Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes-Ice off above timberline

Fewer tornadoes and flash floods means that Colorado’s temperamental weather has potentially found its summer groove. Inclement weather just means waiting longer for ice-off in the high country. More often than not, when we are getting rain, above timber line is usually getting sleet, snow or both. If you live in CO you know what I’m talking about. June was filled with tough weather for the outdoorsy type, but this July’s heat spell has catalyzed the ice-off in the high country that we have been waiting for. Although, a few north facing cirque lakes shadowed from the south may remain ice covered.

This past weekend I finally made it into the high country for a weekend long backpacking/fishing trip. the Holy Cross Wilderness area near Vail and Leadville is a popular backcountry destination for the ambitious adventurer and one of the original spots where my high country fly fishing virginity was taken.
Holy Cross Wilderness You can see why I have been going back to this area pretty much every year.

Although originally, years ago, after trekking up this steep bushwack I was most often greeted with the presence of a little back country gem. Colorado’s native Colorado River cutthroat trout. Picture 21

But as always in Colorado’s high country, the invasive imports from the east coast, brook trout, are more than likely to show up on the end of your line.
Holy Cross Brook Trout But with a little research and a lot of work hiking up a steep bushwack…Lenny the Japanese Tourist

you may be rewarded with one of Colorado’s native treasures…
Picture 18

Picture 15

Picture 19

If you love fly fishing rivers and lakes but are yearning for something a bit more adventurous take a hike into the back country…

see some scenery….


and get a line in the WATER!
Picture 20

and hopefully catch some fish.
Picture 16

Finally, if you actually read this and are seriously considering a trip into the back country, I’d like to leave you with one of the best resources I’ve found on the subject. A publication on Colorado Fishing that has detailed information on every drainage in the state. Including information on what lakes in the high country have what species and how good the fishing is at each location. Are you kidding me? A book that rates back country fishing locations? But there are so damn many in this state? Yes, this book covers A LOT of them. Originally this book was published by Tim Kelley in 1954. How would you like to have had his job? Fish the state and write a book about it. Sounds pretty sweet.

In 2001, Kip Carey updated Tim Kelley’s book. In 2003 Carey released the most recent edition. It is titled “Kip Carey’s Official Colorado Fishing Guide”

Don’t forget… all regulations in the book were updated 6 years ago. Always make sure to look at the Colorado Fishing Regulations Brochure (I heard the dude on the front likes to party) Check the regs before fishing any new waters, especially if you’re a bait fisherman or want to keep any fish. Last summer I saw a kid walking down a trail from the high alpine lake where I was hoping to find some big cuts. This young kid, who looked about 20 years old, was wearing an oversized 49’er football jersey and was carrying a big (20’+) fish in a sock. He bragged that he caught it with his hands. I told him that not only catching fish with your hands is an illegal method of fishing, it is also illegal to kill fish at this location. Not to mention, it’s unethical and it pisses a lot of people off (like me). I’m pretty sure he didn’t check the regs.

Now that I have a copy of the Official Colorado Fishing Guide, I’ve spent hours looking at maps and comparing them with Kip’s recommendations. I just keep wondering, what if I had learned about this book years ago?! I would of saved numerous days hiking to random lakes on the map casting to nothing but winter kill, or lakes that aren’t suited well for a trout’s survival in through winter. Kip kindly points out these temperamental lakes for us in his book. Thanks Kip, you are the man. Where do I sign up to update the next edition????


~ by Nick Clement on July 16, 2009.

5 Responses to “Dreaming of High Mountain Lakes-Ice off above timberline”

  1. Was an awesome time! Where is the timelapse?

  2. Sweet shots! Man do I love this time of year and getting up to the Highcountry. Looks liek a great trip again and can’t wait to get up there with you sometime.

  3. where do you get a trail map for holy cross wilderness area? i am planning a backpacking trip and cant find any info on roads or trails to take.

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