Summer, hiking season. Time to head to the high country and a visual drink of mountain scenery. Recently, a couple of hours of steady uphill hiking brought me to the shore of a lovely alpine lake. I'd been here before. It was a check up of sorts, to see how the fish were doing. Like going to a doctor, but hopefully more fun.
There would be a reprieve from the summer biting bugs. The wind blew all day. Just enough to keep the little blood sucking bastards at bay. I never saw a mosquito. The flies didn't have it in them to harass me either. So, the DEET stayed in the pack.
There were a few fish rising when I arrived at the lake. I promptly took a couple on a bead head prince that I twitched back slowly. What the fish think it represents is beyond me. A free swimming caddis with a shiny head perhaps. Regardless, they eat it readily.
Most of the fish appeared to be two year olds. Quite healthy. Fat. Colorful. Scrappy. West slope cutthroats with a bright red band on the belly. Simply exquisite.
But, I hoped to encounter survivors of earlier plants. Four, maybe six year old fish. There likely would not be many left. But, those that remained would be notable.
I fished, watched, hoped for a sign. Then, one swam by. It's like the old saying, you know when the right one comes along......
Oh my, I'd like to catch that one I thought.
I caught a few more little ones, and wondered how long it would take "the fish" to do a lap around the lake. Then I lost my prized fly.
What now? I sat on a rock and rummaged though my fly box. A small black leech with a cone head looked good. And then I did something I've never done while fishing a mountain lake. I tied on a dropper, a small prince, no bead, about a foot behind the leech.
Back to fishing. Cast, let it sink, twitch it back. There was a steady pull.
Oh my, on the first cast. There's no mistaking the better fish from the little ones. When I pulled, it pulled back, with an equal and opposable force.
The fish streaked by. I noticed a profusion of red. This one I wanted, if for no reason than to get a closer look.
I'd always thought that char were the prettiest of "trout". But a west slope cutthroat in full color is a serious rival. I netted the fish and marveled at its color, shape and overall condition. The little ones were splendid. This one, perfect. If I quit now, I'd be happy, the day consummated with the catch of a perfect fish. The sundae had been topped with the proverbial cherry.
But I fished my way around the lake.
Mounds of heather (aka mountain heath) bloomed profusely and tinged the landscape with patches of pink. I stopped often to snap pictures of the ever changing scenery.
In making the circuit I caught several more fish, some were "nice ones".
Interestingly, roughly half ate the bugger. You can do the math as regards the prince.