I’m just back from an outstanding back country trip to Heart Lake in Yellowstone Park. Heart is one of the largest back country lakes in the lower 48 states and is absolutely full of lake trout and cutthroat. The remote lake is about an eight mile hike from where you park the car. We trekked in while we had horses pack in our pontoon boats, tackle, tents and food. This is the best way to do the trip.
Our first full day of fishing was Thursday. Several of us were hot to dredge for lakers with flies. Lakers are a deep water char that many feel aren’t catchable with the fly. They are wrong. There are plenty of heavy flies out there to get you down deep and better yet, fly lines that will drop like an anchor. My line of choice was SA’s Streamer Express 300 grain. Not only does the line sink down about 20 feet or more on a cast if you wait of about ten seconds, but if you then feed the rest of the line out to the edge of your backing you will be down another 20 feet or more. Because it’s the heat of August, we actually caught most our lakers suspended 50-60 feet down.
The additional trick I use to get even deeper is to go with a level fluorocarbon leader. Because I’m talking level, you simply grab your spool of tippet and peel some off. I use 10 feet of SA’s 0X flouro and attach it off my Streamer Express line and tie on the heavy fly. I guarantee that at times my fly was down near 70 feet. Best of all, hungry lakers down 100 feet can see your fly above them and if they want the tasty morsel they’ll come and get it. You can count on it!
On day one I’ll bet I landed 25 solid lakers up to 7lbs. It was great fun; however, while I was cruising around in my pontoon boat stripping my laker flies deep, I couldn’t help but notice numerous rising cutthroats. Throughout the remainder of the trip I mixed my lake trout fishing with the pursuit of rising cuttys. The cuttys really didn’t get too active until about 10 AM. That’s when the callibaetis started to hatch. Then, by noon not only would there be the callibaetis, but usually there would be enough wind to knock flying ants in the water from the lodge pole pines. What I ended up doing was strapping down my 4-weight Ross RX rod early morning while I lake trout fished, then after watching the cuttys get comfortable rising around the lake for awhile, I’d break my 4-weight out. When low in the pontoon boat you can’t help but love a WF4F GPX Textured line to deliver the fly fast and delicately to these spooky fish.
Heart Lake is destination I always wanted to fish but even though it’s in my backyard I never made it there. Boy was that a mistake. Heart is a great fishery and a must for every serious fly fisher. I know I’ll be back there next summer!