Kneeling on the flat boulder, rod tip held high overhead, I softly cradled my first golden trout in the frigid alpine waters. Pass over the log bridge or rock hop, and proceed on the flat trail skirting a meadow that holds Cottonwood Creek. However, their populations have been imperiled since the early 1900s. It is located 40 miles (64 km) east of Porterville, California within Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Forest. Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix... As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near... Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? Golden Trout Trail Map Located in the South Sierra Nevada mountains alongside the Southern Sierra Wilderness. Golden trout are native to the Kern River watershed in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, more specifically the Kern Plateau. The GTW was named for the brightly colored native golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita) which is the California State Fish. Head up the trail across a well made log bridge, rock hop one more creek and come to a junction. Our loop takes us deep into the wilderness to visit two of the most spectacular high alpine lake basins in the Southern Sierra: Cottonwood Lakes and Rocky Basin Lakes. 8/31/2016 3:29:29 PM. Please note that the gate leading to this trailhead is currently closed (06/04/2020). Common, effective wet flies and nymphs include soft-hackle flies, such as Hare’s Ear, and nymph patterns — Pheasant Tail, Copper John, Hare’s Ear in sizes 14-18. A number of common trout-fishing techniques with flies or lures coax these little beauties into a strike, but prepare to work for the goldens, particularly if fishing later in the season. Fly-fishing offers the best opportunity for success, in my experience. Richard B. Russell Lake on the... Give a Gift   Golden Trout Pack Station is the exclusive outfitter for packing and fishing the upper Kern River. Fishing is available in Maggie and Twin Lakes. Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here. This campground is located 45 minutes up from Highway 395 at an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. Slow trolling cut catfish baits can lead to dramatically more bites than still-fishing over an... Summer Playbook: Action abounds both on and off the water in the Western New York region. At no time in my life have I felt worse than amidst the dire clutches of altitude sickness. The Fishing Spots section is dedicated to letting you know where the fish are for all the lakes in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Avoid swivels and split-shot if possible for a more “natural” presentation. From the parking lot trailhead, there is a steep decent down to the river. A favorite is Gaia GPS, which allows maps of an area to be downloaded to most devices. Every year, just a few days after arriving on campus, first-year students find themselves on the trail to Golden Trout. The trail follows the Kern river until you reach an absolutely stunning meadow to make camp in. The Cloud Peak Wilderness has a lot of regulations—more than the Winds—but they let you camp within 100-feet of water, which is nice. While pursuit of High-Sierra gold is the allure of a backcountry trip into the Treasure Lakes, proper fishing gear and technique are only pieces of the puzzle of success. Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Golden Trout Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you. Mostly flat with more aggressive switchbacks at the end which actually is much better, since it's less boring. With some pre-trip planning and research, striking gold in the Treasure Lakes, or other areas of the Sierra Nevadas, is easily attainable. The primary decisions on backpacking destinations are centered on fishing for Golden Trout.The Golden Trout is the California State Fish. I quipped that James Bond would have loved this road. To get to Golden Trout Lakes, head north out of Big Sky on highway 191 for 5.1 miles. Just remember: information on catch rates and fish size can change dramatically between seasons. The complete hike climbs about 1,100 feet over 5 miles. (Photo by Brad Trumbo). For now, the north eastern part of the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Inyo remains open, which keeps the Pacific Crest Trail and trails at Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass, and Cottonwood Lakes open as long as those itineraries avoid the closure areas on the Inyo and the Sequoia National Forest (as a rule itineraries heading north from these trails). But for those who make the trip, catching a golden trout, the state fish, is worth the effort. Please be aware that the Cottonwood Lakes trail passes through Sequoia National Park and only service animals are allowed there, no pets. My breath, still labored from the climb, or maybe just the elevation, was sucked away completely as the line jerked tight between my fingertips. The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction. Sizing up Lake 3, I tied up a size 14 Hare’s Ear wet-fly on my 4-weight. The trail arrives at Lake 1 to the northeast. Dade loomed overhead to the south. The symptoms of altitude sickness are basically that of severe dehydration with headache, nausea, dizziness and energy loss. #9 - Trail Pass to Cotton Wood Lakes Loop [CLOSED]. #1 - Cottonwood Pass / New Army Pass Loop. Reaching the lake is an uphill hike but the first half is almost flat and the second part, the steeper one, is nicely graded. To avoid losing the trail among the boulders, follow the bottom of the drainage and work along the right side of the canyon as you ascend. A moment of panic overwhelmed me, as I realized I was playing a trout I had obsessed about for more than a decade. Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? Starting from Onion Valley, Golden Trout Lakes Trail ends at Golden Trout Lakes, in the John Muir Wilderness. Common Destinations: Golden Trout Lakes. Please review the USDA's map for further information. Golden Trout Lakes trail is a 5 mile out and back hike to a beautiful alpine lake in the Gallatin Range of SW Montana. Standard patterns like the Adams, Royal Wulff, Blue-winged Olive, and Caddis in sizes 16-18 reliably elicit strikes. Cottonwood Lakes Loop starts from Horseshoe Meadow and travels from the Golden Trout Wilderness into John Muir Wilderness. An awesome spectacle — its rich auburn belly, buttery yellow flanks and olive-sized parr marks — in a small package. Day-hiking can be enjoyable with the potential for an overall exceptional experience, but when breaching 10,000 feet, elevation is a force to be reckoned with. There are many phone navigation apps. Generally you can’t just do a quick day trip for these ornate fish. If backpacking this trail, you will need a wilderness permit from Lone Pine. If quick strips don’t work, slow the retrieve. From the northeast to the south, and around to the northwest, the Treasure Lakes are numbered 1 through 4 on a map included in Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide, published by the CDFW. Revered as one of the most beautiful trout in the world, golden trout have made the bucket list for many anglers, myself included. A permanently shadowed, remnant snow pack, dusted gray by the wind, was feeding the lakes. From here you can see west into Sequoia and Kings Canyon for spectacular views. Information on trips to Coyote Lakes in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Note: Parts of this trail are closed on the western side of the route. Let your line sink at least 6 to 8 seconds before beginning your retrieve. Langley. The feeling of amazement and blessing, as I gazed for the first time upon the overall masterpiece of a true golden trout in the Sierra Nevada backcountry, will not soon depart. The hike isn't very stenuous at all. Thirteen-thousand-foot Mt. Watching fish approach the fly from more than 20 feet away is a remarkable experience. The TripThe Golden Trout Wilderness is more open and gentler than the better-known areas of the Sierra to the north. All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. Trail ends at Sheep Mountain entrance of the Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW). A very nice trip into the lesser used Golden Trout Wilderness in the Southern Sierras. Stripping a size 16, bead-headed nymph will produce when larger flies fail. #2 - Muir Lake from the old Cottonwood Trailhead. Stepping down onto a boulder along the lake’s edge, I rolled the olive-green sinking line into the depths. Want to tangle with giant striped bass during the fall months? Lakes 1 and 2 hold golden and brook trout, while only goldens are found in lakes 3 and 4. It provides excellent location and species information. I recommend using it in combination with additional internet searches to understand length and difficulty of hikes, trail popularity and quality of fishing for a given lake. Golden Trout Wilderness School is a non-profit educational center located at Golden Trout Camp in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Golden Trout Wilderness tour: Kern Lake Sequoia National Forest. Accessing the wilderness via the Mosquito Flats-Mono Pass Trailhead provides a generally modest hike into some of the most scenic wilderness the Western U.S. has to offer. The diligent angler can find these lakes scattered across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Once you reach the river, there is a relatively easy forging. Falcon/Globe Pequot Press. Each trip reaffirms the fact that the road sucks. © 2021 Outdoor Sportsman Group. Golden trout fishing requires gaining altitude to where the scenery and trek can take your breath away. As a boy, fishing the South Fork Kern River in 1913, he reported catching California golden trout in the "gorge" just upstream of the Bloomfield Ranch, near the southern boundary of the Domeland Wilderness. All Rights Reserved. It offers scenic views of the Sierra, meadows, alpine terrain, and lakes. Please note that the Cottonwood Lakes trail passes through Sequoia National Park and only service animals are allowed there, no pets. I typically assume information older than two years to be a data point, but not necessarily accurate to the present. But beware, goldens can be quite picky, scrutinizing a dry fly like a clever spring creek brown trout. Locate the trailhead. His martini would have been extremely well shaken. Sight-casting works with a soft presentation. Golden trout are most often found in remote, alpine drainages over 9,000 feet in elevation. Lay out a dry fly on a 7 1/2-foot, 5X tapered leader, where the shallows drop into the deep blue, and let it ride. Please note that the gate leading to this trailhead is currently closed (06/04/2020). Starting at Horseshoe Meadows parking lot (10,000') on the left S, you head up some soft incline and a few switchbacks to hit the PCT. You can avoid the buoyancy issues of the tapered leader, and the softness of the fluorocarbon will allow the fly to move more naturally under water. They are native to Kern Plateau area but their native populations are strained due to the introduction of invasive species and habitat destruction. While some larger fish may be lurking in the depths, the majority of your catch will likely measure 12 inches or shorter. Below the shimmering surface of the crystal-clear depths lay pure California gold. Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe, 6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow, The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish, 10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About, 10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made, Work the Night Shift for After-Dark Crappies, Precision Slow-Motion Techniques for Reservoir Catfish. To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine. Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter. Their beauty, complimentary to the breathtaking wilderness areas in which they thrive, the effort required to reach their habitat, and the suite of skills required to entice a strike harmoniously strums every chord in my soul. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets. The main trails are well-manicured, but an official trail to Treasure Lakes has not been developed. Includes details of wilderness areas, latest sierra wilderness news, resources for planning your trip, and notes from professionals in the field. Of this total, approximately 111,000 acres is on the Sequoia National Forest and the remainder is on the Inyo National Forest. Cheyenne - The name golden trout conjures up images of pristine, remote, wilderness, spectacular, sore knees and an aching back. The Golden Trout has supported native populations of golden trout (California’s state fish) for thousands of years in the drainages of the Upper Kern River. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt recommended a biologist to be dispatched to study the plight of California’s golden trout. After all, to get to where golden trout live, a long arduous journey is often required. The first step is perfecting your release. The Golden Trout Lakes trail (Trail #89) is located up Portal Creek in the Gallatin Canyon near Big Sky. Numerous hiking adventures are possible. If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and... Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? In fact, much of the South Fork of the Kern River is only accessible to the dedicated outdoorsmen who are willing to ride in by horseback. Two subspecies of golden trout are recognized; South Fork Kern golden trout and the Little Kern golden trout. Fly-fishing for golden trout is a time-consuming, obsession-creating adventure of a time. You can chose to complete the loop section anyway you like. Be sure to place the fly far enough ahead of a cruising fish to avoid spooking it as the line touches down on the clear water. |   On the Sequoia National Forest … With burning thighs and short breath, I gazed back at Long Lake, about a mile and hundreds of feet below. From the west, various roads stem from Hwy 190 near Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Golden Trout Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1978. The Forks of the Kern Trail is a wonderful out & back 2-3 day backpacking trip. Hydration is also key in remaining comfortable at high elevation. The gray walls of the high peaks reflected off the deep blue of the lake. Prior to heading out to catch The Big One, you will need to know a few things. The Golden Trout Wilderness is a good area for novice backpackers and stock users. Swedo, Suzanne, Hiking California’s Golden Trout Wilderness. Standing among the jagged peaks, stunted pines and crystalline waters of the alpine elevations neatly framed the experience for this angler. Here's everything you need to know to load a stringer with slabs under the lights. Packing light with a water filter is a viable option. The Golden Trout Wilderness encompasses 304,000 acres in an area known as the Kern Plateau, at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. Langley attempt in the Golden Trout Wilderness of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Season is in full swing and our wranglers are working hard and playing hard. (Photo by Brad Trumbo) THE PURSUIT Lure patterns such as Panther Martin, Rooster Tail, Super Duper, and Daredevle spoons are reliable classics, but use the smallest size available. The trail begins to gain elevation and you will want to avoid a turn off toward Golden Trout Camp. Muir Lake from the old Cottonwood Trailhead, Mount Langley Loop via Cottonwood Pass [CLOSED], John Muir Trail: Horseshoe Meadow to Happy Isles [CLOSED], Forks of the Kern Trail to Painters Camp [CLOSED], Trail Pass to Cotton Wood Lakes Loop [CLOSED]. In 1978, the Golden Trout Wilderness was established within the Inyo and Sequoia National Forests, protecting the upper watersheds of the Kern and South Fork Kern Rivers. This trail is steep, rugged and difficult to follow. Most of the fish were golden trout, which are not native. Horseshoe Meadow has two major trailheads (Cottonwood Lakes and Cottonwood Pass) providing access to areas such as the Golden Trout Wilderness, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, and the John Muir Wilderness. Turning around, I faced the cluster of four alpine lakes, known as the Treasure Lakes, in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The U.S. Forest Service publishes a free guide (PDF format) — Eastern Sierra Backcountry Fishing Guide – USDA Forest Service — to the high lakes. The solemn green of the evergreens cast deep contrast against the light granite with a dappling of brilliant goldenrod amid sparse quaking aspen and grasses changing with the season. Strips should be short and quick, about 6 inches at a time, pausing the fly randomly after a series of strips. Lakes 1 and 2 hold golden and brook trout, while only goldens are found in lakes 3 and 4. Backcountry fishing also requires thrift in gear selection. Fantastic tenkara fishing. A narrow fisherman’s path follows the Treasure Lakes drainage from the southern end of Long Lake, traversing a long boulder field as it climbs. The 300,000+ acre Golden Trout Wilderness (GTW) was designated by Congress in 1978. Golden Trout Lakes Dayhike I've bumped my way up the Portal Creek road a bunch of times over the past forty years. Golden trout can be as finicky as they are beautiful – especially late in the season. Instead, cut a 4-foot length of light fluorocarbon line as your leader. I recommend a full-sinking fly line and just a few common wet-fly and nymph patterns as the single, most effective method. The campsites along the way are lovely usually skirting the meadows but watch out for the livestock - cows, horses, mule deer and bear tracks are common. There are trails that shoot off from this loop that head to Muir Lake, South Fork Lake and New Army Pass. The Little Lakes Valley is nestled between the towns of Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, along the eastern side of the Sierras. Inside the remote rugged peaks of a deep, granite crevasse known as the Upper Kern River with ancient Sequoia forest to the west and to the eats, some of … It is thought that California golden trout may have extended downstream of Lake Isabella prior to the construction of Isabella Dam. All waters on the Kern Plateau are open to angling, although many are accessible only by trail since both watersheds are largely encompassed within the Golden Trout Wilderness. The California golden trout, or simply the golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita or Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita), is a species of trout native to California.The golden trout is normally found in the Golden Trout Creek (tributary to the Kern River), Volcano Creek (tributary to Golden Trout Creek), and the South Fork Kern River.It is the state freshwater fish of California. Family Fishing Getaway: Niagara Falls, N.Y. 5 Fall Fishing Tips on How to Earn Your Stripers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power, Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC, Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod, Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months. We service the Golden Trout Wilderness, home of the beautiful Golden Trout, as well as trips to the Sequoia National Forest. The entry point and home base for the Golden Trout Wilderness and Cottonwood Lakes is the campground, Horseshoe Meadows. You may need to vary retrieval speeds, and if a simple reel-in retrieve doesn’t produce with the Daredevle or Super Duper, try pausing or twitching randomly. Another tip for fishing wet flies and streamers: steer clear of a tapered leader. Like Cottonwood Lakes, the portion of the Kern River where golden trout can be found is extremely tricky to get to. Cottonwood The trail arrives at Lake 1 to the northeast. It is celebrated for its expansive meadows, flowing creeks, and the fish for which the wilderness is named. Keep the fly on the water as long as possible, allowing cruising fish to spot the fly. Extending from the western foothills all the way to the eastern high desert, the Golden Trout Wilderness can be reached from both sides of the Sierra Nevada range. The distance to the lakes is approximately 2.2 miles, and the elevation gain is approximately 2,200 feet. Subscriber Services. The trail follows the PCT for about 10 miles, past Chicken Spring Lake, and then on around to the west of Cirque Peak to meet up with New Army Pass (12,300') just south of Mt. Golden Trout Pack Station offers horseback riding, fly fishing, hunting, and And if all else fails, choose a smaller fly. Almost too easy. Approximate hiking time to the lakes is 5-6 hours. At an elevation of 11,200 feet, Cottonwood Pass serves as a gateway to the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.The pass is reached via a 3.5-mile one way trail from Horseshoe Meadow, which has an elevation of 10,000 feet, making this is one of the easiest passes for hikers to reach in the Eastern Sierra. There are a number of golden trout lakes in the Sierra Nevada range, but the Treasure Lakes in the Little Lakes Valley are by far the most productive, in my experience, and are managed under the general fishing regulations for the Sierra District of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Both are found in this wilderness. After a 6-second countdown, I began my retrieve with short, quick strips, pausing randomly. The area is traversed by several hundred miles of scenic trails and two wild and scenic rivers (North and South Forks of the Kern River). If spinning gear is your forte, focus on ultralight tackle with no larger than 4-pound-test monofilament or similar diameter fluorocarbon line for finicky fish. The heaviest use of the wilderness is near Burnt Corral crossing of Little Kern, Little Kern Bridge, and Forks of the Kern, Coyote Lakes, Maggie Lakes, Rattlesnake Trail and Kern … This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months. When conditions are right, dry-fly fishing can be remarkable. After a mile there is reliable water in the form of a creek. Chap stick and sunscreen or long sleeves, pants and a large-brimmed hat are important as the sun’s rays are more intense in the alpine environment. The trip begins on a mostly sandy trail leading you North into the Golden trout Wilderness. This week-long trip, which is divided between camping at Golden Trout Wilderness School and backpacking through the surrounding Cottonwood Lakes Basin in smaller groups, is their first taste of the Thacher outdoor experience. First make sure to obtain a fishing license. Your source for Sierra wilderness information. The Season is in full swing and our wranglers are working hard and playing hard. The fly was engulfed as it slowly sank on the pause. The historic distribution of California golden trout includes two watersheds draining the Kern Plateau of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountain range in California: Golden Trout Creek and the South Fork Kern River. Tapered leaders carry buoyancy that floats the fly above the sinking line and reduces the fly’s action. The Department of Fish and Game use some of the lakes in this area as a hatchery, from which they seed the Sierras with Golden Trout. Breathtaking trail and plenty of close mountains to … In the 1960s, the State of California embarked on an intense conservation program to conserve the species and their habitat, which was historically damaged by heavy livestock overgrazing. Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe. If traveling to the Sierras from elevations below 6,000 feet, consider camping or lodging at about 8,000 feet for a couple days to acclimate to the environment before setting out for higher destinations. The Golden Trout Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada, in Tulare County and Inyo County, California. Above Lone Pine lies the eastern portion of the Golden Trout wilderness. From the east, most visitors approach from Hwy 395 near Lone Pine. Other things to consider in thin air at altitude is the sun’s rays. — Scott Trumbo. #5 - Maggie Lakes via Summit Trail [CLOSED], #6 - Mount Langley Loop via Cottonwood Pass [CLOSED], #7 - John Muir Trail: Horseshoe Meadow to Happy Isles [CLOSED], #8 - Forks of the Kern Trail to Painters Camp [CLOSED]. The drainage from Golden Lakes is barely visible of the left-ish. California’s state fish, the California golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is native to only two creeks draining the Kern Plateau but has been distributed throughout many of the high Sierra lakes where they now thrive. The hike is relatively flat. Each rock threatens to jar the fillings out of ones teeth. There are a few places to get water, but 3-5L for the entire hike is good enough. NOTE: As of September 2020, this trail is closed due to unhealthy air quality. In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean. It's easier than you think — and will put more big bass in your boat. It’s common knowledge that atmospheric oxygen saturation decreases with increasing elevation, but it’s difficult to appreciate the significance of “thin air” without having survived it. Golden Trout Creek is a designated Heritage and Wild Trout Water. The trail pass fortunately has no quota. The trailhead lies at approximately 10,200 feet elevation, 20 minutes up the Rock Creek drainage from U.S. Highway 395. Thirty minutes of channeling my inner mountain goat, teetering and hopping up, over and across jagged granite, I found myself perched 11,300 feet above sea level. Excellent fishing for brook trout in two 10,000 foot lakes. Wind can be unpredictable in the higher elevations, but casting comes easy when the gusts lay down. The South Fork Kern River is a designated Wild Trout Water. Our entire route is nicely portrayed on the Tom Harrison map: “Golden Trout Wilderness." Beautiful Alpine Lake. While pursuit of High-Sierra gold is the allure of a backcountry trip into the Treasure Lakes, proper fishing gear and technique are only pieces of the puzzle of success. This is an entrance to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. It is beautiful and a hard to get to area that is first come first serve and has about 10-15 camping spots. A Mt.