High lake monsters.

Chad Lewis

NEVER wonder what to do with your free time
Several years ago I got to talk to the fisheries biologist for North Cascade National Park. He gave me the name of a couple lakes that held big fish. From what he said a few lakes have bigger fish because the fish are able to spawn but only get off a spawn every few years, and that keeps the fish bigger than average.
 

John svah

Active Member
Several years ago I got to talk to the fisheries biologist for North Cascade National Park. He gave me the name of a couple lakes that held big fish. From what he said a few lakes have bigger fish because the fish are able to spawn but only get off a spawn every few years, and that keeps the fish bigger than average.
That's interesting. The non-profit I work for co-manages a lake in Norcal with a spawning trib that goes dry/heats up/disconnects from the lake in some years. The lake has a small population of big LCT and used to be used for brood stock/egg collection. I think this lake's pop seeded some of Washington's LCT lakes IIRC.

Anyway, I always figured the pop was small in numbers but large in size due to the lake's oligotrophic-ness, but maybe it is because the fish have to wait for a good year to spawn and grow large while waiting. Kinda like a 5-salt fish instead of a 1 salt.
Sorry to drift the thread.
 

mcswny

Active Member
Thought about putting this in the trip reports, but the location is going with me to the grave...so general forum it is. Hope you all enjoy:

Cool story behind these mondo hook-jawed, man-eating Cutthroat trout:

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A couple years ago on a backcountry hunt I wasn't seeing any deer, so I focused my spotting scope on this glorified puddle a long way off at the base of a snowfield. It literally doesn't have a name. I was shocked to see the tell tale ripples of fish sipping bugs on the surface. "Huh, that's crazy." Back to looking for deer.

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But as my love affair with trout fishing has been rekindled, I started thinking about that puddle more and more...wonder what kind of trout? How big? How many?

Well, those that know me, know exactly what happened next. A man needs answers.

Loaded the pups and gear up for an overnighter into the unknown. 4 hrs of bug infested hell to get back into the basin at 7200 feet, but we made it.

Took a few minutes up in the rocks while rigging to spot for fish and sure enough...GIANT fish cruising in about a foot of water, just crushing bugs.

Oh man...felt like I was dreaming.

Took a few minutes to enjoy the calm before the storm and then got right to it. Fish after fish, many of them 16-18" and PISSED. If you told baby Jesus to draw up the most perfect cutthroat trout...well, these are those fish. A match made in heaven for a 3 wt rod and click pawl reel, my ears are still ringing!

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A truly epic adventure by every metric.

Oh, and the lake now has a name, El Dorado...after the lost city of gold that captivated so many adventurous wild men back in the day. Only this one is real.
Looks like such a good day!

I’m always so curious about people’s decisions in terms of rods they bring on certain trips. Especially alpine lakes. I’m always too nervous to bring my 3wt because I’m afraid if there’s any sort of wind I won’t be able to cast far enough, even though the majority of the fish are perfect for a 3wt. Even though I actually prefer my 3 and 4 wt rods for multiple reasons, I still tend to bring my 5wt just in case there’s wind or I want to throw a BH wooly bugger.
 

ianpadron

Active Member
Looks like such a good day!

I’m always so curious about people’s decisions in terms of rods they bring on certain trips. Especially alpine lakes. I’m always too nervous to bring my 3wt because I’m afraid if there’s any sort of wind I won’t be able to cast far enough, even though the majority of the fish are perfect for a 3wt. Even though I actually prefer my 3 and 4 wt rods for multiple reasons, I still tend to bring my 5wt just in case there’s wind or I want to throw a BH wooly bugger.
90% of the time I carry a stiff 9' 4 wt spooled with an OPST commando head, great for the weird angles you end up with in the backcountry, can shoot line a country mile and need zero room for a backcast. Would be sick on a 3wt too. The OPST floating tips are actually surprisingly good for dry fly presentations.

I was impressed how well the 3wt Technical Trout line punched through the wind, but nowhere near the authority of a shooting head.

I'd give the Commando a try on your favorite 3 wt, with my 4 I can launch a size 2 conehead about 70 feet with a variety of single hand spey casts...really fun way to fish up high.
 

Travis Bille

Active Member
90% of the time I carry a stiff 9' 4 wt spooled with an OPST commando head, great for the weird angles you end up with in the backcountry, can shoot line a country mile and need zero room for a backcast. Would be sick on a 3wt too. The OPST floating tips are actually surprisingly good for dry fly presentations.

I was impressed how well the 3wt Technical Trout line punched through the wind, but nowhere near the authority of a shooting head.

I'd give the Commando a try on your favorite 3 wt, with my 4 I can launch a size 2 conehead about 70 feet with a variety of single hand spey casts...really fun way to fish up high.

This is my first backpacking season with the commando head for my 3 WT....... I don't know how I fished backpacking prior to that, but I was not doing it right. That commando head is a total game changer for backpacking. I haven't been able to get my hands on a floating tip though, can't wait to try it out
 

ianpadron

Active Member
This is my first backpacking season with the commando head for my 3 WT....... I don't know how I fished backpacking prior to that, but I was not doing it right. That commando head is a total game changer for backpacking. I haven't been able to get my hands on a floating tip though, can't wait to try it out
A true gamechanger. Flick of the wrist...SHE GONE
 

Elliott5400

Active Member
I actually have an OPST Smooth for my 5wt with the intention of using it in alpine lakes. I just dont have the skill to use it that well yet. Need to practice.
I've tried the opst in high lakes. It spooked fish more than it put any on the end of the line. I used a 175gr.

I had wished I just had my airflo super dri xceed, and find whatever points I could work a cast from.
 

ianpadron

Active Member
I've tried the opst in high lakes. It spooked fish more than it put any on the end of the line. I used a 175gr.

I had wished I just had my airflo super dri xceed, and find whatever points I could work a cast from.
I've run 2 pseudo-scientific split tests on the catch rates of the OPST system vs traditional WF fly lines in an alpine setting.

1) First up, I was running a 5 weight WF line on a buttery smooth 8'6" St Croix Avid vs. my 4 wt lined with the OPST. Fish were cruising about 20 yds off-shore right at a drop off, refusing to eat anything on the surface. Couldn't get enough back cast room with the WF, and not enough sauce to roll cast or single spey a small streamer or indicator rig out into the zone. I caught 1 VERY nice cuttie on a black ant in 2 days. (I'd post a photo, but now that I know a random assortment of trees and rocks is akin to GPS coordinates, I'll refrain lol)

Went up for revenge after buying an OPST setup the next week and the fish were doing the same exact thing...this time it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Size 4 purple beadheaded bugger, and a size 2 conehead zonker type were the special sauce. Run off a sink tip and 4 ft flouro leader. Nothing stealthy about it. Literally lost count in a 2 day stretch. Launch a 70-80 foot bomb, let the fly sink, strip strip pause WHAM-O...nearly every cast.

2) Last summer, took a buddy to one of my favorite wilderness lakes, he was rocking a 3 wt WF setup on his Echo Carbon XL (same 3 wt I use, great rod btw). He's a very skilled caster, but was getting frustrated with his inability to reach the fish, which were stacked like cord wood on a submerged rock wall on the cliffy side of the lake with a brushy wall 10 feet from the water. I stood next to him with my shooting head setup and mopped up. It was hilarious.

Regarding spooking fish...I have definitely seen fish bug out when the head lands, they also rush right back to check out the sparkly thing about 10 feet behind the commotion.

I've noticed the same thing with my 3wt Technical Trout setup, a fish under the line will spook, only to crush the fly on its way out of town.

I'm a believer in OPST (and any shooting head system tbh) for the backcountry, as it has radically improved my catch rates up high. Plenty of situations where there is zero advantage, but it sure creates opportunities where there would typically be nothing but frustration. Just my experience.

Planning on spooling up a 10' 3 wt euro rod with the OPST system next and see how that goes, just cuz.
 

mhutch

New Member
Great shots and fish! These are golden trout according to stocking records...

Easy to tell the lake if you've been there, but it's not very easy to get to in the first place, I think the post/pictures are vague enough. I fished this lake a couple years ago when they were smaller, but still good sized, abundant and hungry. May have to make another visit after seeing this post, awesome :)
 

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