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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As promised in yesterday's Happy Father's Day thread, I went to check out a high lake I did well on last year. It was a beautiful day, my wonky back behaved surprisingly well, and I'm pleased to report that there is still some snow in the backcountry. But like..... where are the fish?



The the lake is probably 80% melted out; plenty of open water, though no real sign of insect activity. There is good depth to it, so it's unlikely to freeze solid. I worked my way around the perimeter, looking, casting, offered a few dries and a subsurface attractor, but never got a look, never saw a fish. Usually they are fairly obvious cruising around, and you can see easily to a depth of 15' or more.



I've fished lakes around ice out before, and typically the fish are out on the prowl for calories and ready to hit anything resembling food. I'm pretty good at spotting fish, and had I never been here before I would have left thinking the lake was barren. Or is it?

I figured I could at least avoid a skunking by fishing the outflow of a lower lake on the hike out. Again, I've caught fish here in the past. This was a sure thing; we hit the outflow creek right at the magic hour, bugs everywhere, FISHY looking water, decent match to the naturals, great drifts. Nothing.

I came real close to letting this piss me off. I know some days it just don't go as well as you'd like, but these are fish that are just not that difficult to catch. It got me to thinking, are they just gone or what?
 

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Probably winter kill this year and nobody has hiked/rode the fish in yet this year. Those high country lakes usually don't do well with wild populations unless they have a real good inlet/outlet.
The looks of that lake have sterile without stocked all over it.
 
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Alpine lakes are so weird. Yep, between Winterkill and 0 plants if there is no natural reproduction, it is a crapshoot. Sucks, especially when you dream all Winter or for years..to go back to a spot where the fishing was good..and to see open water and find nothing. Zip.

The one good thing is often I have stayed at big alpine lakes and have seen no signs of fish, and 2 days in, thoughts of giving up and while eating another yummy freeze dried meal, suddenly seeing a 5+ pounder rocket out of the lake. You then go through a checklist of "apoxia/insanity/pending Big Mac attack", you see the waves still ricocheting around the still lake.

Those are moments of clarity and make those trips worthwhile!

I fished a *unnamed* Golden Trout lake deep in the Cascades..knew it was a GT lake from years and years of research..back before the net. I finally made the trip after 10+ years of wanting to.
It was torture, and I have hiked alot. Crazy tough to get to. Once there I saw no fish for a full day.
Then, on the 2nd day I was looking around the shores for who knows what, I looked out and saw a really big-red bellied, yellow lemon Golden Trout finning away. 20" if not 1. It was amazing. I went back to fishing and eventually saw only a couple 8-10 inchers near shore, but to see a big Golden just hanging out waiting for a bug to sip still haunts my head.

That was 19 years ago, still see that fish !
 

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Hiked up to lake 22 one time when it open up for the year. It was ground on the way and we ran into snow about 1/2 way there. We continued on to the lake. It was iced almost all the way across. It was open for about 5' around the outlet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update: I got back in to the lake over the weekend, and it turns out the fish were still there all along.



The area seems to be getting more traffic than years past; trails looking a bit more beaten in, and there was a group of loud guys camping up there and disturbing my peace. I even found this monstrosity laying on the shoreline. That's a #14 Adams for scale, pretty much the universal high lake pattern. I wonder what those alpine fish would think about the Hopper-Popper?

 
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