Hooky at Sheridan

Dawn on a day in mid August felt more like September as Rich and I made our way west on Yale Kilgore road. Smoke hung low over the Centennial Range mixing with dust from the fire crews assigned to manage the Willow Creek fire. Crowding the shoulder, I allowed plenty of clearance for more than a dozen heavy vehicles as they rumbled down the rough unpaved road. Clearing the restricted burn area, we broke into the open terrain of Shotgun Valley and turned left through the big gate at Sheridan Ranch. It was Wednesday, a day when Paini and I would normally be working but the call of hot fishing on the private lake was impossible to resist.

As planned, we met Lake Manager Mike Smith at 7:00 A.M., and soon were loaded into two battery powered 16 foot Jon boats with Mike and his
Chocolate Lab Jackson leading the way out of the small harbor. Nestled against a heavily timbered ridge, the 400 acre lake was perfectly calm in the crisp morning air, but the rings of big rising trout gave a hint to what lay in store.

At Mike’s instruction, Rich dropped anchor on the edge of a defined channel about sixty feet behind Mike’s position. It was Callibaetis time which made twitching an appropriate nymph in front of cruising trout an easy decision. Not one to waste time, Mike was banging out 70 foot casts with his big 7 weight and had hooked the first fish before Paini and I had tied on a fly. The cart wheeling leap of a heavy Kamloops exploded the calm surface, and the wail of Mike’s reel broke the morning quiet. It was a preview of things to come as Rich and I quickly selected a target, and the game was on. Paini was into a fish within the first half dozen casts while my fishing was interrupted by a savage strike that sheared the Callibaetis Nymph from the 3X tippet like it was 7X. Slowly retrieved nymphs produced consistent action until the sun began to warm the surface at around 10 A.M.

Gradually, the surface activity began to intensify as Callibaetis duns and spinners became progressively more numerous. Employing tactic commonly utilized for dealing with gulpers on Henry’s Lake, we switched to floating Callibaetis patterns. The constantly moving trout were a challenge to intercept with a perfect cast that also required a little luck as the artificial competed with hoards of naturals for attention.

A solid two hours of wonderful dry fly opportunity and enough trout hooked to satisfy us all flew by with amazing speed. Emergence had already ended when a light breeze swept the remaining spinners from the picture. Unconcerned with the absence of rising fish, Mike led us to deeper water where he proceeded to demonstrate the effectiveness of his favorite leech pattern which he generously shared with Rich and the old guy. A double hookup at about 2:00 P.M. brought agreement between Paini and me that seven hours and several dozen impressive trout was enough action for any day. We reeled up and headed for the dock where cold beers and stories of the day were shared with our gracious host. The subject of missed work never came up.

Sheridan Lake is a splendid and well managed private fishery that is available by reservation only. You can contact the guys at TroutHunter for more information.