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Hike in/Alpine/Backcountry Lake on the fly?

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  • Hike in/Alpine/Backcountry Lake on the fly?

    Anyone do any backpack fishing into backcountry lakes?
    My guess is you don't want to give me your honey hole and I totally understand, but is there any books or guides out there that could point me in some direction?
    I've hiked eagle cap wilderness on a fishing trip but am interested in some backpacking spots a little closer to home

    I at the very least have this as a starting point
    https://myodfw.com/articles/stocking-oregons-high-lakes

    Looking at the North Willamette area and there's some really interesting lakes in there that A: I've never heard of, and B: literally have no trail to, sounds like fun to me.

  • #2
    The Erma Bells lakes are no secret. Neither is Linton lake. Those are the two I've hit. Easy hikes and descent fishing. This should get it started.

    Comment


    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll take a look at Erma Bells!

  • #3
    Marion would be another based on quality......not really back country per se, but it is in a wilderness area..... I'm still learning the Cascades......if you ever make it down to the Sierra hit me up.....the PNW has got nothing on the Sierra when it comes to what you're looking for.

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    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      yeah I know Marion is definitely supposed to be good. It's definitely on the bigger side that I'm looking for.

      Yeah I know the Sierra's are great, I lived in South Lake Tahoe for years.

    • pigs
      pigs commented
      Editing a comment
      So you are familiar with Desolation then I assume.....my favorite lake is back in there.

    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      Desolation is a very special place.

  • #4
    Linton is worth a visit. The hike in is flat enough that a float tube isn't too much of a pack. Realize that the fish are not in the large size and it's more about the atmosphere and novelty.

    Wild horse lake in the Steens is worth it although it isn't near. The hike is a pretty steep mile'ish down and the trout are nice.

    Comment


    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm never one to complain about size of fish as long as they're wild and the scenery is beautiful.

      FWIW, the fishing part of backcountry fishing is always a bonus to the backpacking aspect. I've been a big hiker for awhile now, and fly fishing is relatively new to me (2 years) so fishing once I get to camp is just an extreme bonus and now a good way to find destinations for backpacking.

  • #5
    I know some stuff. Where do you live and how far can you hike in?

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    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      ha! I live in Portland, and can hike far

  • #6
    Here is a link to the book that I have used the most for recon on lesser known bodies of water, including LOTS of hike-in options arranged by region. Not necessarily a guide for the best "fly fishing specific" waters, but it's the best all inclusive guide I've found to learn about bodies of water you may not read about in other guides. For where I live, does a great job listing options I din't know existed relatively close to home in the Sisters Wilderness Area, Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area, Diamond Wilderness, Waldo Lake Wilderness Area, and others in the Deschutes National Forest. I used it this past weekend to explore the Malheur National Forest for the first time and found the basic info (driving directions, travel times, trail descriptions, public/private access, "what-to-expect") to be quite accurate, save for size and quality of fish as that is bound to change (for better and worse) as the info ages and water levels/general conditions fluctuate over the years. Not advocating you get it from Amazon, but it was the most handy link I could find. https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Angl.../dp/1932098860

    Comment


    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      This is perfect, I really appreciate it!

  • #7
    There's really A LOT of good water in our area. Some good FF hike in lakes I'd put up on the internet are as follows:
    ~Lake Lenore / Bull of the Woods Wilderness. Gazillion small to medium sized brookies. Hard to get to.
    ~Lower Welcome Lake; kind of on the way to Lake Lenore and a good alternate when you discover LL is just too dang far. Fly casting is challenging as shore is brushy.
    ~Cast Lake on Mt Hood. Has wide open casting lanes. Rainbows are smallish but aggressive. Good crawdad fishing too.
    ~Jorn Lake / 8 Lakes Basin. Decent fly casting, good sized trout. 7 miles or so in. Plenty of other lakes to explore too. Coming in via Duffy Lake is easier than Marion but don't get sidetracked at Mowich Lake if fishing is your goal.

    I've got more but you'll have to track me down in person. The easiest way to at a Clackamas Fly Fisher's meeting or something.

    Comment


    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you so much Dave!
      Cast lake was actually on my list to check out, everything I read said Cutts, but sounds like its actually Rainbows? Definitely interested in the longer hikes: Lenore and Jorn though!

    • KillerDave
      KillerDave commented
      Editing a comment
      You're probably right about the cutts. The ODFW has been changing over from rainbows to cutthroat in their high lakes stocking program. Also, the book "Fishing Mt Hood Country" is a really good.
      Last edited by KillerDave; 06-18-2019, 05:00 AM.

    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      "Fishing Mt Hood Country" <-Yeah, I've checked it out from the library a few times (I think its by Gary Lewis?) and have definitely got some good information in it. Mostly in the way of small streams. I'm just now getting into stillwater fishing, more so as a camp activity during back packing. Haven't quite been interested in the more leisurely boat type stillwater fishing yet.

  • #8
    I ended up hiking into Cast Lake this weekend. 13 miles round trip via Devils Canyon and East Zig Zag and then traversed Horeshoe Ridge and back down to the car.

    Absolutely beautiful lake. Water was warmer than expected so all the fish were rising a bit out of my casting distance. I fished my 5 wt Echo Glass rod. I don't know if it's my skill level or my rod choice but I definitely can't cast terribly far and it became very apparent this weekend (I'm used to casting ~20-30 ft) and can be fairly accurate at that distance. I don't actually have a 5wt graphite rod and definitely fell for the marketing of glass rods as something with "soul" as a first rod purchase. Am I wrong to thing a graphite rod will help me with distance or am I most likely just reaching for gear where I should be working on skill? Maybe both?

    Regardless, I lost three, had one small-ish brookie to hand and my buddy caught a gorgeous 12" thick cutthroat with a rooster tail on his spinner.
    Last edited by mcswny; 07-01-2019, 08:56 AM.

    Comment


    • KillerDave
      KillerDave commented
      Editing a comment
      Glad you got up there! I'd say watch some double-haul videos and practice. It sounds like you've had little use for distance casting in the past so naturally it wouldn't be a skill you've had a chance to develop. Once you get the hang of it you should be able to throw 60+ feet pretty easy with that glass rod, which is the head with 20' of running line.

    • mcswny
      mcswny commented
      Editing a comment
      I know, I can single haul decently but I have a really hard time on my forward cast.

    • KillerDave
      KillerDave commented
      Editing a comment
      That's really a really common casting issue. Keep your hands close together on the backcast and haul on the forward cast, which takes some getting used to. Most of the time when I fish the high lakes I use a spin rod because most of these lakes have brushy shorelines. Plus, spin fishing goes A LOT faster and when I'm with my kids/friends I like to spend quality time in camp with them-just a personal preference.

  • #9
    Spent another weekend on a backcountry alpine lake.

    This time was Big Slide Lake in Bull of the Woods. I brought my buddies 8'6" graphite rod this time (he was kind enough to lend). Already was able to punch the fly further with the graphite, but I still need to learn to double haul and this wasnt the ideal place to learn, (need to go to the local park) even though there was casting room.

    Overall, it was something like 12 miles with a little over 2k feet up and a good handful of small brookies were caught on size 16 elk hair caddis and 16 parachute adams.

    They had just run the helicopter stocking program for this two year program and it was apparent with all the little 2" fingerlings jumping clear out of the water.

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    • #10
      What trail did you take? I have seen Big Slide lake from Bull of the Woods lookout but have never hiked the Dickey Creek trail up the valley.

      Comment


      • KillerDave
        KillerDave commented
        Editing a comment
        What's the next hike?

      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm really interested in some of these lakes that aren't on the map or even searchable (on google), ie, Cub Lake off the power lines out off FS46. Wondering if I could take a dirt bike up the powerlines and then bushwhack in. Ercama Lake looks interesting, not a ton of information online which could make it promising or a dud. Skookum seems like it'd be a more family friendly hike so my wife and daughter could come and it'd be nice to fish along side Bigfoot

        I'd really love to get up to the Wallowas later this summer. The last time I was in the Lakes Basin was pre-fly fishing, and I'm itching to get back.

        The more and more I get into alpine lakes fishing, the more I'm thinking about a lightweight float tube or pack raft.

      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        A favorite John Gierach quote that really applies here

        "Maybe your stature as a fly fisherman isn't determined by how big a trout you can catch, but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed."

        For some reason I can't get my buddies on board..

    • #11
      Alpaca makes some nice looking pack rafts.....pretty spendy though.....I've been looking at pack rafts for years but haven't pulled the trigger....most of the lakes I fished in the Sierra it was walking the shore looking for cruising fish which is much preferred to me....but sometimes you gotta get offshore a bit I get it

      I admit to being kind of a big trout junkie, but you gotta be able to adjust what constitutes a big trout based on what's available!

      Comment


      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeah, I definitely like cruising the shore line (although I've never been in a float tube/pack raft). With that being said, it would open up a lot of the lake for me to get to. Obviously not always possible to bring when backpacking. One hack my buddy did was "floated" out into the middle of the lake on his Thermarest.

        Of course I like catching big fish (who doesn't). I think the thing for me is diversity in fishing locations, and as much as I like going to the Lower D, I like to mix it up and go to other places. My one good buddy disagrees and there's no real opportunity for big fish, his interest is lost. Alpine fishing for me is also not just about the fishing, it's equal parts backpacking, and camp activity. So if I can go backpacking where there happens to be a decent, fishable lake. All the better.

      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        Holy crap, those alpaca rafts are pretty sweet

      • pigs
        pigs commented
        Editing a comment
        I've found big fish in odd places......you just gotta get out there and check it out.....that's half the fun!

    • #12
      Fun thread to follow on all accounts.

      All I can contribute is to get yourself a simple float tube like a Caddis that can be partially inflated and strapped over a frame pack. Put your waders, boots, flies, food and water for the day in the pack and head out from your base camp with the hike-fish-hike back time factored in. (Be sure to take a headlamp for those times you have to cast "just once more" before heading back because the fishing is so good). But then most of the lakes I hike into have minimal or no bank access so you have to cruise around the lake finding the fish along with the right fly, and the right presentation, as is always the case with stillwater, yes? I guess you could call this, "old guy high lake fishing", where you can hike back after a day of fishing to a camp dinner, a martini (shaken, not stirred), cigar, and a conversation about the day around the campfire (when permitted of course).

      Hope this helps.

      Bill
      http://caddisman.deviantart.com/gallery/

      Comment


      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        Man, I see those Caddis tubes on craigslist for so cheap it's almost wrong not to get one.

        Are they of quality materials and theyre just cheap? The last thing I'd want is for it to get punctured, while in it, in my waders, in the middle of a backcountry lake.

      • Caddisman
        Caddisman commented
        Editing a comment
        Just got my second Caddis last year and gave away my old one of 20-somthing years. It was still usable, but the outer fabric needed some minor repair at the Velcro connections of the crossbar. The new one has buckles instead of Velcro, and more pockets.

      • mcswny
        mcswny commented
        Editing a comment
        point made

    • #13
      In the spirit of this thread, here's a couple photos from the Lakes Basin in the Wallowas a few years ago.

      Click image for larger version

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