20 Great Economical Adventures

Wyoming: Golden Trout of the Winds

Outdoor Life Online Editor

The high-elevation lakes of the Wind River Range east of Pinedale, Wyo., hold some of the largest golden trout in the world. Goldens from California were first introduced in Wyoming in the 1940s. The current world-record line-class is a 5-pound, 10-ounce golden caught in Golden Lake in 1989.

Among the best fishing lakes in the mountains for pure-strain golden trout are Elbow and Nelson lakes. Both are above timberline on the west slope of the Wind River Range. Elbow is an 80-acre glacial cirque 14 miles from the Spring Creek Park trailhead in the Bridger Wilderness. Nelson is 26 acres and 13 miles from the Elk Heart Park trailhead.

Productive patterns include mosquitoes and Royal Wulffs on top or Hare's Ear and Bead-Head Pheasant-Tail nymphs under the surface. Spin-casters use small spinners and spoons. Most fish are in the 8- to 14-inch class with a few over three pounds. Prime time is right after ice-out in late June to mid-July. You can hike in or pack in on your own, hire a packer to drop-camp your gear or go in with a guide and packstring.

Regulations allow six trout per day, only one of which may be over 20 inches. A resident fishing license is $15. Nonresidents pay $6 per day or $65 plus $10 for a conservation license for the season.