Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Trouts)

Gull Lake - June Lake, CA (Mono County)

The Author and His New Friend
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jerry Back

by Jerry Back

My usual fishing haunt is Ocean Beach, San Francisco, where I often cast for striped bass and surf perch.  This week, however, finds me wetting my line in Gull Lake and trying to hook a few rainbow trout.

Now, freshwater fishing finds me at the beginning of the learning curve after a few years of gaining basic competence in the surf.  What I really wanted was to fish side-by-side with my 9-year-old son, which isn't usually possible standing knee-deep in the unpredictable waves of Ocean Beach.

The solution?  A small boat on the placid waters of Gull Lake turned out to be a great way to spend some quality fishing time with the son and hone some much needed trout fishing skills.

To prepare, I did a lot of the usual online research, but nothing beats asking locals how they fish the lakes and streams along the June Lake Loop.  Fortunately, the owner at the motel we stayed at is an avid fisherman and happily answered my many questions.

After a false start the day before snagging our rigs many times along a rocky stretch of the June Lake shoreline, I decided to rent a small boat that my son and I could use to fish all over nearby Gull Lake.  Having been warned by the motel owner’s son to use a very long leader when fishing the bottom of the lake due to high weeds in the water, we hit the lake at 7 AM ready and hoping for some trout action.

True to the kid’s word, we did pull up a few weeds, but mostly kept our rigs intact.  My son did catch his first ever trout not long after leaving the dock.

Our basic setup was a Carolina-type rig, ¼ oz. sliding sinker, #18 treble hook, with 4 feet leader, using Powerbait dipped in garlic trout sauce.  I'm not sure if the additional garlic scent helped or not, but it was easy to apply and probably didn't hurt.

After four full hours of morning fishing, we headed back to the dock to go get some lunch and a little rest.  Returning back to Gull Lake for the remainder of the afternoon, it was my turn to hook up.  I started to feel nibbles in the late afternoon along the shore at the far end of the lake (near the rope swing).  The nibbles started turning into bites.

I lost the first real hookup, but soon got a solid bite and reeled in what I estimate to be around a 14 ounce rainbow trout.  Not a monster to be sure, but a good start.  At least I didn't skunk!

The main goal of our trip to the Eastern Sierra, though, was for my son to catch a trout.  He did earlier in the day, so my catch was just an awesome bonus.  I'm not sure which type of fishing--freshwater or saltwater--takes more skill, but both are worthy endeavors and I'll look forward to more trips with my son to the mountains soon.

Jerry Back is a television research executive residing in San Francisco, California. Other outdoor interests include fishing for Striped Bass (a.k.a., “stripers”) and anything else he can catch on the beaches of San Francisco. Jerry can be contacted at [email protected].

Jerry also wrote an article for MyOutdoor Buddy titled "How to Catch Dungeness Crab with Rod and Reel," which can be found here.  An archive of his recent articles published on can be found here.

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