Oh man, I cannot believe I am just now seeing this thread. Backpacking into the high lakes of the Rockies (and especially the Winds) is my passion. Your pictures are each worth a thousand words. You got mad photo skills. Congrats on nailing some fine goldens. When it comes to fly fishing the backcountry of the Rockies, the golden trout is the coup de grace. The golden ones are no doubt the finest fighters. I don't have tons of time successfully fishing for goldens but it doesn't take long for any fly fisher to realize the sporting qualities once you get a good one on the end of your line. They porpoise into the air even more than rainbows and they dive for the depths like foul hooked freight trains.
Nice details of the story about fishing the evening hatch. My fondest memories of the backcountry always seem to revolve around that last magical 90 minutes of light when the wind slackens and the water starts to boil with rises all around you. During evenings like this, one seems to spend more time playing a fish on the end of the line rather than casting the line. Paradise on Earth.
Keep em coming.
---------- Post added at 05:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:22 AM ----------
Originally Posted by wtl
I was wondering, I made a trip to the bighorns 2 months ago, and I was intrigued by the possibility of catching a lake trout. How do fly fishermen in alpine lakes target these, cause I thought they normally were a very deep water species?
When I first got into fly fishing the high country of the Rockies, I was turned off whenever I found lakers at altitude. I felt they did not belong in alpine lakes and that brookies, bows, and cutts were just prettier to look at. Well shame on me, because I've since completed an about face on the subject of lake trout in high lakes. Anymore, I love seeing them at altitude because you just don't see many high lakes that produce lakers. And quite frankly, lake trout are just plain ole good eating. I think you'd be hard pressed to find many folks out there that would object to harvesting lake trout to enjoy around the campfire.
I once camped at Mays Lake in the Winds for a week. It produced an abundance of nice, little 12" lakers that kept my belly full while I targeted goldens (unsuccessfully) at lakes higher up the drainage. Sugarbowl Lake in the Rawah Wilderness in northern Colorado spits out all you can eat mackinaw. And I know of a lake above 11,300 feet in the James Peak Wilderness (Colo) that has tremendous fishing for lakers that can grow up to 15". It's my friend's secret lake so I can't pinpoint it here.
As for targeting lakers in the high country, the first real obstacle is finding them. Mackinaw lakes are a little rare in the Rocky Mtn backcountry but they're obviously around here and there. There is no real secret to catching them at altitude. They gravitate toward eating behaviors similar to their high country cousins. i.e. they'll spend times cruising the shallows during prolific hatches especially the evening hatches. Typical dries like griffith's gnats will take fish. But lake trout also spend lots of time a little deeper. I have tremendous luck just prospecting blind over the edges of deeper shelves and shorelines with weighted scuds and wooly worms. I've tried going super deep a few times with a sinking line but in my experience lake trout tend to feed in the upper reaches of even deep lakes. At altitude most of the available food is closer to the surface.