Saturday, September 07, 2013

Monday, September 02, 2013

High Mountain Lake fishing (but no catching)

I had the rare chance to get up to a high mountain lake and Steffan and I were itching to get out. I planned to crash at Steffan's in Boulder on Friday night and head up super early on Saturday morning. Huge thanks to Steffan who hooked me up with a beautiful Orvis large arbor Hydros reel for my 40th birthday - an amazingly generous gift - thanks man!

The lake is located in the Poudre basin. The ride from Boulder is a good 2.5 hours - the hardest part is the slippery drive through the beautiful and burned out canyon for over 60+ miles. We left about 4:45am and after a couple stops (gas/piss/chase a pheasant/pay fee) we were at the trailhead about 7:15am.  We saw 7 or so moose (1 had a ginormous rack) at the top of one of the passes and plenty of hunters already parked along the side of the road.  

The Cragg views are amazing - straight up sheer crumbling rock. The view was sure to be amazing, but the uphill climb was killer, especially at 10,250 feet. The trail is only .8 miles, but it felt straight up with 400 ft elevation gain. At the top we got these views.

As you can see it is the typical high mtn lake, cliffs fall straight into the glacial green water. The lake is shallow around the edges, but drops to 10+ feet almost immediately. There was no sign of life in the lake for the first 30 minutes or so we were there. We were the only people on the lake and it was completely quiet - which is very eery. We made our way around to the side of the lake and started off with a streamer (me) and a dry (Steffan). As we made our way into the water and waded out a few feet it was easy to see that the water was going to win the numbness battle. At 40 degrees (I'm guessing) your legs and feet (and other nether regions) freeze quickly. Unfortunately with close quarters behind us and our shitty casting ability, we were needing to wade out over our nuts to get to the deepest spots. I switched to chiros after losing the streamer to the back cast gods. No luck.
We fished for another hour or so. During that time the lake started filling up. We decided to head around the bend into the cove - but there was someone there. We went around them and then came around a huge rock to see beautiful cutties swimming near the top looking for dries. We immediately switched back to dries. Steffan stuck with the dries, but I was back on the chiros. Still no luck. The fish just wouldn't eat.

We fished until 11:45 and gave up - hiked out, back in the truck around 12:15. We decided to hit the Poudre on the way back, and found a spot about half way back. The spot looked well fished, and I think in the bait fishing area - I left my chiros on and cast into the first pool right by the truck. First cast and I landed this beautiful 16 inch cutthroat - amazing fish, healthy, fought hard, amazing - and I caught him on the snowcone grey chiro - crazy!!
I caught another smaller rainbow and a dink brown out of the hole and gave it to Steffan. I moved down a couple hundred feet and caught another rainbow out of the rock garden area. Nothing fancy.
Steffan didn't have much luck and so we decided to leave - still having a long ride home - and me to HR.
Great day to get out, beautiful area, great scenery, good beers, and good to hang with Steffan. Thanks man!