Fly Fishing Traditions

Fly Fishing Traditions Blog and Website
"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Webber Lake - Fly Fishing Gem

I had the good fortune to get the invite from my friends Mike and Todd Williams to fish Webber Lake which is located about 24 miles north of Truckee. A good friend of theirs, Rex England, also came along. I've heard stories about Webber Lake and its large trout for years. It is a private lake operated by Webber Lake Ranch. It is said that it holds rainbows, brown and brook trout. On the day we went most of the fish caught were chunky rainbows. The family that runs the lake operation manages a fly fishing membership of 50 members at the cost of $450 a year per person. They use the fees collected to stock the lake with trophy rainbows. A membership there allows you to bring in guests to fish with you for an additional $50 a day. I was a fortunate beneficiary of this policy.

We arrived at the lake at about 9:30 and the water levels were very high. This has been the story for almost all of Northern California's waters. The winter of 2010-2011 has produced a huge snow pack, of record numbers I believe, in the Sierras and the snow is melting right now, big time. A large campfire ring right at the lake shore was flooded and the water was up in the trees in a few areas. Being June 25th the lake is getting a late start because of the large amounts of snow melting from the surrounding peaks. Webber lake is fed from these surrounding mountains and is where the Little Truckee River originates. The lake has only been open for fishing for a week or maybe two as the road was just recently opened.

There was a steady wind coming from the southwest blowing right at us where we prepared our pontoon boats. This wind coming from the southwest is typical of Webber Lake and makes the fishing better at the north and north east side of the lake. The wind pushes the food to this side. When fishing I found that there is a shelf that runs to about 10 foot deep on the north side and then a fairly steep drop off about 150 yards off the shore. This area drops off to 20 feet and more. I believe that the deepest area that I registered on my fish finder was about 24 feet. My understanding is that the lake doesn't get much deeper than that. I also found that the water temperature when we started was 48 degrees. Pretty frigid. There are fly fishermen in pontoon boats, float tubes and small prams as well as fishing boats with trolling motors. Everyone shares the lake and there is plenty of room for everyone.

With the advice from Mike I rigged up two rods, one with a Cortland Clear Camo Intermediate line and the other with a Type III full sink line. He recommended a Type II but I don't have one of those. Another thing to add to the list. With it being more of a spring runoff condition he recommended a 9 foot leader extended with 3 to 4 foot of tippet. I rigged up my six weight with a 9 foot 3x tapered leader and extended it with 3x fluorocarbon and tied on a green and black crystal bugger to start with a mono loop knot. For the other rod I rigged up the same and tied on a Jay Fairs Wiggle tail with a medium green marabou tail, Olive Short Shuck Jay Fair chenille and a burnt orange saddle hackle.

We kicked out in our pontoon boats and spread out and I noticed on my Fishin' Buddy Fish Finder that there where fish hanging at the deep side of the drop-off at about 16 to 20 feet. That's not a good sign. With the water temperatures at 48 degrees it seemed that the fish were setting fairly deep. I started off with the Type III line to attempt get down to them. In the morning session I got one big thump and missed the fish and a couple of small half-hearted takes. I had noticed a number of fish being caught by the fishing boats trolling and they were trolling pretty fast. I had gotten separated from our group and decided to oar over to them, so I said what the heck, I fed out about 60 feet of line put my rod in my rod holder and started rowing over to where the were. Sure enough my rod started pumping up and down and I had a nice fish on. Not exactly what Denny Rickards recommends to do, but it worked. It was my first Webber lake rainbow of the day and it was a chunky but smaller 15 inch fish. It took the green and black crystal bugger.

When I hooked up with the guys I found that things had been slow for them also. Rex had managed a few fish working the shoreline to the north west and had picked up a nice fish. I had noticed that some fishermen in float tubes had caught a few fish near the shore to the northeast side of the lake so I thought I'd try it over there. This was a long kick so I thought I'd oar over to that area.

I'd been fishing all morning without my stripping apron, which I had left in my SUV, that's what happens when you're excited, so I thought I'd stop and get it first. On the way there I was trolling my fly again and wham I had a big fish on. It was in about 5 feet of water and it took me for a ride. These fish are heavy and fight. I was able to work it to my net in after two screaming runs and some patient work. It was a football that run 19 inches or so. My adrenalin was pumping after that. Problem is, do they count if you're trolling? I guess it's whatever works. It sort of felt like I was cheating though.

After retrieving my stripping apron I headed over to the easterly side of the lake where there was a bunch of willows rimming the lake. I had noticed a fellow fishing out of a small pram who had picked up a couple of fish using a quick 4 to 6 inch strips, sort of like strip, strip, strip, pause and then repeated. That's one thing I've learned, watch others to figure out what is happening especially the ones catching fish. He was fishing closer to shore in the shallower water, mainly casting towards the bank or a diagonal to it, crossing down wind. This was on the shoreline that the wind was blowing towards so it made sense, fish would probably hold there and wait for the food to come to them. I put myself in a position about 150 yards away from this fellow and copied what he was doing. I was using the Cortland Camo line with the Wiggle Tail, casting about 6o feet with the wind to my back and on the 3rd or 4th retrieve had a solid take. This fish was hot and tail-walked right after it was hooked. It fought hard and took a while to land. It also took quite a while to revive it. I think I needed to work the fish more and get it in quicker. A point I remembered the rest of the day.

Mike and Todd had rowed over to the same area so we stopped and had a nice shore lunch. The wind had died down a little and we talked about our day, what worked what didn't and the seasons on Webber Lake. Todd said that there is a fantastic ant hatch where the flying ants get blown into the lake and the fish come up to the surface and feed like crazy. If I remember right, he said there is also a termite hatch that is similar. There is chironomid activity throughout the season and the fall fishing can be great throwing seal buggers and such. This is the type of stuff I need to take notes on, when fishermen with experience on a given body of water talk, it pays to listen.

After lunch I noticed the water temperatures had warmed up to about 53 degrees, that's a rise of about 5 degrees, it makes a big difference, the bite will typically turn on during the warmest part of the day early in the season. We had noticed that other anglers were starting to hook up as we were finishing lunch. Time to get back at it. I kicked out and placed a cast about 6 feet from the shore and a fish hit it just as I started to strip it. 1st cast.

For the afternoon session I stayed with the Cortland Camo setup and the Olive Wiggletail and it produced. I spent the afternoon playing many fine and chunky rainbows to my hand and released to play on another day. For myself the fish of the day went about 22 inches and I couldn't pick it up with one hand, it was too fat.

I got home and verified the materials that I'd used to tie the fly that worked so well. It was a Wiggle Tail Pattern.

Jay Fairs' Wiggle Tail

Hook: Tiemco 2457 size 10
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Weight: 6 turns of .020 lead at the head
Tail: Jay Fair Medium Olive Marabou
Hackle: Hareline Grizzly Saddle Rusty Orange 3 wraps.
Body: Jay Fair Glimmer Short Shuck Olive Chenille

Thanks again to Mike, Todd and Rex for inviting me along. If you every get a chance to fish Webber Lake make time to do it, you'll have a great time.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.