Mid July 18- 21, 2009,  The Emigrant Wilderness

Weather: Clear and Cool
Water Level: Good
Moon Phase: New Moon
Insects Observed: Big Slate colored may, size 12 at Emigrant Lake
Flies: Prism Stimi, Black Gnat, BH GRHE
Method: Dry fly to sighted fish. Slow strip and pause.
Set Up: 8ft 4wt 215 Medium action bamboo rod made by moi.


I don't think I wrote about it but last year I had this big backpacking trip planned. Kennedy Meadows to Emigrant Meadow Lake, to Emigrant Lake, to Huckleberry, to Paiute Meadow and out Crabtree. 8 days solo in all. On the first day, I pulled a rookie move, left Kennedy Meadows at around noon and suffered heat exhaustion. I recognized it and at about 6pm that evening turned around only to stumble to within a half mile from the trailhead at 10pm. I literally could not take another step without falling over. With no energy to pitch my tent, I found a nice flat rock to bivy on. Bivy is short for "bivouac", French for "plop your tired but anywhere and fall asleep" or to put in more technical terms, sleeping out of doors without a tent- sleeping under the stars.

The rock was warm from all day in the sun, a single tree sat at it's top and I hung my gear on the tree and spread my sleeping bag out on the rock. It was a full moon and I sipped water as I fell in and out of sleep that evening. The moon was so bright that I could see everything.

The bivy rock. Just shy of Kennedy Meadows.

Fast forward one year later and I'm making the same mistake. Leaving the trailhead at noon. This year though I was older and wiser and kept myself hydrated as I slowly made my way up the trail. Faster hikers would pass but I'd simply pass them later on the trail as they took their long break.  I survived this year and made my first nights camp beside Summit Creek, at Sheep Camp, a nice brook trout stream that would make a nice destination in and of itself. I set a fire in a feeble attempt to keep the mosquitoes away. It didn't work and the mosquitoes would turn out to be the worst I've faced anywhere.

Sheep Camp, night 1.

The second day I followed Summit Creek through the beautiful meadow that is Lunch Meadow to Brown Bear Pass.

Summit Creek at Lunch Meadow

Brown Bear pass descends into Emigrant Meadow and my first fishing destination- Emigrant Meadow Lake.

Emigrant Meadow Lake

Emigrant Meadow Rainbow

The fish at the meadow lake seemed to be healthy but they weren't coming fast enough for my liking, so I moved on down the trail to Middle Emigrant Lake. I like to sight fish in lakes and when the fish are deep like they were at Emigrant Meadow Lake, I prefer to move on.

Middle Emigrant Lake

Fishing wasn't great down the trail so I continued to move on and made my way down a little used trail into the canyon which contained one of the most beautiful streams I've ever seen. The pictures simply don't do it justice. It's difficult to get into because the trail comes and goes but I'd return simply to camp here. I fished for a short while and did well with the local brook trout.

North Fork Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek Brookie

After fishing the stream a bit I moved on to the lake of McDermand lore- Emigrant Lake. The fishing was just as he said it was; the inlet of which was flowing so slowly it flowed backward in the wind. The big trout were there just as he said they were. The fishing was challenging for ultra spooky but good sized trout in the shallows and stream and less spooky but hard to hook fish deeper in the lake.

(You don't like to fish deep you're thinking. This is true but if I see cruising fish it doesn't matter. I found a single cruising fish on the far side of the lake and plopped myself down for an hour or two hooking a good number of fish in the process.)

Inlet at Emigrant Meadow Lake

Emigrant Lake Rainbow


The fish in the picture actually swam to me as I was casting to another fish. It came from upstream, picked up a bug about 5 or 6 feet in front of me so I flopped my fly out in front of me about 2 or 3 feet (thinking that it would spook) and the fish took it no problem. (I could have reached out a grabbed him.) It was pretty cool to see the grab from that close.

I spent two nights at Emigrant Lake before returning over Mosquito Pass to Kennedy Meadows. (I've written another narrative, but it's unfinished and currently 6 pages...It may or may not ever see the light of day.... I hope this short narrative was good enough to tell the tale......)

Me on the back side of Emigrant Lake.

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