hiking in to mountain lakes

Who all does it? How far do you usually travel? What kind of gear do you usually take?
I am planning a trip to a high lake at the beginning of the month about a 7-8 hour hike. I was planning on taking a light pack of sleeping bag, tent, tube, rod and reels, fishing vest and some munchies for a couple of days, oh and my gps.
Don't want to know the places that people go unless you feel like telling me. More concerned with equipment to bring.
A big part of the enjoyment of hiking for me is fishing. I normally bring a small spinning rod. Most mountain lakes aren't ideal for flyfishing from shore, and I wouldn't want to try and haul in waders, a tube, etc.

I find the best fishing tends to be beyond the range of the typical dayhike. The most heavily visited (and therefore fished) lakes are reachable by dayhike. Once you get into the 15 mile roundtrip range, the fishing pressure drops off.

It's tough to take a 'light pack' if you're backpacking for a couple days without fishing gear. By the time you add a tube, waders, vest, and gear, you'll have quite a load.

Don't forget: water or filter, stove (usually no fires allowed up high), cookware, clothes, sleeping pad, pint of whiskey, etc....
I have to agree with newtrout on this one, after all of the fishing gear is in your pack, your pack will weigh a lot! A couple weeks ago I went for a hike that was 9 miles each way and my pack was 52 pounds! This was a little too heavy and by the last couple miles I was really worn out. When you bring a float tube instead of a raft, the poundage really adds up in a hurry.

I brought a vest, but I really did not need to. You should bring a long sleeved shirt that can be used for a vest. Also be sure to bring an emergency kit with something to deal with blisters.

Have fun!

Jake Smulkowski

Throwing hoppers into baetis falls
I recently took a backpacking trip into some undisclosed high mountain lakes in the western hemisphere and brought a $20 Coleman personal 2-man raft. It weighed about 7 pounds, 10 pounds with paddles. I found the weight to be worth it - sometimes I like to go ultralight when travelling long distances, but this trip was only about 9 miles in, we brought loads of crap, and the difference between a 65 and 75 pound pack is really negligible. :)

PFDs are real dorky but important. I've been in enough nasty situations to know always to bring the ten essentials. And weather conditions in the western hemisphere are likely to change rapidly and often, so extra clothing (fleece and wool) are important.


Well-Known Member
You can figure out what backpacking equipment to take by referring to one of the many backpacking guide books available. I suggest Colin Fletcher's Complete Walker (edit). There's a 3rd or 4th edition out now.

I like to keep my load light, so I've switched to ultra-light for just about everything: pack, ground pad, sleeping bag, tent or alternatively, a very light tarp, boots. Carry a Curtis (oops, edit) raft instead of a float tube, 2# instead of 8# plus waders, etc. I carry a single 4 pc fly rod, one reel, 2 fly boxes and minimal accessories to keep weight and bulk down.


Salmo g.
Fly tackle needs add only one or two pounds to your load if you're willing to fish from shore. Floatation adds weight fast, although a one-person Sevylor raft is reasonable at 4.5 pounds.
You probably know enough about fishing, so now concentrate on learning what you have to about hiking/backpacking, which can be as technical as fly fishing. Colin Fletcher's "Complete Walker" several editions are classics, although the equipment discussed is from several decades ago, and things like stove technology have moved on. The early chapters of "The Freedom of the Hills" by the Seattle Mountaineers have great basic info on hiking and carrying loads.
You can comfortably carry 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight, although it's worth effort and money to keep your pack around 30 pounds. Walk slowly; pace yourself; take frequent five-minute rests. You can frequently average two miles per hour on mountain trails, and even one m.p.h. will get you a reasonable distance up the trail in a day. If you choose equipment carefully, you can be comfortable without being overburdened. Stay mentally alert, esp. if you're travelling alone. You are totally responsible for your safety. Always have adequate rain gear, even for day hikes, regardless of the weather forcast. Being soaked miles from help is a death threat.
Take extra care of your feet. Tape or bandage likely blister points before you start; treat proto-blisters as soon as you notice them. Keep socks clean, dry, and wrinkle-free.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
An excellent resource for hiking and backpacking gear questions is at http://www.nwhikers.net

But combining hiking with fishing really invites the question about how much gear is enough. Once you get at a high enough elevation, the trees thin out and fishing from shore is a viable option due to increased room for backcasting. But lower elevation lakes frequently are so overgrown around the shore that the only good option is to bring along floatation.

Floatation usually means packing in a float tube, waders, fins etc. or a small inflatable raft. Float tubes and rafts each represent a trade off between convenience and weight.

Float tubes offer the advantage of being able to use your feet for propulsion and hands for casting simultaneously, but at the disadvantage of greatly increased weight. My lightest tube weighs just under 10 pounds, and wiht waders, boots and fins, I'm pushing 22 pounds.

Small rafts offer the advantage of much lighter weight (Curtis rafts weigh between 2 and 3 pounds, Seyvlors about twice that) but with the significant disadvantage of needing both hands to propel them either with hand paddles or with a kayak-type paddle. Since arms are generally much weaker than legs, paddling a raft over long distances or against the wind can be exhausting.

Trolling in a raft means laying your rod down inside the raft while paddling and hoping a large strike doesn't pull it overboard before you can drop the paddles and grab it. Rafts also need to be anchored to maintain position and are much more susceptible to wind gusts.

Alas, the ultimate highlake angler's dilemma seems to be to float or not to float. I've covered all the bases at one time or another.

Not float - used this method often and usually catch plenty of fish. In fact, on several recent trips that I've hauled my Curtis Raft along, I've ended up catching more fish from the shore just because I'd be hanging around camp with rod strung up and seen a nice cruiser within casting distance. Not a bad option considering it's the lightest.

Float tube - probably the best option if you don't mind carrying about 10-15 lbs of extra weight. Get a lightweight one, carry fleece pants and have some light breathable waders, sandals and light fins. You'll hook and land more fish than in a raft since your hands are always on your rod and your casting will be superior to all other vessels.

Big old Sevylor raft - ride in comfort...but you pay the price considering that these things are heavy and bulky. Maybe a good option when traveling with a large group of backpackers where the gear to person ration can decrease. I seldom travel with more than 3 people total so I don't use big rafts.

Sevylor Trailboat - these are great as they weight 3-4 lbs with all the bits and bobs. Cost about $60-70. Performance is about the same as the....

Curtis Raft - this is the option that I've opted for since spring. They cost a bit more ($220-240) but they're tiny, very light (2-3lbs) and a bit more comfy than a sevylor and they're WAY better-made than the junk made by Sevylor.
The unfortunate fact that you're paddling with your hands means you can't troll with your rod in your hands so you (or at least I) miss quite a few fish....but you'll get more strikes than you would from the shore.

Along with all my overnight gear and my fishing gear, plus a digital SLR and two lenses, my pack is right in at about 40lbs. This includes food for 2-4 days. These days, there is no reason to carry more than 50lbs unless you're climbing or it's wintertime.

Unless you're he-man, you'll be shattered when you get to the lake and you won't feel like fishing too much or exploring the area.
thanks for all the info, I am going to back everything that I am taking tonight and try it out to see if I can handle it, maybe even take the kids for a walk around the block in it. I would like to take my float tube incase I need it since the lake I am going to is unknown to me. Also I will doing some hunting while I am up there but I can carry my bow in my hand.
I had no idea that a float tube weighd that much it doesn't seem that heavy to me.
Thanks again and I hope to have a good report for ya all in the near future.