Should Have Been Here Yesterday (Epic tailwater crunch)

Lewiston Lake fishing
A river runs through it.

Kit and I were stunned when reality set in and both of us realized we had some free time from our daily rigors. What to do? It’s a no brainer. The unseasonably cool weather was going to change. A major heat up was predicted for the next couple days and we both had deep suspensions of what may pop. We grabbed gear, the “Bank Hugger” skiff, iced a few and headed off to stretch a line.

Fly fishing Lewiston Lake
Popsicle toes.

Our six senses were on overload. There are times it all seems and feels just right from the get go. Those who share the passion can relate. Regardless of what kind of fishing we may encounter this was our day together to share and enjoy the stoke— even though we both were giddy about the heat up. The lower flats reflected a breathless calm, mirror of springtime beauty. At the launch site, clouds of Callibeatis spinners displayed their free falling dances above the cattails and rich vegetation. A number of duns were already on the water representing a fresh start up. Wow—bugs already popping and its only 10:30. We both looked at each other and smiled without comment.

California Trout fishing
Just fits.

We simply jumped in the skiff and headed out only to reach the first inside flat. In two feet of water we witnessed a lazy, deliberate rise. Emerging Callibaetis inspired this fish to put the feed bag on as he crused along the shallows taking advantage of the drifting protein. Kit insisted I go to bat first as he grabbed the oars. I was eager to fish the new Beulah Guide Series 5wt. single hand rod. I know I should have matched the hatch however it was that kind of day. My instincts got the best of me as I tied on a #8 and Black. (aka-Hymenoptera/aquatic wasp). By the time I set up and dialed in the fish was above us. Moving the skiff would more than likely spook the target. An upstream reach cast was in order. I delivered my presentation in line with the feeding pattern. Impressed and thoroughly satisfied with the new rod performance the large fly surprisingly landed delicately and looked appealing in the film—at least to us. The fish continued sipping duns, and slowly passed by my fly. Wow—he had to see it we both muttered. Intent on simply observing the shallow water feeding display he suddenly changed directions, turned about face and lazily rose up to my offering. The shinny head protruded the surface as he inhaled the fly. I slowly lifted and game on. Two and a half pounds of fat chrome was dialed in and couldn’t pass up the big wasp. Unfortunately the fly was deep in the gullet and my prize beauty was bleeding badly. I had to kill it. Not what I intended. Will this blow the days mana?

Bald Eagle in flight
The Bandit.

As we motored out we both zoned in on a small pod of fish feeding in a sheltered bay. Again Callibaetis duns set the stage. This time I worked the oars and Kit attempted to settle and single out his target. He too selected a large #8 wasp pattern and effortlessly delivered his presentation. A small kokanee quickly slashed his fly igniting laughter from the both of us. Recasting Kit presented his offering to the roaming pod. This time a full-on slow motion head/tail rise accepted his fly. Kit tightened up and a broad sided bow caught air and parted his tippit. Yeah! The struggle was short but sweet. They’re on’em we both hooted… It’s in the air! The pod continued feeding on the drifting duns. Kit beefed up to 4X, after a few jabs below the belt, and proceeded to hook and land his first one—a beautiful mint bright specimen of 3 lbs. Oh-Yeah!

Lewiston hook-up
Easy does it.

The warming sun was soothing and just what the doc ordered. The next few hours the rich and fertile waters served up a staggering hatch of aquatic wasps that inspired most every double digit fish to pork. Points, shallow tapering shelves and finally deep channels all supported actively feeding fish. The entire lake was on! Like bobble heads we didn’t’ know which way to look. The sights and sounds of slurping fish made if very difficult to stay focued on particular targets and drifts. Not to mention keep our emotions and comments under control. Where was everybody? The only anglers we witnessed were our close friends and home water boys Russ Giuntini from San Francisco and Steve Hopkins from Fairfield. They too were blow away with the hatch and action. We waded-boated targeting fish withlarge drys for 41/2 hrs. One of the finest hatches I’ve personally witnessed in 31 years of fishing these waters. But wait!

Wasp hatch
Wasps…#8 black liquorish.

A major highlight was when Kit was landing a moderate sized rainbow. Just about subued in the shallows and only a rod’s length away, out of nowhere a bald eagle swooped down for the snatch and kill. Both of us wide-eyed and in disbelief. In flight the preditor had Kits prize firmly secured in his talons while fly lined burned off his hands and reel. “I can’t hold’em Herbie,” Kit hollered full volume. Snap—the eagle got the best of it all. Or did he? The entire experience was a sensory overload. Who are we? Where are we going or where have we been?

Generally a full throttle trip like this is an experience of a lifetime. Even if it is in your own backyard. We returned to the shop with reports that jazzed anglers ready to fish the next day. However the warming trend was shot lived. Anglers who fished the following day reported little to zero bugs and no action. Probably thinking both Kit and I were full of s_ _t! Well, that’s right we are…But you should have been here yesterday!!!