Golden Trout Fishing Adventure
By: Mike Zimmerman
After a year of planning it was time to venture deep into the Wind River Range for a weeklong backpacking trip with hopes of finding a Golden Trout. The most elusive, challenging and rewarding fish to catch in the Trout world. I was going fishing for golden trout, and I couldn’t be more amped!
Forty miles of on and off trail hiking with fifty-pound packs through some of the most scenic mountain peaks and lakes lay between the trailhead and our destination lake.
After a long first day of hiking we found a campsite fitting for an overnight stay, set up the tents and then…Boom! An epic lightning and thunder show preceded a three-hour hailstorm that hunkered us down for the evening. I was a human burrito in my ultra-light solo tent, something I had to get used to daily. Welcome to the Wind River Range!
We hiked through so many river crossings and passed around high mountain lakes with great cutthroat and brook trout fishing to reach our target destination. Finally it was time to wet a line in search for the fish of a lifetime, and soon I would be actually fishing for golden trout. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to catch these fish. There is a reason they are so very sought after and many experienced trout anglers have come up empty handed trying to fool them. Golden trout fishing is similar to hunting. It’s basically spot and stalk style of fishing.
Finally Found The Gold
After several hours of unsuccessful casts I finally hooked into a fish. A beautiful thirteen inch golden! I had done it, my first golden trout! Back at camp we swapped fish stories around a great fire and good whiskey helped the celebration creep deep into the night.
A couple days and a few small fish later, we were fishing our last evening before the long multiple day hike back to the trailhead. The trip was already a success when I spotted a tail moving back and forth behind a rock, the largest tail I had seen yet. Crouched down, I slowly peeled some line off the reel, and prepared for the most important cast of my life. I dropped the fly a few feet in front of that rock, let it sink and then I felt the surge of a bite.
Setting the hook brought this fish rocketing out of the water, diving back down and running full steam away from me. With the reel singing, it took me in and out of boulders, causing havoc on my line before finally tiring out enough to net the biggest golden trout we encountered on the trip. The most beautiful and vibrantly colorful 21-inch golden trout was in my net, the Trophy Fish of My Life! Until we meet again next year…
I’d like to give a special thanks to Ben Savage, who definitely out-fished me as always and to Conor Burgon for filming and documenting this trip.
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