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High Sierra - Day 1

Got up, pretty far up, about 10000' up one of the passes over the weekend. AndrewL was back over from the UK to school me on stillwaters. I drug him into the mountains to try for a couple golden trout. After a casual roll out and a two-lane through fall-hued poplars past a 27% grade sign, and we were onto the piney forest route mid-morning on the way to the trailhead. A few bumpy miles, 2 lightly-loaded packs, a relatively short hike, and we were there on the edge. It was a little breezy, but not bad.

Decided to use some tiny caddis emergers, ants, and a bigger pale squashed caddis to imitate some white moths that were being blown into the water on the upwind side. We certainly got interest and had takes pretty quickly, but a very tough time hooking up. I was off the deep side and slightly raised point most of the time. With the clear water and a slight vantage, it was easy to see the trout spot, cruise over, slow, inspect, and mostly reject the fly. A heavy line on the water would spook. A floating tippet seemed to put them off as the first casts with mud nearly always got a take. Crouched watching as the goldens moved surprising speed down the banks was pretty amazing, but I had a tough time with my Viking concentration on the let it sit method. Andrew on the other hand was a rock. He had over 15 takes, but a streak of misses that would have sent me over the brink.

I wish I'd thought of it at the time, but going back to something Paul said at Hebgen about his Shipmans (which I should have tried) dawned on me over the last couple days. My tiny barely hackled caddis emerger hooked, but the ant and caddis, which were much easier to see, didn't. Paul said he only lightly greased a few fibers on the top so the fly passed through the surface film easier and into the trout's mouth. I suspect during the take my flies didn't suck in/react as a natural would so most missed. Got a couple quick rises by walking the edge and casting long up the shore onto their heads, one or two on a vibrated caddis (fluttering moth) and one on slow pulled damsal, but can't say I was nailing them.

We still officially got a couple small (very small) goldens to hand which were as Bruce might say "cute". Really wanted Andrew to see a bigger one with the fire belly, golden sides, and white-tipped fins. Maybe next time. It was my second outing to this spot. Next time I go up to this kind of water I'm going to have a better plan.

As the afternoon waned, we made our way back down toward our campspot 4000' below on the river and hopefully the evening rise.


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