Monday, August 8, 2011

Red Lake, Blue Lake ...

OK, I give up, maybe we will never get to fish California's rivers this year.  I'm heading for Alpine County in late July, and the mountains across from Silver Lake, then Caples Lake, are well-covered in snow for their top thousand feet or so.  I might not expect the East Fork of the Carson River to be fishable yet in an average year.  It drains really high peaks in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, with extensive north-facing slopes where snow stays nearly all summer, and valleys of glacial moraine soil that any surface run-off puts into suspension in the river.  The East Fork often doesn't clear until August anyway, but its West Fork and most of the smaller streams are always fishable by now - except this year.

The first lake after the scenic drive through Carson Pass is Red Lake, so named for the red peak that stands starkly high and close above it.  Highway 88 snakes down its side to a dirt road access you come upon all too quickly, particularly if you're trying to check out the lake for rising trout.  There aren't any, but it is brim-full of greenish water, showing the fertility of this medium-sized lake.  I meet a flyfisher who's brought his pontoon raft in to re-rig.  He says it's very quiet, except for one fish he just pricked.  Minnow imitations are good he says, particularly for the big brook trout.  But he also says they can be moody, and he thinks the water's a few degrees too warm at 61 degrees. He prefers 58 to 59, and expects it to drop if the wind does (it's very cool today in the shade, but the sun is hot and the strong breeze warm.)