When Research doesn?t pay
I do a lot of research before I fish any back country lake or area and even with the research I do I still stumble on some gems, sweet beaver ponds, or epic streams. However even with research sometimes pointing to the chance of some big fish it sometimes is a bust. This last weekend was one of those times.
One of my research books Kip Carey?s Official Colorado Fishing Guide had listed a lake that I wanted to hike to as barren, the book was published in 2003. Another great tool I use is Alan Makiel?s LakeFinder
. It unfortunately listed the lake as being stocked in 2005 with 821 cutthroats. These are ideal circumstances I look at when trying to determine a trophy trout lake. Based off the stocking information I know these fish if still around shouldn?t be stunted even if reproducing. They?ve had 7 years to grow which should put them in the 16-20 inch range. I was set!
The hike was going to be a rough one in a wilderness area since we had to hop over the divide and down to the lake. We wanted to get an early enough start since the afternoon summer thunderstorms had been moving through the area every day. With a steep climb at the beginning of the trail I was hopeful that we would stay up high only to find out we had to drop back down into the valley and climb back up over the saddle at the end of the hike.
The first climb wasn?t so bad with the legs still fresh.
Here we are on the valley floor again and the saddle in the background that we have to go over.
Finally we were at the top of the saddle and the lake finally visible, the wind and clouds kind of moving in already.
I always sit above the lake for a while looking for signs of fish activity and after 10 minutes or so and seeing no activity I was hopeful the wind was keeping them down. So I wanted to start at the outlet which from above looked shallower and had decent moving water where late spawners might be holding. We hiked down into the bowl and straight to the outlet. I began working the lake and still didn?t see any activity? the water was amazingly clear and had mostly a sandy bottom. But had deep enough water that made me hopeful it wouldn?t winter kill. However I had no activity in the lake outlet and walked the outlet a ways and didn?t see or spook any fish. So I headed back to the lake and started working my way to the little inlet area.
The entire lake was sandy bottomed and not much structure but had sandy shelves to deep drop offs. I was surprised at the lack of bug life; most lakes I fish in the high country have a ton of bugs swimming around, crawling on the bottom, or hatching. I did notice a few coming off the surface but not what I would normally expect to see. As I fished the inlet it became apparent that the lake was probably barren. There was no activity on the surface or under as I could see halfway across the lake even in the deep sections. Just to make sure I continued fishing around the lake checking every cove and drop off, to no avail. The amazing scenery made up for the lack of fish at the lake.
We packed up and hiked back to base camp? which luckily had plenty of brookies in the stream.