I fine trip. When we think of it, 14" is quite respectable, but it is true that after a good run of trips we can get a bit jaded. The combination of the hiking, fishing, and adventure (including dealing with that washout) add to a good excursion. The "three trips in one" concept also shows that one can get a lot of good fishing with that sort of arrangement, just as one can from one longer trip--plus to hit a brewpub in between trips is especially appealing. As far as longer term assessments, the large sample size from that one potential premium golden lake suggests to me that the population density has in fact increased to the point where the top end isn't what it was years ago. When we think about it, there has only been one heavy winter with many light ones, so I don't think its the usual combination of shorter growing seasons and better-than-average spawning (from extra good and sustained runoff into lake). I was there when the conditions should have been optimal for big ones (multiple consecutive dry winters) in 2015 and it looked to me that the top end (those seen trailing or cruising) was somewhere around 13 or 14"; best I landed was 12" and I had one flop off and fall through my hands that may have been a half to an inch bigger.
As for rangewide trends, I'd say that generally I find that overall prospects are the same now as when I started getting serious about High Sierra fishing in the mid 70s, in spite of big changes in fisheries management, progressive fish population growth in some lakes, etc. Overall I've had a trend of catching a higher proportion of larger fish as the years have passed but this is not because the average size of fish in lakes I fish has increased but, because of my specific targeting (plus probably a few technique refinements) that exploits both my accumulated knowledge and knowledge gleaned from outside sources (such as reports here, for example). Anyhow, a very fun read, and a great trip.
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Re: The mountain reclaimed: trails, trials, and (mis)adventures in the Sierra (Aug. 25 - Sep. 2, 2018)
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;