love Gwen. The lake that is. She holds difficult Trout that are challenging to entice. I’ve thought about that for years. I used to hear rumours and read stories of certain lakes having moody fish. I would think to myself of what makes them moody? Why would 1 lake hold stupid easy to catch Rainbow trout and other lakes hold big fish that didn’t like to eat? It didn’t make sense. If the moody fish were BIG they must have lots of food. And there it is. Sort of. Lots of food! If you have so much available food it’s going to be easy for a fat ‘bow to miss that hand tied midge fly in a soup of real midges. Especially if it’s fished wrong. The wrong color, or size, or depth, or location. Well, all of the above to be exact. Yeah.
So off to Gwen we go. A client from Arizona and myself acting as the guide. 4 weight fly rods, 2 tubes, waders, fins and an arsenal of midges and many other patterns. We were ready for ANY hatch!
Ready for the ‘hatch’
We left Vancouver at 5:30 AM and headed towards Merritt, BC. The highway was easy travelling with light traffic. We arrived at the lake by 9am. Typically Gwen doesn’t get going until around 10 ish so we had plenty of time to get everything in order and be properly prepared for whatever. We chatted with another angler who was there for the past 2 days. He was eager to talk to a ‘pro’ and discover something that would lead him to a hookup or 2. I was eager to get some bug spray on me to ward off the swarms of psycho mosquitoes! It was a easy trade. I gave him 2 flies, some advice and he offered some mosquito repellant. Both parties happy.
We were on the water by 10 and in the zone, midges down around 15 feet deep under bright indicators in a consistently productive bay that I have fished for several years. Midges or chironomids work like magic if it’s midge season and sometimes not. I looked for signs of midge husks on the water. None. It was mid June and there should be something going on. The early start to spring this year had put everything 3 weeks ahead of schedule. I knew this but still had hopes of a light hatch of midges. We were also prepared for a Caddis fly hatch.
My best day at Gwen was about 20 fish. Normally it’s about 6 per rod. Gwen produces BIG Rainbow trout. Up to 15 lbs! Many in the 3-6 lb range have been landed by myself. I have not yet hooked up with anything over 8 lbs here but I know they are here. You can hear them jump at night showing off their longetivity skills.
I don’t expect our indicators to be going down every 2 minutes as is the case on some other lakes I frequent. Big fish require patience. So we were happy to be patient.
And patient we were! The first hour was quiet, very quiet. One or two trout jumped which was good, but no movements on the indicators. The wind blew and then it didn’t. When it doesn’t it’s better. 11 am and still waiting. I came up beside my client to talk about changing his fly and suddenly my rod was thumping and line coming off the reel nicely. “Fish on!” He was relieved as I was for we finally had some action. It gives hope. It wasn’t by any means a hog but we’ll take it. Perhaps it was a sign that the bite is on. 2 minutes later and the fish is carefully slipped into the delicate trout landing net.
It’s a good pan size trout and unfortunately for the fish the midge fly ended up damaging it’s eye so bad that it would transform into a tasty dinner 2 days later. Mmmmm. Gwen lake Rainbow’s are bright orange to red flesh and very tasty!
Lines back in the water and we’re fishing again. I encouraged my client to keep in the depth zone in hopes he would hookup soon. It wasn’t 5 minutes later and he had one on. I actually saw his indicator vanish into the depths of the lake and he swiftly and surely lifted that rod up like lightning going skyward. I was happy. So was someone else and it wasn’t either of us 2 anglers. After fighting the trout for a minute it suddenly got much bigger and grew wings! WTF? A Loon attached his beak to the trout and so a unique battle ensued. Client never seeing a nasty Canadian Loon before was not impressed. It was man vs Loon. The loon was relentless and held that fish in it’s mouth, hook still in trout’s mouth, as client yells and slaps rod in water trying to scare off the Loon. Well, it worked. One rod tip poke in the back and the Loon dropped the fish. Quickly my client brought that poor trout to the net and I was there to assess the damage. The trout squirmed in the same manner that a unqualified boxer would squirm after going 10 seconds with Mike Tyson. The Loon loomed nearby watching us. “If we give him the trout maybe it will leave us alone for the rest of the day?” my client pondered. “You’re probably right” I said. With that I tossed the fish a few feet away and before it could sink a foot it was snatched up by some black and white super sub. The Loon didn’t bother us again all day.
Back to fishing. The bite was on for a bit. Nothing crazy but steady like a take every 10 minutes. We missed a few, lost a few, and landed a few. The weather was decent so it was just great to be on the lake so full of big Rainbow’s. At 5:00 PM we were packed and heading back to Vancouver.
The hatch never happened. I saw 2 midge husks that day and no Caddis flies. A few Damsels and Dragon flies buzzed by nothing exciting. We kept 3 fish and later when they were gutted I noticed empty stomachs. Some days are like that. At least we fooled about 10 Rainbow trout during a total non hatch event.
Oh, and that guy I gave the fly to in the morning got his trout after all! And we never got bit for 6 hours.