Sunday, August 19, 2012

Emerald Lake Weminuche Wilderness July 2012

"One more steep crevice to climb and we're home free..." I said to my wife as we neared the top of Lake Creek, the drainage from the Emerald Lakes high in the alpines of the Weminuche Wilderness.  The 10 mile trek from the Pine River campground was about to come to end, and our feet were never so happy.  We had made the trip in 8 hours, which was much better than the near 12 hours two years before.  It was to be a full 7 days of fishing, exploring, and R&R, I personally was most excited about the fishing.  Our first evening I drifted out onto the outlet of Little Emerald and was pleasantly surprised at the number of large Rainbows sipping on Calibaetis.  It was beginning to rain, and of course I wasn't about to call it a day until I had fooled one of these magnificent Colorado Rainbows.  My recent trips to some of Colorado's high waters had enlightened me to using a #14 BH Pheasant tail and strip it gently through the pool.  It wasn't long before this beauty in the picture above was giving my 5w a workout.  A few more fish were caught that evening, and we were off to bed eager to see what else the area waters might unfold in the days to come...

The next day as we woke, we were a little sore from the hike up.  But that wasn't enough to keep my wife the explorer, and me the fly fishing nut at camp.  My goal for the day was to fish the south side of Little Emerald, and to really pay close attention to the insects that the fish were keying on.  I soon found myself catching baetis of all colors and sizes, scuds, and several emergers along the shore line.  I rigged up a two fly rig, Calibaetis dry on top and a JuJu chronimid on the bottom.  The JuJu was downed by another nice Rainbow.  The day progressed and I was finally keying in on the cycle of feeding.  The cycle would begin with clouds that would roll in, these clouds would then prompt a vast array of mayflies, and caddis to land on the water from the nearby trees.  As the dries would then die, the winds would pick up and pull the flies back to shore.  As the flies would drift to shore the fish were effortlessly sipping on them.  Once the sundry of flies were gone, the fish would then begin to key on the sub-surface insects, that is until the next group of clouds rolled in and started the process all over again.  I finally found myself switching between spent mayflies and sub-surface rigs for the rest of the trip.  The fishing was absolutely amazing every day.  I found that the best way to fool these wary trout was to strip bead-heads, chronimids, and hare's ears.  For dries caddis, and calibaetis were the ticket, but only when the hatch was on.  Using spent mayflies was another great alternative.  In fact several fish wouldn't even touch my rig unless I had a spent mayfly on the end.

For any angler who is looking for a an absolute thrill of a fishing trip I highly recommend making the 10 mile hike to the magnificent Emerald lakes in the Weminuche Wilderness.  Do not be fooled, these fish our as wild as they come.  Stalking skills, and absolute finesse are a must, and the dividends on these skills will pay off ten-fold.
Happy trails, and tight lines!


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