It started awhile ago.
The Smith family’s connection the Lakes Basin Region began after World War I when Katherine and AD Smith, Linda’s paternal grandparents, traveled to the area to build a recovery camp for aviators recovering from illnesses related to flying in battle without oxygen. AD was an “early bird” aviator and had suffered from such problems himself during the war.
They were friends with Mac and Mava McCormick, who owned Gold Lake Lodge at the time. The remains of the camp that AD built are still visible behind Gold Lake Lodge, including the rocks that bear directions to the camp. Although AD and Katherine did not remain permanently in the area, the friendship was lifelong. Later, Mava became the owner of Gold Lake Beach Resort and in the early 50’s inherited White Sulphur Springs Ranch. Katherine and AD returned to the area to visit and Katherine spent many summers staying at the Ranch after AD passed away.
When Mava later sold her land at Gold Lake, she kept one parcel on the lake, complete with an artesian well and electricity. Mava invited Barbara and Ken Smith (Linda’s parents) to bring their family and camp on Gold Lake. The family fell in love with Gold Lake and the area, loving the complete freedom and amazing beauty of the lakes. After Mava’s death in 1974, the lot was sold, and Mava’s nephew Harry McKenzie and his wife Lea inherited White Sulphur Springs Ranch. His children later inherited the Ranch and ran it as a bed and breakfast.
This is where Linda first brought Gary to visit Graeagle and the Lakes Basin in the summer of 1993.
Dan’s fishing tales
Fishing with dad on Gold Lake: one summer at Gold Lake the fishing was terrible. It was unseasonably hot and the fish weren’t Active. Every morning we went out and every day came back empty handed. I gave up and told dad I didn’t want to go out. He was so disappointed. But he went out by himself. He fished and fished trolling up and down the lake. I think it was almost noon he finally came back with one fish. I learned my lesson. I never missed a day fishing with my dad.
One day dad and I decided to go to Little Gold lake. There was a story I had heard many times about the giant fish grandpa caught at Little Gold. I imagined this small Sierra lake with sharp mountains cliffs by the side. Like when we went backpacking at Spearhead lake. But it was a shallow marshy bog. Almost completely silted in. After a few casts and tangled lines we gave up. It became a kind of inside joke between us. ‘Let’s go fishing at Little Gold Lake.
Dad usually used fairly light line. 2 or 4 or 6 (if we were feeling greedy) pound test. It was to give the fish a even chance he said. Never horse the fish in. Tire it out and let it come to you. Keep the drag loose, but I often tightened it up because I was greedy. Let it have a chance to get away. We lost many fish to broken lines. We really disliked the deep heavy reflectors to go after the deep fish. It lessened the action on the rod, but the last few summers we started using them. We wanted to catch a monster brown trout, but never did. We trolled using flatfish. There was a green one that was particularly effective.
I’ll never forget catching the Kokinee landlocked salmon. We were using light line and it jumped and fought. It took a real long time to reel in both dad and I were yelling. You could hear us all over the lake. The salmon had been planted some years before, but I guess the program was discontinued. It wasn’t monstrous in size. It just fought like a monster.
I think mom ran down when we came into shore because she knew we had something special. It was my best fishing memory on Gold Lake.