Sept 11, 2014 Golden Trout of Lake Zuul- Day 2 of 5 Days in the Sierra
For years I've been wanting to fish the mythical Lake Zuul and it's Golden Trout. Mythical because it's shrouded in mystery. Notoriously difficult to access, possibly dangerous if you get caught in inclement weather and possibly a waste of time if you don't catch it just right.
Rumors of few but large Golden Trout abound but you have to catch it at the right time. There's no natural spawning and planting is intermittent. Some years the trout are huge but there aren't many of them. Other years they're plentiful but all the same size and still other years they're non-existent- having died or been harvested until the lake receives it's far and few between plantings.
Roger knows the lake and so it was that we embarked on our trip with hopes of catching large Golden Trout.
The hike begins along a steep freestone creek that I've fished before. The trail leaves the creek and travels to the top of a high plateau. From there it's best guess down the lake, across talus and scree. At least that's the route we chose. Since the lake is essentially off trail, there are many routes that can be taken. Ours was 3.2 miles with 1,530 feet of climbing to a height of over 11,000 feet. It's took us 2.5 hours.....
Lake Zuul was amazing. An incredible deep aqua blue color, no doubt due to the minerals in the water absorbing that precise wavelength of color. I've never seen it's like before.
The fishing at our destination wasn't quite what we expected. We walked the shoreline a bit before dropping our packs on a nice perch above the lake that gave us a pretty good view of the surrounding area. There were cruising fish but nothing of the size that we expected. That said, no golden trout shall go to waste. It isn't always about size so we went about catching the largest fish that we could. At first it seemed as if it was going to be easy.
I could it seemed, induce a strike to either dry or nymph. The fish displayed the stunning crisp bright- red, yellow and bronze colors that only Golden Trout can.
As the day progressed, I seemed to loose my mojo. I could watch time and again as fish would approach my fly and turn away at the last second. "Racist fish" Roger laughingly called them. He was catching fish hand over fist, while I was lucky to get a couple of strikes in an hour. Clearly I was doing something wrong and never quite figured out what it was. By mid day, I was essentially asleep at the switch and when the largest fish of the day clearly approached and took my dry fly, I was in such disbelief that I didn't even set the hook!
I'll probably never live that down but it was great fun and a good laugh!
For Day 4 and 5 of the 5 Days in the Sierra please read: The Anonymous Lake and Search for Large Char