Recently, Sport Chalet gave away a two-day fishing trip with me to the High Sierra. I had not been trout fishing in this region for months, and even then I only visit these high elevation lakes at most maybe two or three times a year. I wanted to be certain to put the couple who “won me” in the contest on to some good trout fishing. And, as a former professional freshwater guide of eight years, I recalled how much preparation I would put into an upcoming outing before I ever put my clients on the water.
First, I started to look at the tackle I should bring. I chose two ultra-lite spinning reels matched with two soft-tip rods in 8’6″ and 9’0″ lengths. I like to use long parabolic “noodle” style rods for fishing tiny lures on these alpine lakes. I decided that these folks and I would focus on using primary artificial lures rather than soaking baits like Velveeta cheese, salmon eggs, marshmallows, or live night crawlers.
Then, I checked my line. One reel had 6-lb. test mono. It had been filled to the top of the spool and was fairly new. The other reel I wanted to be spooled with 2-lb. test fluorocarbon line. I stripped off some of the old monofilament, and re-spooled it with the super-fine diameter fluorocarbon.
Next I went into my trout tackle box to check my inventory. The first thing I wanted to be sure to have was extra 2-lb. test fluorocarbon leader material. With the one outfit spooled with 6 lb. mono, I would use a 6″–9″ length of the gossamer fluorocarbon throughout the trip.
I checked my supply of hooks. My primary choice is the ultra-sharp Owner #10 mosquito hook. It is needle sharp and light enough to allow almost all of my baits to float up off the weedy bottom of the lakes we would be fishing.
Instead of using lead sliding egg sinkers, I replace them with small plastic casting bubble floats, filled all the way up with water to make them sink. I find that these small clear bubbles work better than lead sinkers, and hang up far less on the bottom.
As for artificial baits, I like a wide selection of the tiny soft plastic trout worms, grubs, nymphs, and fake salmon eggs laced on that #10 Owner mosquito hook. On my spinning combo spooled with the 2-lb. test fluorocarbon I prefer to fish minuscule 1/32 ounce mini-jigs in an array of colors.
I made sure I packed a mini-container filled with assorted favorite spinners and spoons; I also kept a selection of small minnow-shaped lures on hand for trolling. For this trip in the fall, I did not bring a bulky, heavy lead core line outfit, figuring the trout would not be holding at greater depths like they do during the warm summer months.
Lastly, I made sure I had a few bottles of Bite-ON trout scent as an added attractor, plus hemostats for gently releasing smaller trout. As I drove into the Sierra, I stopped by Lake Mary, the first water we would fish the next day in the Mammoth Lakes basin. I talked to the boat dock manager, the tackle store operator, and even a few anglers fishing the lake. I was looking for the pre-fish “scoop” regarding what patterns the collection of rainbows, browns, and brookies would be holding to, and where most of the fish were being caught.
This type of intel is crucial if—even as a former licensed freshwater guide—you have not fished a particular lake in some time. The valuable up-to-date info I gathered saved me a lot of time and exploration that next day, as I had the fish precisely targeted in term of what and where they were biting. I had the right line tests, leaders, hooks, floats, and lures all dialed in due to my pre-fish preparation. We reached easy limits by 11am at Lake Mary, followed by another full round of limits at nearby Convict Lake on the second day. Without question, my pre-trip prep paid off as my clients and I were the high-catch boat on both lakes!