Wind River Mountains...theirs gold in them hills

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by manOfaith, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. manOfaith

    manOfaith New Member

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    I remember the first time I learned of a Golden trout. It was a couple years after I began flyfishing and bought a fly tying book by Randall Kaufman. I was blown away by their colors. From then on it has been on "the must do list". I made an attempt last year to a lake in MT but got my butt kicked by the mountain we were trying to cross over and had to abort that mission. I have been doing the research to get to the Wind River Mountains for a long time now and my girlfriend (who is an avid backpacker) was into it as she wanted to see the views and I told her "I heard there was some trout up there...I should bring the rod just in case" Well, she is smarter than that as she said "ugh hugh, ok" lol.

    I won't be naming trailheads or specific lakes for the record.

    Our main destination took us 2 days of hiking to get too as we would cover approx 15 miles in those two days. The first day was rough as our packs were heavy (we like to eat) since we would be in for 6 nights and we had much elevation to gain. The 2nd day of backpacking wasn't so bad as most of the elevation gain was already completed.

    Here are a few pictures of the journey along the way.

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    Upon arrival at our main camp it was about 6pm. I hustled to get the tent set up and everything organized and I started putting my rod together..my girlfriend looked at me and said “Just go” I said I would be back by dark and could have dinner then. I just had to probe the lakes we were by as well as the feeder stream. The lakes didn’t show any signs of life that night…fished by a little waterfall to no avail. I then started probing the feeder stream…to my surprise I couldn’t believe what I saw about 6 big trout holding in a pool. I got real excited as this water is suppose to be only Golden trout water. I threw my black caddis in there and after a few casts I had a trout on and my reel was screamin! I was able to land him and he was actually a little scarred up, didn’t have the best color, but he was still gorgeous in my eyes. Then I went upstream of the pool and was dancing the caddis in the pool and was able to catch a real nice female out of the pool. Took a couple pictures and went back to the tent one happy man. I had the biggest smile and she was like “what happened”….I could only say it was unbelievable.

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    The two trout from the first night at the golden lakes
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    The female
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    The next morning we fished more around the water by where we were camping. After lunch we would set off on a day hike to a lake that was my main target. The goal was to fish it all afternoon and leave around dusk. After arriving at the lake and doing some initial scouting I was just amazed. Big golden’s just crusing the edges of the drop off’s. I had to start fishing…very quickly hooked into a nice fish. He immediately went into a violent head shake like I have never experienced and low and behold the fly came out. I couldn’t believe it….so dejected. Back at it...I hooked another fish about a half hour later. It was the same routine violent head shaking…a few jumps then a run straight out to the middle of the lake. What a freight train. I brought him in and then he did another run out to the middle of the lake. Finally, he was in the net. This would be the biggest golden of the trip 19.5” male. Deep crimson on his side like nothing I have ever seen. Stunning fish…I was shaking when I was holding him. As soon as I released him I did look up into the clouds to say a “thank you” and then I noticed very dark clouds rolling in! We both thought we better get the heck out of here before this storm hits. Sure enough, as soon as we made it back to camp we got hammered by rain.

    Looking out and across from the lake we hiked up to.
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    The biggest Golden of the trip 19.5"
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    I already decided the next day would be the same plan. Fish around the tent in the am…a little exploring, then over to the mystery lake. We hiked up there right after lunch and I was able to catch 3 beautys. First, a male of 18” right where I caught the golden the day before on the East side of the lake. Action slowed for the next couple hours after that. I decided we would go probe the North end of the lake. Good thing we did…it was a little shallower and I could see more trout…again..big trout…Golden trout…as that is all this lake held. After a few casts I hooked another trout. More violent head shaking, runs to the middle of the lake and cartwheeling. This trout looked very different from what I could tell. I didn’t see the crimson side on this one. Sure enough, it was a gorgeous female of 17”. I saw a nice trout rising on the other side of the North end of the lake and I set up Juliana on that fish. Sadly (as she is a new angler) she couldn’t reach him with her casts. I was really wanting her to catch a Golden today. She had some tough refusals by some smaller fish. After about a hour she had had enough trying to catch him and said I could try. Well, on my 3rd cast he took my fly. I felt horrible…she could at least smile at me. It was a magnificent, crimson sided male of 19”. It was a perfect note to end the day on. A truly amazing day I will never forget with a fly rod and being outside.

    18" male.
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    The 17" female
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    The last Golden of the trip, a 19" crimson sided male
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    The next day we decided we would start our hike back out so we could take our time and probe more water. It was tough to leave, but at the same time, I couldn’t be happier with the 6 Goldens’ I had caught. I felt very complete. On the way out I was so happy that Juliana was able to catch her first trout. A nice cutbow. I was able to catch some decent cutbows from 14” to 16.5”. On a hike to another lake we were probing I found a small pond that had some brookies so I was able to catch a brightly hued brookie pretty quickly. At another lake we caught many pure rainbows…up to 13”. Had some maddening refusals by big boys in that lake in the evening…very frustrating.

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    16.5" cutt
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    Yes, hiking out in a snowstorm...their was hail just before the snow lol.
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    Some wild horses we saw on the drive back home on land that was set aside for them.
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    We were able to see some moose and mule deer…the marmots were everywhere and fun to watch. This was a trip of a lifetime for both of us. We covered 35 miles with our backpacks….probably another 8 or so day hiking.



    We are already talking about going back….

    Thanks,
    Wayne

    Here are a couple quick/rough vids my fantastic g/f was able to take with my little camera. Later we learned that using the zoom looses video quality..oh well lol. Yeah, I was a little excited in the first video :) A half hour before I had last a decent one.



     
  2. Bonefish Jack

    Bonefish Jack Strictly FF

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    All I can think is ... WOW!
     
  3. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

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    Wayne, Wow...............
    What can you to say. Great trip, photos and report.
     
  4. Skysoldier

    Skysoldier FUBAR

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    Truly awesome report and pictures, the trip of a lifetime. I am currently planning my first Golden hunt for Oct 2011 I can only hope I have a 1/4 of your success congrats!
     
  5. manOfaith

    manOfaith New Member

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    Thanks guys. Going in I was actually a little tense as I had put a lot of pressure on myself (unkowningly actually) to catch them. I still cant believe it at times. They were so big and healthy...seemed to good to be true. Even when I was catching them. If anyone has the chance to go to the Winds...you won't be disappointed in wherever you go there. The remoteness of it has something that can't be matched by Yellowstone, Glacier...wherever. Plus, there is trout everywhere....you just have to log the miles and get in there. Oh yeah, the mosquitos at times were impressive. Then there was the "wind" to deal with. When we were at the main lake we targeted there was no way you could cast into the wind so we were limited to fishing only half the lake.

    I took some short videos too..I will work on posting links to them.

    I will say anyone wanting to pursue goldens, at least in the waters I was at, a beadhead flashback scud in olive or orange was deadly. I was even told by a flyshop that it wouldn't work as there weren't scuds in the lakes I was heading too lol.
     
  6. mr. bad example

    mr. bad example Member

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    a big fat wow ! been wanting to to the winds for a very long time.
     
  7. Patagonguy

    Patagonguy Active Member

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    Paradise!!
     
  8. Buck

    Buck "Ride'n Dirty."

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    THANK YOU.
     
  9. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    What a fabulous trip!! Your pictures are amazing. Those larger goldens have a bit of a brown trout look to them, that long pointed snout and large jaws. I wonder if streamers (especially in the evening / night) would be a potentially profitable pattern.

    Steve
     
  10. SteelieD

    SteelieD Non Member

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    dude. holy crap.
     
  11. creekx

    creekx spent spinner

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    Wow.
    Fly fishers spend buckets of money traveling the globe to the next greatest place, yet if you are willing to put some effort into it, look at what is available in our own backyard!
    Impressive. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
     
  12. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

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    Trip report of the year so far? The bar has been set pretty darn high if this one is not it. Thank you for sharing your report Wayne. I'm glad you had such a great adventure, the views, the terrain, the companionship, the views, more views and the fish make that such icing on the cake. You are one lucky dude to get all that at one time!

    What is next on your to do list?
     
  13. Matt B

    Matt B ...

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    Thanks for the read and amazing pictures. Excellent report.
     
  14. camroy34

    camroy34 Member

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    Thanks for sharing a wonderful trip! Now I'm pumped! Where is my rod at? Time to plan a trip.
     
  15. manOfaith

    manOfaith New Member

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    Glad everyone is enjoying the report and I appreciate the kind words!

    Creekx: Your right, there are many places I would love to go for fishing in other countrys..but yet there are so many here in the U.S. that I dream off. We drove out to WY from MI and I had less than $700 total into thris trip including 2 nights loding, fuel, food & licenses.

    My next adventure is of different sorts. I am doing Ironman Florida this November so here on out I am really focussing on that.

    But adventure flyfishing wise...I will have a few trips this year to Northern MI for some brown & brookie action. Next big trip will be next year. We are talking about a backapcking trip to Isle Royale or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in CO. We shall see.