Thursday, September 26, 2013

Canoeing and Fishing the Western High Sierras

When I attended Sierra Joint Union High School in Tollhouse, California between 1957 and 1959, a lot of kids I knew had parents that worked for Edison or PG&E on hydroelectric projects in the High Sierras.  Over the years I've fished most of the lakes or reservoirs that resulted from those hydroelectric power systems.  My favorite lakes are located east of Huntington Lake in the Sierra National forest which is sandwiched between Yosemite National Park to the north and Kings Canyon National Park to the south.

My hands down favorite place to fish and camp in California is Thomas A. Edison Lake.  I've had good luck catching Browns, Rainbow, and an occasional Golden Trout at Edison, and the best part is that it has several canoe-in campsites.  Fishing can be good along the dam or at Mono Creek at the northeast corner of the lake.

Bristlecone pines are believed to live longer than any
other known organism: over 5,000 years.

For me -- one of the good things about Edison Lake -- is that it's at the end of a beautiful, but scary, 22 mile, winding, single lane Kaiser Pass Road.  Its hairpin turns and drop-offs discourages all but the hardiest anglers.

Two other favorite Western Sierras lakes are Wishon and Courtright Reservoirs which offer camping and fishing with fantastic mountain scenery.

So, if you spot an old man -- in an Old Town Canoe -- sporting a cowboy hat say howdy.

Update -- Sep 27, 2013:

I had been looking forward to fishing Edison Lake during the last week of September.  The weather should have cooled and the Browns should be spawning in shallow water.  I made reservations to stay at Vermilion Valley Campground, and I closely watched the weather forecasts.  I originally planned to drive in to the lake on Thursday, September 26, but the weather forecast for that night was 28 degrees with a wind chill of 19 degrees.  The rest of the week looked better with Friday night forecast at a balmy 32 degrees, so I opted to drive in Friday.

Friday morning when I arrived at Huntington Lake, and discovered it had snowed the night before. Above 7000 feet the snow had turned to ice.  It appeared to be melting quickly, so with a fair amount of apprehension I took a deep breath and I forged ahead on Kaiser Pass Road.

After two hours of anxious and tedious driving -- sometimes icy surfaces adjacent to thousand foot drop-offs -- I arrived Vista Point on the Vermilion Valley Dam to take a look at Edison Lake.

Somebody had pulled the plug and the lake was drained beyond recognition.  My campsite would be at least 800 yards from the nearest water, and the only other canoe access point with require a dangerous portage over huge boulders, so I turned around and drove home.

There is a valuable lesson here... in times of drought call the Forest Service and ask if anybody has stolen your lake BEFORE you dive 650 miles round-trip to go fishing.

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