Monday, September 30, 2013

Round Lake Brown    -J. Price
Round Lake 2013

Not certain how many people may have tried to make the trip earlier this month to Round Lake – but apparently I missed out on the caravan to the lake on the assigned date [at least I was the only waiting in the lot for others never having before - you see this was my fifth try.......
one year I followed the old route and was blocked by that land slide (the slide by the way is about 1.7 miles short of the trail head to the lake I learned this year – but nearly impassable as the ‘slide’ is actually a washout from a creek that has created a 20’ deep chasm); try two was foiled by injury to the fearless TVTU leader – he showed up at Don’s ready to lead me (the lone participant) to the lake – I declined as it was obvious his rest was more important; my third try was a rescheduled trip a few weeks later – I was unavailable to tag along; four was this scheduled adventure that went awry – which all leads to trip #5].

No. 5 was the charm – almost. My initial trip was scheduled to be #4 and was to be prior to the TVTU outing. however, my ever available retired fishing partner was in Utah for the week; we rescheduled to follow the TVTU trip. Upon his return, though,  the doctor said he was better off participating in a quadruple bypass procedure…..ummmm – no contest there and though we both prefer fishing to bypass surgery the answer seemed clear (especially since I have not been formally trained in CPR!!). So the trip was going to be another solo event until I convinced another non-TVTU adventurous type to step up and partake in my wanderings.

It all started years ago after I decided I missed seeing/catching brown trout – after reading the 7th Edition of Fishing in Oregon (1988 version), I found Round Lake up the Clackamas Basin around Bull of the Woods Wilderness was a close option for brownies. Not many had heard of it – at least in my circle of friends and I was the only one interested in finding it. So it went on my list.

Years later, I join TVTU and low and behold, right there on the Outing schedule is Round Lake – my interest rose again and I felt a visit was imminent. Sure it took a bit to get the trip together and since I ended up with other opportunities for browns on the east side of the state to satiate my desire I did not feel pressed. This year with renewed vigor I hauled my friend and our float tubes up into the mountains for the 3-hour trek to the trail head [as we are somewhat adventurous, we also found if you come out the bottom side to Detroit Lake the travel time is just about the same – a slight bit shorter by time].
Round Lake via Tube
We reached the lake with tubes on our backs at about 10:30 a.m. – the 9-acre lake was teeming with grey mayfly looking things [my best entomological guess would be baetis/calibaetis – but I’ll stick to grey mayfly looking things]. And the trout were slapping at them – or at least slapping the surface as they emerged. One lady was already kicking around on the lake but even with the bug activity we saw no fish taking her offering. Based on those observations we went subsurface…
Round Lake Brown Trout
 The first fish – a scrappy 7”+ brown – came on a calibaetis emerger drug just under the surface and occasionally twitched. Not a bad start and a classic brown! Round has held up its end of the bargain! No. 2 was his older cousin – same method – but just broke the 11” barrier. About the same time frame my partner for the day had missed one fish on a dry that he had submerged – but he was having a better time getting used to his first float tube and the dynamics behind that to worry too much about it. No fish for the third tube on the lake that we saw.

We took a lunch break and explored the trail adjacent to the lake – we also found that the creek feeding the lake had been artificially restored. It was interesting to see hard work in place and surviving what appears to be a relatively long time. Large woody debris, cropped logs, v-log placements, and sediment blocks – it appeared to be some nice work. The work also created some nice sounds for the small primitive camp spots nearby. I was curious about the cut out logs and assumed it was to prevent any fish passage – but also wondered if the placement was so close to limit the apparent natural reproduction of the lakes ‘invasive’ denizens! But back to fishing….
Round Lake Brookie
Mid-afternoon brought on 2 more fish – an 8”+ brook trout and a brown that just beat the 12” mark. Both these fish came under high, bright sun and very little wind ripple. I had tied on a caddis emerger wet of about size 14 and was trailing it behind a weighted brown flash-a-bugger. The wet fly is a Ken Ligas pattern called the Scintillator; I bought a few dozen years ago on close-out as GI Joe’s Sports and Outdoors stores were going out of business. The pattern is consumed heartily but no longer found in stores. It took me years to find the appropriate beads to tie the pattern myself. It has caught fish all over the Cascades – in still and moving water. My friend missed another hit in the afternoon – but he did report seeing two fish that bettered the 14”-15” marks. And I can concur on the better than 15” as just before we left the water I saw a fish well above those marks clear the water by a good 24-inches! Only thing I can figure is he was feeling peckish for one of the hundreds of dragonflies that turned out of the reeds during the warm afternoon sun.
Scintillator - a Ken Ligas pattern
So around 3:00 in the afternoon we pulled out and had a cold beer on shore and watched the lone tuber continue to angle. She called out a 5 fish to hand total and was still working at it; using a hares ear nymph over the weed beds. As we left and as the shadows drew over the lake the grey mayfly looking things began to make a return and the fish returned to the surface and began looking upwards again. The dimpling surface reflecting the falling sun and lakeside trees.

Was the lake everything I expected? Yes. A lovely albeit slightly smaller than 9-acre lake [the reeds are really filling in the outlet end] and brown trout aplenty. Was my fishing on par – not quite. But with a few to hand and a nice hike in with a good friend – as well as another Oregon lake off my list – I will return at some point [hopefully with the original fishing partner – he is currently in hour 2.6 of his bypass surgery on the heart/lung machines; he hasn’t caught too many browns but I am rather certain he would like to!