High Sierra Fishout

Well after belonging to Peninsula Fly Fishing organization for about a year, I decided to lead my first fishout on June 8 through 11th. I anounced the fishout at the April meeting and gave the details to the organizers to publish in the monthly paper.

The only catch was that I was going with my wife to GB and Ireland for the month of May. This made it difficult to coordinate with people that signed up. I had two sign ups and before the trip they all backed out. I limited the number to a total of four including myself because of the small size of the lakes that I would be visiting. I do a great deal of backpacking into trout lakes and this was my first trip of the season and I consider it a warm up trip. I decided that I would go in anyway and since I had some back trouble I didn't start the trip till 6/19. This way I could be at the lakes in the middle of the week and not have to contend with the weekend traffic. I usually play tennis MW&F from 8-10AM, so I figured that I could drive up after tennis, sleep at the car and hike in Tues. morning. I got to the Wilderness Permit station at Huntington Lake near the Rancheria Outlet at three PM and when the ranger asked me when I was going in I said, "If you give me a permit fairly soon, I can walk in today." She hopped to it, and I started hiking with a comfortable margin of daylight.

I have been to these lakes at least three times and I have always done well. The lake that I camp at is only three miles in on a well marked trail and not too high. The cross country lake doesn't have a trail to it but is only about a mile away. I packed the car Sun. evening, and as always I went through the checklist that I have through the 40+ years, and it is especially critical on the first trip of the year. The camping lake is about a 1500 ft. climb and has both Brook and Rainbow, but the walking lake has only Brook.

It was a lovely afternoon with puffy clouds that were building but no real threat of rain, at least nothing of any duration. The temperature at the trail head at the start was about 70. There were no other cars at the trailhead, and that always gives me good cheer. The mosquitoes were active enough that I couldn't walk away from them, so I used repellant. (It could be that I just couldn't walk as fast as I used to so I had to resort to repellant). I was feeling aches and pains of age as I climbed the mountain. I told myself that it was the first trip of the year and that the tennis in the morning was the cause. About half way up the trail, I came across a miniature flashlight right on the trail that worked. As I tucked it in the pack, I realized that although I had put my flashlight in the car, I had not put it in the pack. I was lucky to find what I had forgotten. I also had forgotten a camera and since I didn't have it on my checklist, that is why you don't have accompying pictures.

I got to the lake in about an hour and a half, and no one was there. I was plenty tired and since I had eaten the last of a deli sandwhich at the car as I left, I really wasn't very hungry. I had some soup and plenty of cold drinks. There was some snow under the trees. I still had at least two hours of daylight and the fish were rising! I fished my way around the lake with a dark mosquito fly, about size 10. I fished it under the surface and had a small indicater about 18” above. The action wasn't fast and furious, but I caught and relaesed four trout. I figured, I could catch the trout I wanted to eat the next day in the morning. I was able to stay up till nine before I slept. I carry a small light radio for the weather and news, but I had no real threat of badweather in the satellite pictures I had seen and I was recording the Lakers - Pacers Finals at home and I didn't want to listen to the radio and spoil the tape for me to watch later, so I slept soundly till dawn at about 5.

The temperature had been about 55 in the evening before sleep and by morning it had gotten down to 45. I liked the chill and was anxious to fish around the lake for my supper. I used the same rig and by the time I got back to camp I had kept four trout from eight to twelve inches: three rainbow and one brookie. I had breakfast and looked at the map to see the best way to the cross country lake. I knew there was no trail but there were some ducks, yet there wasn't one best way, and there were some cliffs that I didn't want to do, especially alone.

I packed my lunch, compass, map, fishing gear, and some emergency gear in my day pack. I left camp about 9AM and the weather was gorgeous with not a cloud in the sky and about 60 degrees. I took my time, being extra safe, finding some ducks and then losing them and getting there in about 45 min. Upon my arrival, part of the lake still had shadow, and that section was alive with feeding fish. I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to quantify what it was like so I decided to count my action in hopefully a meaningful way.

Using the same rig again, (why fix it if it ain't broke), I kept track of my first 10 casts. I had nine fish caught. The only reason I didn't have ten is that on one of the casts the fish got away! I stopped counting. How can you quantify bliss? I spent about two hours at the walking lake throwing back almost everything. The fish were small, six to nine inches, but it was great fun. I had my lunch and worked my way back to the camping lake.

I read most of the afternoon and had a nap. I fixed the fish that evening in double wrapped foil along with spices and topped off an excellant meal with frozen daiquiries using the snow from under the trees. That evening as the shadows covered the lake I worked my way around again for about four more rainbows caught and realsed.

After dark, I built a campfire, and ended my day with hot cocoa and rum. What a perfect day! The next morning, after another fish around, and breakfast, I packed up including some fish packed in snow and was back at my car by nine AM. Maybe next time my fish out won't be so lonely!

Tony Plutynski