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    Golden Trout at Montana?s Lightning Lake


    Fish Stories stevekunnath writes "

    When I lived in Montana I would make a yearly trip to Lightning Lake. Located deep in the mountains of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness of southwestern Montana, this area is one of the last huge tracts of wilderness left in the lower 48. There are thousands of mountain lakes in this section of Montana, but what makes Lightning Lake special, is its large, wild, golden trout.



    When I lived in Montana I would make a yearly trip to Lightning Lake. Located deep in the mountains of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness of southwestern Montana, this area is one of the last huge tracts of wilderness left in the lower 48. There are thousands of mountain lakes in this section of Montana, but what makes Lightning Lake special, is its large, wild, golden trout.

    Golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) are native to the Kern River drainage of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and were introduced to Lightning Lake many years ago. They are a very rare trout, and thrive at high altitudes, generally above nine thousand feet. The golden trout in this lake grow to an exceptional size, and Montana?s state record golden trout was caught here, weighing in at 4.9lbs. The Montana Department of Fish and Wildlife has surveyed fish in Lighting Lake up to 10lbs. So there are some huge monsters lurking deep in this lake, but these big fish are very hard to catch.

    Fishing for these large, finicky trout can be very difficult and frustrating, in this sixty-one acre lake that is crystal clear with depth of one hundred and twenty-two feet. The big guys seem to keep to the deeper water. Letting sinking fly lines drop down deep with streamers and stripping them in seems to work the best. One of my favorite streamers for this lake is colored in black, yellow, and orange, and possibly resembles a juvenile golden trout. In the morning and late afternoon when the sun is low, I have often seen fish from 2-4 pounds cruising the steep drop offs near shore. Providing a great opportunity to site fish. Packing in a float tube would also be an excellent idea, but I have not had the guts to attempt it.

    The larger fish are usually a ton of work, and if they are not cooperating there is also Little Lightning Lake, that is just below the main lake. The 2 lakes are connected by a small stream that is closed most of the summer while the fish spawn. Little Lightning is much smaller, about twelve feet deep, and plentiful with aggressive golden trout in about the 6-12 inch size. I have always been able to catch golden trout in here, and some days it seemed almost possible to get a strike on every cast. These small goldens go nuts after black ants and adams flies in sizes 16-22. This is a spectacular place for fishing with a three weight fly rod using these dry flies.

    I would describe golden trout as one of the most beautiful fish in the world. It is impossible to fully describe their brilliant color, and the pictures that are posted here just cannot compare to the real thing. They come in gold, red, yellow, white and black, and during the spawning season, the gold and red colors greatly brighten and intensify beyond belief. To watch all this color flashing in the pristine mountain water and sunlight, as you fight these fish on a fly rod, is breath taking.

    Lightning Lake ,and its surrounding peaks and cliffs, are just as beautiful as the fish in its waters. At an elevation of 9340 feet, the north edge of the lake is lined with a small pine forest, while the rest of the area has cliffs that start near the water and climb up to 10,500 feet. There are snow fields melting and feeding the lake clear, cold, water well through August. In this part of Montana it is common to see mountain goats, big horn sheep, and occasionally a grizzly bear or wolf!

    Normally, I would keep a place like this a secret, but if you can make it to Lightning Lake, then you have earned the right to fish it. The lake is already highly publicized, but is a horrible journey to get to. There are no trails or marked routes and some extreme terrain to hike, and at times, to climb through. I have returned from each trip with scrapes, bruises, fatigue, torn clothing, and frustration, swearing to never return again. Although the wild beauty of this Montana lake and its mystical golden trout drew me back again each year.

    It has been a few years since I have moved from Montana, back to my home state of Michigan, but the memories of Lightning Lake and its golden trout are still cherished in my thoughts. I have fished many mountain lakes, and this one keeps coming back in my mind the most. And maybe this spring I will find myself, once again preparing for another trip to fly fish for golden trout in Montana's Lightning Lake.

    Related pages about Golden Trout "

    Posted on Wednesday, December 18 @ 23:52:36 UTC by admin


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