No grousing on this ridge
Earlier this year I promised myself that when the warm weather came, I would spend some time fishing the high country lakes.
There is a window of opportunity for the best fishing in the early summer ” and again in the fall ” as the weather cools.
Altitude affects the water temperatures that you will find. If you are looking for colder water go higher. There were still a few patches of snow.
Immediately above us in the Sierra is the Grouse Ridge Wilderness Area.
It is a relatively level area that does not require painful climbs to reach good fishing. In fact, if you plan a two-vehicle trip, you can start at the lookout trailhead and have a totally downhill walk past a number of lakes en route to your second vehicle.
The dominant feature of the area is Grouse Ridge. It rises to a height of 7,700 feet ” 500 feet higher than Donner Summit ” with a fair dirt road to the top.
The views from the old fire lookout at the top are worth the trip. To the north you can see Mt. Lassen and the Sierra Buttes near Sierra City. To the south is the American River drainage. The local views to the east and north include some of the more than two dozen lakes in the area.
Last Tuesday, I went fishing with Rick Aeschliman at two of the lakes in the area. If a friend invites me to go to his hot fishing spots, I can’t respond by publishing the exact locations in the paper.
We started out the day driving up to the lookout and after a 15-minute hike, we reached our first fishing destination. This gives you about eight lakes to pick from, if you want to go find the lake.
This water held cutthroat trout that were feeding close to shore. Most of the fish were 10 to 12 inches with the largest going to 15 inches. The trout were cruising near the break between the deep water and the shallow shelf along the shore. They would come all the way to the bank to take an insect.
The food source for these fish is insects and flies were the effective way to catch them. Rick used a fly rod but I found that a spinning rod with a fly and casting bubble cast farther and covered more water. The fish did not seem to be selective as to the fly pattern they would take.
If you go bring Hare’s Ear and Zug Bug nymphs, and for dry flies try Sierra Bright Dot, Ants, or Black Gnats. I have found black to be a good color for flies in the higher lakes. For sizes I like Nos. 14 & 16.
There are two types of shoreline for the high country lakes. Those you can walk around in and those that are totally surrounded by cattails and high brush. The first type require the minimal amount of gear to be hauled in. The second type demand carrying in some sort of floating device to get out onto the water.
The second lake we fished last week, had only one access point and we packed in float tubes. There were large patches of floating weeds that the fish were feeding near. Getting out onto the water was the key to consistently hooking fish. Considerably more effort is required to pack in tubes, fins and waders. But there is a direct relationship to quality of fishing and effort to get there.
The Grouse Ridge Area is accessed from the Bowman Lake Road off Highway 20.
Fuller Lake, Rucker, Lindsay and Bowman Lakes are accessible by car. Once you pass Fuller Lake, there are marked roads to the east that get you to the trailheads.
There is detailed information available from the Tahoe National Forest office. You can get there in 45 minutes form Grass Valley.
I suggest a vehicle with ground clearance if you get off the main roads. With little or no walking you have access to meadows, creeks, lakes and ridge top lookouts, in short, everything the Sierra has to offer.
It is pleasant destination for day trips or an overnight camp out.
If you don’t go soon, will you ever go?
Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Fish Plant Schedule, 7/13
The Department of Fish & Game announces the following waters to be scheduled for plants of catchable trout during the week of July 12:
Alpine Lake; Blue Lake Upper; Caples Lake; Carson River East Fork, Carson River West Fork
Butte Creek Big; Desabla Reservoir
El Dorado County
Icehouse Reservoir; Moon Lake
Fuller Lake; Jackson Meadows Reservoir
Feather River North Fork Almanor; Feather River North Fork Belden; Hamilton Branch Creek; Warner Creek
Packer Lake; Salmon Lake Upper; Sardine Lake Lower
Putah Creek; Solano Lake
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Another week on the track and another win for Brad Sweet.