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TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

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TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby limpingcrab » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:59 pm

I've lurked and used this site enough so it's probably time I contribute. I'm posting this in the backpacking forum so friends can read it since the fishing forum is restricted. This is my third time to the forgotten valley, the first two were to climb and those trip reports can be found here: ... 2804n.html ... 3030n.html

I'll break this up by day so I don't pass the 12 pictures per post limit.


Day one and a half
My brother David and I have discussed, planned, replanned, discussed and thought out this trip to the point of exhaustion. He just moved back to the golden state from Tennessee where he finished his surgery residency. For over five years we have talked about fishing from Tehipite Valley to Yucca point, where the Middle fork of the Kings merges with the South Fork. With him out of the state and no other masochistic fishing partners the plan has been in the making for a very, very, very long time (ask our wives if you want proof).

At 7:00pm on Thursday our dad drops us off at the Rancheria trailhead and after a quick prayer for our safety he leaves us in the dark to start our march. It feels good to finally be walking instead of talking and planning, but with the October weather being an unknown we're still a bit apprehensive.

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About 14 miles and 5 hours later set up camp at Hay Meadow, the last available water before the final descent.

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It isn't long until we arrive at the semi-famous overlook on Friday morning. It might regular-famous if it wasn't for that pesky little approach and the 3000 ft descent to follow.

The unmaintained trail to the valley floor goes quickly and... wait, that's a lie. We feel like CruiseAmerica RV's plowing down a grade with our breaks smoking but once the river is in sight it's all relative. Every 30 seconds we waste is an extra cast lost!

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As soon as our lines land in the clear water rainbow colored footballs start going bonkers. The fish are all in the shallows and currents gorging themselves on some bug that must look like a stimulator. Or any nymph in our fly boxes.

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After a short stay in the valley we begin moving downstream. Before long we've each landed a double on our dry/dropper rigs. That's a good omen if there ever was one! As a bonus the predicted afternoon showers and wind are nowhere to be found.

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We've had a long day so we set up camp at the head of Little Tehipite Valley, what we think is a good position for our two day trek down to Yucca Point and Highway 180.
"Alright, if you want to filter some water I'll make a fire to cook the- oh crap, we forgot to keep any fish!" David says.
Hungry and a bit worried we discuss something we've been wanting to try...

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Night fishing with mice, and it works! Well, it works for David, I have no such luck as all my strikes grab the tail of the mouse instead of the size 00000000 hook. Night fishing is a blast and provides us with the food we need since we don't have anything for dinner.

We settle in to our sleeping bags exhausted but happy with the 55 wild trout we caught on our introduction to the river we'll be getting extremely familiar with over the next two days.
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby balzaccom » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:24 pm

Keep this report coming!

And great links to the climbs. Wow!

check out our website:
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby limpingcrab » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:28 pm

Day Two

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We wake up and don't immediately move. The plan is to hit the river early for the long days ahead but our muscles (or lack thereof) and minds (or lack thereof?) have other plans. It's 9:00am before our waterproof backpacks are loaded and we're on the move.

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More beautiful river and beautiful fish follow.

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Sometimes the travel is easy.

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Sometimes it's not.

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Then again, sometimes it is.

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But it's usually not.

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Either way, we've honed in on the fish. While they'll hit almost anything, stimulators and copper john's seem to work best and the knowledge is paying off. If we had a dollar for ever nice trout we landed we'd have, well, $90.

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The long day in and out and in and out of the river with all of our gear is taking it's toll on our bodies.

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I turn 31 today so we feast and get in a little more night fishing before a light rain forces us into the tent. The ultralight two person tent probably wasn't designed for two adults over 6 feet tall but we're so worn out that sleep finds us quickly anyway. It would be hard to come up with a better way to spend my birthday.
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby limpingcrab » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:13 pm

Day Three

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The mood is a bit different this morning. Maybe it's the low cloud deck with off and on rain, or maybe it's the fact that we can barely move, let alone imagine spending another full day working downriver.

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Or maybe, just maybe, it's the fact that when we check our location WE'RE NOT EVEN HALFWAY!!! We've been on the river for a day and a half and our dad is picking us up an hour after dark tonight. We're already worked and the majority of the unknown river lies ahead.

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We're in Rough Fire territory now so the mobile boulders are even more mobile. We have to either stay in the water or step on rocks with lichen and moss showing that they've been there a while and aren't likely to take us down with them.

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We pass Tombstone Creek, our halfway point, and evidence that we're not the only ones to get in a bit over our head on this stretch of river.

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The traveling isn't getting much easier, either.

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We've caught so many fish and are moving faster now so I go into monster hunting mode! I start throwing mice, wounded sculpin, streamers and anything that looks like it might get the attention of the big boys. They're all working and I land some fish in the low teens, but nothing huge. Eventually I tie on a big, black, gnarly looking rubber-legged realistic stonefly.

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And it pays off! Coming in at a shade over 18", this old soul fought his hardest but is no match for my average fly fishing skills.

David joins in on the fun and gets a few good fish but nothing to write home about. Eventually he goes back to a parachute adams because sight fishing is just so dang fun. I make fun of him for wussing out and chasing minnows.

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While I'm busy dropping my rod in a rapid and jumping after it, drenching myself in the process and freezing in the wind and rain, David throws his cute little fly into a pool and brings in the fish of the trip. 18.5" of perfect, fierce, wild rainbow trout with the color of a fish that owns its territory.

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With those two beauties behind us and a lot of river ahead we pick up the pace. Our Astral whitewater Kayak shoes come in handy as we move down the slippery rocks in the alternating rain and sun.

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We cross the South Fork of the Kings at sunset and make our way up the Yucca Point trail. It's apparent that crews have been hard at work restoring the trail after the fire, even though it was still marked as closed when we reach the road.

Our dad is there with food and a couple of beers and we trade stories on the ride back to Visalia and Fresno. 18 miles to the river, 8 miles down, two large bears, a psycho raccoon, 175 trout and one big squawfish later we're asleep and heading back to work. Repeating the trip sounds aweful now but, as usual, after a week or two we'll be scheming again.

Thanks for reading. Sorry it's not the high sierra, but there's no low sierra topix website and I though a few of you might be interested :)

-Daniel Jeffcoach

EDIT I forgot to mention when my life flashed before my eyes on the first night! I was peacefully emptying my bowels, trying to shed every ounce I could, when I heard a low rumble that sounded like a moan or growl (which was probably an airplane in hindsight). When I looked up with my headlight there were two huge orange eyes in the trees above staring down at me. They blinked and moved a little, surely a mountain lion preparing to pounce on dinner! I yelled and my brother came over with a brighter light. Turns out it was only a raccoon, but it was too late, the damage was done and it was a while before my heart slowed down enough to allow sleep. I'm normally comfortable in the dark mountains but that canyon has a way of making you feel vulnerable! It's a special place.
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Last edited by limpingcrab on Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:18 pm

Your first day alone is a must read report. The mouse fly and brown as the finisher...Yeah.

Then comes the scrambling and those big fat rainbows. Wow.

The climbing reports redefine the term "epic". Good gawd. I will try to avoid using that term in future references to various reports given that it won't measure up to those climbs.

I recall when you were planning this trip I wondered about the weather that was forecast for the weekend. Fortunately very little of that system came this far south. On the other hand, looking at your climbing background I can see why you weren't about to let a bit of rain spoil your fun.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby windknot » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:19 pm

Wow. Wow! Big browns on mice, huge rainbows on dries, and some intense river scrambling throughout. What a memorable trip. Thanks for sharing with entertaining commentary. Looking forward to your next report!
A few backcountry fishing pictures:
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby canukyea » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:23 pm

Wow what a trip! Epic is the only way to describe it. Intense river cross country travel plus a few beefy trout. These Western Sierra river canyons really have it all. I notice you guys did not wear waders, how was the water temperature?
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby limpingcrab » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:33 pm

Thanks guys! It was cold but not painful cold. I was trying to shed ounces so I didn't bring my thermometer but I'd guess mid-high 50s.

Edit: You have to be a logged in member to see pictures on here? That's kinda annoying.
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby DRJ1 » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:06 pm

Great trip report brother! I can say that every part of that trip report is true. Just looking at the pictures makes my legs ache though. The Kings River drainage is one of the most amazing fisheries in the nation (my biased opinion). The fish are not as big as the Midwest trout but they are wild and fight like banshees. Watching a 14 inch rainbow go airborn on a dry fly is a thing of beauty. As Daniel said, we both got double hookups on a dry dropper rig which was crazy. I hooked up a double again but only landed one. Although the average size was around 9-15 inches with our two 18+ guys there were multiple times I had smaller trout hooked and bigger ones came after them. From past experience we have landed trout over 20 inches on the middle fork. I would feel like I"m giving away a great fishing secret but to get to this river you have to be pretty darn motivated. I bet there are few if any guys each year that make it down that 8 mile stretch of that wild granite canyon.

A few tips to those that want to explore that part of the mountains:

Waders - don't do it. The river is too swift and rocks too slippery to wade. Your chance of falling in at some point are near 100% (we both did). Wet wading in something you can swim in is ideal. Cold water but tolerable in late summer/fall. If you stay in Tehipite Valley waders would be reasonable but then you have to be crazy enough to carry them out there. Waterproof packs are a near must for the same reason. An extra rod/real is good to have as well. You will throw/crush/slam/jab your gear into rocks as you make your way down the river. We had no lost or broken gear but it was touch and go. Lastly, go in the late season. The lower the water level the better the travel. Plus, hitting the fall caddis hatch is awesome. Lastly lastly, try night fishing with mouse patterns. That was a new experience for us but ridiculously fun.

Cheers to anyone who wants to go make the trip. It will take weeks for my legs to recover and my scrapes/cuts to heal but it was well worth it. One of the best fishing trips we have taken.

Again, kudos to limpincrab for the great read and pictures. Can't wait for the next adventure.
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Re: TR: Tehipite Valley Part III: Suffering for 175 trout

Postby gary c. » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:12 am

What an awesome trip and report!! Thanks for sharring with us.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
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