Author Topic: Return to Island Lake  (Read 2996 times)

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Chris Puchniak

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Return to Island Lake
« on: March 22, 2012, 09:18:14 PM »
It was mid-week near the end of June and I was going to be up in the Logan Lake region of BC for a day or two, and I knew I couldn’t visit that area without wetting a line.  It had been an unusual season in terms of weather, with spring late in coming, leading to a higher rate of winterkills than usual – and then suddenly the weather skipped the normal springtime conditions and jumped straight into mid-summer sweltering heat (35+ degrees) by May.  This meant that late-June this year was more like mid-July for much of the Interior.  It further implied that insect hatches were more unpredictable and water temperatures warmer than usual – neither factor attractive.
 
Given the conditions, seeking higher elevations to find cooler waters seemed like the best plan.  There are a fair number of lakes over the 5000 foot elevation point, and I had just fished Island Lake (sometimes called Big OK Lake) in the Highland Valley near Logan Lake the week before.  It had been a successful day trip, and I’d managed to catch about 12 fish out of my float tube, around the 20-25 inch range, all in a strong wind storm (for more on that trip, I have the details posted on my web site).  But the weather was forecast to be better this week, so I was going to bring my boat, and fish my favourite method – loch style.




The road into Island Lake is convoluted, as it passes through the various ongoing mining operations (including driving in the shadow of the enormous earthen dam holding back the Turquoise-coloured Tailing Reservoir) –but much like the week prior, I encountered plenty of wildlife on the drive in, including several deer and a huge black bear.  All a good sign that the wildlife (and hopefully fish) were active.
 
Arriving at the lake around 1 pm (I was only managing to get a part day in), I launched at the northern rustic campground.  The lake was pretty busy, just as it was last week, but there wasn’t a strong wind to force everyone off the water this time.  Most, if not all, were anchored around the central sunken island.  I probably counted 15 boats on the main shoal.   Fortunately though, Island has numerous productive shoals - and I could see that no one was fishing a number of the areas.
 
No one was around shore to talk to, so I quickly unloaded my Alumicraft 1236.  I threw on a thwart board, grabbed my Minn Kota drogue, and got the rest of my gear into the boat.  I planned to row out past the island to get some longer drifts along the western bank, as the wind was pretty steady out of the south.  The wind was mild though, so I wouldn’t need my larger Wychwood Para-drogue – the Minn Kota would do nicely.
 
Last week the weather had been right in the middle of a huge change.  Gusting winds, puffy clouds, and a significant rainstorm on its way from the coast.  This week however, things had settled down, and I had hoped with the steady weather would come steady fishing.
 
I rowed over the island, sticking to the edges to avoid getting too close to anyone’s casting position.  Virtually all the anglers were fishing the shallows, under 6 feet, and using floating lines.  More than half appeared to be fishing indicators.  I noticed a few Callibeatis mayflies drifting along the surface over the weedbeds, as well as a number of chironomids coming off.  When I reached the far side, I deployed my drogue and started a drift from the southern end, casting out with a #10 maroon-black leech on an Airflo Fast Glass Clear Ridgeline and Rio 3x Fluoroflex Plus leader.  I would switch up to a mayfly or midge pattern promptly if I had no success soon.

It was a pretty positive sign that this was going to be a good day when my first cast brought a nice 19-20 inch rainbow off the shoal.  Nice tussle, a run part way into the backing, and a quick photo-op of a gorgeous trout...




I noticed the occasional angler hooking up on the main shoal, but I was finding steady action where I was, so after my first drift (where I landed 2 fish, and lost a third), I rowed back to roughly where I started before, but this time set up to drift about 25 feet further off the bank than my previous drift.  I would parallel the same route as before, but this time over deeper water.  Rather than switching up to a faster line, I opted to keep working my clear intermediate for awhile longer (as it HAD been working), and let it sink a little deeper using the countdown method if I had to.
 
Part way through the next drift I picked up one fish (a fine one about 22-inches), but had only found it after letting my clear line sink nearly a 20-count.  I used a stomach pump on the hen and found a few older chironomids, plus a couple of fresher leeches.  Confident the fly was ok, I fished out the rest of the drift working the same combo.  But when I caught nothing, I decided to make the next run back closer to the shoal again.

The next pass was more like the first was – three nice trout in the 20-24 inch range.  That made me happy.




I worked another pass over the same area again, hooking two but losing one of those, before I decided to change up a bit and go back to the deeper water.  The wind had picked up a little more and had change directions slightly so that it was now blowing me more into the bank on an angle, as opposed to a parallel course.  So I opted to start more in mid-water, and since my drift speed was increased, I went with a Di5 (Type 5 or 5-ips line) – I had initially planned to only go to a Di3 and get my line down roughly 8-10 feet, but having to compensate for the increased wind speed, I figured the Di5 would be better.  Not many anglers fish a very fast sinking line in Island – certainly nobody today was – but given my drift speed, I felt it was the best approach.  I kept the maroon-black marabou leech on, as it had been a winner thus far.

For the rest of the afternoon the wind stayed pretty constant and I did roughly another 20 passes, each time starting in mid-water and drifting closer to the shoal on an angle - though I did change it up so that I rarely drifted the same area twice.  Pretty much every pass produced fish (between 18-24 inches), until evening came and I found it was time to start heading home.  It had clearly been a good day, and just as good as the week prior.

I got a brief chance to speak to a few of the other anglers as I was loading my boat up to leave (always nice when a few extra hands come over to offer help!), and all had been up for a few days.  Fishing had been on the upswing during the week, and although some of the guys hadn’t scored too well, others had been doing better.  Much to my surprise though, the complaint was that none of the fish were big, with maybe 3-pounds being the max, and everyone was wondering where the decent fish were.

At least it seemed like no one had been skunked on the water, though - and it’s always nice to leave a lake knowing that others caught fish, but also knowing that you did just a little better.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 03:27:28 PM by Chris Puchniak »
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.

Todd Oishi

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Re: Return to Island Lake
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 06:17:26 AM »
Excellent story and photos Chris!! I love fishing in and around that area.
For me, the quality of a trout is not measured in inches or pounds, but rather by the journey and circumstances that allowed our paths to cross...

Pete Kauhausen

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Re: Return to Island Lake
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2012, 12:18:36 PM »
Excellent story Chris!!! I don't believe I have ever fished that lake but is on  my bucket list...

Joe Gluck

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Re: Return to Island Lake
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 11:11:36 AM »
You wouldn't think because of the mining activity, but those are beautiful (and seemingly healthy) fish!

Thanks for sharing this!

-J
Tie one up, bro!

Chris Puchniak

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Re: Return to Island Lake
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 02:50:59 PM »
You wouldn't think because of the mining activity, but those are beautiful (and seemingly healthy) fish!

-J

Joe, you should see the OTHER lakes i'm NOT mentioning that are on their property....  :)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 02:53:03 PM by Chris Puchniak »
I will fish anywhere and find beauty in it.

Don't be a Pessimist. Don't be an Optimist.  Be a Realist and change when you need to.