Looking down from the cliff I was perched on I wondered how many people ever chose to pursue trout in dangerous conditions. With that thought I turned around and set out to look for a different path to the golden trout lakes I was seeking.
Just last year I'd had tremendous luck on the lakes I was seeking. But this year I was approaching the lakes from a different direction, intending to bushwhack a new path to them from the east instead of descending a thousand feet only to have to reclaim the lost elevation and more as I climbed back up the mountain to the glacier-scraped granite valley that held the lakes.
The second route turned out to be just as untenable as the first. I spent several minutes looking for a safe path through the unstable talus slope that would allow me to skirt the edge of the mountain and drop down into the golden trout lakes, but the slope was so unstable that I decided not to get any closer let alone try and navigate my way through it. All I could do was shake my head and return the way I came, back to my camp near Misty Moon Lake in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains.
Nearly four hours after breaking camp in the grey of predawn I made my first cast to a wilderness trout. I spent the next ten hours working four different lakes in an entirely different drainage than I had originally set out to fish, missing a handful of strikes before I stopped trying to set the hook so quickly and managed to land my only trout of the day.
Ten hours of fishing for only a handful of strikes and a single trout might seem excessive, but when your alone in the wilderness for the single purpose of fly fishing it makes the moment magical.
My recent book, Wyoming Mountains & Home-waters: Family, Fly Fishing, and Conservation, contains tales of chasing golden trout in the Cloudpeak Wilderness and much, much more.
This blog was posted on the original Conservation Angler blogger page on 8/1/2017 and has been slightly updated for posting here.
Until next time,