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TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

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TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby gochicagobears! » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:22 am

My wife and I ventured into Desolation from Meek’s Bay on Thursday, 8/1, for four days in an area I’d yet to visit in my numerous trips into this wilderness.
We hiked in at about 11:00 AM and got to Lake #1 in about 3 hours. There was a guy in an inflatable raft there and within ten minutes we saw him land two fish throwing a fly/bobber.
We continued on the trail and arrived at the far end of Lake #2 in another ten minutes, and by luck stumbled upon this great campsite with no one around.
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Shoreline access near our camp was pretty minimal and since I was trying out my new rod/reel combo (7' Okuma Kokanee rod/Quantum baitcaster) I needed a bit more room to cast than if I had my 5'6" Ugly Stik. As a result, I only had about 1/2 an hour to fish that first day, had no strikes, nor saw any surface action. As disheartening as this was, I did see quite a lot of small fry in the water, which was a good sign of this lake's ability to reproduce and had me a bit hopeful of some active fish. Instead we went about the business of setting up camp, including a great lightweight hammock, exploring the area, and eating an early dinner complete with some nice wine.

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The evening was clear, crisp/cold for August, stars everywhere and brilliant (something I am constantly amazed at when backpacking even though I live in Sonoma County), and once again realized the folly of bringing my 45 degree bag on a backpacking trip to the Sierras. I got pretty cold that first night, which made sleep a bit difficult.

The next morning we packed our rods/gear and made the 20 minute hike to Lake #5, bypassing the spur trail to #3, and seeing that #4 was choked with grass on the shoreline. We crossed the damn at #5 and hiked along the shore opposite the trail for a few hundred yards to a place that looked like it had a deep drop off. There was ample space to practice casting my new rig, and it went pretty well, although I had more than my share of backlashes when the wind picked up.

Another backlash! :crybaby:
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While I was retying my line this "creature" swam right in front of me with a mouse in its mouth, head out of the water. I could see the mouse clearly and the aggressor was brown, maybe a foot in length, with a slender tail. As soon as it came close to me it dove under the water and didn't resurface, though I took a really bad photo of it after it dove under. I looked up marmots when I got home, but they are herbivores from my cursory research. No idea what that thing is. Sorry for the poor vis in the photo...

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No fish caught at this lake, but just as was the case at #2, there were fry everywhere in the shallows, and when we were walking back to the outlet creek by the dam, we spotted two large trout (species unknown) swimming in the shallows. From our vantage point above, they looked to be at least 18", but with the distortion that might be much smaller.

After hanging out at this lake for a few hours we walked back to our campsite, my wife climbed into the hammock to read, and I walked to the limited shoreline to continue fishing. Five min after arriving I hooked into a nice fish (always feel that rush when it's the first one on a new rod!), and landed a nice brown that was around 16" on a bead headed nymph.

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Five min later I hooked into a bigger one on the same fly, and while trying to land it and take a nice photo this happened:

D-Oh!
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Needless to say, my wife and I had a good chuckle at the incident itself, and my expression once we looked at the photo. Following this egregious violation of all standards of trout documentation, the bite completely shut down and I didn't hook another fish for the rest of the trip...

The following day we packed our gear, hiked up towards Phipps pass, and stopped off at Lake #6. I didn't have my gear with me and sure enough there were fish rising in the small, but seemingly deep lake near the summit. Oddly, this was the only lake that I didn't see any fry.

The view from Phipps was pretty amazing. Hard to believe that just over the ridge are hordes of people at Tahoe, depriving themselves of this view:

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What I found pretty amazing about this trip in particular was the lack of people we saw on the trail. Neither day hanging out and walking by #5 did we see anyone camped there, and only saw three backpackers that day (perhaps a large amount to those accustomed to solitude on the trail, but scant in my experience in Desolation).

Anyway, we both had a wonderful time exploring this part of Desolation, my wife is a total trooper when it comes to backpacking, and she's even more insistent that we include her fishing rod anytime a lake is near. :)

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Looking forward to more time on the trail later this summer.

Al



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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby DriveFly44 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:35 am

Great TR - glad you and the wife had a nice trek. Nice brown too :D
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby maverick » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:13 pm

Thanks for posting this enjoyable TR and pictures. Nice size trout. Nice shots
from Phipps. :thumbsup:
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby TahoeJeff » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:15 pm

Awesome report on one of my favorite stomping grounds. Lake #2 can be very hard as it gets a ton of pressure and has a low fish density. I'm surprised you didn't get any rat macks at lake #5. I think the creature was maybe a muskrat or an otter?
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby TahoeJeff » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:18 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot to add: Deso can get a bad rap for being overcrowed. You guys proved that even in the middle of summer on a thurs-sun trip, one can find a lack of people!
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby gochicagobears! » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:39 pm

TahoeJeff wrote:Awesome report on one of my favorite stomping grounds. Lake #2 can be very hard as it gets a ton of pressure and has a low fish density. I'm surprised you didn't get any rat macks at lake #5. I think the creature was maybe a muskrat or an otter?


Thanks, guys.
Believe me, I threw everything at 'em at #5, with not even a follower. Walking around it, there is seemingly great water everywhere, deep with boulders, ledges, ambush points, etc. Would've loved to have caught something there, especially after seeing some of the samples cruising the shallow water by the dam.
To hook into a few more, even of smaller size at #2 would've been nice. The ones I did catch put a good bend in that noodle of a rod!

I will definitely visit that part again for a weekender. Perhaps after all the crowds decrease at summer's end.
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:17 pm

Nice report. Good to hear that you tied into two nice ones in lake no. 2. That photo of the fish squirting out is a classic. Over the years that has tended to be the best of the Meeks Creek lakes,at least for me. Although the rate of success never seems to be high, the nice size of the fish makes up for it. I have never solved lake no. 5. I've been there three times and never had so much as a strike. I once spoke to this father and son at the trailhead and the son had caught a 30-inch mack there. No. 1, as shallow as it is, has tended to be fairly reliable (although with a slow rate of return, like no. 2). No. 4, even with that shallow weedy fringe can get pretty active at times, although that is the only lake of this chain that will have comparatively small fish (brookies, but with some mammoth browns lurking in the wings).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby Tom_H » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:18 pm

I enjoyed your report. I have hiked that trail many times over the years. You brought back a lot of good memories.
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby gochicagobears! » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:22 pm

giantbrookie wrote:Nice report. Good to hear that you tied into two nice ones in lake no. 2. That photo of the fish squirting out is a classic. Over the years that has tended to be the best of the Meeks Creek lakes,at least for me. Although the rate of success never seems to be high, the nice size of the fish makes up for it. I have never solved lake no. 5. I've been there three times and never had so much as a strike. I once spoke to this father and son at the trailhead and the son had caught a 30-inch mack there. No. 1, as shallow as it is, has tended to be fairly reliable (although with a slow rate of return, like no. 2). No. 4, even with that shallow weedy fringe can get pretty active at times, although that is the only lake of this chain that will have comparatively small fish (brookies, but with some mammoth browns lurking in the wings).


I agree with your assessment of #5, GB. That water looks way too "fishy" for there not to be some nice lunkers lurking the depths.
"tight lines!"
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby TahoeJeff » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:29 pm

A few years ago I talked to a horse packer who had set up camp near the inlet to #5. He reported that fishing out of an inflatable boat using flashers and worms, he caught a 5-7 lb. brown...
That lake was one of the first to get Mack plants in Ca. in the late 1800s. I would be willing to bet that there is a MONSTER down deep swimming around there.
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby gochicagobears! » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:24 pm

TahoeJeff wrote:A few years ago I talked to a horse packer who had set up camp near the inlet to #5. He reported that fishing out of an inflatable boat using flashers and worms, he caught a 5-7 lb. brown...
That lake was one of the first to get Mack plants in Ca. in the late 1800s. I would be willing to bet that there is a MONSTER down deep swimming around there.


I've often thought of bringing my float tube for shorter hikes, but have always wussed out in favor of carrying less weight. Maybe sometime when I'm up there for an extended weekend and do it as a day-hike....
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Re: TR: Desolation via Meeks 8/1-8/4

Postby larree0 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:19 pm

We made the same trip in early Sept. saw lots of small risers in the flats at lake 2, not much at 3 but it was hot and we only stayed for an hour before making the short ugly climb back to the trail, can't believe there's not a use trail from lake 2 inlet creek to 3 .
Saw only two nice -looking risers on far side lake 5 but my fly rod was in Oregon, so no confirmation. Very pretty setting tho.
Thx for the report.
One hiker from further up reported better luck at a higher lake.
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