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Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

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Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:39 pm

My first post here but I have been reading (I guess lurking) through the different forums since last summer and boy is there a lot of info here!! So hopefully you guys and gals can shed some light or point us in the right direction. My wife and I are planning to do a 5 day, around 30 mile trip over the 4th of July holiday. Living in Fresno, we have lots of options in the area but I have tried to narrow it down five different trailheads/areas. I have backpacked quite a bit but mostly in the the GTW, while my wife is fairly new to this and has been on three trips with me: dinkey, nelson and spanish lakes. We both love to fish so that would be the main focus for us, along with enjoying the beauty of the high sierras. I love catching brooks, rainbows and goldens and do enjoy hooking the little guys (6-8") but would like to find lakes that have a better quality than that if possible. So with that said, here is where I need some help.

Possible trips ideas:
Woodchuck trail out of Wishon. Have heard the fishing is great at woodchuck but haven't heard to much about crown lake and halfmoon, nor what type of fish are there. Not as many lake/fishing options as the other options below though.

Maxon trail out Courtright to the Red Mtn Basin area. Have read and seen that there some good lakes (Rae, Disappointment, hell for sure, devils punchbowl) up there to try and the pics of the area look amazing. Looks like the mileage would be pushing +35 miles though.

John muir trail out of florence. Friends have been up to saille keyes and marie lake and say its awesome for fishing and beauty but I'm thinking that there will be lots of people up there during the holiday period hiking the john muir trail.

Graveyard lakes out of Edison. The graveyard lakes to silver pass area looks very interesting but I cant find too much about the fishing. Plus like Florence, it could be a very busy area with people on the john muir trail during the holiday weekend.

Norris trailhead towards lilian and rutherford lakes. Have been to Jackass lake so I have an idea of the surounding area but know very little about the fishing and types of fish in this area. Might also be the shortest mile wise compared to the other trips above.

Thanks in advance to those who respond and are willing to give up some info.
Byron



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Re: Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:57 pm

You can catch 10 - 15 inchers in some of the Dinkey Lakes - a friend's first fish out of Mystery was a 14 inch rainbow. We've seen 12 inch golden-rainbow hybrids out of Island.

The fish in Hell for Sure looked to be all brook trout and I didn't see any of great size. The smaller lakes in the area are about the same. I got a good sized brookie out of Devils Punchbowl but not huge.

If you really want big fish, you need to go to big water - I've gotten three pound rainbows out of Courtright, but only by borrowing a boat and heading out toward the quarry. You'll get one or two pounders by fishing off shore. Wishon has produced trophy sized trout and I have had some larger browns - all caught from a kayak, in the inlet where the river comes into the lake.

You also need to have the right tackle for the job. Lots of people flog the water with salmon eggs, but we get them with the right lures and the technique. In backcountry lakes I have the best luck with flies and bobber, not bait.
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Re: Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby tim » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:22 pm

You've listed a lot of very high altitude locations for a trip that early in the season. You might be lucky, given how dry its been the last seven weeks, but if it snows heavily up until Spring Break then you will be doing a fair bit of snow travel and quite possibly have frozen lakes to deal with. Note that even though we've had no snow since Christmas, the snowpack is still above the peak level of last summer in the central and southern Sierra (http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/PLOT_SWC).

You might want to think about going later or lower or further south (given the southern part usually melts out earlier). The picture below is from July 4 weekend 2 years ago, when the southern Sierra was vastly better than the central and northern areas (Tuolumne Meadows still had a couple of feet of snow). Of course if the lakes are melted then bear in mind you will also be near the peak of the mosquito season.

Sky Blue lake.jpg
Sky Blue Lake
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Re: Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby Snowtrout » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:17 pm

Almost there, yes dinkey lakes do have some nice fish. My wife caught a 14" rainbow out of swede and have seen a few 10-12" goldens at island but most fish in the area are around 8". I prefer 1/8 Kastmaster's and spinners but also use bobbers/weights with flies. And yes wishon does have some nice browns. Caught a +5 lber last spring trolling. But over the past 2 years, mammoth pool has been better ;)

Tim, the areas are high up and hopefully the melt starts in may. Didn't even think about bugs. I hiked to jackass 2 years ago during 4th of July and it was also iced over like your pic. Snow level was at 8000'. Might need a back up plan
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Re: Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby Troutdog 59 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:56 pm

As Tim pointed out, July 4th might be a tad early if we get more storms, especially the Selden Pass (Marie) or Siver Divide (Graveyeard) trips. You will just have to wait and see, but the bugs are typically worse earlier in the year (but the fishings good!!).

I will say that comparing conditions to either last year or the year before doesnt give you a typical look at the snow pack. Last year was one of the drier winters on record and access was really early. I was at the Nelson Lks (~9,000') in the DLW on June 9th and near Silver Pass out of Edison (~10,500) on 6/22. Not much snow at either place, but buggy. Lots of folks from HST were in the backcountry in May. 2011 however was one of the bigger snow packs on record rivaling the summer of 83. I was in the Kaiser WIlderness on July 9th and U Twin was open(~8,600'), but nearly overflowing from runoff and nearby George Lake (~9,100') wass still partially frozen. I also tried to access the lower Jackass Lake on 7/3 of that year and found it completely frozen, but it was a nice hike and lunch regardless.

As to your locations, the Woodchuck Country is known for some nicer fish and is a bit lower, which could make it more accessible. Search the posts in the Fishing Hole and you will see some TR's for the lakes you mention with some nice brooks and bows.

Some of the lakes out of Florence have some real nice fish, but they are higher being mostly over 10,000'. If we have a low snow pack, July 4th could be perfect, but again it will be buggy. Lots of gold in those lakes!!!! The JMT is crowded, but you would be surprised how quickly one can find solitude with a little exploration and not camping right by the trail. Besides, most of the foks on the JMT at that time will be PCT through hikers and I find them a colorful and interesting lot to talk to on the trail. Ive camped at Marie and seen lots of folks in the distance, but had none stroll anywhere near our camp on the other side of the lake. Marie has brookies and some good ones as well. Also, the lakes just to the east have some nice fishing ;).

The Graveyard lakes themselves are heavily used and it shows (area and fishing), but over the Silver Divide there are some nice Lakes like Olive and Peter Pande. Pretty country thats surprisingly not that busy.

The Ansel Adams/South Boundary (Norris or Fernandez TH's) stuff will likley be open, but again it can be pretty buggy. That sadi, there are some nice fish up that way too.

Depending upon the weather, you might need to push it back a bit, but the later the date is likley the best for the bugs. Send me a PM if you are intersted in details.
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Re: Need opinions on possible July 4th trip...

Postby Snowtrout » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:23 pm

Thanks for the advice. My wife had to ask for those days off already so we will be going somewhere. Looks like the weather conditions over the next 2 months will tell us where is possible.

I have a lot to learn about what fish are lurking up in the hills
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