Fly Fishing Clinic – September 10th

May 28th, 2016 in High Camp Happenings

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At the mention of fly fishing you may envision long, flexible fishing rods skillfully being maneuvered back and forth to present artificial flies to hungry fish. To be successful it requires lots of practice, generally expensive equipment (including rods and reels, waders, float tubes etc.) and access to areas having adequate room for tangle-free back casts. This weekend I’ll be demonstrating a method of using artificial flies using a common spinning rod and reel and a casting bubble. Children and adults can be successful with a minimum of practice and the cooperation of hungry trout. Using artificial flies rather than worms or baits sometimes produces better results because the fish are feeding on natural insects. Also catch and release works well since the hook can usually be removed with little damage to the fish. The downside is the fish may not be feeding on surface insects and will ignore your artificial fly, or our fly doesn’t look like what they are feeding on. Thus there are no guarantees for a trout for supper.

One of the greatest rewards of fishing alpine lakes is just being there in a beautiful setting enjoying the outdoor experience. In addition this late summer-early fall season offers cooler weather, ripe huckleberries, and likely the absence of mosquitoes (but bring spray just in case).

If you are interested in joining in on the fun but have no spinning gear, I will loan you a rod and reel. When you call for reservations be sure to mention this need. We will be providing casting bubbles, swivels, and flies for those who may need them.

In addition, another satisfaction of fly fishing is tying your own artificial flies. If you are interested I’ll be bringing some basic fly tying equipment to demonstrate some simple basics to get you started. It’s possible you may be able to catch a fish on one of your own creations.

We would encourage participants of all skill levels to join us on this weekend. If you are a first time visitor to High Camp there are 6 alpine lakes you can visit on day outings. Like most alpine lakes, each has unique setting and fishing possibilities.


Ralph Byther is a fly fishing enthusiast who learned during his teen years in the high lakes of the Colorado mountains. He taught his 5 sons to fly fish in the Mt. Rainier lakes and other lakes in the Washington area. Two years ago he took his 4 grandsons (ages 4-11) to High Camp and taught them to fly fish in the alpine lakes. All were successful in their first-ever fishing trip.

Our 2016 fly fishing clinic is coming up September 10th. Ralph Byther, our fishing guru, will be on hand to make sure all participants have a wonderful time. When you meet him you will agree Ralph’s positive attitude and smile are infectious! In preparation for this event here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you do not find the information you need below, please email or give us a call and we will help you out.

Tips for Successful Catch-and-Release:

Land fish as quickly as possible; avoid playing them to total exhaustion
Leave fish in the water while removing the hook. ¬†Avoid bruising fish or rubbing off their protective “slime” coating.
Release fish only after they can maintain their equilibrium. If necessary, gently cradle the fish in the water until normal “breathing” resumes.
For the fish so deeply hooked that the hook cannot be released without drawing blood, cut the line and leave the hook behind; many hooks will eventually rust out.
In streams, release fish in quiet water.
Use single, barbless hooks. Barbless hooks are easy to make by squashing the barb with needle-nose pliers.

What fly patterns do well at the lakes near High Camp?

It will depend on whether there is surface activity (warm weather and flying insects) or not. If there is surface feeding, several patterns should work well. Elk hair caddis, Adams, mosquito and black gnat are recommended. You could also experiment with Joe’s hopper if you can cast along or toward the shoreline. This is not easy in either Julius or Eileen unless you are fishing from a raft.

If there is very little surface activity, then you will probably do best by going to wet nymphs. Definitely try gold ribbed hare’s ear and Carey special (or 6-pack, very similar). These nymphs resemble Calabactis mayfly and caddis nymphs respectively. It will be later in the year than most chironomid hatches, but there may be midges flying around as adults and the mosquito pattern can imitate those.

What kind of fish are in the lakes?

All three Scottish Lakes have Twin Lakes cutthroat (a West Slope strain). Donald has had some rainbow in the past. And there are small brook trout in Roaring Creek downstream from the lakes. You can try some of the pools in the meadow area near the stream crossing below Picnic Point at the end of the road. None of the brookies that have been caught here were bigger than 5 inches, so don’t expect a secret overlooked hole with monsters. But it is fun prospecting!

Is a fishing license required?


Anthing else to consider?

Because the back casting room is minuscule at the lakes, I would suggest bringing a spinning rod rigged with fly and bubble gear as backup to the standard fly rod outfit. That will allow you to fish some of the better spots, Julius especially, where there is no back casting room for a fly line, but there are good fish near the shoreline.

Our former fishing guru Gerry Erickson provided us with the answers to the above questions. Many thanks!