- May to September
There is a series of five small lakes along the Pipeline Lakes Trail. These lakes have cutthroat trout and, in Pipeline Lake 4, some Dolly Varden. These landlocked fish are smaller than their ocean going relatives (generally 6 – 12 inches), but they still provide good dry fly fishing. Cutthroat fishing is closed April 15th to June 14th.
The fish populations in some of these lakes have declined over the past 10 years. This may be due to the increasing aquatic vegetation. During the winter, the decaying vegetation lowers the oxygen content of the water under the ice. Forest Service biologists have found lower (but not lethal) winter oxygen levels than in the past. As we study the problem further, you may wish to practice catch and release fishing.
A population study this spring showed good numbers of fish in Pipeline Lake 4 (fourth lake from the Pipeline trailhead, second lake coming from the McKinley Lake trail), so you may give that one a try. The largest fish were about 12 inches, but they all looked fat and healthy. Dropping a dry fly in a weed-free area is probably the best way to catch these fish. The vegetation gets pretty thick as the summer progresses, which makes it hard to cast lures without getting your hook fouled.
The trail is quite scenic and wanders through muskeg meadows and spruce and hemlock forests below the nearby mountains. In the spring, brown bears can be seen grazing on the new grass on the south-facing slopes of the hills.
The trail connects with the McKinley Lake Trail, where there are two Forest Service cabins, McKinley Lake Cabin and McKinley Trail Cabin. For reservation information call 1-877-444-6777 or go to www.reserveusa.com. For more information call the Cordova Ranger District at (907) 424-7661.