The problem with fishing high altitude lakes is the variable weather. The weather here in Colorado? Well letís just say you never know what you are going to get. There is a saying here in Denver, ďIf you donít like the weather, wait five minutes.Ē On any given day, on any given month, if you are hiking the high country, there is always the possibility of snow and sleet and wind and just plain bad weather. Another problem with fishing high altitude lakes is wondering if they are still frozen or not, depending on spring conditions.
This year Colorado had a very mild winter, so when Mike Garcia, Daniel Kelley, and I decided to hit a lake at 12,000 feet, we were fairly certain there would be no ice to contend with. All week the sun was out and there wasnít a drop of rain. But the forecast showed that the nice weather would not make it through the weekend and that we would be facing some cold/windy/snowy weather on our first hike of the year.
For Mike and myself, preparing for inclement weather was not an issue. We have done enough hikes to know that even if the forecast is calling for clear skies, you still pack prepared. Daniel, on the other hand needed a little help with his packing choices. Daniel just moved out here from North Carolina and this was going to be his debut hike to the high country.
We arrived at the trailhead around 7:30, put the packs on and headed out. The first part of the hike was 800 vertical feet of switchbacks down to a creek. Although this was usually not a problem, on this day it was a slight issue. The forest service must not have had the time or energy to clean up this part of the trail because there were downed trees everywhere and at times we had to climb over and on top of the trees and even lost the trail a couple of times. But only being a short distance from the creek, we were soon past the blow down and on to the trail that heads up the valley to our destination.
The rest of the hike was uneventful and we made it to our destination in just under two hours. When we arrived it was partly cloudy and for a moment we thought that the sun would come out, we werenít that lucky. As we were rigging up, the clouds and wind moved in and the snow started to fall. But no matter, we came prepared and we came to catch fish. And thatís what we did, well most of us.
For the next four hours we fished. It was windy, it was cold, it was snowing, but it was a great day! We fished around the lake and didnít see much action. There seemed to be a lot of fish hanging out in the small outlet stream so I spent most of my time fishing it and did well there.
At the end of the day, Mike and I both caught a handful of fish and Daniel unfortunately came home with the skunk. But in his own words ďEven though I didnít catch a fish, and got snowed on the whole time, it was probably the most epic trip of my life!Ē So it seems Daniel had a good day, but he hasnít seen anything yet!