Chalk it up to vanity or lack of maturity as a fly fisherman, but I felt the pressure on our second day to beat last year’s Eagle Lake record of 53 rainbows to the net.
our competition the guys in the other boat, a father who had gifted his son a guided trip for his birthday, and our guide reminded us that we’d fallen far short of our record the day before.
Things looked good. Scattered clouds, a bit of a breeze and the sun cresting the mountains.
Like nearly any water, the fishing on Eagle Lake can be changeable. That’s to be expected. Calm conditions will kill the bite. A weak breeze that morning put the burden on Don and I to make the most of every strike. We did, but it was a slow start. Atypically, the fish were smaller. It seems as if the big fish had moved off The Mesa during the night, to be replaced by youngsters. (Thankfully, the smallest fish of the day — an eight incher — was landed by Doug, our guide.)
Every time Don would hook a fish, I’d wait. I’ve learned to never recast if my partner just had a strike. More often than not, leaving flies in the water would lead to a double hook up. The proof’s in the video below, courtesy one of small cameras mounted on Don’s hat.
After noon, both guide boats were side by side. Our of the corner of our eyes, we’d all watch for the sudden jerk of a hookset and watch anxiously to see if a fish made it to the net. Don and I were one fish behind our competition.
It boiled down to making the hookset. And we did.
It wasn’t a day of huge fish. It also took some work — twitching the fly here and there, mending and casting to transitions — but the fish were passing by often enough to ensure regular hook ups. Our lead was extended, fish by fish.
In the end, we’d come within touching distance of our record, with 52 fish for the day.
By the end of that day, we were tired. Not tired of catching fish, but our hands and wrists and forearms ached. The sun had exacted its toll. I faced a long drive home. But all was good. It was a great time. It always is at Eagle.