Sure was nice to get out on the water for our spring float tubing days. Blue skies, warm breezes, and returning wildlife created some great conditions. We strapped on the flippers, buckled-up the life jackets, and stepped into the tubes and some wonderful lake environments.
The first day out we started bright and early to beat what we expected would be other Saturday enthusiasts and got down to work. Four pairs of red-necked grebes hooted and tooted right beside us as they started their mating rituals. They sure were fun to watch.
But, it was the fish that we were interested in, and the first hook up of the day occurred with a brown woolly bugger and a fifteen inch rainbow as we trolled along on our way to one of the good spots on the lake. As we spread out to fish towards the bank, another nice fish took the same fly.
In the lakes in the spring, we mostly use bead-head lake leeches, gold ribbed hares-ear nymphs, and olive or brown woolly buggers. All of them were producing fish from several cruising pods of fish that we could actually see from where we had positioned the tubes. An occasional fly caught in the bushes made for some tense moments as we tried to extract it without spooking the fish.
It wasn't long before the fish of the day appeared. It turned out to be a twenty-two-inch female that grabbed a black bead-head lake leech. During seven spectacular jumps, the fish did its best to escape, but finally, after a slow and persistent effort, she finally came to the net for a picture. We all hoped for more of that caliber of fish, but that didn't happen.
On a different day, the tubers found that because the fish were right up against the bank, they had to get their fly under lots of over-hanging branches and bushed and in between lots of woody debris underneath. It was quite a challenge. We ended up paddling to the bank a couple of times to break off some of the branches to open up a space to cast into, and that worked very well.
Right behind us on the lake a pair of gorgeous, black and white loons kept track of our fish and our fishing. Their curiosity about the tubes is always fun to see and their hoots and chirps wonderful to hear. I love to have them swimming around us.
One of my favorite lakes was disappointing this year. The water was still very, very cold when we got there and the few fish that we saw were pretty sluggish. We had to settle for a great view of Denali, the tallest Mountain in North America, and some wildlife watching.
As we paddled along in one area, we could see several fish swimming back and forth along a shallow area. We beached the tubes, took off our flippers, and tried to stalk them from the bank. It wasn't long, however, before they moved back into deeper water and left us fishless.
As we were getting out of the lake on the last day, a pair of over-twenty-inch fish appeared right at the bank in front of us and proceeded to swirl around each other as they prepared to enact the spring spawning ritual. Rainbows in land-locked lakes attempt to spawn, but any eggs the female might lay or the male fertilize die because they need the oxygen from moving water to survive. Still, it was fascinating to see them and dream of catching them another time.