Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Martis Lake Spring Outing

Martis Lake is always on my list of places to visit and fish after trout season opens. It is one of the few stillwaters that I consider a true fly fishing trout lake whereas it has all the optimal conditions to grow wild trout. The lake is weedy, shallow, has access to a spawning inlet, full of food, and is catch-and-release only.
With a long incoming storm front on its way this visit was most likely going to be my only fishing outing for a long time so I took advantage of it and decided to give Martis Lake a go for the first time this year.

Big Stillwater Browns

I'm currently super focused on learning how to successfully fish stillwaters both as a backup for when rivers and streams are high (as they are this year) and to become a better fly angler. Stillwater fly fishing is definitely a challenge but with great challenge comes great reward.

For this trip to Martis Lake I brought my inflatable kayak that I have been modifying for fly fishing. It's not the most comfortable vessel that I've fished from due to it being a bit cramped but it gets the job done and has caught me a lot of fish.

First Fish Of The Day

I knew the conditions were going to be good in the morning and then quickly deteriorate in the afternoon due to heavy winds so I arrived to the lake early. After setting up my kayak and both my rods I set off to the lake. The water temperature felt like fresh ice cold run-off which led me to think that stripping buggers weren't going to be super productive. I started of with my intermediate line and within about fifteen minutes I had my first grab. Thankfully the takes were not subtle and after releasing my first catch I landed my second soon after.

All of the fish I caught this trip were healthy brown trout. I sampled a few of them and found that they were eating damsels, midges, and snails. It was interesting to see so many damsels being eaten since they don't become truly active until the weather warms up.

When the streamer bite died down later in the morning I switched to a nymphing rig. I recently purchased a cheapo fish finder which helped me identify the depth in certain areas in addition to giving me a vague idea of fish in the area. I adjusted my rig accordingly and immediately started catching fish. I hooked and landed four beautiful browns before windy conditions kicked me off the lake. I can't wait to go back.

Looks Like It's Time To Leave


  1. Hello Matt,
    Thanks for your site. I appreciate it.
    What was the "cheapo fish finder" you bought and what do you think of it?
    The ONLY small craft fish finder that I hear good things about is the old B&W Hummingbird 120 that is no longer manufactured.
    Thanks again,
    Chris H
    Nevada City

    1. I'm pretty sure what I've been using isn't what you're looking for haha. I've been using a Lucky Handheld Fish Finder that I bought off Amazon. It's essentially a glorified depth finder. The fish on the display look like those old LCD handheld games. It can definitely detect fish but you can't tell if they are tiny or big.

    2. Thanks Matt,
      I'll check out the Lucky fish finder. It'll be a better depthfinder than using my anchor and rope.
      Everyone seemed to love the old B&W Hummingbird 120, and then they improved it to color, and now everyone complains that it goes thru batteries too quickly.

      And, I use a both kayak and a pontoon boat for fishing. I hate to fish out of my kayak.... too uncomfortable to sit there with my legs straight out. And it is maddening to be casting with your right hand and trying to control the boat with the left hand with the paddle. My Outcast pontoon is so much nicer, then again, there's no putting it in at the boat ramp and exploring Englebright on that pontoon. I think of my pontoon as having about 1 to 1.5 mile range.

      Thanks again for sharing what you know and for creating such an excellent website.
      We fish a lot of the same water.
      I'll keep my eyes out for you.
      Chris H

    3. The good ole anchor rope depth finder! Yeah the Lucky Fish Finder will most definitely be an upgrade.
      I agree on the uncomfortableness of the kayak for sure. My legs are put in all sorts of different position throughout the day to keep me from getting too cramped. I've looked into upgrades of kayaks with seats and ones where I can stand but my wife says I won't be getting one anytime soon. It's pretty hard to beat a $70 super portable space saving kayak though.
      It should be a fantastic season this year with all the water. Good luck and tight lines.