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| Item: Michelle Lakes|
Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes
Type: Concrete Item Editor: rockymountainman
Just outside of Banff National Park high (elevation 8,150 feet) in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta are the Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes. These beautiful lakes are home to one of the rarest trout in the world. The golden trout that live in the lower lake were introduced back in the 1970's from their native home high in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
Access to the lakes is either via a long steep hike along a crude trail that follows Owen Creek starting from a bridge along Highway 11 just outside of the Banff Park boundary or via helicopter. The hike is hard but worth the work as the scenery along the way is phenomenal. Carrying heavy backpacks, weighing up to 70 pounds depending on the length of the stay, the hike will take a day and a half with an overnight stop 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up. Beware that the weather at this northerly latitude and high altitude can change in a blink. Be sure of the weather forecast before heading out. It is advisable to restrict this trip to the summer months with warm and dry weather.
Over the years there have been more and more people visiting the lakes by helicopter and this has put a lot of pressure on this delicate fishery. Back in the early 1990's a decent size 14" golden trout could be caught with some patience and careful placement of the fly. The fish in the lake now seem to be very small reaching only 6" at best. This could be due to poor fish management and/or too much fishing pressure. Where once the shrimp that the golden trout feed on were fairly large and abundant now they are very small and hard to find.
This is discouraging news for this extremely rare trout that has been all but decimated from its native home in California.
Michelle Lakes is a special place with a gift of gold within and more must be done to conserve this jewel of the rockies.
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