Cascade Lakes

I'm really itching to hike into some of those alpine lakes, and was wondering when they start to open up, and at what elevations. How long after losing their ice do they typically start to fish well? I admit, I didn't get to do hardly any of this type of fishing last year, and it's one of the things I moved here for. I'm going to purpose time to it this summer.

I appreciate any insights, however general.

You can be a fish recycler, too. Let 'em swim.
I've done alright when the ice first stars to melt away from the shore the fish seem to congregate near the shore line only problem is it can be ugly getting to some of the lakes at that time


Be the guide...
Get friendly with a few of the good hiking\trail report sites. You can often find reports and trail conditions that are fairly up to date for most listed trails.

The other good bet is to find out what ranger station manages the trail of interest and give them a call a week ahead of time or so.

There is no sure fire way other than checking out a lake yourself or asking someone else who has. Some lakes will be obvious based on the high elevation. Others may seem like a good bet, but maybe they are sheilded from the sun and thaw slowly.

A number of times I've hiked to a lake on dry gound and no snow in sight, only to get within 100yrds or so of the lake and find snow and no way (besides compass or GPS) to follow the trail to actually find the lake (the last one I did was also fogged in heavily. I figured I could probably throw a rock and hit the lake, but the steep ledges and thick snow and very dense fog made it unsafe to keep looking and I had to just head back.)

Fishing can be hot right at ice out. But again, there is no sure thing. Every lake will fish differently each individual lake may fish different from the last year based on weather differences, water levels, hatches, etc. Also, some lakes may be good fishing one year and terrible the next. Just depends on natural conditions such as summer or winter kill conditions or even the stocking or spawning cycle of the lake.

This is what is so fun about the alpine lakes. Its about exploring and taking chances. And the more practice and experience you have, the better you get and improving your chances. And the lucky and\or determined ones often find a few lakes that are atually consitent\reliable and they can make a yearly visit or more with confidence (unless you post the name and success stories on the net and it gets fished out... But that's up to you...).


Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Chad's post reminded me of a hike a friend and I planned to make up to fish ice-out at Loch Katrine a couple years ago. It had been nice weather for a week or so with warm temperatures and no rain. But it was drizzling when we met early the morning of the appointed day and there was new snow scattered on the hills as we drove up the county road along the NF Snoqualmie.

The hike from the road up to the lake is only about 3 miles but has about 2000 feet of elevation gain. By the time we got halfway, it was snowing pretty good and sticking. With a mile to go, there was a foot or so covering the old road. With a quarter mile left, we were struggling through waist-deep snow with no snowshoes or even trekking poles, every step an effort struggling to keep our balance with packs heavy with waders, fins and float tubes.

Soaked and exhausted, we finally gave up and turned back less than 200 yards from the trail to the lake. Our aborted trip was two years ago this week.


Stephen Mull
My (now ex) girlfriend and I hiked up to Talapus Lake in mid-late June two summers ago. We set up camp there and then went on to some of the other lakes higher up. There was a little snow at Talapus and pretty much anywhere above there was real snowy. We tried to make it to Pratt, but without any real orienteering skills, it was pretty much impossible as the trail was completely submersed in snow. I think most lakes in June are pretty well ice-free, but the trails to get to them are far from snow-free.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Did the same thing many years ago when I was young. Back then the rivers and High lakes opened up on Memorial day weekend so we decided to hike up to Lake 22 and do a litle fishing. HA. Got about half way up and ran into snow. But being that I was younger and stupider we continued. By the time we got to the lake there was about 20' of snow on the ground and the lake was frozen over. Only the outlet was free,a hole about 3'round. And of course being that I was stupid I was only wearing tennis shoes. So by the time I got back to the car I was only one step from hypothermia. One cold puppy.

So now as I'm older if I can't drive to it I don't go.

saw on the WTA site, lake 22 is fishable, small amount of snow on the trail, as of the 18th, should melt some with this weeks forecast
Here are a few lakes that should be open to try right now. Some may be partially frozen still, others I know are open for sure.

Lake 22- still partially frozen
Boardman lake- probably mostly clear, but still snow on the trail
Wallace lake- completely clear, was there last week.
Lake Isabel- probably mostly clear.
Lake Dorothy- Might be clear in some spots

That should be enought to get you started. Keep in mind that Lake Isabel and Lake Dorothy are both very large lakes and I would not recommend try to float tube these lakes this time of year as the water is still pretty cold.

Matt. 6:33-34
:ray1: Some key points to think about.
1) Look for alpine lakes that are at or below tree line. Lakes above tree line have less food source and the fish tend to be skinny and few.
2) Make sure the lake has at least one area that is deep. This gives them a place to winter over and also tends to be a supply of shrimp, their favorite food during winter.
3) Most lakes are incredibly clear so use stealth tactics including fluorcarbon tippet.
4) Immediately following snow melt, you will find most fish near the lake inlet water (creek, river, what ever the source) because they are looking at spawning.
5) Use smaller flies than you might otherwise think. 22-26 is probably about right for dries. 16-18 for subsurface. Avoid very flashy because the water is clear and they have plenty of time to look at the potential meal. Mosquito patterns for dries, and green or brown hues for sinkers.

That should get you started. :beer2:
Not to stir the pot but I've never had any trouble catching fish on dries size 12 - 18 in these lakes and the pattern has rarely been an issue although black ants worked particularly well. I guess I've just had a different set of experiences I guess.:confused:
speyflies2 said:
Use smaller flies than you might otherwise think. 22-26 is probably about right for dries. 16-18 for subsurface. Avoid very flashy because the water is clear and they have plenty of time to look at the potential meal. Mosquito patterns for dries, and green or brown hues for sinkers.
i gotta disagree with speyflies2 about size 22-26 dry flies. Alpine lake fish have shorter growing seasons than lowland lakes, as a result, there are very oppritunistic. size 12 or 14 flies are usually best, occasionaly 16. That goes for both subsurface and dry flies.

i do agree with him about his first point. Lower elevation lakes tend to be more eurotrophic while high elevation lakes above the tree line are mesotrophic. I think i got that right.

his second point i half way agree with. It is true that a deep area is helpful for wintering, and there would be Scuds there if the lake chemistry allows. But, a generally shallow lake is more rihc in food because of a larger littoral zone (area where sunlight can reach the bottom). These areas often have aquatic plants and algae whihc results in more aquatic insects.

I couldn't agree more on the being stealthy. a fluorocarbon leader would be good as long as you are fishing subsurface. Also, where clothing that blends into the shoreline. You cna also try and hide near a tree or brush.

Inlets are good when fish are spawning, but even when it isn't spawning time, they are a great place to find fish. Also, outlets are the same. Fish can spawn in them and insects gather there just like at an inlet.

One more thing, whenever you get to a lake, dont just start casting, take sometime to observe the area, what the fish may be keying on, some holding areas, etc.

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