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Old 08-21-2013, 08:40 PM
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Default Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Just walked out of the Winds after spending seven glorious days fishing for large Colorado River Cutthroats and beautiful Golden trout. I've had amazing luck with the weather this summer and this trip was no exception. I fished a bevy of good cutthroat lakes and the streams that connected them. And my overall target was the golden trout lake at the top of the drainage. The cutthroat fishing was so fantastic it derailed a lot of my golden fishing time. At a number of different waters I found Colorado River Cutts ranging all the way up to 18-19". Colorado Cutthroats are rare in the Wind River Range, and the fact they were so thick and fat made it feel nice. They were so easily caught I almost felt guilty. There were smaller fish, but eventually a big ole S.O.B. would swim by so I just targeted the larger guys. I could lounge atop huge boulders and spot a nice fish swimming at me from thirty yards away. I just sight casted an olive scud right in its path, and they slammed it every time.

I spent a couple of days wet wading in my river shoes in some streams and small lakes in the deep timber. The streams were especially fun.......I had a riot stair-stepping up the shimmering creeks sight casting to nice cutts from 10-14". I even caught one impossibly big trout of about 18" holding in ankle deep water (see pic). The stream-dwelling cutts were a little finicky, but I eventually found a flashback pheasant tail nymph that they started destroying. At a small lake of only about five acres, I hooked into a dozen fish over 16" in two hours. Simply incredible to catch such nice trout in such small waters.

The golden lake yielded my finest backcountry trout. Big, beautiful, blood-red golden trout over twenty inches......but the lake was frustrating. The action was very slow. The lake either had a very low fish density or the vast majority of the goldens had vanished to the depths (which goldens can do from time to time). And the wind on the golden lake kicked my butt good most of the time. But I just kept at for two full days and nailed five glorious fish. I missed on tons of other chances. The goldens refused the hell out of everything I threw at them. I tried two dozens flies before finally get some consistent hits on an emerging caddis pattern. I only got takes on the water surface although the goldens weren't even feeding on top. I actually hooked into another half dozen goldens, but they bucked my hook during the tough battles.

One strange thing about my two largest goldens.....notice how they have huge, humped backs (see pics). The fish almost look crooked. But they were tough, old bulls. They fought so hard they almost pulled me off the boulders and into the water!!! So I don't think they were sick. Three other goldens I caught were in the 16-20" range but were straight as arrows. Anybody know what's going on with these crooked goldens? I'm pretty sure my largest golden (see first pic) would've been a state record if I would've caught it in Montana......but this Wyoming, so who cares, right? I know, but I still think it's pretty cool. The fish was an absolute pig.......didn't weigh it or measure it, but I'm pretty confident of about 23-24 inches and over six pounds.

I'm sitting in the Wind River Hotel & Casino in Riverton, and I head back out in two days. More golden hunting hopefully




My largest backcountry trout ever
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nice golden
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ten steps from my campsite at the golden lake yielded this view
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caught this beauty right at the outlet chute
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this golden almost looks bent, but don't think its whirling disease
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A fat, stream-dwelling cutty that was holding in ankle deep water
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hooked into another nice cutthroat on the trip of a lifetime!!!
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Colorado River Cutthroats are rare in the Winds but this drainage was stacked with them
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super thick cutty
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Last edited by countr21; 08-22-2013 at 04:24 AM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

countr21: Wow, am I jealous! That was indeed a trip of a lifetime, just gorgeous scenery and fantastic cutthroats, congrats!
At this rate of catching big trout, your going to end up with arthritis in that right shoulder before you turn 40.

Larry
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Simply awesome pics...... Great writting as well. That is one trip that will be added to my bucket. Thanks for sharing.....
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Very nice.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Fantastic. Did you catch all both of those crooked goldens from the same lake? It's a little too odd to just be coincidence, if you did.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:31 AM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poke 'Em View Post
Fantastic. Did you catch all both of those crooked goldens from the same lake? It's a little too odd to just be coincidence, if you did.
I caught 5 goldens all at the same lake. Only the two largest goldens (well over 20 inches) were all bent up. I'm assuming it has something to do with their old age. The crooked fish were some tough, old trout. Don't know what's with the weird shape, but they fought so hard I don't think they were sick. The big, blood-red golden fought for well over 20 minutes and porpoised into the air about a dozen times. One time while I was into my backing, it jumped about a foot out of the water what seemed like a hundred yards off shore. During the battle I screamed out loud, "IS THAT MY FISH?!?!?!?"

It could be whirling disease, I don't know. Whirling disease is exceptionally rare on high altitude lakes, but I have heard of it.

Last edited by countr21; 08-22-2013 at 12:55 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:59 AM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Outstanding!

The bent fish suffers from scoliosis a common disorder with trout. The trout are really large and beautiful, what a wonderful experience. The scoliosis is common in closed environments such as where you were at, it is passed on via genetics. There are some links between low Ph. values and the occurrence of this disorder also, given the exposed peaks and poor buffering ability of the regolith that surrounds the lake I am leaning toward the Ph angle.

Beautiful!

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Old 08-22-2013, 06:46 AM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Big Ole Dang Fish, Man

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Old 08-22-2013, 07:36 AM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

countr21: Boy those sure are beautiful fish, just love the brillant colors on them. Catching big fish like that in those high altitude lakes sure makes the effort hiking into them worthwhile. Thanks for sharing and congrats on all the success!

Larry
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:52 AM
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Default Re: Nice Cutts and Goldens in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness (Winds)

Those fish and that country is nothing short of amazing! This is definitely another thing to add to my wishlist. Thanks for sharing.
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