Lake McCumber fishing well with Midges, Damsels, Callibaetis and… Hex?
Well, we didn’t actually see any Hex hatching, but I’ll get to that in a bit. While the fishing was solid we had to shift tactics and location periodically to keep pace with the whims of the trout. Small dark green and black #18 midge pupae were the ticket to start off with. Dropped 18″ behind a Damsel fly nymph and retrieved in quick 2-3″ strips with intermittent pauses kept us in solid action for the majority of the morning. After lunch the day turned a bit windy and it became increasingly difficult to see and target the channels and holes in the weeds that contained most of the fish. However, while the wind took away one option it presented us with an alternative. All day we had noticed adult Damselflies flying around about their business and occasionally ending up in the water where we would notice a fish, usually small, take a slash at it. However with the increased and gusting wind more blue Damsels were getting stuck in the surface film causing more and larger fish to start feeding on the surface.
The excitement of recognizing what was happening and how we could catch these fish was immediately countered by the realization that while we were well prepared with an assortment of damsel fly nymphs neither of us had any dries. After scouring our boxes and gear in vain the closest thing we could produce were some Hex flies for Lake Almanor and Fall River. These big, slender bodied, bright yellow mayflies required some imagination to confuse with a Damsel, but were our only option. Magically, with a rather sly grin my fishing partner, Chris Haedrich, produced a blue marking pen from the near-forgotten depths of his fly vest. how he managed to foresee an event where a blue pen could possibly be necessary for trout fishing I didn’t ask, as I eagerly reached for it. We quickly colored up a few flies and began targeting rising fish.
While we got some refusals with our poorly disguised Hex flies, we were getting into enough fish to call our experiment a success. After landing and releasing numerous 10-16″ rainbows Chris hooked a fish that immediately turned and headed for the safety of the deeper weeds. After some careful handling the trout flopped momentarily at the surface and we got our first glimpse of the 22″ Brown. After an exciting give and take battle the fish, along with a hefty mess of Lake McCumber weeds were landed.
If you get the chance to give McCumber a shot anytime soon make sure to bring #18 green and black Midge pupae, #14 Callibaetis nymphs and dries, #10-12 Damsel nymphs and of course some blue Damsel dries, or at the very least some Hex flies and a buddy with a blue permanent marker. Most of the fish produced were in the old stream channel which runs a little more along the eastern side of the lake than right down the middle.