One of the most exciting ways to fly fish for trout is to spot them cruising the flats and cast to them. The Kamloops lakes are blessed with a multitude of clear water lakes with expansive white marl shoals that allows the flyfisher to sight fish the flats. Whether one is fishing on the surface or below the surface, the sheer excitement of watching a rainbow trout follow and attack a fly is the ultimate fly fishing experience.
White marl is the result of centuries of organic decay and lines the bottom of the flats. In water 3’ to 10’ (or more) deep, this contrasting layer provides hidden treasures for cruising trout as well as the perfect background for spotting. The most common occurrence is to see one or two fish cruising at a time, looking for an easy meal of bloodworms, hyalella shrimp, chironomids, damsel nymphs, dragonfly nymphs, sedge pupa, mayfly nymphs, leeches and adult caddis
The flyfisher's casting ability is tested when they sight fish the flats. While spotting the fish, and because the water is so clear, the fish most likely also spotting you. If the feed is on, the fish will be less wary of what is going on at a distance and more inclined to attack with purpose. Outside of the feeding periods, trout tend to meander through the flat with caution and can be spooked quite easily. Casting with distance and care not to disrupt the water puts the fisherman at a better advantage to attract the fish.
The four common ways to sight fish the flats include:
- dry line and long leader – 18 ft to 24 ft long; nymphs, hyalella shrimp, micro-leech
- dry line and medium leader12 ft to 18 ft long with a strike indicator; chironomids, bloodworms, micro-leech, hyalella shrimp
- slow sinking line with a medium length leader; nymphs, micro-leech
- dry line with a medium leader for surface fishing; various adult caddis
When fishing a wet fly in shallow water conditions in the Kamloops lakes, itis recommended to use a dry line and long leader. In fact, the longer the leader, the better. It isn’t uncommon to see tapered leaders over 20 feet long. One would also be advised to have fluorocarbon line for the final 10-12ft of the leader as fish (so we are told) cannot see the line (in fact, fluorocarbon leader is recommended for all wet fly fishing situations). The theory here is to spot the fish and lead it with a long cast, retrieving at various speeds as the fish cruise by. The anticipation when one sees the fish spot the fly and make a turn towards it is breathtaking and when they take the fly the excitement is over the top.
Fishing with a slow/medium sink line (especially those clear lines that are now available) is very similar to the strategy above. The retrieve is usually a little faster so that the line doesn’t settle in the marl causing excess turbulence by stirring up the mud.
Fishing with a dry line with indicator gives one the advantage of having full control of the depth that your fly is located, including fishing the shallowest of water. Using the indicator also gives one the luxury of letting the fly sit, twitching the fly occasionally, or using a variety of retrieve speeds. This method is the easiest to master. The drawback is that in shallow water, the fish can not only see you and the fly, they can also see the strike indicator, especially during the retrieve, lending to an additional movement that could deter them from attacking the fly.
Last but not least is the perception of what fly fishing really is, surface fishing with a dry line and a dry fly. Although less than 10% of fly fishing in the Kamloops lakes is done with a dry fly, hitting a hatch of caddis sedge and watching cruising fish rise to the occasion is over-the-top orgasmic. The real skill to develop is how to allow the fish to hook itself. The visual stimulation of watching the fish rise to the fly can trigger one’s strike mechanism prematurely and pulling the fly from the jaws of death. However, when hooked, the dance is on.
Once a fish has been hooked, there is one dimension that the fish cannot take advantage of… and that is depth. When there simply isn’t any depth, their only alternative is to run out and jump. Imagine a 24 inch, silver bullet rainbow that you can easily watch in the shallows, racing around making music with your line and reel while you hang on and enjoy the ride. Kamloops rainbow trout are known jumpers and can easily break water 5 or 6 times before they settle into the net.
Yes, the experience to sight fish the flats can be one of the most exciting ways to fly fish and in the next installment, the best lakes in the Kamloops area for utilizing these methods will be revealed.