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10/6/14

All Over the Place!

Between Home and Currant Creek

A few weeks ago, family plans required that I stayed somewhat close so I could get home early. My definition of "close" has certainly evolved over the past few years, but for this week's purposes, it meant staying within 2 hours of home and beating the sunset.

Currant Creek Reservoir instantly came to mind, plus the opportunity to fish Strawberry along the route made my decision easy. My departure was early enough that I felt I could get in a good float.

As I approached Strawberry Reservoir, my eyes scanned for areas that looked promising for a quick stop. The shallow bay near the Soldier Creek Dam junction has a nice rocky outcropping that is exposed, next to deeper water, so I scrambled out to it and started casting.

In about 20 minutes, I had several bites and two catches.

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Nothing special, but it was a good start.

Once Strawberry was in the rear-view, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to pull over to investigate Deep Creek, the little stream that runs along the roadside between Strawberry and the road to the dam at Currant Creek Res.

It's a neglected little stream, but the water is cold and there are some starving little browns begging for attention in there. Here's a famished example.

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There are parts of the stream that look more promising than others, but my focus shifted back to my original destination. Another time, perhaps.

Along the road to the Currant Creek dam, I couldn't help but pull over in a couple of places, just to catch a few more quick fish from the creek. The only problem was that the fish were hard to find.

I ended up spending a lot of time in search of life in the creek, only seeing one small brown that nipped at my offering once in the first few minutes.

The last spot I stopped at was in an area that was tough to access, tightly bordered by thick willows and other brush. Finally finding the water, I noticed the improved clarity (downstream was pretty loaded with sediment) and started marching upstream, casting all the way.

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Another quick bite from a small brown led to another escape before I found a great looking bend with an obvious undercut bank.

Getting the right presentation was difficult, with a large ball of roots at the head of the hole. Hanging up on those would cause me to either lose gear or spook the hole, so I carefully tossed my jig into the seam of the current, keeping the line tight as it sank for a second.

A couple of light twitches let me know that the jig was still free and as I searched for it, I noticed the flash of an attacking brown.

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Pretty good fish for the creek! It's certainly not the biggest fish in there, but it was better than the average planted rainbow I usually find.

A credit to the rough access, the three fish I was able to catch in that stretch were all a bit larger than typical, even the rainbow.

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With that out of the way, I was only a few miles from my target, where I hoped to spend most of my time unhooking big tiger trout as I picked them off the weed line from my tube.

Well, the fish had other plans for me. The wall of weeds along the dam was still holding strong, but the fish were hard to find throughout. Occasionally, a small tiger would come to hand, but it was very slow.

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The hours melted away as I tried my best to locate larger fish, but the best I could do was a tiger of about 16 or 17 inches and a mid sized cutthroat. 

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Finally, a risky cast placed my jig right in front of a big one that fought hard for several seconds before shaking the hook. This only delayed my departure, having had a taste of my desired medicine.

Time ticked on without any more worthy battles and my day came to a close without getting quite what I wanted, but it was good to float Currant again and catch a few fish.

They can't all be hogs. It's just good to get out.

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Rainy Day

The next week, my family and I were supposed to go to Scofield Reservoir together, but the nasty weather put a stop to that.  Instead, I took a solo trip to a local stream and explored a stretch that I hadn't before.  The stream has always treated me right, so getting into a "new" part of it was enticing.

From the first hole I fished, it was pretty steady action for good browns and some cutthroat on occasion for variety.

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This guy was pretty nice:

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And a decent cutt:

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The hits just kept coming in.  The fish I caught were nice and the many I missed held a few beauties I wish I could have handled.  Those browns were wearing bronze.

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This one was especially nice to hold:

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It put up a great fight and actually had me scrambling downstream to keep up with it.  Very exciting!

Even though the weather had kept me from taking my family out, somehow it had bypassed the valley I chose to fish.  Go figure!  

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What started as a dreary, ill-fated salvage trip ended up being a great day of fishing and I stayed dry almost all day.  It certainly fixed me for the week and that's just perfect.

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Provo Canyon

Having had to cancel the previous week's family trip, sustained rainfall into the next weekend left us with the same decision, once again.  We were all disappointed, but rainy days at the onset of fall aren't conducive to family fun in the mountains.  Not for my crew, at least.

With that, I took a few hours in the afternoon and hit the river.  The water was really murky at the mouth of the canyon so I drove up to the Olmstead Diversion, where it was much better.

The rocky stretch just downstream is my go-to for that part of the canyon and it proved to be somewhat productive for awhile.

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The fish weren't great, but it was nice to be in the canyon.  The proximity to my house can't be beat and it's a pretty area where the water still washes the previous week away like anything else can.

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Once I'd had my fun there, I decided to call it, but not without making a stop on the way home.

Canyon Glen Park tugged at me as I approached, so I obliged and found the water dirtier than I had hoped it would be.  A short walk showed that there was a really loose hillside just upstream from there that was releasing a lot of grey mud into the water.

From there, the clarity was significantly better and the fishing began. I saw a dorsal fin breach the surface near the bank and ambushed a scrappy brown:

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It was mostly slow fishing with a few missed bites and it seemed like I was just burning time, so home I went, happy enough with the day's results.

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Lunch

My breaks have still kept me going throughout the week, mostly catching small largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, and a few carp, if anything.  

A pretty good bass gave me a sweet battle the other day and that was just what I needed.

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That's always fun.

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The Brookies

My friend Keoni and I had been planning an overnight trip to the brookie grounds for a couple of weeks and the first Friday of October was to be day 1.  Arrangements were made in advance at work and the two of us, plus Keoni's good friend Andy were on the road by 5:15am.

 We were on the lake a few hours later and it didn't take long to get a bend in my rod.

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Not bad.

A couple of casts later and I had a scrappy one from a later class.

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Keoni was pulling in small cutthroat left and right and Andy had a few come to play as well, along with a couple of mid-sized brookies.

The cutts were harder to find than usual for me, but I was working a different layer of the water column than where they typically hold.  Eventually, a decent one was caught hanging out in the brookie zone.

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The lake was quite fickle though.  Keoni was the only one of us with a steady catch rate, summoning small cutthroat at will with his fly rod.  Andy hadn't been fishing in awhile and couldn't quite get the mojo flowing, although he did have several catches.

After several hours with a few missed bites and only smaller fish from time to time, a lucky drop into a deeper trench got me into a solid fish.  Keoni was nearby and offered some assistance with his net, then with the camera.

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A very nice brookie of 19.5" broke my personal best in length, although it weighed 3lbs, 5oz, which was short of my heaviest by 5 ounces.  Still, a great fish and well worth the previous hours spent searching for it.

Before we knew it, the sun was dipping behind the trees and the reality of having to hike back to the truck had us in a hurry to catch some quality fish.  

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A few more small cutthroat got in our way as we searched for something bigger.

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Eventually, the time had come for us to kick back to our put-in, stopping to work a few holes in the weeds along the way.  While I was hopping my jig between vertical columns of weeds, I felt a hit and set the hook to a screaming reel as something big took line with ease.

Instantly, I looked up at Keoni, who was in the same area and he just shook his head in disgust.  He'd been working so hard to find something with size and I was the only one who'd had a taste of it so far.

Naturally, we were both very interested in what was happening on the other end of that line since this fish was pulling way harder than any we'd caught all day.

After some time, watching my bent pole change direction and throb, I finally saw what I had.  It was indeed a nice brookie, but when I felt the hit, the fish must have let go quickly and turned.  This fish was coming in backwards.

It was foul-hooked in the anal fin.  Bummer.  I'm sure the initial bite was real, but somehow I snagged it on the hook set.  To me, that's a catch, since the fish surely bit, but it was disappointing to think that I was tricked into thinking it was "the one".

Once it was in my grasp, it was obvious that it was bigger than the other good one I had caught.  The last one was 19.5", so this one was certainly over the 20" mark, plus 2 ounces heavier.

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Great fish.  It was released right after the quick weigh-in and swam off angry.  What a tease!

Keoni actually hooked into a nice cutthroat on his way in, which he sent me a photo of:

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Nice fish.  I was hoping I could hold a big cutt too, but the brookies were the only ones that would mess with me and that was just fine.

We left the lake, promising to get back early the next morning.

Day 2:

As intended, we shoved off nice and early the following day, before the sunbeams had even touched the water.   Within 30 feet of our put-in, signs were promising.

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That little guy made way for one that may have met my hand before, although there could be several fish in there with messed up jaws.

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Keoni and Andy weren't having much success though.  The tactics that had slaughtered the little cutts yesterday wasn't doing any good on day 2 and I heard a few groans when would-be catches gave false hopes as they escaped.

Once again, I hooked into another really nice brookie.

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I believe I heard Keoni tell me he hated me at that point, haha.  No measurements taken on that one, but it was obviously a good one.

The fishing was really slow for all of us on day 2, actually.  As a result, we only fished for about three hours or so.

Just as we decided to kick back to shore and bug out, I heard Keoni let out an excited, "Oh yeah", and turned to see his fly rod doubled over and shaking.

After a few tense moments while the fish wrapped and unwrapped itself in the weeds, it was finally brought in.  Keoni finally got his big brookie.

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I was happy for him because he'd been working very hard to get one.  On the fly too!  That's something I've been unable to do at that lake.

With that, we left to find some other water that might produce more fish per hour.  A small one that we agreed upon was bypassed when we found a large group of people in the area and we mulled over ideas for plan B.

Ultimately, we decided to try wading out on Fish Lake in hopes of some numbers with grand possibilities.  Keoni was set on grilling us some rib-eyes and potatoes while Andy and I tested the water.

Fish Lake and I have a bit of a history.  It usually kicks my butt, although I seem to have a knack for catching brown trout, one of the more difficult species to catch in the lake.  Don't ask me how it keeps happening, but I was able to hook yet another tiny brown from Fish Lake.

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That makes brown #5 at Fish Lake now.  Had I been using my fly rod, I could have caught as many tiny splake as I could shake my rod at.  They were very numerous and apparently too small to get my jig's hook in their mouths.  Several stayed on long enough to be ID'd, but quickly let go of the plastic and swam away.

After my dink brown, I heard a whistle and looked over to see Andy holding a rainbow.  I'm glad he was able to get something.  A short while later, we got back to shore and checked on Keoni, who is known by many as one heck of a grill master.

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Those steaks were the bomb!  Yes, I just said "the bomb" and I meant it.  Great work on Keoni's part.

With lunch out of the way, we all felt like taking a nap, but instead chose to take a hike to Aberdunk, aka Lake Louise.  It was a very scenic hike with Tasha Creek to one side and a dense forest on the other.

We were a bit saddened by the remnants of what used to be some great beaver ponds, but many of the dams had been breached since my last visit.  Old dams still stood like lifeless skeletons with water passing through, unchallenged.  Another great group of beaver ponds on the Fish Lake Plateau suffered the same fate within recent years.  To me, this is sad.

Regardless of the lost ponds, there were still a few active ones.  We chose to stick to the path and get to our lake though.  Time was a wastin'.

Keoni and Andy were quick to point out some tracks in a muddy spot:

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It was a pretty good sized track at about 5 inches wide, across the pad.  We made sure to make more noise as we strolled along.

The switchbacks just before the spur trail to the lake were a bit more grueling than I remembered, although our party had already put some good mileage on our feet, let alone kicking around on our tubes for hours and hours.  In other words, we were already tired before we took on the hike.

The vista from the top of the switchbacks was a welcome sight though:

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Aberdunk was equally as welcome, situated at over 9800 feet at the bottom of a huge boulder field.  From the rocks, we got right to it and right away, the resident brookies and tigers were willing to play.

Here's a tiny tiger with prominent contrast in its vermiculation:

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The brookies are quite stunted in the lake and this trip was evidence that the situation won't change anytime soon.  I recall catching better fish, but it appeared that 14" was the stopping point for growth in the tigers.  The brookies would be lucky to hit 10".

Here's my biggest brookie of our visit:

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They were beautiful though and it seemed only right that all the fish exhibited amazing color at the spectacular venue.

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We fished for about an hour and a half, maybe more, then it was decided that our time on the mountain had come to a close.

Exhausted and sore, we had put approximately 10 miles on our wading boots over the course of the weekend.  Keoni grew a new little brother on his heel - I mean blister, which was pretty awful for him to deal with, toward the end.

The mountains had taken their toll on us and when it was all over, we were glad to get back to our families and "real world" responsibilities.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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Some Background...

WHY FISH?

Why not go jogging, hit the gym, start a garden or whatever it is that normal humans do? What's so fascinating about these slimy little creatures that live in the water?

Fishing is a bit more to me than a hobby or a sport. It's an essential part of life that helps me connect with the Earth in ways similar to the long-practiced traditions of mankind. Wherever man has had a water source, there has been fishing.

It's only natural.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

Feed my pets