It’s June and it’s a low snowpack year. That’s not good for fishing, but you have to take your silver linings where you can get them. One is that mountain lakes will open earlier than usual and will likely have a longer-than-usual season.
There’s a broad definition of mountain lakes. Some people only consider ones where you have to hike to get to them. I think my arbitrary definition would be above 5,000-feet elevation and in timber or meadows, unless they’re above timberline. That includes a lot of lakes, from ones you can drive to around McCall and Stanley to ones scattered throughout Central Idaho (and beyond) nestled deep in the woods and wilderness.
Nearly all of them have fish, and fishing is typically fair to excellent. If you put in a solid effort, you’re likely to catch fish, and you can also have some banner fishing days when trout are so aggressive you have second thoughts about dipping your toes in the water. You also won’t have to fight crowds, and the hiking, camping and scenery add to the experience.
Truth is, mountain lakes are about more than fishing. They’re about getting out of town and into cool, green mountains, seeing sparkling water and catching a few feisty, shimming fish from the clear, cold water. Then you return to camp, have a cool beverage, relax and bask in the scenery.
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Even if you turn a mountain lakes trip into a death march by hitting a daisy chain of lakes during a weekend, or you’re one of those guys (or gals) who packs a llama load of gear to a lake, there’s still something soothing and relaxing about the experience.
Some folks are very tight-lipped about which lakes they fish, and that’s their call. But I don’t think it hurts to share the experience with others. It’s a great way to make summer memories, and I guarantee that even if you don’t catch a fish, which is unlikely, you will come home with a smile on your face.