Pumped for Kamloops trout

March 6, 2012

By Dallas Cross

Getting away to Lake HiHium in British Columbia to fly-fish for Kamloops trout the last week in June was an annual event.

Dallas Cross

As many as a dozen guys would plan the trip. Some were fly-fishing scientists from Georgia and as far away as Australia.

We would rendezvous at a home in the Seattle area to consolidate transportation and load food and gear. From there, we carpooled using the vehicles that could haul the most. One time, we needed a heavy hauler so I volunteered to drive my father’s travel-worn International Travelall. He agreed I could borrow it and assured me that his trusted mechanic had just given an OK to the Travelall’s mechanical health, after installing a new water pump.

Two, four-wheeled trucks transported us from the host Circle W Ranch in B.C. up the foothills to the lake’s boat ramp. From there, we boated to the isolated cabin-bunkhouse in prams having rug-covered, flat bottoms to accommodate fly casters.

There are three schools of thought and corresponding methodologies for catching the high jumping Kamloops trout in Lake HiHium. Most popular is drifting with the wind while trailing a long fly line. The fly should be fished deep enough to just skim over the top of moss beds. Different color variations of an old standard fly, the Carey Special, works well. Wind drifting suits novice fly-fishermen because it does not require accomplished casting. It is a bountiful method to use in the winds that accompany mountain rain squalls.

The second method is more-or-less still fishing with a fly. From a slowly drifting or anchored boat, simply let a sinking fly line take a scud or chronomid pupa imitation straight down to just quietly hang there. Afterward, engage yourself in cloud watching, buddy conversation and enjoyment of beer until a dramatic tug suddenly returns you to the task at hand.

Fishing at the onset of darkness is a variation on this. Cast a large, black marabou, leech-imitating fly into shallow water and barely, and infrequently, twitch it. The bigger trout are most responsive to this method.

The third method is dry fly-casting. It consists of long casts and slow retrievals of small, floating flies. The flies should imitate the local hatches of chronomid flies, flying ants or the caddis fly — either just emerging from the water or returning to lay eggs. These are the times when you want your buddy to take your photo for the scrapbook, rather than when you appear to be still fishing with worms.

After five days of fishing, we loaded our bundles of freshly alder-smoked trout along with our gear and started the drive back to Seattle. Several of the party were in a hurry and had plane reservations to meet. One of these guys was my companion in my father’s Travelall.

Midway between Merritt and Hope on lonesome Canada Highway 5, the engine temperature gauge went hot and steam fumed out of the engine compartment. The water pump had failed. We were the last vehicle in our caravan, so no one stopped to help. After a call from the tollbooth, to which I hitch hiked, we were towed to Hope. There the mechanic said it would be a couple of days before a replacement pump could arrive by bus from Vancouver. My companion got on the next bus, fearing he would miss his flight. I was left alone in Hope. I found a motel and awaited the arrival and installation of the pump while seeking something interesting to bide my time for two days.

The graffiti in the restaurant restroom stated what my expectations should be. It exclaimed, “This place is Hope-less.” The next morning I found a delightful bakery shop with good coffee and I chatted with two schoolteachers from Minnesota who were backpacking through. I negotiated with them to trade sneak showers in my motel room for a cinnamon roll. The next evening I attended a bingo game at the community hall. After tutoring from amused First Nations Women Elders on the rapid use of a dauber marker, the bingo evening went by pleasantly but unprofitably.

The first night in Hope I called my wife who was staying at my father’s home in Sequim awaiting my return of the Travelall. I explained my delay and need to wait for the water pump. When I finally rejoined her she repeated to me an exclamation from my father’s African gray parrot after she said “water pump” in a subsequent conversation. The parrot had the amazing ability to mimic entire sentences of phone conversation in the voice of the speaker. In my father’s voice, the parrot recited to my wife, “Aaawk. Hell no! I don’t want you to replace the belt pulley. It won’t burn out the new water pump!”

Reach Dallas Cross at FishJournal@aol.com or www.fishjournal.com. View previous articles and comment on this column at www.issaquahpress.com.

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