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  1. #1

    Default Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    I've been actively hunting large goldens in the Rockies for four summers now and I've never hit the jackpot. I've fished about 15-20 remote, high-country lakes in the Winds and Beartooths specifically targeting goldens and all I've ever come across were small fish and/or lakes that appeared to be barren due to the golden trout's elusive nature and their propensity to hide in the depths. And through the years, I've also run into bad luck with horrific weather and an injury that made me walk away from a promising string of lakes I had just reached after hiking in 25 miles. I was starting to think I'd never strike gold(en)!!!

    Finally a golden trout lake shined on me! Just got back from a six night exploratory trip in the Popo Agie Wilderness in the Winds. My intial plans were to scout and hunt for goldens in about 5-6 lakes. Well on the fourth day and as many lakes, I finally hit pay dirt. I arrived to the lake during the afternoon and the typical afternoon winds were blowing hard so spotting conditions were almost nil. So I prospected as I usually do with a scud and a wooly worm pattern. Within ten minutes I caught a dandy little 6-7" golden and was relieved to know there were goldens here but disappointed to see my typical small fish. On the very next cast I hooked into something nice that was evidently cruising close to shore. It porpoised immediately, bolted for the depths and I was into my backing in an instant. It bucked the hook and I cursed myself for losing what I knew was a real pig!

    Within minutes I reeled in an obese sixteen incher that was built so much like a bus it knocked my socks off! My first solid golden trout ever!!! After taking pics and releasing it, I literally jumped for joy. I've caught much bigger trout, but this was my proudest moment ever as an angler and a backpacker. For the next three days and nights, I caught about 20 goldens a day with the average fish being about twelve inches. But at least a third of the fish were fourteen inches++. My best was an eighteen incher that had to be at least 3 pounds.

    What was also so neat about this lake is that there was such a wide variety of shapes and sizes represented in the population. There were small, medium, and large fish. Some were skinny while others were built super thick. During the day, the winds were screaming so I mostly just prospected around the lake with a size 12 soft-hackle wooly worm. Sometimes the afternoon winds would slacken off a little and I actually had good luck skating an adult caddis pattern on the surface as well as a large shine beetle. As with other high lakes the evening fishing was the most productive with calm conditions and epic hatches. The griffiths gnat and a caddis pattern were all I needed to get a take on every other cast. During the evening hatches I was spending more time with a fish on my hook rather than not.

    What so impressed me about the large goldens was not so much their unsurpassed beauty, but their fighting ability. They seem to go to the air even more than rainbow trout, and their ability to peel off line as they make dive after dive into the depths blew my mind. I've never harvested a golden but hear thier flesh can be the same fiery red of salmon. But I knew this lake was fairly special and even the smaller fish have a chance to grow to become brutes. So I decided against eating one and every golden I caught was released unharmed. It was very hard to peel myself away from the lake as the weather was holding up and I was having a riot fighting these goldens all day long. But my food and supplies ran out so I had to make the long, sad trek back to trailhead. A trip like this one will stick with me forever. The sight of those pigs porpoising in the warm Wyoming sun is one I'll take to the grave.



    My first large golden trout. Sixteen inches and built like a 747 Jumbo with its huge humped back and whale tail.


    My best fish of the trip, a fat eighteen incher.


    A nice fourteen incher


    Another fourteen incher but with a medium build


    A little fella but very handsome!


    Even some of the little ones were built thick. This fat little lady is destined to grow huge with that small head and huge back. In 2-3 years when I return she'll hopefully be the large matriarch of the lake!


    Fourteen inches but rather skinny


    The scenery was almost as nice as the fishing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    103

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    Wow! That sounds like one heck of a great trip to me. Thanks for sharing and posting the picts. Those are some great looking fish!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    congrats on hitting paydirt and thanks for sharing! those are some dandy goldens.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    That sounds like an awesome trip. Im going to be attempting a trip of almost the same proportion to catch my first golden trout. I just don't think they'll be that big. Very nice.
    Troy

    "I have a river runs through it on blue ray, so yeah, I guess you could say I know a thing or two about fly fishing."

  5. #5

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    Quote Originally Posted by Troutwhisperer View Post
    That sounds like an awesome trip. Im going to be attempting a trip of almost the same proportion to catch my first golden trout. I just don't think they'll be that big. Very nice.
    I see you're close to the Beartooths, which is arguably the second best place in the world for backcountry goldens. I am headed there in a week. I think I'm just gonna have to buck up and see if I can't make it into Lightning Lake (held the state record for goldens until some years ago - current record at Cave Lake in the Crazies). I know it's very toiugh to get to and that Lightning gets fished very hard by locals and outsiders taking a crack at the record. But 18" goldens are still common possibly. Also thinking above Cave Lake but hear the 8 miles of hiking is hellish. I believe the quote on this lake is, "only hike to Cave if you love torture!!!"

    I also have a lead on a brook trout lake high up in the Beartooths off trail that supposedly spits out obscenely obese 15"+ brookies and 20" cutts.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    the lake im headed to is in the crazies. My uncle is a forest service fire Capt for that area and was going to take me to one that is a day in and out.

    Although taking a quick glance at a map of the beartooth I think I know where I may be spending a week next summer already...
    Troy

    "I have a river runs through it on blue ray, so yeah, I guess you could say I know a thing or two about fly fishing."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Pinedale, WY
    Posts
    18,865
    Blog Entries
    50

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    Congrats on the success with the Goldens, all your hard work finally paid off!
    Larry


  8. #8

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    Absolutely gorgeous!!

    Congrats!
    Less likey, more green dots
    BrookFieldAngler.com

  9. #9

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    one happy face in the third photo
    "Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have at work on it, and man can only mar it." Theodore Roosevelt
    "Live with your eyes open, you might notice something and you will have the opportunity to share it with the world." Argail

  10. #10

    Default Re: Eureka! There's gold(ens) in them thar hills!

    great looking fish. By this

    "So I prospected as I usually do with a scud and a wooly worm pattern", do you mean you use these as a 2 fly rig, or you alternate between the 2?

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