Why Golden Trout Lakes?
First let me say that I am not an avid fisherman.
I have been backpacking in the sierra since the mid 1970’s and have done my
share of fishing along the way but until 1999 the reasons I backpacked had nothing to do with trout fishing or golden trout fishing.
I backpack for the challenge, the beauty and, most of all the solitude. The daily grind of the city and day to day life really gets to me and I always love to escape to the mountains to recharge my battery.
My favorite places are the eastern sierra and Yosemite Valley. I have spent much time in each of them the past decade.
Me fishing for Brook Trout at Rae Lakes in the 70’s
On my boulder @Puppet Lake 1999
Now, with regards to golden trout fising, there were several years when I did not backpack. I was busy raising my family and none of my friends at that time backpacked.
In 1998 a friend from work invited me to go with his group on a long trip beginning at Kearsarge Pass through Evolution Valley and back via Lamark Col. I studied the trip and felt it was too much for me at that time so I declined.
Lucky I did as the winter of 1997-1998 buried the eastern sierra in deep deep snow and the trip that year was very difficult and some members sustained serious injuries while coming down Lamark to North Lake as the trail was buried and they went the wrong way.
Lamark Col in September
Muir Hut at Muir Pass
The next season I decided to give it a try. That year we went over Pinecreek Pass and spent a week in the area around Puppet Lake. I learned that year that the group I had joined were avid golden trout fisherman and that was the purpose of their outings.
For the next 13 years I was out every summer at least once and often twice. Our trips were usually at the end of August or early September to avoid snow on the passes and mosquitos.
During that span I purposely visited over 10 lakes that were well known golden trout lakes. Along the way I fished about a dozen more lakes that were good for catching golden trout.
On our trips which were normally about 7-9 days long and covered 30-60 miles we would camp near water. When we were camped at a lake on our way to our destination lake I would, time permiting, put my gear together and throw my line in. The lakes I had good luck at are included in my Awesome Golden Trout Lakes articles. They are the ones with no name.
It has been asked whether the information in these articles is up to date and accurate. I have seen comments that the conditions at these lakes change regularly.
No doubt that is a legit comment.
I have never fished these lakes early in the season so I don’t know if the fishing is better, worse or non existent.
I also know that in the first years of tne 21st century there was a push to remove invasive species from some lakes to protect native plants and animals. Since the golden trout is non native many of them were removed. This, no doubt would have affected the fishing.
Some Golden trout lakes were stocked but that practice stopped decades ago so only self sustaining populations of golden trout remain.
Still, most of the named lakes in my Awesome Golden Trout collection were well known to golden trout fisherman long before we visited them. We ventured to these golden trout lakes based on their reputation. We knew there was no guarantee we would be successful. The best golden trout lakes are the ones that require patience, cunning and guile to catch the golden trout. The harder it is to catch a golden trout the bigger they usually are.
The bigger goldens were likely to smart to get caught and removed and they are big because their habitat sustains them.
Mountain Yellow Legged Frog
For me these trips were never about the fishing. While the serious fisherman in our group would spend all day hiking around a huge lake to catch a couple of fish, I would be sunning on a large elevated boulder writing about our experience. I would also photograph the landscape and capture their catches on film.
I can tell you that if you use the Awesome Golden Trout Lakes as a backpacking guide and not a fishing guide you are in for some real challenges, real beauty, real solitude, real adventure and lifelong memories. You don’t need to catch fish to enjoy these hikes.
But If you are a fisherman and you are interested in catching the California Golden Trout you could spend days and weeks looking for a lake that contains them. Many high sierra lakes have brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout but most of them do not have golden trout. Many of the lakes in the eastern sierra have no fish at all!
So, in closing, while the information found in the Awesome Golden Trout Lakes might not reflect the fishing experience you will have fishing them I can guarantee that your will be challenged to get to them. I will guarantee that you will see grand and awe inspiring wilderness and I will guarantee that others know about and travel to these lakes every year due to their reputation as Awesome Golden Trout Lakes.