Conejo Valley Fly Fishers
Big mountains, little trout.
By Bill Becher
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This year I resolved to try fishing some of the high lakes in the Eastern Sierra. I'd backpacked in the 1960's and early 70's and enjoyed fishing with a spinning rod, fly, and bubble, and thought it was time to try again (with a fly rod this time, of course). Fortunately a friend, Taylor Burch, and his buddy Adam Wilbrecht, wanted to go as well. We decided to try an early season shake down hike to Long Lake out of South Lake west of Bishop. It looked like we might need skis, but then the weather turned warm.
We drove up Thursday night in the Winnebago and stayed at a campground near South Lake. The next morning we loaded up our gear and hiked up to Long Lake. The Lake was half frozen. Tom Greenup had suggested we look for a campsite near Bull Lake, which we did.
Fish were rising in the lake, especially near the inlet. We tossed some #18 Adams at them and soon had some small brookies. The general opinon of the membership, that this was the best fly to try in high Sierra lakes, and that it didn't really matter, proved accurate.
We had only brought two rods, so had to take turns. After a brief lesson Adam and Taylor were catching fish on almost every cast. We landed over 50 fish that day, all less than 8", mostly brook trout with a few rainbows.
After a dinner of freeze dried pasta with hot apple cobbler for dessert, we turned in. Note to self: bring a warmer sleeping bag next time in the early season. Even hot chocolate laced with schapps didn't keep me warm!
The next morning Adam and Taylor hiked toward Bishop Pass, but had to turn back due to heavy snow and ice fields. I headed for Ruwau Lake (Jimmy Toy had suggested that there were bigger fish there). Ruwau was completely frozen, as was the first Chocolate Lake I came to. The second was partially clear, and I caught some more small brookies. The last Chocolate Lake was also clear, but I didn't see any fish.
Taylor and Adam decided to take the lake loop tour and followed the same route, but a bit later. We decided that gaiters were the fashion for early season Sierra hiking, as we were occasionally "postholeing" in the softer snow. Having accomplished all our goals and feeling the effects of the 11,500 ft+ altitude, we decided to hike down to the Winnebago, rather than spend another night freezing. And our beer supply was running short.
Adam was "hooked" on fly fishing, as was Taylor, so we spent Sunday morning fishing Bishop Creek. We found some uncrowded water, and both guys caught some very nice wild browns on dries while I tied some flies and watched.
We plan on more High Sierra adventures, stay tuned!
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