Early July around Lake Tahoe marks the opening for many watersheds, including those that hold reintroduced strains of heritage cutthroat. This happened to coincide with the year’s addition of the Alta Alpina Challenge. The day before hitting the water, a couple of buddies of mine and I tackled the six-pass iteration of the challenge. We arrived earlier in the week to acclimate and based ourselves out of Sorensen’s, a quaint cabin style “resort” at the junction of Hwy 88 and 89 which serves great food out of its restaurant and offers a complimentary beverage the evening of each night’s stay. The Alta Alpina Challenge had us depart from Markleeville, climb and descend Carson Pass, climb and descend Ebbetts Pass, and finally descend and climb Monitor Pass. It was hard. It hurt. It was great.
After completing the grueling yet fantastic ride, my wife and I decided that the next morning, we would head to Meiss Meadows for the opening of the local and esteemed drainage flowing north. It seemed like a great idea at 6:00 pm at night. Come 7:00 am the following morning (July 1), I was a bit sore…with good reason. It took the initial climb to loosen up the hammies, but all in all, I was in a good place. Just a heads-up, if you park at the trailhead, a $5 fee is required. Additionally, it is requested that you fill and submit a fishing survey. There is a box with forms and golf course pencils for your use.
As we crested the only climb on the hike, we looked out over the expanse and could see gorgeous Lake Tahoe in the near distance. The small creeks and brooks that become the “river” gushed from the rock faces and cascaded down the hillsides toward the fishier water. After passing the historic cabins in the meadow clearing and a few other trail junctions, we made it to the prime Lahontan cutthroat territory. The fishing was great fun, and they were much obliging to anything—I really do mean anything that slightly resembled a fly. Just for good measure, I tied on an obliterated size 16 prince nymph, and sure enough, it must have resembled the trout equivalent of a cheeseburger.
Thoroughly enjoying the cool breeze and warm sun, we even relaxed on a large rock outcropping, ate lunch, and took a brief nap. The river broadened a bit and entered a bit of a beaver dam section. I thought that perhaps this section would hold some larger fish in the willows and reeds. I was right. I quickly hooked up with the looker photographed below.
Finally satisfied with our haul, we decided to call it a day. By the time we made it back to car, it was about 1:00 pm. With the fish survey submitted, we stowed the gear, cracked open a couple of sports drinks, and prepared for the long drive to Hwy 99 which would lead us back to southern California.