Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Emigrant Wilderness Adventure 2020

   Anytime you talk about "great trout fishing" you immediately set the bar high for those listening, and my conversations with Will Steiger and Zach Sprenger did exactly that.  Although Will was fast becoming a solid fly fishermen, having fished stripers, as well as the surf, Will had not yet fished for trout...let alone experienced blue ribbon trout fishing!  With some basic fly tying instruction (and Youtube) Will was tying some great looking trout flies, and buzzing with excitement about a possible horse pack trip into the Emigrant Wilderness.

Zach was already a seasoned fly fisherman and fly tyer, but was equally excited about a wilderness pack trip, and hopefully, great fly fishing.  With both guys primed and excited, they made the necessary plans to take time off, and join me for this epic adventure into the "Tall and Uncut" beauty of the Emigrant Wilderness.  

However, with fires raging all over California, the Stanislaus National Forest was closed, and it did not look like our trip would materialize.  A call to the pack station, at Kennedy Meadows, assured me that they were open, and we should "come ahead".   When we arrived at the Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, we were told that even though the pack station and resort were open, the forest was "....closed....until today".  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I missed the call from Kennedy, telling me that our trip was cancelled.  BUT since the forest was now officially open, TODAY, our pack trip was ON!  Whew!  Since the forest had been closed, there were no fishermen, or backpackers, in the back country.  We had it all to ourselves!

Breakfast at Kennedy Meadows

The perfect way to start the long journey into the wilderness

(Yes, that's Zach, on the right, with 3 platters of food!  Grin!)

6:00am, the next morning, our gear was loaded on the mules, and we were saddled and headed up the mountain!  Our destination-Emigrant Lake.  Starting out at an elevation of 6,400 ft. we climbed to 10,000 ft. before descending to Emigrant Lake, at 9,000 ft. It seemed like every step we were climbing, for 6 hours.


To say that Emigrant Lake is beautiful, is an understatement!  Cut by ancient glaciers, the domes and granite mountains are breathtaking!

After setting up camp at the base of a magnificent dome, we were ready to fish!

Big 12" to 15" brook trout were waiting, and did not hesitate to eat our streamer flies.   
(Note: It seems that the brook trout are slowly taking over Emigrant Lake.  We caught considerably more  brookies, than in years past, and fewer rainbows.  😔)

After an incredible first day, it was time to pack our tubes, and head to an area of the lake that is home to big rainbows eager to feed on grasshoppers.  

I had painted a vivid picture of rainbow trout crashing the surface to eat our hopper imitations, and Will was prepared!  Lurking around the huge boulders and islands were rainbows, hungry for our offerings.

Will with a big Emigrant, hopper-eating, rainbow!

There was no question when Will hooked a trout, and I can't blame him for shouting out...every time!  Grin!😎

Typical 15" to 17" Emigrant Rainbow

Zach casting to selective rainbows, with tiny midges.
Early morning dry fly action!

Words cannot express this incredible beauty!

Brook trout breakfast!
(Yes, it was as good as it looks!  Grin!)

To break up our trip, we hiked up the mountain, to check out Emigrant Meadow.  The climb took us about 1,000 ft. up

...and 3 miles, to this beautiful lake.  There were a few big brook trout living here, but only hooked one.  You really had the feeling that you were "on top of the world".  

Emigrant Meadow Lake

Casting a mouse pattern to the rocks at dusk!

Headed Home

Many thanks to our Creator, and to Will and Zach 
for the memories of an incredible trip!



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