Fishing Report

Sunlight, Darkness, and Fly Fishing Lake Siskiyou

By Tom Chandler 6/28/2007

Fly fishing Lake Siskiyou isn't normally an intense affair. If you fish from a float tube (like I do during the warm season) then you're fishing from an inflatable easy chair, and in that setting, ambition takes a back seat to recreation.

An 8.5' James Beasley Canadian Canoe 7wt
Last night's rod: an 8.5' 7wt James Beasley cane rod (click image for a larger version)

It's even possible to drink a cold beer while you lazily kick your fins, dragging a wooly bugger behind you. Of course, you're not so much fishing as invoking random chance, but only the rabidly Type A folks -- or those with something to prove -- believe fly fishing should always be an all-out affair.

Perhaps that's why I fish slower, softer fly rods -- they feel like fly rods are supposed to feel, and they serve as a constant reminder that I'm out there to relax and enjoy life.

I know I'm getting a little tense when I start driving the rod -- something that fast tapers encourage a bit too much.

Lake Siskiyou
Despite its rural setting, Siskiyou still feels like an urban lake; on weekends it can be overrun by party barges and fishermen, and you're almost never there alone.

Mt. Shasta -- at last light -- looms over Lake Siskiyou.

Last night I was almost alone -- until a boat with two fishermen motored up and stopped less than 70 feet away. With the whole lake to chose from, they felt the need to crowd me, though karma acted swiftly -- I hooked and landed four fish in the next half hour (to their none).

Eventually they got disgusted and went in search of another, more agreeable, spot. Score one for karmic retribution.

Big Bugs
For years my group of locals tried to keep Siskiyou's Hexagenia hatch a secret, but then realized it didn't much matter. It's an erratic beast, and once you mention smallmouth, float tubes and warm water in the same sentence, eyes glaze over and visitors start calculating how far they are from their favorite stretch of the Upper Sacramento.

Last night, I saw a single Hex come off, though I did manage to catch an intriguing mix of trout and smallmouth on a #6 soft hackle (creamy yellow/green). An unweighted soft hackle is a damned effective fly during an emergence, and the smaller sizes are my go-to flies on alpine lakes.

The final tally was in the 18 fish neighborhood: half were smallies, two were brown trout, and the rest were rainbows, and the evening's best fish was also the last -- a 17" rainbow. (Sorry, no pictures of the trout; the surface water was very warm, and I needed to get them right back down to the cooler layers).

As always, it got interesting right at dark; clouds of Caenis mayflies obscured my vision, and every few minutes I'd hook up with a fish and start guessing at the species.

The Caenis Mayfly: Tiny but cute
Closeup of a Caenis maylfy (the Angler's Curse) on my cork grip.

In the end, I got exactly what I wanted; a few nice fish, some largely "alone" time on the water, and whatever the hell it is we're really looking for when we go fly fishing, but can't quite put into words.

See you on the lake, Tom Chandler.

fly fishing, fishing, lake siskiyou, hexagenia, caenis, fly rod


Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

I went there last summer and managed to catch a little smallmouth bass about 8-10 inches long but then just as it hit 9:00 I got a huge bit and managed to pull in a 21" Rainbow Trout. I have a picture of it too.
Leland Barlow: Going to Syskiyou this weekend was wondering what else works for fly selection for the big trout . I fished Siskiyou twice much earlier in the spring, but haven't made it out there in the last two months. I suspect all the usual lake stuff will work: midges, leeches, wooly buggers, etc. One favorite has always been the Carey Special, though I seem to be out at the moment. If the smallies ... more are active, then a yellow popper can be fun. Good luck.
Going to Syskiyou this weekend was wondering what else works for fly selection for the big trout .
I'm glad your caption mentioned the Caenis was on your cork grip. At first glance I thought it was on your hand and that you might need a little time with a dermatologist. Our local grocery (Central Market) sells a slawdog. I'll eventually send a photo to aid in your continuing research. Keep up the good work!
Fish, beer, sunset... You're right. Working would be better...
Sounds completely miserable. Glad I was able to keep working rather than join you... - Dave

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