Sprague Lake – 05/18/2024

Time: 12:45PM – 1:45PM

Location: Western and northern shoreline

Sprague Lake 05/18/2024 Photo Album

I made the turn on to the Sprague Lake parking lot access road, and I instantly regretted my decision. The place was jammed with tourists. I crossed the bridge and made a right turn, and immediately I could see that cars were parked along the quasi-shoulder. I headed to the parking lot, but the three cars ahead of me stalled, as they waited for a car to depart from a space; and, thus, provide an open parking spot. I knew I was not going to snag a spot in the lot, so with no cars coming towards me on the one-way loop, I shot straight ahead for twenty yards and made a quick U-Turn and then secured a spot on the shoulder along with the rest of the mob.

I gathered my gear and hiked the short distance to the lake, and I was on the western shoreline. The trail that followed the lake was heavily trafficked, and I grew concerned about my ability to execute backcasts among all the hikers. I strode along the western edge of the lake while heading north, and I finally saw a gap with no trees, where I felt I could toss some casts. This part of the lake was quite shallow, so I decided to wade in a bit to generate clearance and enable shorter casts to deeper water. I was ten feet from shore, and I was now able to discern that the shallow depth continued out for quite a distance, so I decided to move on to the north shore, where I recalled from previous visits that the depth was greater. I attempted to lift my right foot to step backwards, but both my feet were now mired in the muck. The weight of my upper body shifted, but my legs did not follow, and I took a quick fall into the lake. I immediately righted myself, but it was not before some cold water spilled over the top of my waders. My wader belt contained most of the puddle, but some moisture managed to trickle down to my long underwear. Fortunately it got absorbed, before it reached my feet and socks, so I was spared the worst case scenario of sloshing feet. Adding to my state of distress was the pack of tourists who stopped to watch me fish, and they were now treated to a close up view of my pratfall. They kindly asked if I was OK, and I never heard laughter, although that probably commenced, after I departed.

Sprague Lake Under Overcast skies

What should I do now? I paused to assess the damages, and I determined that my right sleeve and right chest were very wet, but the water inside my waders was somewhat contained, so I gritted my teeth and decided to fish on. When I approached a small outlet stream, I paused to wash the mud off my right hand, and then I moved a short distance, until I was beyond the handicapped platform. Of course, by now some dark gray clouds moved in and blocked the sun, and this led to some gusting wind and a riffled lake surface. I carefully waded into the lake for fifteen feet, and I began laying out medium range casts. I was careful to glance backward before each casting action to make sure there were no human beings or bushes to interfere with my efforts. I fanned a series of casts from right to left, but the whole exercise struck me as quite futile. The waves and glare made it extremely difficult to follow the fat Albert, and the wind was causing the moisture in my shirt to evaporate, and this in turn was creating a significant chill in my core.

Brown Trout Was a Big Surprise

I decided to surrender, and I began to strip the hopper back toward me in rapid fire spurts. The hopper was actually skimming the surface, when a fish rose and swatted the imitation. This, of course, sparked some deep thoughts, and I removed the hopper and nymphs and converted to a double dry with a peacock hippie stomper and an olive body deer hair caddis.  When ready, I tossed the double dry in the vicinity of the aggressive follow of the hopper, and whack, a splashy rise consumed the hippie stomper. I was shocked, but I maintained my presence of mind long enough to set the hook. I expected an eight inch brook trout, but this fish was obviously larger than that as evidenced by its feisty effort to break free of my line. After a couple strong runs, I gained the upper hand and slid a wild thirteen inch brown trout into my net. I waded to the shoreline to snap a photo, remove the hook and release the fish; and as I was doing so, a group of Asian hikers approached. They were quite fascinated by my fish, and in broken English asked what type of fish it was. I informed them that it was a brown trout, and as they looked on, I allowed the prize catch to swim away to freedom. I suppose they were horrified to see such a nice piece of meat return to the lake.

Poised to Return

I was now optimistic about my prospects for additional action, so I once again fanned casts from right to left. The sky darkened again, and gusts of wind created mini waves. I allowed the flies to rest, and then I imparted quick strips or long strips, but none of these actions created any interest from resident fish. Once again I was quite chilled and some shivering began, so I decided to call it quits. Dry clothes and the warmth of the car were far more appealing than standing knee deep in a lake in wet clothing with hundreds of park visitors watching my every move.

Of course, when I returned to the car, the sun reappeared, and I questioned my hasty exit, but I returned to my senses and ended my day. After I removed my waders, I jumped in the backseat of the car to change out of my wet underwear, and of course a man was in the truck behind me with his engine running. In addition , a small herd of elk appeared in a little valley on the other side of the road, and a parade of tourists holding cameras and phones joined the proceedings. I exercised quite a bit of caution in my change over, as an arrest for indecent exposure would have punctuated my day with another dose of ill fortune.

The fishing on Saturday was not very exciting, but I encountered quite a few offbeat experiences to provide grist for an interesting report. Lakes and tailwaters are clearly my only options for the next month or more.

Fish Landed: 1