Tired of fishing in waters teeming with more fishermen than fish? Want to fish remote lakes not accessible to the average person? Looking for a family fishing vacation non-anglers in the family will enjoy? If you answered yes to any of those questions, a high country pack trip might be the perfect vacation for you.
Reputable pack outfitters, such as Icicle Outfitters near Leavenworth WA, can take people where they could never go on their own. Horses and mules carry riders and equipment far into remote areas where few people travel on their own. High country lakes filled with hungry trout await the few who venture with rod and reel into their quiet domain.
Experienced guides know the territory like most people know the cities in which they live. They also know how to cook in the wilderness, producing meals from a Dutch oven far surpassing the expectations of most guests. No freeze-dried hiker food needed when you have mules to pack real food in. Sit around the campfire telling fish tales while eating real bacon, eggs, and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast or savoring a steak dinner with fruit cobbler for dessert.
Icicle Outfitters offers a variety of itineraries for anglers to choose from. Guests can join a scheduled outing, meeting new people in their travels. Or set up a private trip at your convenience to your chosen destination with only your own group. Drop camps provide another option where the outfitters pack you and your gear to your desired destination and pick you up on a pre-arranged date.
Among a selection of group trips offered, the Four Lakes in Four Days trip specifically has fishermen in mind. Each day of the trip ride to a different isolated mountain lake with time to stop and fish at each one. These remote lakes offer top-notch fishing for rainbow trout, eastern brook trout, and native cutthroat.
Bring a 3 or 4 piece rod packed into a rod tube with the reel and all your other fishing gear where it can easily be tied to your horse’s saddle. Choose a selection of small spinners and spoons, and if fishing in an area where they are legal, salmon eggs or Power Bait. For eggs and Power Bait, use size #10 or #12 hooks with two to four pound test line. Most people fish from shore, but those who desire ventures farther into the lake can bring float tubes. If fishing in deep enough water, use a bobber with the lure hanging about four to six feet below the surface.
Fly fishing works quite well in small mountain lakes, and also in the numerous cold streams of freshly melted snow. Fly anglers normally use a #3, #4, or #5 weight fly rod with floating line size #12 to #14. Bring a selection of flies to match whatever the fish happen to be feeding on at the time. Good choices for Washington’s Cascade Mountains include black gnat, mosquito, Adams, blue dun, black ant or deer hair caddis. When using wet pattern flies try chironomids, wooly buggers, hare’s ears or carey specials. Leaders of two to four pound test ranging in size from six to twelve feet work well. Many anglers who fish these pristine high lakes practice catch-and-release, although it is not required in most lakes.
During a pack trip, wildlife spottings are quite common. Most people see deer and birds, some also see rarer animals such as mountain goats. Binoculars help a lot for spotting goats when riding through mountain goat country.
Before signing up for a pack trip, it’s a good idea to try a trail ride at a park or stable with rental horses to make sure everyone in your group will enjoy the ride. Purchasing a fleece seat cover for your saddle in advance of the trip will make the ride more comfortable for those unaccustomed to sitting in a saddle for long periods of time. If you decide daily riding isn’t your idea of a great time, but you still want to get into the high country for some fishing, then the drop camp option might suit your needs. The down side of the drop camp is doing your own cooking and clean up.
With any pack trip or drop camp choice comes beautiful scenery, serene lakes, a fishing opportunity enjoyed only by a lucky few each summer, and memories to last a lifetime.