American Fly Fishing

Heaven Waits
By Gary Weber

Sky Lakes Wilderness, OR

A collection of clouds and tall shoreline trees are reflected on the placid surface of Little Heavenly Lake, creating an idyllic landscape. The two Heavenly Lakes are the author’s favorite fisheries in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area. ALL PHOTOS BY GARY WEBER

Heaven. Whether or not you believe in its existence, just the mention of the word conjures up images and thoughts of nirvana, paradise, or a “higher place.” Moreover, heaven is commonly associated with peace and tranquility in an unspoiled and untouched environment. Heaven is where you find it, however, and for a fly angler who loves mountain lakes, utopia is usually found deep in the wilderness along with unsurpassed solitude, spectacular scenery, and rising rainbow trout. That’s why I have to believe that if there’s a heaven on earth for high-lakes anglers, south-central Oregon’s Sky Lakes Wilderness has to be it.

Occupying an area only 6 miles wide but nearly 27 miles long, the 116,300-acre Sky Lakes Wilderness contains more than 200 bodies of water, including small, isolated ponds and crystalline lakes of various depths and sizes, all the way up to enormous 900-acre Fourmile Lake near its southern border. Established in 1984, the Sky Lakes Wilderness straddles the Cascade Range from Crater Lake National Park southward to State Route 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls, with 75,695 acres located within the Rogue River–Siskiyou National Forest and 40,605 acres inside the Fremont–Winema National Forest. Elevations range from 3,800 feet in the canyon of the Middle Fork Rogue River to 9,495 feet at the summit of Mount McLoughlin, southern Oregon’s tallest peak.