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Phil Lilley

April 24 fishing report

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I was prepared to offer a not-so-good fishing report this week, but there's a glimmer of hope  emerging. 

It's been tough for most of the main lake anglers.  Blame it on the cold water (but it's been the same all winter).  Blame it on the constant 6,500-cubic-feet-per-second flow, (but it's been the same for weeks.)  Blame it on the wind, rain and bright sun.  I've run out of things to blame for the slow fishing!  May be we haven't found what they want. 

I'm a jig fisherman -- that's what I do.  And I tend to give up if they're not taking a jig in a way I think they should take it.  I mean, there are time-tested patterns that are established, proven to work!  And if they're not biting, well, they're not hungry. 

So Monday, I caught trout on a small, 1/32nd-ounce black/olive jig, black head using two-pound line working an inside bank where the current was slower than the main channel.  I thought I had found a pattern I could build on. 

Tuesday morning, I hit the same bank, same jig and had the same luck.  But I hadn't tried this pattern any other place on the lake.  No time... on to work.

Tuesday evening I had some time before meeting the family at Thai Thai, so Jackson and I took a jon boat out, up to the same bank I had worked two times prior.  And yes, they were still taking my jig.  But this time I worked it fast and shallow, not letting the jig sink much at all.  And the trout liked it very much!

Just after I passed the pump station building, I saw a good-sized trout take a midge mid lake, behind me.  I threw at it and caught it.  Cool!  Threw to the middle again and caught another.

Boated back up, but this time I guided the boat to the bluff bank. But I didn't work close to the bank or the eddies.  I threw way off the bank and worked it fast and shallow and -- I caught some nice rainbows.  Lots of them.  The last trout was a good brown, about 18 inches, which snapped my two-pound line.  Of course, I had not re-tied the jig on after over a dozen fish, so I asked for it.

OK then, I established a good pattern that was working not only in slower current but mid lake.  Granted, no wind and cloudy skies helped the bite, I'm sure, but the trend was a sign of good things to come -- I'm hoping.

The idea of a small jig is that in these conditions, the jig isn't sinking very fast.  The fast, jerky action of the jig must bring trout out of the deep, and the dead drop triggers the strike.  The water is clear enough that you can see the flash of the fish, slashing at the lure.  It's pretty fun.

I wonder if a fly fisherman could imitate this action with a beaded woolly bugger?  I bet so.

The other hot spot has been the warm water feeder creeks.  Our lake water temperature has held at 43-44 degrees for weeks -- that's cold even for trout.  These creeks, namely Turkey, Coon and Roark, have a lot of rainbows in them.  What I have heard is that either a jig or a Berkley pink worm under a float only two to three- feet deep is catching them. 

Guide Chuck Gries said Tuesday that his clients had been doing pretty good catching bigger rainbows and a few browns while drifting up below the dam with a variety of flies under an indicator.  He's using a tandem which consists of a scud, zebra midge, egg fly and a San Juan worm.  He said the numbers are low, but the quality of trout netted makes the trip up worth it.



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