The Legend of El Dorado

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Golden trout of the Wind Range

For as long as I have been aware of their existence, the golden trout of the Wind Range have loomed large in my imagination. For years, hell decades, I’ve dreamed of hiking into those mountains to catch one of the worlds rarest trout.

I had honestly given up. I learned that no one is going to tell the guy from Georgia where the golden lakes are and it seemed impossible for me to do the leg work to find them. I thought that holding a golden trout in my hand would remain a dream, until I mentioned it to my buddy Steven Brutger, of Stalking The Seam.

 “Really?” He said. “I do it every year. I’d be happy to take you up there.”

Steven and his partner, Matt Copeland, made all of the arrangements. The plan was to arrive as close as possible to ice-out. Golden trout are notoriously difficult to catch. It’s entirely possible to hike ten or twenty miles in and get skunked. Being there as soon as the ice melts is your best shot.

In June we hiked in, with llamas carrying our gear, to a base camp at 10,000 feet. We then went on our own to a lake I will call El Dorado at 11,500 feet. The environment was beyond harsh. High winds and an icey precipitation called gropple stung every inch of exposed skin. We arrived with half of the lake still covered in ice. What followed was pure magic.

Working with videographer Murphy Kane, the newest member of the G&G team, we it together this video. I’m very proud to share it with you and very thankful to Steven, Matt and Murphy for making it happen.

 Editor’s note: This video is pretty trippy. We at Gink and Gasoline would never suggest any illegal behavior on the part of our readers. Residents of CO and WA, however, should consider exercising their rights before viewing!  Enjoy. 

 The Legend of El Dorado

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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21 thoughts on “The Legend of El Dorado

  1. I think I got a little baked just watching that video. Contact high?

    Pretty fish though, and much larger than I would have expected for so high up. What’s the biomass like up that high?

    • Thanks Tim. It’s always nice when the fish are bigger than you expect. I wondered about their food source too. I couldn’t find another living thing up there. There must be a healthy population of nymphs deeper in the lake but I don’t know what they are. We were lucky to find them looking up. Most folks get them crawling nymphs on the bottom. I tried some streamers and crawfish patterns but got no interest. It’s curious.

      • I don’t know if you have ever read Fish Food by Ralph Cutter but he talks about high elevation lakes in the Sierras that hold trout and a significant source of food comes from something he calls “up slope blow in.” It’s where wind will actually carry insects up the mountain and then they are deposited onto the lake and the fish feed on this. You said it was windy, and the fish were caught on dries so it seems like a possible source.

  2. Great video… You just raised an already high bar on yourselves by putting this out there…so cool to have shot/edited this in the same style as the zep film.

  3. Thanks Louis and Murphy. Awesome video and amazing fish. It looked like a dream trip. It is always good when the investment in effort getting to the water pays off so big.

    More than 99.9% of the general population would have no clue how and why you would take a trip like this to catch such fish. However, those who understand the wonder of this quest for fishing nirvana truly appreciate the incredible footage you were able to bring us. It’s inside information of the highest order. Kudos to Steven and Matt for sharing the experience with you.

  4. Amazing video, this should have been at F3T! Let me guess, you caught these fish in Lake Wouldntyaliketoknow in the Mytopsecret Basin? =P

    Seriously though, are there any resources out there for someone that doesn’t have a connection in Wyoming and who doesn’t want to shameless ask people to reveal their honey holes? This has been my dream trip for 5 years and I’m willing to put in the work, but it’s a long way from MN if ya have anywhere to start…

  5. Awesome video Louis, looks like a great time. It reminds me of growing up and stalking brookies in the high desert lakes of northern Nevada. I had no idea what I was doing, but I could cast a fly rod and knew how to tie a fly on. I’d hike a few miles in to those high lakes surrounded by snow in June with a handful of yellow humpys and catch fish all day long…thanks for taking me back!

  6. There is this really out of the way lake near where I live in Idaho that I’ve heard is full of Goldens. You really have me wanting to get in there and fish it now.

    • Ant patterns work very well in many of our high elevation greenback lakes in CO…the winds blow them in from far far away

  7. Awesome video, STOKED!!! Beautiful in every sense! Golden Trout are the Mahimahi of fresh water. Caught Goldens in Kennedy Meadows, a few hours north of Los Angeles some tears back. They were no bigger than 8″, but such beautiful fish!

  8. I’d like to know the name of the band and song that’s accompanying this video. Perfect for starting a day on the water. luv the guitar riff

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