Small Streams and Alpine Lakes Offer Sanctuary for the Angler
By Gary Lewis
He was easily the biggest trout I'd seen that day. Peering over the bank I could see him at the head of the pool, ready for whatever insects might drift down to him.
The smaller trout in the pool, just half his size, would have to settle for leftovers.
I eased away from the bank and knotted a fly to my ten foot leader. This trout would only give me one chance to catch him.
Downstream, the creek changed course in a ninety degree hard left turn between high banks. Approaching from the far bank would allow me the cover to cast without throwing a shadow on the water.
Kneeling, I cast a left curve onto the riffle three feet above the trout and held my breath as it drifted back.
The trout coasted backward with the current to take a look, paused, and reaching up, grabbed the fly. Stung, it leaped and ran to leap again, twisting and surging against the arc of the rod. I guided it into the gravel and, before removing the hook, measured the trout against my fly rod. Dark spots stood out against the green back and a broad red stripe ran from pink gill plate to tail. Eight inches. I cradled the fish in my hand, rocking it to move water through the gills until it kicked free. A lunker from a creek where the average fish is only half that size.
When you live in an area that people move to just because of the fishing it is inevitable that the best-known spots are going to be crowded.
The truth is that there are still some places you can go where you are the only angler in sight. You may have to hike a little and the trout may be smaller but solitude and good fishing are within reach.
The size of trophy trout are often in direct proportion to the water you are fishing. An eight inch trout on the tributary I was fishing was the biggest one around. Ten miles downstream this rainbow would be lunch.
Overcrowding and fishing pressure are the consequence of automobile access. Spend some time studying a map and you will begin to find the small lakes and tributaries that feed the better known waters. Often the fish won't be as big but the trout are hungry and action can be fast.
Hiking for the sake of hiking is not the same as hiking for the sake of fishing. It doesn't matter how far you go as long as you find solitude and eager trout.
When you realize that an hour with a map and an hour in your hiking boots can lead you to some of the best fishing days of your life, the investment seems small.