A climbing friend started Tenkara fly-fishing this year, piquing my interest with his fishing pictures. Tenkara is a Japanese form of fishing mountain streams which does not use a reel, among other things. It is touted as a kind of minimalist fly-fishing. The idea of taking up fly fishing had been in my head for several years now; it seemed like something practiced by "distinguished older gentlemen" (aka old farts), which I am rapidly becoming (cue countdown to AARP elegiblity). I really only wanted to fish while out backpacking, as an alternative way to enjoy the mountains besides climbing and so on.
Anyway, I started reading a few books about Tenkara, and fly-fishing in general. Stealth, preparation, and patience seemed to be key virtues. Not that I possess these things
but it seemed like an interesting hobby nonetheless. About a month ago I picked up a Tenkara rod, some line, a few flies and headed off to the Emigrant Wilderness to visit the High Emigrant Lake area for a few days. I practiced casting and so on, and soon discovered how much fun catching trout in creeks was. I discovered that when you catch a fish, you get a dose of adrenaline. It's sort of like the experiment with mice and levers wired into their brains to give them doses of pleasure hormones.
Soon I was reading up on the various places in the Sierra to go fly-fishing. I hadn't been back to the Pine Creek area for a while, and French Canyon (just over Pine Creek Pass) sounded intriguing. So I headed there over Labor Day.
Pine Lake (~9900')
The first morning I camped at Upper Pine Lake (10200') and caught a couple of brook trout near dawn.
I'm not quite at the point where I am ready to kill and gut them, so I threw them back for someone else to catch. I packed up and headed for Pine Creek Pass, but stopped near a lake at 10600' to rest. I cast my gaze at the lake and noted that trout were rising to take small insects on the surface, so I got out my fishing rod and headed over to see what kind they were.
My first golden trout ! I caught four of them within a short span of time, then figured it was time to head up to the pass (~11150').
I decided to wander over to the French Lakes.
Big French Lake (11200')
Little French Lake (11350')
I spent the afternoon fishing Little French Lake, and caught a few goldens (Tenkara is more suited to creeks than lakes, so this required some work on my part). The night was clear and starry, and I again awoke before dawn to go fishing.
Where to go next ? I worked my way around Big French Lake, intending to head back to the pass and then looked down into French Canyon. The creek beckoned, and I headed down cross-country. I fished for about an hour and caught four more goldens.
I was starting to get used to hiding behind rocks or bushes to cast and moving quietly, so as not to spook the fish.
Moon and Elba Lakes (~11000') are about a mile or so cross-country from there, and I wanted to check them out. These lakes are also accessible by trail (and thus horses). The lakes above these have reputations for larger fish. I think the fish in some of these trail-accessible lakes are more used to anglers and combined with a sunny afternoon I didn't have much luck, though a couple fish checked out my hopper / dropper setup, probably thinking "I've seen better, good luck with THAT"
I headed back down into French Canyon, and fished in the evening as the light disappeared, catching three more goldens before packing it in for the night. It was cool to watch the fish leap to catch the little insects that flitted near dusk; the orange flash of the fish and a splash.
Next morning I got an early start to beat the Labor Day traffic back to the 'Jose, and returned to the trailhead by 10:30am.
Upper Pine Lake
Pine Lake, descending