My obsession with golden trout started years ago when I first moved to Colorado. I first heard rumors of these amazing fish while sitting at a bar, eavesdropping on a conversation between two old timers. I had never heard of golden trout until then, and since then I have been on a mission. A few years ago I was lucky enough to hunt down and find my first golden trout (here/here), and this year it was time for another golden hunt.
Joining me on my five day quest would be Tom, Shawn and Carper, none of whom had caught golden trout and were excited to catch their first. Another species of trout that we were on the hunt for was the tiger trout. I had gotten some information about the area we were backpacking into, and supposedly one of the lakes had golden trout and another lake was said to have been stocked with tiger trout. Complementing these exotic species of trout, there were plenty of brook and cutthroat trout in the area too, so there would be no shortage of catching fish on this trip.
The first day consisted of a 2 ½ hour hike to the lake that would be our base camp for the rest of the week. Shawn has visited this area numerous times and we were all excited to get camp set and to fish the lake that held some beautiful brook trout. Tom was carrying everything including his kitchen sink in his Mountainsmith Apex 80. Even with the sink, the pack is extremely comfortable to hike with and holds everything you might need for five days in the wilderness. I was using my Mountainsmith Mystic 65, a bit smaller than the Apex, I opted to bring my camera equipment instead of the kitchen sink. The Mystic 65 held all the essentials for a five-day trip, plus the fly fishing equipment and the camera equipment. It is extremely comfortable to hike in, even when it weighs over 50 lbs.
After setting up the tents and getting everything organized, it was time to catch some of the brook trout that Shawn had been raving about. The lake we were camped at is the lake that was also said to have been stocked with tiger trout. So we were all anxious to see what we could catch. None of us came in contact with the tiger trout, but we weren’t complaining because all three of us hooked up with some brilliantly colored brookies.
The next day we hiked down the valley a few miles and then fished the stream and beaver ponds back up. For the day hikes we would be making, I brought my Mountainsmith Scream 25 which is the perfect pack to carry everything I needed for the day. We hiked and fished our way back up the valley and then decided to take a detour to another lake and fish that before heading back to camp before dark. The lake in question was the lake that was reported to have been stocked with the golden trout. As we started to fish the outlet area of the lake, Tom was the lucky one on this day and ended up catching his first golden trout. Shawn and I had our fun with the cutthroat trout that also inhabited the lake, but we would have to wait for another day to get our hands on the gold.
The following day we hiked up to yet another lake that was full of cutthroat trout and had a blast hiking around the lake and netting and releasing fish. During the summer months in the Colorado Rockies, you can usually bet on an afternoon thunderstorm rolling through so before we got caught out in the rain, we made our way back to camp to wait out the downpour and then had a nice relaxing afternoon of more fishing the lake we were camped out at.
That evening after dinner, we hung around camp because Carper, who was unable to hike in when we did, was coming in solo and we wanted to be around camp when he got there. He arrived just at dusk, finding the lake and our camp easily with the directions that Shawn had given him before the trip. Some whiskey was passed around the fire that night as we told our story of Tom finding the golden trout and how we planned on going back to that lake the next day so the rest of us to catch our gold.
The next day was what we were waiting for, though! All of us were catching golden trout and cutthroat trout. We even decided to fish it again on our last day – packing up camp in the morning and hiking everything over to the lake for a couple of hours before hiking back out to our vehicles.
With everyone catching golden trout, brook trout and cutthroat trout, it was hard to leave the area and head back to society. Fishing all the lakes and streams and beaver ponds, there were still areas in the vicinity that we did not get to explore. Spending five days in the wilderness and getting to fish all the places we did, I guess I really should not complain because it was a great trip with great friends, not to mention catching some amazing trout!