Have you ever visualized being inside an incredible scene from a post card? Well that is exactly what Rick Miyauchi, my buddy Leon Buckles and I did last weekend! Neither Rick nor Leon had caught golden trout before so we decided to make a 2 day trip up to Michele Lakes. The two days were spectacular. The flight in with Icefields Helicopter was amazing. Their new helicopter was a delight to fly in. The flight included a glacier tour. I will share some video of our flight in another blog post! The flight is about 20 minutes and Michele Lakes is just under 8000 feet above sea level! We tracked the weather carefully to choose the days we would go because I have been snowed on big time even in August at Michele Lakes.
After the spectacular flight, we quickly rigged up and started to fly fish. The lower Michele Lake was glass and we found several rivulets trickling into the lake from a glacier not too far away. We fly fished along these rivulets as they entered into lower Michele Lake. We brought small flies. Micro leeches in size 14 to 18 worked great. Reliable flies like Glen's Leech but tied small and sparse were the ticket. We also used smaller black and red ice cream cone chironomids and flashbacks with a lot of success in sizes 16 and 18. Black gnats worked great in the evening on the surface. Darker micro leeches consistently got us goldens from 4 inches to 14 inches. The average sized goldens were in the 6 to 10 inch range.
The golden trout originally came from the Kern River area in California. Fortunately for us we have several lakes that have self sustaining goldens. You can get to all of them by hiking if you have the fitness and time. A hike up Owen Creek is steep and tough. Hiking through the Sunset Pass area is easier. Do some research, it is well worth it!
We lucked out on our flight back. We got another amazing tour of the White Goat Wilderness area. We flew by several glaciers, Lake of the Falls, Entry Lake, Landslide Lake, down Entry Creek and finally down the Cline River to Icefield Helicopter's base at Cline River!
You need a minimum of three to helicopter in. Your gear is also weighed and figures into your flight costs. Typical flight charges for an overnight or several nights trip is in the $450. If you are day tripping, the cost is closer to $400 (lighter load).
The first day we fished, we caught goldens almost at will. They were willing to eat all of our small flies. The second day continued like the first day but the catch rate slowed a lot in the afternoon. We caught lots of goldens, many beautifully coloured. To use a John Gierach phrase, many looked like they were dressed in a clown suit!
We fly fished until dark, the evening rise along shore was a fish per cast. The moon rise from behind Owen Creek and Mount Wilson was amazing! We did get several thunderstorms overnight but Sunday was almost a repeat of the the picture perfect Saturday.
Rick and Leon enjoying the flight in!
As you can see we hit it just right for the weather. We brought our warm clothes but did not need them this time. The last time I was at Michele Lakes, we needed winter jackets, gloves and toques. Go prepared for any type of weather!
We only fished the lower lake. I do not think there are fish in the upper lake any more.
If you fly up, do bring some hiking boots and wear your waders on the flight in. The alpine area is so spectacular and well worth hiking some of the local ridges. Your waders allow you to fly fish some spots that others cannot get to without getting real cold. The water temperature at that elevation is cold.
Michele Lakes is only open to fly fishing in August and September.
The golden trout are beautifully coloured.
We brought a small cooler for our food so rodents stayed out! We stored our food well away from our sleeping area at night.
This is the view off of the back end of Michele Lakes, quite spectacular to look down Shoe Leather Creek!
Upper Michele Lake
The helicopter coming in to pick us up. Rick is keeping his head down as he holds gear down.