2007 Golden Trout Hunt

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by gigharborflyfisher, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. gigharborflyfisher

    gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

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    This about my trip throught the California Sierras hunting for native trout...

    Day 1: Sunday July 29th 2007: My cousin Derek, my parents and I left my house at about 4:00AM headed for Reno, Nevada. The first day was spent almost entirely on the road, until we arrived in Reno at around 4:00PM. Once we got to Reno my cousin and I went and got our fishing licenses and some last minute supplies (topo maps, food, ect.) and called it a day.

    Day 2: Monday July 30th 2007: My cousin Derek and I set out at about 6:00AM on our own for a few days of fishing for native trout in the California Sierras. The first fish that we had decided to go after was the Lahontan Cutthroat as it was the closest to Reno. My research and some help from a fellow trout hunter from California had led me to decide to fish a small stream high in the Sierras above Lake Tahoe that was about a 7 miles round trip hike. We arrived at the trailhead at around 8:00AM, ate some breakfast and started hiking. We found the trail into this spot a little hard to follow, and got turned around once, but ended up find our way to the stream in the end. The stream was very small where the trail crossed it, but a couple of seconds of poking around confirmed that it held Lahontan Cutthroat and so we started fishing.

    The stream flowed through a meadow at about 8000 feet above sea level, and was only a few feet across in most spots. I got my first Lahontan Cutthroat on my first cast, before my cousin had even finished rigging up. We fished the stream for a couple of hours, both using Royal PMX's, and as long as the fish didn't see us they were very willing to bite. However at the slightest disturbance, the fish would dart under cover and refuse to hit anything. Derek ended up catching the largest fish at around 11 or 12 inches and at around 12:30PM we began our hike out.

    After the Lahontan Cutthroat hike, we hit the road for where we would be camping for the night on the edge of the Golden Trout Wilderness area. The drive was pretty uneventful until we got to Lone Pine and headed back up into the Sierras. We camped at Horseshoe Meadows about 9,000 feet up in the Sierras after driving up one of the hairiest roads that I have ever seen. We set up the tent with the last few rays of sunlight and hit the hay for a big day of hiking and fishing the next day.

    Day 3: Tuesday July 31st 2007: We got up to a chilly high sierra morning at around 5:00AM and were on the trail by 6:00AM after a quick breakfast. The first couple of miles of the hike were pretty easy going, through pine forests and meadows, but after that the trail started up the pass. The climb to the top of the pass which was over 11,000 feet high was pretty strenuous, but the view front the top was great. We took a little break at the top, and then headed downhill into the Kern River drainage home of the California Golden Trout. After crossing a couple of streams on the way to the one that I had planned to fish, we came to one that was a little larger than the rest and had a good amount of goldens so we decided to call it good and start fishing.

    We both rigged our rods up with my favorite attractor dry fly pattern, the Royal PMX and decided that my cousin would fish upstream and I would head downstream. The fishing at the creek was very fast paced, and my cousin caught two goldens while I was still rigging my rod, once I got my fly in the water I too started catching fish right away. The goldens were quite numerous in this stream, so it wasn't all that unusual miss a strike only to have the fly grabbed by another golden just inches downstream. I caught my fish golden of size (about 10") downstream a ways where the creek turned a corner and passed under some overhanging bushes. I continued downstream a little ways further catching golden trout after golden trout with a few 8" to 10" fish mixed in. I then fished my way back upstream and met my cousin at the trail where we had lunch before the long hike out.

    The hike out from the creek was brutal; we no longer had the advantage of the cool morning air that we had on the way in and with the sun out the temperatures had risen into the 80's. We reached the top of the pass again around 2:00 PM; feeling rather drained and took a little break to enjoy the alpine cooler air. By the time we reached the car we had hiked about 16.5 miles round trip, and were happy to be on the road again to the next spot. The next spot that we had chosen to fish was a tributary to the Main Fork of the Kern River that was supposed to have a good population of Kern River Rainbow Trout and we managed to make it there just before dark and set up camp.

    Day 4: Wednesday August 1st 2007: We woke up in the morning to the sound of coyotes on the other side of the meadow that the creek ran through. After getting a little breakfast, we set out across the meadow for a little fishing, but found the creek to be very low so we headed downstream just below the meadows. There was a little more water down in this area and we spooked a small trout right away. I found a small pool a little bit downstream, where I could see a nice fish holding and as soon as my Royal PMX hit the water, the fish hit it and I caught my first Kern River Rainbow Trout. However as it turned out this would also be my only Kern River Rainbow, because I was unable to find anymore that were willing to bite. We now decided to head downstream to see if the fishing was a bit better, but we found no such luck. The fish in the lower section were very spooky and all that I could catch was an out of place little brown trout.

    After giving up on catching anymore Kern River Rainbow Trout stream we decided to head over to our last stream of the trip, which was in the Little Kern River drainage. After some very rough roads, we arrived at the stream and started our fishing. This was the smallest stream that we fished on the trip, and it traveled from one small pool to the next through a series of meadows at about 7,700 feet in elevation. We could easily see Little Kern Golden Trout swimming in pools, so we rigged up with a dry and dropper system (size 12 Royal PMX and size 18 black Copper John). The action here was almost as fast as the California Golden Trout stream and with every first cast into a pool resulting in a hit or a fish. At one time I had fish on both of my flies at the same time, but ended up losing the one on the dry fly. I caught one Little Kern Golden of at least 10" out of one of the pools although most were much smaller and after a few hours of fishing we hit the road again.


    After finishing with our fishing, we headed over to Sequoia National Park to check out some big trees. This was an amazing spot, and I would highly suggest it. I am used to seeing some big trees in the Washington's old growth forests, but the Sequoias completely dwarfed those trees. After leaving Sequoia, we made the long haul back to Reno and spent the night.


    Day 5: Thursday August 2nd 2007: We decided to start on our way home, but figured that in might be fun to go to San Francisco on the way. We arrive at San Francisco in the after noon, and spent a bit of time at fisherman's wharf than hit the road again for home. We ended up arriving back home around 5:30AM after another successful trout hunting excursion.

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    A map of the route we took on the trip

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    A Lahontan Cutthroat

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    California Golden Trout

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    A California Golden…well worth the 16.5 mile hike!!

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    A Kern River Rainbow Trout

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    Little Kern Golden Trout

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    The Lahontan Cutthroat stream

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    The view from the road to the Golden hike

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    View from the pass on the California Golden Trout hike

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    Me hooking up with a California Golden Trout

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    Kern River Rainbow stream

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    A good size pool on the Little Kern Golden stream that produced a handful of fish

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    Sequoia NP
     
  2. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    VERY cool. I am jealous. I can't wait to catch a couple of goldens someday.
     
  3. Bill Reed

    Bill Reed Member

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    Great report!! 16.5 miles sounds brutal but from the sound of it-well worth it! Nice photos also!:thumb: :thumb:
     
  4. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

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    Great photos, wild trout are the best.
    I have never caught a Golden, they sure are pretty.
     
  5. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Great report and thanks for sharing. The pics of the rolling hills and redwoods certainly do being back pleasant memories of my native state and learning to fly fish.

    While not native, goldens can nonetheless be found in certain spots in our state. Here's one of four I landed a month or so ago on a trip up into the Cascades with Tim Cottage.

    K
     
  6. buford

    buford Member

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    I don't think your net is big enough.... :rofl:
    Just kiddin', bro. Great report and photos-I'm jealous.
    buford
     
  7. Clint F

    Clint F Fly Fishing Youth

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    I like the 4th picture.

    Clint
     
  8. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    Wow, what a wonderful trip!! Ah to be young and fit again where a 16.5 mile hike (most above 8000 ft elevation) and several hours of fishing doesn't put one in the ICU for a week. The high Sierran lakes and creeks very cool. I only fished them once on a several day backpacking trip, but the trout are willing and the scenery spectacular.

    Steve
     
  9. gigharborflyfisher

    gigharborflyfisher Native Trout Hunter

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    If you are going to go after goldens someday, I would HIGHLY suggest the streams in golden trout wilderness area. The creek that I fished had more trout in it than just about any stream that I have ever seen. However they definetly came at a price at this spot 16.5 miles in one day with elevations between 9,000 and 11,600 was a little brutal!!
     
  10. sjterry

    sjterry Sr. Lurker

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    I did that hike up and over cottenwood pass with an overnight between the in and out. My buddy and I went in about 10 to 12 miles to volcano creek. We read that it was the geneological epicenter of the Golden Trout. the Hike out is brutal and we got caught in a High Mountain lightening storm with heavy hail and nowhere to go. We hunkered down in the middle of nothing on top of a huge granit slab near, but not under one of the trees with grounding wire.

    The Fishing is amazing. fish will litterally jump out of the water for a fly held two or three inches over the water. This biggest fish we saw was 8 or 9 inches, but they look like a jewlers idea of a trout. It is well worth the pain and effort.
     
  11. Randy Knapp

    Randy Knapp Active Member

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    Gorgeous! Thanks for the report and pics.

    Randy
     
  12. kimosabe

    kimosabe Member

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    Very nice! I guess the Goldens are "reserved" for the young!:) 16 miles !!! that is 8 miles ONE WAY!
    Awesome pics!
     
  13. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide.

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    Awesome photos and report. Man, that is small skinny water. I notice that you were sneaking up on the trout on your knees. That is a different kind of fishing than I am used to. I haven't fished in water that small since I was a kid fishing the irrigation ditches in Sequim for cutthroat, with a Colorado spinner and worms.
     
  14. yuhina

    yuhina Tropical member

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    Very nice report and photos! gig...
    What a nice collection of these beautiful trout!
    Thanks...