FANTASTIC STILLWATER FLY FISHING
AT A NEW FISHERY KNOWN AS LAGO FIG
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to fish a small lake located 45 miles North of Santa Barbara. The fishery is fairly new, in only the second year of existence, and is located in the rolling hills above a little town in California’s wine country called Los Olivos. What the lake itself lacks in size is made up for very quickly by the size of the rainbow trout it holds. On this trip the fish caught averaged about 17″, with many fish in the 20″ inch range. My first fish to the net while fishing intermediate sinking line and a black and red leech pattern was a whooping 22″ and well into the 5 pound range.
This adventure started on a Saturday morning in a parking lot at a country store in Los Olivos. I was there to meet Ken Lindsay, the owner of the fly fishing store called “The Fisherman’s Spot” located in Van Nuys. This is one of the best fly fishing stores I have seen and you should take advantage and visit this store in the near future. Ken and I were to meet one of his store’s customers and brain child of Lago Fig’s existence, Lake Manager, and local ranch owner Rick Paaske. From there we were escorted only five minutes away to his beautiful ranch nestled in the foothills outside of town where I was pleasantly surprised at my first glance at this beautiful little Stillwater fishery settled in a small steep canyon surrounded by green grass, beautiful oak trees.
As we all parked – there were 6 anglers in our group – I popped out of my truck and unloaded my gear very quickly. Ken said, “Slow down Ernie”, to which I replied “You know me better than that and how passionate I am about my Stillwater fly fishing”. I was quickly in the water with four rods in hand on board of my super fat cat pontoon , one intermediate line, one sinking line type 4, one floating line for indicator fishing and on other indicator rod for deep water indicator fishing with a sliding indicator for water over 15 feet deep. As I kicked away I could hear the anglers ask, “Wow, who is this guy?”, a question I would hear a few more times throughout the day as the fishing became better and better using midges under an indicator. As I kicked away stripping line off of my intermediate line rod I was surprised to see just 30 feet or so off the shore line the water was well over 15 feet and dropping fast into the 20 to 25 foot depths. Wow, I said to myself, I will have to let this intermediate sink for a while to get down closer to the bottom so I slowed my kicking down to a crawl and casted out 60 feet of line. No more than 2 minutes later my rod loaded up and I was on a nice fish and as quickly as the fish loaded the rod the fish disappeared back into the depths. I was not disappointed, not by a long shot. Success so soon was more than I could have asked for.
I continued down the shore line, trying to stay somewhere inside of the 15 foot range and was heading for a very small cove that I had seen on an aerial view of this tiny Stillwater. This area had looked very, very fishy to me if you know what I mean? As I approached the area my rod loaded up again, I could feel the head shake of a very nice fish and line screamed from my reel. “Are you kidding me?” I asked out loud as the fish screamed away from my tube. “This fish is very hot fish” I screamed again! But there was no one else in the water yet to hear me. After a few minutes of battling I landed a beautiful 22″ rainbow and was of course very pleased and pleasantly surprised. I was warned that there were fish in this lake well into the 26″ range, and of course seeing is believing. I made 10 more passes in this area and hooked 7 fish and landed 5 of them. These fish were not the same caliber of fish, but well into the 18″ to 20″ range and beautiful specimens. I decided to anchor up in this area and do what I do best, indicator fish with midges. I anchored in 16 feet of water according to my meter and set the depth for my midge to be one foot off of the bottom. On my first cast, about 90 seconds after the fly made it to its 15 foot depth my indicator dipped and I had my first take. SWING and a miss. ”What, you have to be kidding me”, I blurted out. I do tend to talk to myself out on the water and anyone who has fished with me can attest to this. My second cast was the same result, SWING and a miss! The third, fourth, and fifth casts all with the same results, SWING and a miss!
Now of course the talking to myself become a full blown conversation and the other float tubers in my group were finally in my area and were asking me, are you talking to yourself? I said yes I do this allot and it won’t be the only time today this will happen. They laughed and moved down the lake. Still talking out load I said, “I got this figured out, don’t even worry about it”, as I pulled up my fly line to adjust my depth from the bottom of the lake. I have in the past learned a lesson regarding missing many fish in a row on the indicator and the midge fishing style I would like to share with you. When you continue to miss takes, the fish are higher in the water column from where you’re fishing your bug and they are taking the top fly. This fly of course has leader on top and the bottom and doesn’t allow the fly to enter the fish’s mouth correctly. This is why you will miss many fish so move the bottom fly up to where the top fly is in the water column by moving your indicator to pull the bottom fly from one foot off the bottom to 3 feet off the bottom. Immediately after I made this change I began to hook fish after fish. The bite was as good as it could get, no more than 2 to 3 minutes and you would have a take-down and hook another fish. I stayed anchored in the same spot until noon and landed 34 fish to the net and lost more than dozen before they made it to the net. The bite there reminded me of Crowley Lake.
Every time one of the other anglers on the lake would kick by they would say,”Wow, you are really doing well”, and I would reply, “Do you have any floating line? I would be more than happy to set you up and you can fish next to me”. Every angler replied they only had sinking lines. I will be willing to bet the next time they come out they will have one floating and one sinking. You must always be prepared for this when you are fishing still waters or moving waters.
It was noon so I headed back and had a quick lunch. On my way back out I decided to kick down to the same area and fish from shore. It was very steep but I dug out an area with my foot and stayed on the shore not moving my feet until 5pm when I left and had landed another 34 fish. A roll cast of 40 to 50 feet was all you needed to get to the proper depth in the 15 to 16 foot range.
In the afternoon Rick Paaske came down and watched me fished from the shoreline. We had a very good conversation about the bugs and fish in the lake. These fish are feeding on midges as their main diet along with some baby bluegill fry and a very nice damsel hatch that comes off the lake in the spring! The lake is about 7 acres and can comfortably hold 6 to 8 anglers at a time for a day long fishing adventure. The rod fee is $75.00 per person and you can fish until it gets dark. This would be a great opportunity for a club outing or get together for some training on Stillwater tactics. Everyone on the lake caught fish well into the double digits no matter what technique they were using that day, and had the opportunity to catch fish of great quality and size.
Go on Facebook and type in the name “Lago Fig” to see more pictures of this lake and just how beautiful it really is. You can also contact Rick Paaske at (805)705-4005 for reservations or Ken Lindsay at the “Fisherman’s Spot” at (818)785-7306. Take advantage of this fantastic fishery and make a weekend out of your stay in the surrounding wine country. You could even visit Solvang, which is a beautiful little Danish town.
If you have any questions for me please contact me at (909)953-1770 or visit my blog post for more details on “Lago Fig” and other great Stillwater fly fishing destinations.