Last chance for Linton Lake brown trout

What would drive a man to drag his pregnant wife out into the Three Sisters Wilderness through ankle deep snow last weekend?

Linton Lake Hike

I’d heard rumors of giant brown trout in Linton Lake, fish with heads large enough to look like they belong on a golden retriever. I was told I’d see them finning in the shallows, just waiting for an unsuspecting black wooly bugger to try to sneak past them. So I packed up my float tube, a few wooly buggers and a sinking line and convinced my wife it would be a nice hike. And it probably would have been, without the snow.

Linton Lake Hike

That said, if I’d caught a 10lb brown trout, you’d have seen the photo already. The brown trout were crusing the shallow eastern edge of the lake and they did take wooly buggers, but I didn’t not see any of the mythical monster fish.

Linton Lake Hike

Linton Lake Hike

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5 Responses to Last chance for Linton Lake brown trout

  1. bill keith says:

    Our family hiked into Linton lake 50 plus years ago. When parked to start the hike there was an old fisherman there and he had a HUGH brown trout, I’ll bet 6 to 8 pounds. We didn’t go in to fish, just hike and picnic but I never forgot it. My wife and I live in Spokane and took a long week end in Sisters. I had every intention of hiking in there to catch one of those monsters but the highway was closed for repair and we couldn’t get to it. I’ll be back this spring to try again!

  2. Eric Norstog says:

    I love to fish Linton Lake! I go there at least once a year, usually in the fall when the water is low. I sometimes limit out on browns. The biggest brown I have caught there was 24″ and I estimate it weight 4-6 pounds. These fish are acrobatic fighters with leaps out of the water.

    I catch them on mostly one kind of fly. I won’t tell you what that is, you will have to experiment. Also, I catch browns when I see float tube guys getting skunked, and I fish from the shore.

    This lake has some very nice camp spots. at about 400 fet, it is easy to get to all summer into the fall.

  3. ryan webb says:

    Monster browns in Linton are not a myth. I started fishing Linton in the mid 2000’s. My first year in was said to be a record low for the water levels. That year I landed 3 browns that were all 10+ pounds. Since then I have not caught any that large but I do see them in the fall cruising the shallows.

  4. Andrew Bland says:

    Linton Lake is a great place to fish and I think I might head up there this month. It is interesting that, when fishing later in the year when the water is down, it’s best fished from shore. On year I spend several hours in my float tube without even a strike, but fishing from shore, I was picking them up almost with each cast. My favorite fly for this lake, and many others, is a Black Woolly Bugger with a red tail. It’s a great all purpose fly to use, especially if nothing is hatching

  5. Eric Norstog says:

    As usual, I hiked in to Linton Lake in mid-October. I set up a spacious tent at Alder Springs Campground, at the trailhead, and hiked in with gear in a pack the next day, and set up a smaller camp with a tent. The weather was overcast but warm. I spent the afternoon hiking the eastern shore with a spinning rod, looking over the previously spacious and accessible shore now turned into an obsatacle course by a big storm several years earlier that had brought down many big trees. Linton Lake, never easy to approach to the shore, was now an ordeal for the determined and the fit. I returned to my camp on dry evergreen duff beneath enormous Douglas-fir and Western red-cedar trees, and in the dying light I set out to the shore to fish using flies on a 13-foot leader, attached to a casting “bubble” or “torpedo”. I recognized the ripples on the surface, now calmed to glass by the dead wind, as the sipping of brown trout, close to shore. Casting to the ripples, I soon caught a strike, and landed a furiously fighting 15″ brown, beautiful to behold with its dots in reds and coppers. For the next two hours I casted to the feeding trouts, catching three more ranging from 14″ to 18″. I lost two that I judged giants: one which dived to the bottom and rubbed off the hook; another, probably hooked on the tounge, which just cut through the leader. That one endfe my evening of fishing, with little light left to walk home to camp. That evening, I dined on tea, rice and brown trout, and slept well as the lone camper on Linton Lake.

    Next morning’s feed was slow and light. I casted out to shallow water and again, hooked a big one, which again rubbed out the hook. The feed quit. I fished the West shore, which is an obstacle course of big basalt boulders, with no luck. So I walked out. The remaining three brown served as dinner for myself and two guests, who declared them “the best trout I have ever eaten”.

    Now the road up to Linton Lake is closed, but you can still get there by snowshoeing about five miles. The lake is at 4000 feet (not at 400 feet, which I erroniously posted earlier), but is in a protected valley that traps warmth and gets sunshine at all times of the year.

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