Those who follow my blog know that the fishing trip I look forward to most is the week-long trip I take every year. Last year I went to Oregon, and the year before that, Wyoming. This year I was forced to pick the month of August. Traditionally August is a poor month to fly fish, but the dates had to be chosen on fairly short notice because of our work obligations. My cousin Andy and I decided on a horse-pack trip into the mountains. We invited Jeffro, and he was in.
I completed so much research on which pack station to use and where to go that I was starting to lose my mind. The websites were so confusing and the prices were so high. I started to think that a horse-pack trip was not for us. Then I stumbled onto Leavitt Meadows Pack Station out of Bridgeport, California. As soon as I started perusing the pages of their website, I felt relieved. Finally, a website I could understand with prices that made sense. As soon as I made first contact with the owner (Craig), I knew I had made the right choice. His sense of humor was a perfect match for me and I knew the group would dig him as well.
Many different options were available for our pack trip, but we chose the "spot" pack trip: We were taken by horseback and our gear and provisions were taken by pack animal to a desirable campsite on a lake. The packer and stock then returned to the pack station. Then we were picked up on a predetermined date by the same packer. We furnished all our own camping equipment. The duration of our stay in the back country was up to us. We chose a solid week and it went by wayyyyy too fast.
Jeffro had backpacked into this area years before and assured us we would be blown away by its beauty, especially at Fremont Lake. Craig also suggested we base camp at Fremont Lake. He felt we would enjoy the fishing.
When we arrived at the pack station and started loading the mules, one of the ranch hands showed us a picture of a 4-pound wild rainbow that was caught a couple of weeks prior. Everyone that fishes Fremont Lake tries to practice catch and release, so there was a good chance that the fish was still there, along with others in the same size range. We were told all of the fish in Fremont Lake were 14 inches and larger and fought like 5 pounders.
Craig was absolutely right about the great fishing. On the first day after camp was set up, I decided to take a nap while Andy and Jeffro inflated the tubes for an afternoon bite. I awoke a couple of hours later and put the float tube in the water.
I did not know what to expect. When I paddled over to Andy and Jeff to see what was going on, they informed me they had caught lots of fish and were amazed at how hard they fought. I soon hooked up with a couple of scrappy rainbows and was blown away by how hard they pulled. They reminded me of the smallmouth bass we had been catching at Lake Almanor.
After fishing Fremont Lake consistently for 3 days and catching a couple hundred hard-fighting rainbow trout, we decided to hike into the headwaters of the Walker River and catch some smaller rainbows and brook trout.
The canyon was steep and hard to hike. The fish were very spooky and we caught a few rainbows and brookies, but I have to admit I missed Fremont Lake and couldn't wait to get back to those trout.
I actually enjoyed the view much more from up here.
A typical high-mountain-stream brook trout.
On the way back we ran into this peculiar fellow. He claimed to be a prospecter and yelled at us to get away from his claim!
A view of Fremont Lake. I could not wait to get back and catch some more rainbows.
There were so many crawfish in the lake that we decided to keep a few and boil them up and add them to our spaghetti. A little hot sauce and some sausage made for the best spaghetti we had ever eaten.
On our last full day Andy decided to do a 12-mile round-trip hike to a brookie lake that we heard was full of fish.
Cinko Lake was a great brook trout lake for Andy.
We knew Andy would catch a lot of brookies. He said he stopped fishing after catching a little more than 100 fish, when he decided to start the long hike back.
Jeff and I decided to just stick around camp and catch more of the rainbows from Fremont Lake.
Jeff looked very tired but Andy and I both agreed, it should have been Jeffro's horse that was the tired one after this trip!!
Overall it was one of our best trips. Andy feels it was his favorite. You know it was a good trip when you return home feeling like a new person, disconnected from the daily grind. We also all agreed that our pack guides were a big part of making our trip such a great adventure, and we would highly recommend them to anyone.
Next year we might fish Wyoming or do another pack trip. Regardless, I’m sure we will have fun planning for it in the meantime.