Predator fish in high lakes

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    • #115767
      alpinegarrett
      Participant

        Hello there, I stumbled across an old “Trail-Blazers” sign this last fall while catching excellent fish in a very difficult lake to get to. Thus leading me here to this forum! Ive been fishing the north cascades for years and its just incredible how many fish are out there. Ive been doing this since I was 12 (31 now) and I really cant ever seem to get enough days off each summer to be up there hiking/fishing. Thank you Trail-Blazers for all the effort! Thanks to you I have made some incredible memories fishing with dad in the high Alpine.

        So, I stumbled across a fish last summer which is larger than I have ever seen, and trust me I’ve seen some big ones. It must have been 3 times larger than the biggest fish I’ve laid eyes on in a high lake. I would estimate this fish is in the 7-15 lbs range. The lake which holds my “Moby Dick” is above 4,500 ft in elevation and has primarily Brooke Trout in it. This fish is too smart to catch. Ive been back a couple times and I get a view of him but never a bite. Although once I think I had him on, because I believe he inhaled the fish which actually took my lure, then spit it out, my rod went light and as I reeled in he circled this small fish very quickly as I peered down into the rocks below.

        Why is this fish so massive? Any possible ideas as to what species it may be? My dad says it might be a “mackinaw”? Im assuming it MUST be a predator if it is so large.

        Hoping someone may have some information or ideas on how this lunker came to be!

        Thanks!

        -Garrett

      • #115778
        Brian Curtis
        Keymaster

          There aren’t too many Trail Blazer signs left out there! That was a nice find. Was it a rectangular sign?

          It probably wasn’t a mackinaw because there is only one lake over 4500′ with mackinaw (Eightmile) and it doesn’t have EB. A very occasional EB will turn to a diet of fish so that even in a lake full of stunted little EBs there could be one or two bunkers. The North Cascades National Park found an EB in the 3 pound range in a lake full of stunted fish when they poisoned the fish out of one lake. There have also been some experimental and some illegal plants of brown trout and other predators. But even those rarely get to the sizes you are describing. There are lakes that can grow fish that size that are not predators, but they aren’t lakes that are full of brookies.

          • #115786
            alpinegarrett
            Participant

              It was a rectangular sign. I found the sign at one of George Lewis’s “favorite lakes”. Wow, a 3 pound EB! That’s a nice fish. I thought I noticed the white tips on the fins of this fish I saw, maybe it is just a large EB. Once I saw the fish I couldn’t take my eyes off it, it was unnatural. I want to convince myself I am exaggerating about the size but it swam around me for a good minute, real slow, looked like a stubby log with fins, and I was too mesmerized to take out my phone and get a picture! I hope to catch it this summer and share a photo on here. What kind of lakes can grow fish this size which are not predators? Im assuming very large lakes with frogs/salamanders nearby.. Or are frog eaters considered predators as well? Are there any high lake state records? Looking for monster’s while the legs can get there!

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              • #115789
                Brian Curtis
                Keymaster

                  The term predator in the way we often use it is a bit of a misnomer. All trout and char are predators. But we often use the term predator to refer to species that are more likely to prey on fish. The size of high lake fish is determined by a combination of how many groceries are in the lake and how long the fish lives. Invertebrates that make of the bulk of high lake trout diets live mostly in shallow water so the more shallow water a lake has the more productive it generally is. Small, shallow lakes are often better than big, deep lakes. The best high lake prey for trout are fresh water shrimp in the family gammarus. Unfortunately, most lakes are not suitable for gammarus, but when they are there and the population has not been suppressed by overpopulated fish, you know there is a possibility of large fish. And they can get very large. There are no specific state records for high lake fish, but three overall state records (westslope cutthroat, golden trout, and Atlantic salmon) came out of high lakes. I know people who have caught rainbow up to 8 lbs. And turning to predators (in the fish eating sense), a Hi-Laker caught a 37″ lake trout a couple years ago. While trout will eat vertebrates like certain species of salamander, they do not make up a significant portion of the diet of any high lake fish.

            • #115790
              alpinegarrett
              Participant

                37 inches huh, I would love to see a picture of that. Is there a link to see this? I did a search and happened on the old forum about big catches. Ole Leif’s Brooke trout at the bottom of the page is something like the one I saw. Some of the fish on that forum are unbelievable! I wonder how they are catching fish so large, it seems like it must be bait fishing off the bottom to be catching the quantity of large fishing those guys caught. I personally prefer action fishing, the catch is always more rewarding.

                Well thank you Brian, I appreciate the information! I hope to be posting a photo of my lunker on here sometime this summer. I will at least snap a photo from above the water and share, I think it may be larger than all the fish I saw on the forum 🙂

                Also, do the trail-blazers still stock lakes and have monthly meetings? It would be great to participate in a future stock trip if they do. It would be nice to give back to the next generation.

                • #115791
                  Brian Curtis
                  Keymaster

                    Here’s a fish I caught last year that ran over 23″. No bait necessary!
                    [url=https://flic.kr/p/24Mb5u6][img]https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7903/40548971373_980944349d.jpg[/img][/url]
                    [url=https://flic.kr/p/24Mb5u6]23+" RB part 1, Brian Curtis[/url]

                    And the vast majority of the fish in the Big Fish thread were caught on lures or flies. I hate bait fishing, too. Even if the fish are deep there are lots of ways to fish the bottom without resorting to bait.

                    Hopefully Tony will come around and post a photo of his behemoth.

                    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by Brian Curtis.
                • #115797
                  Tony Curless
                  Participant

                    Hi Garrett. I’m excited to hear about the fish you described. And I can relate to your comments. Especially the part about convincing yourself you were exaggerating about the size. As if the logical part of the mind is calling “bullshit” on what your eyes registered. Almost 2 years later I still experience that with this one.

                    (pics will be attached separately)

                  • #115798
                    Tony Curless
                    Participant

                      pic

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                    • #115800
                      Tony Curless
                      Participant

                        pic2

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                      • #115802
                        Tony Curless
                        Participant

                          pic3

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                        • #115804
                          Tony Curless
                          Participant

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                          • #115822
                            alpinegarrett
                            Participant

                              Brian, nice catch! Thats a great looking fish. I should have started this thread 2 months from now because I have a serious itch to fish after seeing the pictures. And now I have to wait for snowmelt! HA

                              WOW. Tony.. that thing is a monster, I didn’t realize we had Lake Trout in the higher elevation lakes. Let alone a Lake trout that massive! It makes me wonder if the fish I saw could be a Lake trout.
                              That 37″ fish is a beast.. probably eating chipmunks and squirrels that wander too close to the waters edge. haha
                              Thank You for sharing. I will get some photos of my monster this summer and share, I know where he prefers to be in the lake. I rarely see any other people fishing when I go on long hikes. Maybe some other backpacking fisherman will run across this thread and share their big or unusual catches as well.

                              Below is a photo of a nice looking -yet small- blue colored trout I caught and released.
                              Next photo down is my biggest trout of 2018.
                              Hopefully my rod is a little hotter this year!

                              • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by alpinegarrett.
                              • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by alpinegarrett.
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                            • #115824
                              alpinegarrett
                              Participant

                                Fall of 2018 catch

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                              • #115832
                                Rich OConnell
                                Keymaster

                                  Nice fish Garrett.

                                  If you’re in the Seattle area, you should stop by and checkout a Hi-Laker or TrailBlazer meeting. Both meet on a monthly basis. PM me for details.

                                  -Rich

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