What made these two Tenkara Stillwater adventures marathons was not the lengths of the distances traveled but the amount of time they took to complete.
PART I, HAMBONE LAKE:
Elev. 9,100; 3 acres; 30 feet deep; alpine; glacial; near timberline; bordered by wet turf and willows; good food and spawning. Contains nice self-sustaining population of eastern brook trout. No planting required. The above was published by the California Department of Fish and Game in 1957 but, in the case of this particular lake, it is as true today as it was in 1957.
June 25th, 2020, Fishing Conditions: I over slept and awoke at 3:49 AM. By 4:05 I was on the road. It was Smokey driving up due to some low elevation fires. And we have had about two weeks of 100 degree plus temperatures in the Valley, where I live. But it was in the low 40s when I parked at 6:05 in the morning, and I got into the lake about 9:45. I fished from 10 to 3:30 In the afternoon. It was clear, warm, still at first but cloudy and windy later on in the day. It thundered directly overhead but never rained on me hiking out.
H2O Temp/Color: The water was 52 degrees and a Dark Olive in shade but very clear with great visibility.
Tackle Notes: Rod - I fished a Diana Sagiri 39 MC Rod at the 3.9 meter length the whole day. Line - A Floating PVC Tenkara Line, a little longer than the rod is long, with an 8-9 foot long, tapered Nylon/Fluorocarbon (Butt/Midsection) Leader, with a 3 foot long 5X FC. Tippet to start.
Flies Fished and Results: There were midge feeding fish working the lake when I started. The water was in full sunlight, so I started with a #12 Orange Midge Pupa, which I kept on for 24 fish until the midge action shut down with the rising air and water temps.
Damselfly Nymphs were the next most likely food form for the fish to target, so I put on a #12 Olive Herl Thing, tied with FL-Orange thread and wire rib, which caught 2 fish right away, but then lost the fly to a bottom snag. The Black Nickel Bead Head had taken the fly deep enough to hang up in the very shallow water. The FL-Orange materials were an experiment to see if they would increase the catch rate in green colored waters. To compare, I put on my normal tie of Mini-Barred Ostrich Herl with FL-yellow thread and a brass rib, which caught 14 brook trout more than quickly enough. Then I tied on another FL-Orange model and fished it until I had caught 12 more brook trout with that pattern, for 14 each on both patterns. On this day, the FL-yellow thread Herl Thing got its 14 fish a little quicker than the FL-orange thread model did.
By this time the wind was coming up but I had not seen any terrestrials dropping into the lake yet, so I put on an Orange Sheep’s Creek Pattern. I caught 5 brook trout on it but the fish would charge the fly, stop, inspect it, then turn away. Bugs started falling on the water about then and the trout were quick to jump on them, so I went to a Terrestrial pattern.
The # 12 Attractor Ant was up next, and it was good for 50 fish by the time I had fished around the lake to where I started fishing. By far, the Ant was the most productive pattern of the day I tried, but
I believe a spider, a beetle, and/or a hopper pattern would have done equally well at that time. The reason I chose to use the Attractor Ant was because the two body segments of UTC Mirage Tinsel wrapped over the foam under-bodies on this pattern have great pulling power that the fish just really seem to like. The two foam shellbacks are made up of one sheet of 0.5 mm and one sheet of 1.0 mm Razor Foam, glued together with 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive - Black foam on the bottom for the fish to see against the sky, and Tan foam on The top for the angler to be able to easily see while looking down on the darker appearing water. All Black Ants are very difficult to see on the water. In a package of Razor Foam, You get 2 sheets of 0.5 and 2 sheets of 1.0 mm foam of what ever color you are buying, so you need to buy a package of each Black and Tan. The fly is tied with Black 70 D Ultra Thread, and the Madam-X style legs are tied in with .5 mm Stretch Magic Bead & Jewelry Cord, which comes on 10 m spools. An ant pattern is just two beetle bodies tied on the same hook, working from each end of the hook toward the middle. Make a loop of the rubber cord and slide it up on top of the hook under the tying thread of the hanging bobbin, and make 3 light tension turns of thread. Cut the loop of leg material in the middle, then get a hold of both ends of the rubber leg on one side of the hook and pull the leg down onto the side of the hook. Do the same with the second leg. Take a firm wrap and whip finish. Cut the thread and put head cement on both sides of the thread and coat the Mirage Tinsel with the ant up-side-down to make the tinsel much more durable. Trim the legs for length and evenness. I like the back legs to be a little longer than the front legs.
Conclusions and Impressions: I got back to my car at 6:05 in the evening - 12 hours after I left it. Was spending all that time and effort worth it? The parking is at 9,800 feet, the high point is at 10,100 feet. The lake is at 9,100 feet but, the distance between those two points is only 1 mile as the crow flies. On the ground, of course, it is much farther. I quit fishing at 3:30 and started hiking out at 4:00 and got back a little after 6:00, so I did better hiking out than going in. The reason for that Disparity is that I have Peripheral Neuropathy, a nerve condition that affects people from the knees and elbows down to the hands and feet. So far my hands are OK - I can still tie flies, knots, and cast. But the condition destroys your balance and the brain messages to the tendons and muscles in your feet do not get through. And the sensors in your feet, tendons and muscles can not get the information to your brain. If it wasn’t for using a set of ski poles, I do not think I could make it in there. I caught 107 trout on that trip, which made it worth it for me. And I am going to keep on doing these things as long as I can and still enjoy doing them. But at 77, I do not know how much longer that is going to be…Karl.