Backcountry fishing hot in August
August 14, 2008
As we get into the month of August, local fishing opportunities begin to appear less attractive as waters warm up. Fishing generally gets into a period referred to by anglers as the dog days.
In lakes, fish tend to seek the refuge of deeper waters, which makes them much less accessible to shore anglers. In rivers and creeks, the fish typically seek cooler waters as well as temperatures warm into the upper 60s. Finding cooperative fish can be challenging.
This is a terrific time of year to lace up those hiking boots and take a trip into the backcountry to fish some of the many lakes in our area. One area I find very attractive this time of year is the Desolation Wilderness.
The Department of Fish and Game has stopped stocking many lakes in this region due to the fact that yellow-legged mountain frog populations have declined. While stocking has ceased, many lakes continue to produce good fishing results. This is particularly true where populations of brook trout are present.
Brook trout are lake spawners and are ideal for some of these lakes where inlet streams tend to be dependent on snow melt. They are so prolific in some lakes that they can become stunted.
Many lakes are easily accessible to the hiking angler and the trails of Desolation are pretty difficult to get lost on. Trails are typically well marked and well defined.
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You will need a wilderness permit if you plan on going into the backcountry to fish. Day-use permits are free, but overnight stays require payment of a daily fee. You can get them at the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit’s North Tahoe Forest Service Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They are located on Highway 28, underneath Curves Fitness Center two miles east of the Tahoe City wye. Their phone number is 583-3593.
We used to be able to pick them up at the William Kent Campground on the west shore during the summer.
According to the Forest Service, you can still do this as well.
When fishing these backcountry lakes, an angler can find that the fish can be very cooperative at times. Fly selection does not seem to matter as much since hatches are pretty sparse. Fish in the backcountry rely on many different insects, but terrestrials such as ants, beetles and grasshoppers can be very important food items. A basic assortment of flies in nymphs, streamers, dries and emergers should do the trick nicely in the backcountry.
A float tube, while a bit cumbersome to hike in, can really allow the angler to increase his or her chances for success. Many of the lakes do not allow a lot of back-casting room, so the float tube allows the angler to fish in the lake itself and eliminates the casting issues.
If you are planning on going into the Desolation Wilderness to fly fish, pick up a copy of Ralph Cutter’s “Sierra Trout Guide” and/or Jerry Yesavage’s “Desolation Wilderness Fishing Guide.” Both will prepare you for fishing these great backcountry lakes and allow you to beat the summer doldrums on local waters.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.