Author Topic: In Search of Goldens  (Read 10045 times)

wshawkins

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In Search of Goldens
« on: September 02, 2014, 08:10:27 AM »
In Search of Goldens



Golden Trout!  They say that golden trout only live in beautiful places.  Although there may be exceptions to this rule, I think we can all agree that this is overwhelmingly true for most golden trout in the High Sierra.  Golden trout have an intense natural beauty that outshines all other species of trout in the Sierra Nevada.  The feelings I derive from catching these beautiful fish make it worth the extra effort to hike, catch and admire these beauties.


I wonít name these lakes as not to cause a stampede and possibly overfish these gems.  Iím sure many here know where Iíve been and probably fished these waters too.  This particular trip was exceptional, as I usually only catch from 0 to 3 goldens each trip.  Yes, even I can and have got a skunk here!


It was with all this in mind that I embarked on my latest fishing trip searching for the elusive and fickle golden trout. My goal today was to try to land some large golden trout I know may exist in these waters.


Iíd always subscribed to the theory that spring is the best time of year to fish for goldens, especially before and after they spawn.  But on this trip I hit a cold spell with morning temperatures in the low 20ís and the highs in the low 50ís at best in the 11,000 feet elevation where I was heading.  Will the lakes be iced over?  Will the golden trout even be awake enough to take my offering?   This wouldnít be the first time I hiked a long distance to find my intended target lake or stream frozen over or the fish not interested in my offerings.

« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 09:56:25 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 08:13:05 AM »
There was some snow and ice on the trail today, and this made it very slippery hike.  Trekking Poles were a must in these conditions. 



Lake and snow view






Ice on trail





Trail to these Lakes are not maintained and sometime disappears at times, but if you follow the runoff you will have no problems finding the lakes.  Views from the trail can be just stunning!



View from Trail




View from trail

« Last Edit: September 08, 2014, 09:36:04 AM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2014, 08:15:56 AM »
Made it to the first lake and it was partially frozen, but still had plenty of open water to fish it.  I see fresh tracks in the snow so Iím not the first one here this spring, but nobodyís here today.  There are a series of about six lakes here, three that I know of that contain golden trout and maybe a forth that carry the elusive Golden Trout.



Partially frozen 1st lake





The Key to early spring fishing is not to go too early in the day as the fish wonít be feeding until the lake warms up a bit.  At least thatís true for me.  I see no fish rising or cruising when I first arrived.



1st Lake




I go ahead and have an early lunch and I slowly watch the lake come alive with fish rising.  The goldens can be fickle and spook easily if they see you, see movement or you make any noise.  Iím at or above tree level so you need to hide behind a large boulder or lay low when fishing.  Fish were actively cruising around the shallows as I was finishing my lunch. FISH ON!!!




Golden

« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 10:05:13 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2014, 08:18:15 AM »
30 minutes of hot fishing in the first lake and all of sudden it dies!  Itís like that in high elevation golden trout lakes.  I decide to head for the upper lakes and try my luck.  No tracks in the snow to the upper lakes so I might be the first one this season.  The lake is about half frozen over but thawing quickly in the afternoon warmth. 



I head over between two of the upper lakes and watch the golden trout spawning in the creek between them.  Always cool to watch them do their thing.  I never bother or fish near spawning fish, and you shouldnít either, as itís our future golden trout for tomorrow.



Spawning Golden Trout




I head to the other side of the lake and try my luck where there is deep water near a drop off.  Fishing was slow and then for no apparent reason, it was as if a switch had been flipped and suddenly fish began rising in much greater numbers.   It was fish on again!




Golden Trout




Golden Trout
« Last Edit: September 09, 2014, 09:57:16 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2014, 08:21:13 AM »
I typically experience 3 types of hits on this lake: really aggressive, a confident slow rise or a quick nip. This time they were mostly very aggressive takes that some really jarred me.  The bigger goldens took my 2 lb. line out for a few good runs.  Dry flies were most successful.  EH Caddis in dark colors was a good choice for me today.



Golden Trout





Golden Trout on ice





One of the larger goldens Iíve caught here, at well over 2 lbs.  I never dreamed they were this big here.  My best ever at these lakes!



Largest Golden Trout




Weíll you get the point, fishing was great!  First time I ever caught so many golden trout and large ones at that.  This is not typical of this lake, but I never fished it this early in the season.  The goldens I pulled in were from 9Ē to 18Ē in size with double digit totals caught in about 3 hours of fishing.  Thatís great fishing for these lakes.



The fish would hit my chosen fly that floated or moved above them, so I enjoyed a frenzied bout of fishing for the beautiful bright goldens as they smashed my fly indiscriminately and tore around the lake.  It was certainly an unexpected but welcome surprise in this pristine High Sierra Lakes.


"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2014, 08:23:55 AM »
I had the lakes to myself, which didnít surprise me too much, being here this early in the season.  Thatís the way I like it because the fish were real hungry and aggressive on this trip.  I did run into four young men earlier in the morning who were heading up to climb one of the peaks.  It was still freezing temperatures and these guys were in shorts!  I was kind of concerned for them as there was quite a bit of ice everywhere.  I took their picture with their intended peak in the background, and heard them later yelling as I was fishing later that day.  Sounded like they were celebrating, so no problems.



Early spring fishing means early sunsets and leaving the lake earlier than one might prefer. I had no time left if I was going to make the snowy, icy hike back to my truck before it becomes dark.



Snow and ice on hike back to trailhead




The temperature really dropped as soon as the sun went behind the mountain.  It was already a chilly day, never seeing the temperature north of 45*F.  Any softening of the snow during the day turned to ice on the trail back to my truck.



View from trail




I mostly C&R, but I do keep some occasionally.  I did keep two goldens for dinner that night, but I only kept the two smaller 12Ē goldens and released the many bigger and some smaller trout I hooked into that day.  That fishery is very healthy, with fat to almost obese looking Golden trout.  Golden trout is the best tasting trout, with almost a buttery taste to the meat.



Fried Golden Trout, campfire style!





"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Jmcclure83

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2014, 11:23:49 AM »
 :clap:
Great report. Thank you. 

Sierraslam

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2014, 12:50:34 PM »
wow! That's one heck of day fishing for Golden's! I got the darn skunk last trip up that way. I'm going to give it one more try in a couple weeks. awesome pictures!

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2014, 03:01:03 PM »
The time before fishing at these lakes I was skunked.  Only had one bite with about 3 hrs. fishing.  I was half dosing in the warm sun when the trout struck, almost dropped my pole.  Yeah, these lakes can be tough and this trip was not the usually. :fishing3:
"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: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2014, 12:23:27 AM »
Looks like an outstanding trip. Those are some beautiful goldens that anyone would be thrilled to catch. I hate walking on ice and frozen snow. It's way to easy to land on your butt or even worse slip down a mountain side.

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2014, 07:04:54 AM »
Yeah, I hate walking on ice and snow too.  Even though I was careful, I still slipped some and almost fell twice on that day.  I took it slower than normal that day. :hiking2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

saudust

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2014, 08:39:53 AM »
whawkins, I don't know where you went, but the hike looked tough.  Slippery footholds and bad knees don't mix.  Are there reasonable hikes, say the 20 Lakes Basin, that my wife and I could enjoy and still have fishing time for goldens on a day hike (starting early, ending late) when we go in early October?

Those campfire goldens are GREAT!  Thanks for the TR.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2014, 12:55:08 PM »
Not a hike for bad knees Saudust.  This hike includes some steep solid granite off-trail or no trail hiking (cross-country).  No way to get around it.  I would save this for your "Bucket List" once you get your new knees working good.  It will be worth the wait. :hiking2:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2014, 03:37:24 PM »
Saudust, PM sent....ÖÖ   :fishing3:
"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: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2014, 11:44:32 AM »
great report and pictures wshawkins

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2014, 06:24:46 AM »
Thanks ab-sn, it was an epic fishing day for me! :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

fish4gold

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2015, 12:09:13 PM »
WOW! Epic is what I would say!!!!to do this on a day hike is fantastic!!!! If these are the lakes I am thinking of, you laid down some miles. Congratulations on such a beautiful golden!!!

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2015, 01:39:41 PM »
Been up them lakes maybe a dozen times over the years and been lucky to maybe catch 1-3 per trip, but this trip the lake just opened up like I never saw it do before.  It was late in the season and maybe they wanted one last meal, or the fish gods took pity of me.   ;D
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

saudust

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2015, 05:40:28 AM »
wshawkins, now that this thread came up again I wanted to thank you for the PM last September.  We did make the hike, although it was a very late start and fishing time was nill.  Still, the incredible scenery and the back drop to the lakes was so intense I have it on my list to go back again.  My wife chooses to not try it again, but being the trooper she followed me in October.  Funny now that I saw one of your pictures looking back toward the first lake I recognized the rock in the lower right foreground.  We had huddled down there for some wind protection that late afternoon.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: In Search of Goldens
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2015, 07:02:25 AM »
If it makes you feel any better, I was skunked the first time there  too! :fishing3:  But I did get a bite or two and saw a couple of cruisers, so I knew the golden's were there.  It was so beautiful there I didn't really care and I knew I'll be  back.  Maybe next time head up a little earlier.  Some wind is good but too much is bad!  Good Luck!
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."