As we drove up the old dirt road, there was a tone of excitement, with an underlying feeling of unknowing. When we saw that our 4wd road turnoff was still there, a wave of relief come over us. He shifted the truck into neutral, and clicked 4wd on. It was a rough road, and it felt more like riding in a rollercoaster than in a car. the road went up and down with short steep hills that dropped into big divots filled with water. Luckily, the creek we had to cross wasn't blow out, and it was actually one of the easier parts of the drive.
When we finally pulled up to the end of the road and stepped out, the first thing that hit us was the lush green vegetation. It is hard to put into words how it feels in this spot, but the closest I can come to describing it is heaven on earth. People are nonexistent, and you are left with the quiet sounds of the forest. The cool mountain air still had a slight chill from the snow that had left mere weeks ago, yet the warm june air was still comfortable enough to make it perfect out.
As we set out on the trail, it was evident that nobody had been back up there yet this year. There was downed timber left and right, making it much tougher to get up to the lake. as we reached the final leg of our hike, we entered a big gully with downed timber over the top, and logs lining the sides. Just past there, we reached what we call heaven on earth. The lake is a deep blue hole in the ground, surrounded by lush vegetation. As we pumped up our float tubes, a big cuttie came cruising right by the shore, and thats when we knew that today was going to be worth the effort. I put in my tube, and made my way over to the other bank, ready for some action!
As I cruised across, I noticed quite a bit of insect activity, mainly chironomids and other smaller midges emerging and leaving their shucks behind. I started throwing up against the bank, and it took 3 casts to hook up. I threw, and as the fly was sinking the line ever so slightly, it gave a slight twitch, and then stopped. I set back, and the rod doubled over. I didn't get a good glimpse of the fish at first, but as it came closer, I would see bright red flashes, followed by a big boil on the surface. As I finally got it up next to the boat, I could see that it was a big male cuttie, about 18in long.
I put it in the net, snapped a picture, and sent it back on its way. A picture doesn't do these fish justice though. They are pure muscle, and as fat and healthy as a fish can be. This time of year, they are all colored up for the spawn, which means a deep olive back, that makes a sharp transition into bright red cheeks and sides, and then gently fades into a light silvery cream colored underside. And the best part is that none are the same!
Continued in part 2...