TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6/26 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6/26

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TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6/26

Postby Asolthane » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:50 pm

This was the first trip of the season this year (2016) for me and only my second solo trip. This was the first year I had weekends free and I finally had money to upgrade my kit, so I was excited to try out some new gear. I specifically wanted to return to Rainbow lake because when I was there in Septermber of 2014 and at that point Rainbow was full of brook and rainbow trout. I had caught a couple nice 12" Rainbows, lots of small brookies, and got into one monster Brook trout...it must have been at least 19". I was really shocked to see a fish that large in that little lake. I couldn't land it without a net so I didn't get a chance to get a close look, but I did get this photo with a gopro:
Image

You can understand my motivation to go back and see if I could find that lunker again.

I drove from SF to Clover Meadow Campground on Thursday night and slept in the car. The mosquitos were insane. Getting the permint in the morning from the ranger station there was easy.

I was surprised how little snow there was. It's about a 7.5 mile hike in, with some pretty choice views of the Minaretts, Ritter, and Banner:
Image

I stopped at one of the little lakes below Flat Lake on the way in, and relaxed on a nice grassy lawn. Good thing I had a headnet with me, or it would have been miserable:
Image

I got to Rainbow Lake and spent a couple hours fishing...and I didn't see any fish anywhere. It was pretty strange, given how many fish were in there 2 years prior. :-k If there were any fish in there, they were holding on the bottom of the lake. WHen I was there they could be cruising around the shelfs and underwater structures. Do any of the fisherman here understand how a lake can change so much in such a short time?

I gave up and headed upstream to Ruth Lake. Limitied campsites up there, I ended up camping closer to water than I should have been but right on the ledge near the outlet, with a pretty amazing view right from camp. I spent quite some time looking for a tent spot farther from water but didn't find one. If anyone has been up there maybe they can advise, I felt bad as I am normally very careful to observe wilderness regulations.

Luckily, Ruth Lake was full of 10-13" chubby brookies. I had one for dinner but left the rest \:D/

The next day I was dealing with blisters from new boots, and generally being tired and out of shape on my first trip of the year, so I just relaxed and fished a bit and read my book.

Sunday I hiked out, but left the trail. Even though it was just a short trail diversion, It was amazing to remember the feeling of being up there wandering off trail.

I booked it back to camp, and did well breaking in my new boots in preparation for the season.
Last edited by Asolthane on Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6

Postby rhyang » Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:56 pm

Good to know, and some fine views there. I'd been thinking about the exact same trip last weekend.

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Re: TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6

Postby windknot » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:07 am

Thanks for the report! Too bad about the unfortunate change in fishing action but looks like you had a great trip regardless.

In my experience there are a few different possible reasons why a fishery can exhibit such drastic changes from visit to visit:

1. (most likely) The fish just happened to be more active than usual on one visit, and then just happened to be less active than usual on the next. There's a seasonal effect at play here, as September is usually great for Sierra fishing and though June is usually good too, for some lakes at relatively low elevations late June means the fishery is already entering the mid-summer "slump", when fish head down deeper to find cooler water. This variation also happens from day to day, and perhaps even based on the stage of the lunar cycle (there's a belief that fishing during the day is slower during a full moon because the fish are able to feed more easily at night -- I don't know how true this is).

2. (less likely) Part or all of the fishery was dependent on stocking, and so fish that were present one year may not be present the next if those fish died out between the two visits. This doesn't seem likely with just a two-year gap though.

3. (least likely) Part or all of the fishery was killed off, either by a long winter or by overfishing. The former can happen, but usually only with small/shallow lakes and very long/cold winters. The latter can happen too, but again only with very small lakes or very sparse populations of fish.

At any rate, thanks for the report. I didn't know Rainbow had brookies but looking at stocking data and especially considering that it's just downstream from Ruth I guess I should have known better.
A few backcountry fishing pictures: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6

Postby Asolthane » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:05 pm

windknot wrote:Thanks for the report! Too bad about the unfortunate change in fishing action but looks like you had a great trip regardless.

In my experience there are a few different possible reasons why a fishery can exhibit such drastic changes from visit to visit:

1. (most likely) The fish just happened to be more active than usual on one visit, and then just happened to be less active than usual on the next. There's a seasonal effect at play here, as September is usually great for Sierra fishing and though June is usually good too, for some lakes at relatively low elevations late June means the fishery is already entering the mid-summer "slump", when fish head down deeper to find cooler water. This variation also happens from day to day, and perhaps even based on the stage of the lunar cycle (there's a belief that fishing during the day is slower during a full moon because the fish are able to feed more easily at night -- I don't know how true this is).

2. (less likely) Part or all of the fishery was dependent on stocking, and so fish that were present one year may not be present the next if those fish died out between the two visits. This doesn't seem likely with just a two-year gap though.

3. (least likely) Part or all of the fishery was killed off, either by a long winter or by overfishing. The former can happen, but usually only with small/shallow lakes and very long/cold winters. The latter can happen too, but again only with very small lakes or very sparse populations of fish.

At any rate, thanks for the report. I didn't know Rainbow had brookies but looking at stocking data and especially considering that it's just downstream from Ruth I guess I should have known better.


Huh. Well since I fish with Tenkara I am a bit limited with what I can reach lake fishing. If I could have cast some metal deeper into the lake maybe I would have found something. But Rainbow has some shallow bay like sturctures, and the last time I was there I could stand on a rock and see tons of fish. This year nada.
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Re: TR: Fernandez Trailhead to Rainbow and Ruth Lakes 6/26-6

Postby rlown » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:36 pm

Nice trip.. Nice underwater shots.. :thumbsup:
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