Wind Rivers in Sept - how to hook the next generation?

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
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211
I'm looking for some advice for a Wind River trip early/mid September. I've done 2-3 day solo backpacks in the area for last 7 years. This year my nephew will join me. He's new to backpacking/camping but athletic (24 yrs old, tough mudder, marathon runner). I'm still looking for my first golden trout before I get too old (almost 60) but want him to experience my favorite place. So I'm trying to find some alternatives from the more experienced folks. So many possibilities...so little time.

With acclimation and travel, we can probably spend 4-5 days hiking. That could be 1 long or 2 shorter hikes. I'd like to keep trying for gold, but I've got an extra week and the main thing is to pass along the experience. 12-15m/day is no problem if it's on trail. Rather steer clear of crowds though I know what Elkhart/Pole Ck entrance is like even in Sept. Always wanted to try Golden L or past Camp L, but there might not be enough time based on what the guys in Pinedale/GOS told me.

I know this is tame compared to epic High Route trips, but any suggestions are appreciated.

Possible routes:
1) Roaring Fork trail to Faler L via Native L
2) Meadow Lake or Elkhart TH to Bull Lake Ck drainage (at least to Golden L) via Fall Creek/Timico L. Pass (4-5d)
3) Elkhart to Wall Lake (skunked there last 2 years)
4) Deep Creek Lake/Ice Lakes loop from Worthen Meadows (highly traveled route?)
5) Ross Lake or Bomber Basin from Glacier TH
6) Classic scenic, crowded routes to Island/Titcomb, Elbow Lake or the Cirque via Jackass Pass
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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2,796
Camp lake you will need more days......(never caught any fish there) Most lakes for Goldens you will need more than 3 days.
Never been up Roaring Fork, but I understand the trail isn't great....You can get to Faler lk going over Osborn Mtn.
Caught a single Golden in Golden Lk, but they are supposed to be there.... we came out from a camp here to a camp at Chain lks to Elkhart on one trip..... take the cutoff trail to Timico lk from the N Fork of Boulder Crk..
A lot of people at Deep Crk/Ice lks, Titcomb, Cirque area generally...... I stay away from those.
Supposed to be goldens up Bonneville Basin lks, East fork, Sheila lk, Noel lk area......but I have not caught any....
 

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
Messages
211
Thanks Bob.

Camped at Native L on Roaring Fk trail but retreated the next day due to snowstorm . Haven't been back since the fires a few years ago. Trail wasn't too well maintained before the blaze so maybe it's a real mess now. Tried the Osborne route once but had to abort halfway up due to thunderstorm. Didn't have time for another attempt.

Hay Pass and the Round Mtn cutoff seems the safer option. Fall Ck pass supposedly accesses Golden directly from Timico without going over Hay Pass (Nancy Pallister) but if I miss a cairn, it's going to be a tough day. Yeah, suppose fishing the Bull Fork Ck lakes below Camp in less than a week isn't possible. Reaching Golden/Louise in 2 d, 1 d fishing, 1 long day out seemed ok. (I can reach N. end of Upper Cook in a day so thought we could camp near Baldy Creek day 1.) Long way to walk for no fish though! Time to rethink that one.

I'll check into the Bonneville area too. Worst case is I catch whatever is around and save the gold prospecting for another trip.
 

Artemus

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Jun 25, 2012
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4,414
Sorry, not able to give any fishing advice but the Bonneville basin is great locale for a 4-5 day trip. Especially beautiful if you go up and over the pass to the north into the Middle Fork basin.
 

Kyle P

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Jul 25, 2013
Messages
73
From Worthen Meadows, you could also do some off trail hiking following Roaring Fork Creek to Leg Lake. There are some Goldens in there and you should also find solitude. From Leg Lake, you can then go up over the pass to the west (crawling over large boulders) and into the Stough Creek Basin for some good fishing as well although there are no Goldens there. Once in Stough Creek Basin, you will be back on trail.

That is what I did for my first hiking adventure in the Wind Rivers and loved it.
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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2,796
Did catch goldens in the lake up from Middle Fork Lk ....supposedly Noel lk (nearby) has em. I'd wait for Bull Fork lks.......passing thru we made a quick stop at one in there.......caught a 26" Golden........
Fire didn't make it to the drainage bottom in roaring fork.
 

OldBill

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Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
211
Thanks for the great feedback. Good E and W side options without crowds, good fishing for me and spectacular scenery/some challenging sections for my nephew. I can go back in for another 4-5 days after I drop him off in Jackson.

Seems I need to leave Bull Lake Fork for another year. 26" just passing by? I'd be happy with 12"

Leg Lake is a new one for me. Found an article from Lander F&G that showed good numbers in 2014. Windy and Thumb Lakes in Silas/Atlantic are well known but get a lot of pressure.

A loop to Middle Fork from Rainbow L is pretty clear from maps. Camped at N end of Rainbow L after a long day from Scab Cr. The route to Bonneville Basin is less clear. Looks like an amazing off-trail experience though.

Is it better to use a fly rod or is spinning better? Fly rod/floating line is useful for both lakes and streams but spinning gets distance, depth, deals with wind on the lakes and tight casting space. Early Sept seems hit or miss with fish near the shore. A number of reports here and elsewhere seem evenly split as to either fast-sinking scuds, woolly-buggers or spoons like Kastmasters.
 

muir_mountain

Wilderness Seeker
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
The best Goldens are much too far for your itinerary.

For the absolute best, most scenery-packed trip (and amazing fishing) to get a beginner hooked is the Hailey Pass loop starting at big sandy trailhead. You take the trail to big Sandy lake, go north over Jackass Pass to the Cirque of the Towers, then follow the Lizard Head Trail north all the way to Grave Lake, then take the Hailey Pass trail west over the pass to Pyramid Lake, making sure to explore the Basin of lakes just north of Pyramid. Then take the trail down south back to Big Sandy.

It would have any mountain lover never wanting to hike anywhere else again. Get 'em HOOKED!!

You're going in September, so no crowds and no bugs. Perfect.
 

Kyle P

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Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
73
Fly rod/Spinner is up to you. The only time I take a spinning rod is if there will be tight casting areas or I'm spending a significant amount of time fishing a lake. With that said I have had good luck on lakes with fly gear as well. I myself enjoy fly fishing enough that the spinning rod rarely makes the trip anymore.

The trip mentioned above by muir_mountain could be done with a fly rod easily. Grave lake has some very large Lake Trout, and I was able to get into some of them with a fast-sinking scud. Also found some 20" cutthroats in there on clouser minnows.

Make sure to report back on your trip, I love seeing pictures of fish!
 

OldBill

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Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
211
Thanks to everyone for the help. Sent photos of possible destinations to nephew. He's psyched but wait till he sees the real thing!

May just take a spin outfit and use either a bubble or splice in a section of fly line to use flies in streams or lakes w/o wind.

Will attempt a trip report though this group sets a pretty high bar. Photos these days are just using a compact dig. The days of hauling a bulky camera, filters and tripod are over. Finally getting smart with pack weight but photo quality suffers.
 
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