TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

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brandoge
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TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by brandoge » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:58 am

Hi,

Wanted to share some pictures from a recent trip up to Susie Lake in Desolation Wilderness over Memorial day weekend. One of the goals of this trip was to catch a fish from Susie Lake because I have read there's a healthy population of brook trout.

On Friday 5/22 we departed up the trail. The morning started off cool and we had our jackets on. The trail seemed like a small riverbed, with much of the trail in the beginning covered by a few inches of water. It was a beautiful day as we made our way up into the mountains, we only saw a handful of people even with the popular trail head and weekend. We didn't reach much snow until after the creek crossing near where the trail splits off to head to Gilmore lake.
After this split the trail became like a small creek again in many places with lots of trudging through slushy snow. We soon made it to Susie lake where we set up camp and relaxed. The lake was completely thawed, but with a few chunks of snow floating around that had broken off banks on shore. We tried fishing most of the afternoon with no luck and no sign of fish, though it was pretty windy. We tried fishing throughout the northern and eastern sides of the lake. That night got pretty cold once the sun set, so soon after dinner we headed to sleep.
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Over night the puddles of water all froze over and our water bottles were icy. It was cold before the sun rose, but once the sun was up things quickly warmed. After fishing in the morning (again no bites) we cooked our favorite backpacking breakfast of dehydrated hash browns, spam and eggs to prepare for the short day hike we had planned. We packed a small day pack and hiked north of Susie towards our destination of Half Moon. It was a pretty short and simple hike because many of the snow banks were solid and filling in gaps and made it easy to traverse quickly.

Once at Half Moon lake we had some snacks and enjoyed the beautiful scenery in front of us. Most of the lake was frozen, but it was thawed for a small portion near the outlet. We tried making some casts out there, but had no action and didn't see any signs of fish. Hard to complain though when surrounded by amazing views we had. I think the pictures I captured don't do the views justice.

We later returned to our camp at Susie lake and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Compared to the day prior, this day was very calm and the water really smooth. When we were eating as the sun was beginning to set, I saw some rings from fish rising and went out to make some casts. I tried various lures and a few flies/streamers with casting bubble but they weren't interested. The sunset was really stunning that night with bright pink coloring. After the sun set we tried fishing again, and with a headlight on saw many small fish in the shallows. We ended up catching a single brookie and ate it with a late dinner. We were very happy to catch one and not get completely skunked :D
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The next day we packed up early and headed back to the trail head. The closer we got to the car we saw really large groups of people coming up on day hikes to enjoy the area. We felt lucky to enjoy the solitude we did on our trip after seeing all these groups. Thanks for reading!
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paula53
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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by paula53 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:19 pm

Thanks for posting this report. Desolation Wilderness is one of my favorite places to hike. Looks like this summer is going to be great for getting out.

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fishwrong
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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by fishwrong » Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:56 pm

Very nice trip and report. Fishing can be hit and miss early in the season, and Susie Lake has some big fluctuations in fish populations from year to year.

Glad you got in a nice trip. Thanks for the report.

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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by TahoeJeff » Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:20 pm

Way to stick it out and brake the skunk!
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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by giantbrookie » Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:00 pm

Neat to see what things look like up there! Thanks for posting. Regarding lack of fish activity, there have been so many times I visited places when a lake is just thawing or has just thawed and the fish are going crazy BUT for whatever weird reason it did not happen in super early trips I've done to Desolation. I have no idea why I've found those lakes so lifeless at ice-out whereas fish can be going crazy, even in a hole-in-ice that is a tiny fraction of the water surface (as in my season "opener" last year in Hoover Wilderness).

Anyhow Susie Lake is a place that is generally teeming with fish, but I visited it super early after an extra dry winter on 4/23/88 and found it completely thawed but not showing any sign of fish life. Heather was mostly frozen on that day and the thawed portion kicked out no action (saw one cruising fish, however). The same spring I visited Middle and Lower Velma (this was during the era when M Velma was regularly air dropped) on 5/7/88 and found Middle and Lower totally thawed but showing no evidence of fish life.

Anyhow it's great that you got out there. This makes me look forward to getting up there soon even more.
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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by tlsharb » Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:12 am

I will say that is a great looking dinner. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by xcountry rider » Sat Jun 06, 2020 10:43 pm

Thanks for sharing your TR. Great pics too!

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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by brandoge » Sun Jun 07, 2020 11:22 am

Thanks for the kind words everyone!!


giantbrookie wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:00 pm
The same spring I visited Middle and Lower Velma (this was during the era when M Velma was regularly air dropped) on 5/7/88 and found Middle and Lower totally thawed but showing no evidence of fish life.
I have an upcoming trip to Lower Velma, hopefully this isn't a trend :paranoid:. Even if no luck fishing it will be a fun trip! From reading some of your's/other's reports I'll have to try a fishing trip up in Desolation during the fall.

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Re: TR: Desolation Wilderness Susie Lake - 5/22-5/24

Post by windknot » Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:43 pm

Thanks for the report! Looks like a fun trip with great food. I've visited Susie a handful of times and have never found the kind of super fast fishing that others have noted.

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