The Mother Lagoon. I’ve read STORIES about it for years and have always wanted to visit and fish it. It’s far from my home. 2000 miles away far. What has intrigued me most about the lagoon is it’s extremely shallow and consistently so. And it’s usually clear. It stretches on for miles and is generally only inches to 2 or 3 feet deep. Really, just the slightest of water. I’ve also read that there is one area of the lagoon that has a firm white sand bottom. This allows a fly angler to sight fish on foot.
I’ve read STORIES that you can drive on the nearby beautiful seaside beach and camp on it for free. There aren’t many places like that left. Dogs can also run off leash there. That’s also a rarity. From the beach you can hike over the sand dunes to the lagoon.
It is a coastal region so it can get windy. Clouds and storms can also make it challenging. I’ve read STORIES you can walk and search a lot and often not see any or many fish. Sometimes they are just not in the area that you’ve chosen to explore. Sometimes, however, you do find fish prowling the sand flat for food. Sometimes some good ones. Saltwater ones. Feeding in just inches in water.
Of course STORIES are often just STORIES and being 2000 miles away it is hard to know what is fact, what is magnification and what is fiction. So I contacted someone who spends more days than most on the Mother Lagoon. I described my plan. I hoped they would reply. They graciously did and said: “Your plan is good”. They even offered some angling advice.
Here at home, 2000 miles north of the Laguna, my STORY is that it has been hot. Brutally hot. It was 38c or 100f the other day when I left a local river at 4 pm. I went to two different rivers that day both bottom release flows from reservoirs and therefore fairly cold. I fished in shorts, drank close to 2.5 liters of water, waded a lot to stay cool and found some fish rising. Here are a few nice trout taken in full sun on a size 16 Pale Morning Dun dry fly, CDC wing; and another on a Klinkhammer style tie with trailing shuck (see photo).
Ankle deep water… that’s where I have been angling the last several years. That’s where I search for fish. It’s in the thin water, the skinny water, the almost nothing water. Just a foot or so deep, sometimes just inches. Catching them in the clear nothing is never easy. In the shallows absolutely nothing goes unnoticed. Angling mistakes get magnified. Your mantra: Stay low, go slow. Sunlight helps you search the shallows for that elusive shadow that is gliding in from the deep to feed.
The shallower the better. The closer the better. The more visual the better. The more challenging the better.
Here’s a fine brown trout caught in the shallows on a simple (flat) black ant pattern (size 16) I tie. Local rivers have dropped and most are clear. Trout are starting to look up and take dries…
Doves were behind me in amongst the riverside willows and cottonwoods. Cooing while foraging the river valley floor. I never saw them. I never looked for them. I just listened while watching the water for trout. Their distinctive sound gave them away. Unmistakable. A mourning sound some say. A soothing sound I say.
It was the first real calm after days of howling wind. And with the stillness; with the low ceiling and low light; with the threat of drizzle; and with the sound of Doves, there was the possibility of rising trout. Maybe even a good one.
Springtime in SW Alberta: Sunny and 25c one day; 0c and snow the next. It’s transition time. Caught a few on small dry flies on my local tailwater river. No fish photos this outing. Midges around, a few Olives and fewer Skwala stoneflies. I watched a shallow flat for the occasional surface disturbance. Some promise. Hopefully, we are on the verge of some consistent top water action before run-off occurs and shuts it down for a month or two.
Some small CDC beetles. Lighter than foam. Less of a plop/commotion when they land. Sometimes that’s good, such as in low, slow, clear water and with trout that have been fished over repeatedly and therefore easily frightened by any disturbance. I remember one particularly challenging river in NZ where the heavy plop of a foam beetle, even some distance away, sent more than one trout fleeing. I could have made these ties even lighter by also using CDC for the legs instead of fine rubber ones.