Author Topic: McLeod Lake  (Read 13587 times)

wshawkins

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McLeod Lake
« on: September 17, 2012, 09:53:27 AM »
McLeod Lake



McLeod Lake (also known as McCloud Lake) is a small alpine lake that is the only Lahontan Cutthroat trout water in the Mammoth Lakes Basin area and is a short 15-20 minute (half mile) hike from the Mammoth Pass Trail.  Located in a wilderness setting and surrounded by Lodgepole Pine forest, it is one beautiful lake and should be not missed!  If you’re a lowlander like me, this is an excellent lake for your first hike as you acclimate to the higher elevation.  This is a special regulations lake with only artificial lures, with barbless hooks and a daily Bag and Possession Limited of 0.



Trailhead



Dead Forest



Looking back to the parking lot





The trail begins at Horseshoe Lake parking area, which passes through a “dead forest of trees”; where 120 acres of trees have died off a few years back with a period of increased CO2 gas emission from volcanic activity underground.  There are danger signs posted all over the lake trailhead parking area so be aware of this.  The danger to people is that the gas, carbon dioxide, is heavier than air and collects in depressions or low areas.  So, I would suggest no napping in this area.  Children and pets should also be monitored.  I did see some re-growth in the area, so maybe this period is ending.  The trail takes off and climbs about three hundred feet to an elevation above 9000 ft. through a lodgepole pine forest to the outlet of McLeod Lake.  So those not acclimatized could feel somewhat winded.  When you first reach the lake at the outlet, the sandy white shoreline and the beautiful crystal clear water are a sight to behold!  The lake has a turquoise color to it, almost like glacier water.  This beautiful lake is nestled right under the Mammoth Crest.



Trail to McLeod Lake



First look at McLeod Lake at outlet



Mammoth Crest





McLeod Lake is popular for families with kids and dogs.  And they were in droves this pleasant day.  Labor Day weekend is perhaps not the best time to go to this lake for reflection and fishing!  But I had no choice as I’m a working stiff and have to take my fishing days as best I can.  I seemed to be a magnet for the kids and dogs and parents this day as most did not know there were any fish in this lake.  The men were the most interested if I was having any fishing success.  If I had a nickel for every time one of the men asked me how the fishing was and then said I wished I brought my pole, I’d be rich!  I’m sure you all experienced that.  But they were respectful bunch and kept their dogs and kids from swimming too close to me. 



McLeod Lake





You can easily fish this 11 acres lake in no time as you have excellent access all around the lake.  A quick jaunt around the lake will add maybe two-thirds of a mile to your hike.  When I first started fishing, I did not see any rising fish or fish activity and was concerned.  I fished mostly at the south end of the lake where the deep water drops off about 10 yards out.  It was easy “matching the hatch” for this lake as swarms of “black gnats” descended upon me throughout the day.



McLeod Lake looking north




In no time at all I was hooking and landing the coveted Cutthroat Trout.  The fish were ranging from 8” to 12”, with about 10” being the average size fish caught for me on this beautiful fishing day at McLeod Lake.  This is not a fish per cast lake, you will need to do some work to catch these Cutthroats, but they are there!  All the Cutthroat Trout were safely released back into the lake.





Cutthroat Trout




Cutthroat Trout



Cutthroat Trout





This lake has a lot of history for me.  It is the first lake I hike to with my parents when I was a small lad of just 5 years old.  My mom would feed me raisins to get me up to the lake.  Fish seemed bigger then also.  Back then we called this lake McCloud Lake.  Even shows as McCloud Lake on my older maps, but newer maps are naming this lake McLeod Lake!  Not sure when the name change happened, but whatever the real name of this lake, it’s worth a stop just to catch some Lahontan Cutthroat!






« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 08:13:45 AM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Gary C.

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 11:52:54 AM »
What a great lake for a day hike. I'll have to remember it when I'm up that way. Thanks for the report and pictures.

fishpole

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 03:41:40 PM »
wshawkins, great report and pictures. Looks like you had a fun, easy trip. Thanks for sharing with us.  :clap:  :clap:

John Harper

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2012, 07:12:56 AM »
One of the first "backcountry" lakes I visited as well.  Athough, I came back with a skunk, not pictures of beautiful fish.  I recall it being a very scenic location.

I'm guessing you waded out a bit?  We fished the far side (away from the dogs), but it was very shallow going pretty far out.  Did see a couple rises, so I know there were fish, we just didn't get to them.

John

wshawkins

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2012, 08:35:24 AM »
When I first came up to the lake, it looked dead.  Early morning with no wind with no rises seen.  There was no inlet or outlet (dry) and the lake was down quite a bit with the drought.  Your right, I did wade out a bit in this Lake.

It was mid-morning before I had any action and started to see any fish feeding.  Caught 6 fish in about 4 hours of fishing and plus lost one at shore and had a few bites.  Not sure how this rates with others, but I was happy.  Don’t see many reports from this lake.  3 different flies were successful for me that day.

When I went here with my family as a kid, this was a catch and keep the fish lake.  Don’t know when it went special regulation, C&R and barbless?  Anybody know approximately when that happened?
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

teejay

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 05:24:50 PM »
 Not sure when the special regs were first initiated Hawkins but I’m sure that it has been that way for at least 13 years..
They are certainly beautiful trout. Thanks for sharing your experience.

wshawkins

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2013, 07:45:25 AM »
Found the date when this special fishery solely for Lahontan Cutthroat trout went to barbless-hook and zero-limit regulations.  1984.  They did a study the year before (Martis Project) by Cal Trout that DFG determined the Cutthroats were endangered and needed protection.

Fished this fishery many times before that date with my family and was always a great place to catch your dinner!  I have photos far back as when I was five years old hiking up this trail and fishing this lake.  Great memories!  Anyway, 1984 was the year it went catch-and-release.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

bj

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2013, 08:40:38 AM »
I was with my grandfather in n the late 40's when he caught a 4 pounder here. Not sure there were cutts there at that time.
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SN

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2013, 10:08:15 AM »
great report and pictures.
 

wshawkins

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2013, 12:41:29 PM »
I fished McLeod in the 60’s and 70’s as a kid, so don’t remember if they were bows or cuts back then either?  My dad took lots of pictures of our stringers full of fish from the lake, so I should be able to identify what species of fish was there I believe.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

charlie

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 06:51:11 PM »
WS, thanks for the thread. I've had 2 trips to Pyramid Lake to chase Lahontans  that have been blown out- once by blizzard-once by  60+wind-really hurts when you've traveled all the way from the east coast. My wife does NOT like me to mention that name.... :lol2:
I've thought about going in to McLeod as it's the best chance I've got at a Lahontan.  Gotta put it on the must do list.

Charlie
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 06:52:47 PM by charlie »

wshawkins

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2013, 07:47:59 AM »
Don't limit yourself to only McLeod Lake for Lahontan Cutthroat!  I can think of four locations on the tip of my head that are closer to Rock Creek Canyon area than McLeod Lake, more if you want to travel a Little further.

If you do go, try to hit it off-season when its less crowded.
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

SN

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2013, 11:27:49 AM »
Charlie

Pyramid is tricky and there are specific times of the year to avoid it.
sorry both of your trips were blown out.
third time maybe the charm if the wife agrees.

stanbery

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 12:48:00 AM »
Very nice trip report. I haver not been to that lake in years and the pictures were just great.
WS, thanks for the thread. I've had 2 trips to Pyramid Lake to chase Lahontans  that have been blown out- once by blizzard-once by  60+wind-really hurts when you've traveled all the way from the east coast. My wife does NOT like me to mention that name.... :lol2:
I've thought about going in to McLeod as it's the best chance I've got at a Lahontan.  Gotta put it on the must do list.

Charlie

Charlie
The next time you come out this get ahold of Randy and ask him for my cell phone # and I will be able to give you some more info for places to catch some cutts like this one.




Jon

wshawkins

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2013, 08:06:01 AM »
That looks like that special lake up north, well worth the hike in.  I landed a 20" Cutt last season, but yours looks 24-26" at least!  Has some nice fat brookies in that lake too.  Nicely done Jon!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

charlie

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2013, 08:38:52 AM »
Gorgeous , Mr.  Stanberry!  :clap:  I've admired tons of your fish pics.  Sept. will be our next trip out .Backpacking down to  the Kern with Rich Cullip the first part of the trip.   I've already told Randy I wanted to get together with him, maybe I can tweak him away from carp and get him to chase those.  I have a clue which lake  that is already , but I sure won't say where there may be lurkers!  It's usually only salt and warm water that gives up fish for me that  are bigger than my stripping apron.  Thank you, and I'll look forward to talking to you.    I'm leaving  on a trip tomorrow to swing big flies for spring steel; I'll post a report and pics  in the section that covers trips to other regions.

Charlie

stanbery

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2013, 01:20:55 AM »
Charlie

Make it LATE Sept and i will see if I can make it when your are in town.

And as you well know Carp fishing is a blast.

Now if we could just get Randy on the east side that would be great.
Jon

charlie

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2013, 11:04:09 AM »
Jon, that would be absolutely  great. Richard wanted to go a little later than earlier, so that may work out perfectly.  I'll be in touch!

Charlie

incrediblehuck

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Re: McLeod Lake
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2013, 02:29:05 PM »
Charlie

Make it LATE Sept and i will see if I can make it when your are in town.

And as you well know Carp fishing is a blast.

Now if we could just get Randy on the east side that would be great.
Jon

Hey thats right around my Birthday!  Late September.  If it's the lake im thinking of, we are planning to do it in fall as well.