The View From Wantastiquet Lake, Vermont

The View from Wantastiquet Lake, Vermont, is something that I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy on two occasions during the last eight months. My friend, Quill Gordon, the caretaker at The Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club near Weston,Vermont, has a blog titled The View From Fish in a Barrel Pond. It’s on my blog list on the right, but also here:  The View… is always good reading; often humorous, sometimes side-splitting funny, usually entertaining, always interesting, and contains various insights covering a multitude of the aspects of a remote camp caretaker’s interactions with humans / local government / anglers / responsibilities / sporting camp visitors / nature / and trout. It is well worth checking out, perhaps even posting it to your favorites. In addition to today’s post on The View…, if you need your spirits lifted, check out; “Quill Gordon and the Nonesuch Mountain Howler.”

If you do, better pee first, you may just wet your pants laughing. It’s very much akin to a Pat McManus outdoor tale.

Yesterday Quill wrote a post that at first I thought was all about bugs. In large part it was, but not entirely. He has some really great macro images of a “hex” dun (Hexagenia limbata mayfly), moths, damsel flies, etc. Here’s my favorite bug photo:

Luna Moth Convention near Weston, Vermont, at a camp on The Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club, where I recently visited. If you’ve never seen a Luna Moth, these things have a wingspan of four inches. “Quill Gordon” photo.

I have only ever seen two or three Luna Moths in my entire life, and one of these was on June 12th at the camp in Vermont.

I visited the Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club a couple weeks ago as a guest of Steve, Dick, and Bill, mentioned in Quill’s post. I had a great time, caught lots of trout, most all on drys, some on buggers, and two nice rainbows on a Trout Fin wet fly. I need to load and post my photos and my own report of that trip. But these pictures and the following text were taken from Quill’s post. I thought you would find them enjoyable.

“I admit it would have to be a pretty special set of circumstances for some of those big moths or their caterpillars to wind up in the water, but you can bet a trout would eat them if they did. Mayflies and damselflies, on the other hand, are eaten by fish at all stages in their lives and one of the most challenging aspects of fly fishing is coming up with a suitable imitation. I am not a rotten fly tier (“tier” vs. “tyer”; discuss below) but, while I may play around and try a few new patterns over the winter, I certainly don’t sit down and whip off a few dozen of anything, even if it is claimed the trout will eat them “like candy”. Of course, what we anglers present is more like the Halloween candy they warned us about when we were kids — the kind with a razor blade in it — but we anglers don’t like thinking about that, do we?  I’m the kind of guy more likely to gaze at the water in late afternoon, take a guess, and tie up three or four flies I think might work that evening. If I’m lucky I’ll finish before dark and actually get on the water with my concoctions. If I’m really lucky, someone else will sit down and tie some flies for me.”

“A couple of weeks ago that someone was Don Bastian. Don has fished here before and knows my super-secret true identity. He is also a good sport, taking a good-natured ribbing as well as anyone I’ve met and, as it turns out, he is also a pretty good angler. Don and I shared a boat one evening last week, fishing a yellow drake hatch that came off just as nicely as a hatch can on these waters, using a couple of extended-body patterns Don tied before we went out. The fish were feeding close to the bank and we each hooked up on nearly every cast. Bird song and the sound of slurping trout filled the air as we drifted along the shore in the fading light until only a thrush remained, serenading us from fifty feet away. Eventually, even the thrush went to bed and, as the other boats headed in, I lost my fly and reeled up my line but Don kept right on fishing. I have a feeling that if the hatch hadn’t shut down and full-on dark set in we’d still be out there now.”

Quill, I only stopped fishing because I was a guest and everyone else was done for the night. I wanted to “fit-in.” :mrgreen: I remember that night, so many trout! My favorite was when we both saw those two rises, two fish feeding close together, you made your cast, I was mid-cast in a different direction and instantly changed my angle of stroke to punch my Yellow Drake Dun pattern six feet from yours. It was classic! A second apart, slurp, slurp, two trout took both our flies for a double hook-up.

The song of that hermit thrush was especially memorable, so close to us, the sound of its ethereal voice echoing eerily through the otherwise silent stillness of the deepening gloom of night. Thank you for sharing that evening with me.

After the evening fishing, I was tying (using head cement) at the station shown below until about eleven PM.

My screen porch tying station, June 2012 at Wantastiquet Lake. First time in my life that I ever tied on a screen porch. Lovely! I had set this up on my arrival Monday afternoon, and tied up ten Extended-body Yellow Drakes before the evening fishing. Five of each, parachutes and spinners, so that everyone would have two flies to fish with. In fact, one of them is still in the jaws of my vise. Quill Gordon photo, used without permission. 😉

“Above: A well-stocked fly tying station in late afternoon on the porch of a camp, complete with vise, light, bobbins, thread, tinsel, scissors, etc. I have no idea how that beer got in there, but the Mason jar contained weapons-grade head cement thinner which just happened to be blackberry flavored in case someone got thirsty (we did). In the foreground is a full beaver pelt with enough fur to dub hundreds and hundreds of flies. I’m still learning about natural fur dubbing so I asked Don if he could do anything with it. In mere minutes, Don had half a dozen nymphs ready to go.”

I can explain the beer bottle; it’s pretty simple: I was drinking it. And the beaver pelt will dub thousands and thousands of flies.

My “Flying Bobbin.” I was using the full beaver pelt from an animal trapped on the lake this past winter by Quill to tie some Black Drake nymphs, and a few other creations. Quill Gordon photo.

Beaver fur nymphs. I tied these except for the one at lower left. Not sure how that one slipped in there. Perhaps Quill applied a little too much of the blackberry-flavored head cement thinner. The one at lower right employed the use of beaver fur in a split-thread dubbing loop. Quill caught a couple trout on that one. It’s entirely beaver fur, tail of guard hairs, abdomen and thorax – beaver fur. Quill Gordon photo.

Application of some of the weapons-grade head cement thinner described above “enhanced” the tying of these nymphs.

Extended-body Yellow Drake Parachute Dun, Ephemera varia imitation. Pattern design concept, tied by, and photographed by Don Bastian. This dun pattern and a spinner were part of a batch of ten that I tied on the afternoon after my arrival at the Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club. They worked very well. Everyone caught trout on them. They held up remarkably well to more than ten-twelve or more trout per fly; I was nearing 20 myself. I finally lost my parachute pattern in a fish that was deeply hooked, and the spinner took over where the parachute left off. I’ll make a separate post of this fly and the recipe.

On my way back to Pennsylvania on June 13th, I had the opportunity to examine and photograph a Yellow Drake Dun in Ulster, Pennsylvania, about 11:30 PM. It was resting on a support post at a mini-mart when I stopped for gas. Since seeing that fly, I changed the brown thread rib on my pattern to yellow, because Yellow Drakes don’t have brown ribs, but they do have brown mottled markings on top of their abdomen. I have figured a way to incorporate these alterations into a more accurate representation, not that I needed to do that after the phenomenal success we all had with the patterns on The Lake, but the result is that this pattern, a prototype, has been improved. I’ll make a separate post of this prototype, the new fly, and the real one soon.

“I had a blast hanging out with Don (and Steve and Dick and Bill, who I see on a regular basis) and, even though his bobbin moves so fast it’s a blur, I picked up a few tricks and a lot of fly tying inspiration while Don was here.”

Be sure to visit The View…you’ll be glad you did.

7 comments on “The View From Wantastiquet Lake, Vermont

  1. Dan Glover says:


    I haven’t ever seen more than one Luna at one time and only about that many in my life also. A Luna Hatch. Maybe you could tie a Luna (full size) and post a photo. Ha, ha!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Dan;
      Thanks for your comment! Tying a Luna Moth pattern is a realm for the realistic tiers, but not this boy. Quill spoke of seeing more than a hundred Luna’s at one time…apparently he lives in a area that had good numbers of them. That would be quite a sight to see. Thanks again for your comment!

  2. Terry Chapman says:

    I like the story about the double hook-up.

  3. Quill Gordon says:

    Your heroic change of direction cast and the two hookups close together was a highlight, for sure, and you sure make the evening thrush serenade sound romantic …

    You’ll have to come back some time soon, but not tonight. Won’t be anything going on except a hex hatch beneath the full moon. I’ll go out and suffer through it but I just don’t know if you would like that sort of thing.

    • Don Bastian says:

      Do I detect a hint of friendly sarcasm in your comment? Perhaps a stab at tongue-in-cheek humor is a fairer assessment.
      In the boat with you, the hermit thrush was calming, peaceful, melodic, almost magical, but not romantic. At least that was far from my mind as I, excuse me, we, caught all those trout. Had my boat mate of the evening been Mistress Quill Gordon, instead of Mr. Quill Gordon, then perhaps the serenade of the thrush might have enhanced the possibility (opportunity?) for later on that night, along with maybe, the soothing effects of the influence of just a touch of your weapons grade blackberry-flavored head cement thinner. But there would have been no chance for any of those possibilities/opportunities until the trout stopped rising.
      As far as being there to take advantage of a Hex hatch under a full moon, I could make it in about 5-1/2 hours. I have some fireworks I can bring, nothing huge though. But I do still have my old home-made black powder cannon that puts a quarter-stick to shame. Depending on how heavy the powder charge is…
      Thanks for your comment about my heroic change-of-direction cast. And thanks for your comment! Happy Fourth of July!
      (PS: Aren’t there a lot of tourists, er, um, I mean, members at the club right now?)

  4. […] These Yellow Drake patterns were tied on the spot at Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club in Vermont last June. I arrived for the trip of a few days and the Yellow Drakes were hatching. It’s an evening hatch and I got there early afternoon, so I sat on the porch of the cabin and cranked out a dozen of these for five anglers to use that evening. They worked like a charm! See also: […]

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