The Holy Grail of Fly Fishing

By June some higher alpine lakes should be icing off.  For those who have had the chance to fish at these divine places, it is the Holy Grail of fly fishing and will be cherished until our last breath.  For many, it’s more than just about the fishing.  There is something innately human within the act of catching fish at such breath-taking places.  Many an angler awaits the entire year for this small window of opportunity.  We tie flies all winter in anticipation for the high country to open up and become fishable.  It is our escape and it is our solitude.  We have utter respect for the fish we catch and the environment around us.  For us, this is where we come for our Souls to be nourished.  Where we come to leave behind technology and society, at least for a little while. 


Dry fly fishing at high remote lakes is really the name of the game.  There is nothing like watching a native cutthroat come from the abyss to annihilate your fly.  The water so clear you literally get to watch his mouth open and inhale the fly. Watching them inhale it and waiting just long enough that you get a hook-set, is one of the most challenging parts of all of fly fishing.  Once you set the hook, the water is so clear that most of the fight will be seen by you!  These high altitude fish must be handled with care and reviving them before releasing the fish is critical.  Keep these fish wet and return them to the water immediately.  Not all of the alpine lakes get re-stocked and they survive by self-reproduction.  The more time you take with these fish and the more you respect the fishery, the more generations that will have the opportunity to take advantage of such a valuable resource.   


Accessing and reaching these lakes can be a challenge as well and is part of the fun.  Forest Offices, fly shops, Division of Wildlife, and many more can be valuable resources to help you find these pristine places.  It can be a lot of work and is not for everyone.  Taking precautions in the backcountry and having the experience and knowledge is also part of it.  There is some risk involved and you could potentially put your life in danger so be prepared and as always, be aware of your surroundings and prepared for the worst.  Storms can come up on you out of nowhere.  Always check the local forecast before heading out and be aware of how long it will take to hike in and out.  Allow yourself plenty of time, even if that means heading out early with a headlamp. 


Terrestrials are great for the high mountain lakes.  Chironomidaes and leeches can work very well at ice out.  Caddis and midges may also be seen.  Beetles, Ants, and ladybugs are highly effective.  Dry flies are a favorite for many.  Nymph rigs work very well and many times intermediate and sinking lines are the way to go.  Have fun and be safe!