Peninsula Fly Fishers

How Deep was the Spring Snow?

In units of trout size.

by Gary Trott and Tony Plutynski June 23-25, 2006

Sept 2006

1st fish

Well it all depends, on the fisherman and the SIZE of the fish

The Kaiser Pass spring PFF adventure began Thursday. about 12:30 PM when we loaded up Gary's Explorer and headed east to the high country with high expectations for fishing. The Kaiser Pass road had opened about two weeks ago. But how much, and how deep the snow level would be was uncertain. According to the internet snow monitors at the target altitude, we should expect anywhere between zero and eight inches. We asked at the ranger station in Prather where we picked up the permit and found that the trail was passable with stories of great fishing
We had a quick Mexican dinner at Prather, and then headed for Sample Meadows road off of Kaiser Pass so we could sleep at altitude (8800 ft). There was some daylight left when we arrived. So we went exploring to see how close we could come to an off trail lake that might have brown trout in it. By dark we had reached the end of the logging roads. So we left the lake for another trip.
The next morning we got up about dawn. It was in the chilly forty's when we awoke, so we decided to drive to the trailhead. The heater in the car was felt so good, and the picnic tables made breakfast almost civilized. It was there that we met our friends the mosquitoes, who would be with us the rest of the trip.
The trail was three miles, and after climbing for an hour and a half we were at the lake. When we arrived at the lake there were raises and some large rainbows, cruising the shallows. Crossing the outlet of the lake we noticed several large trout nipping at each other. In the spring, rainbows take a fancy to other things beside food, and nothing in our arsenal of lures could change their minds

2st fish
Fortunately, the lake was much more productive. The very first cast resulted in a thirteen-inch rainbow. They were bigger than last year and were definitely hungry. We quickly caught enough for dinner and they were stored in the local snow bank. We spent the warm lazy afternoon engaging in a little catch and release or napping. Eventually we set up our tents near one of the two picnic tables made out of heavy timber. This was a wilderness area and it was unusual to have picnic tables in such an area. But we were not complaining. Dinner of lemon pepper trout, sprinkled with roasted almonds, and snow chilled wine was a fine ending of a perfect day
The next morning, we decided to go cross country to another lake. On previous occasions, it was chock full of brook trout. Using our trusty GPS and topo maps it was easy to find. True to form, when we arrived the lake surface was dimpled with many raises. On Tony’s first cast, he hooked a nice nine-inch brookie which promptly got caught in some vegetation. Never let it be said that Tony does not get his fish. Immediately he stripped down and went wadding next to the snow bank. The ice cubes that walked out of the lake were actually his feet. Later he would claim he was just trying to retrieve his favorite fly.

3rd fish
There were plenty of hungry brookies and it was difficult to make a cast without getting a strike. In about an hour Tony had his limit. Gary was also catching plenty also but he was pickier about what he would keep. When he worked his way around to the inlet stream where the snow banks were the biggest he called out that this was a good area to practice his casting. At the other areas of the lake he had to spend too much time catching and releasing trout! Some people are just picky! Due to snow melt at the inlet, the water was definitely colder and there was much less insect activity. Also Gary observed that the trout on his stringer became dormant in the cold snow melt run off.
Catching fish is such hard work that Tony took a short nap on his poncho and then headed back to the campsite after lunch. Gary decided to stay awhile, listening to the quiet roar of the wilderness waking in springtime. After a few rain sprinkles and exploring a second nearby lake, Gary arrived back at the campsite to find Tony actively engaged in conversation with a nice 14” rainbow. It was the biggest fish of the trip.

4th fish
We again had a marvelous fish dinner topped off by a fresh home grown orange, some cookies and wine. After telling a few stories around a roaring campfire we retreated to our tents. It had been a very good day. The next morning we collected some fish to bring to the coolers in the car. The snow banks on the Kaiser Pass road were still more than 5 feet high. On the way home we stopped at a great Mexican restaurant in Madera. It was on Highway 145, West of Highway 99. It is called Burrito King.
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