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7/9/14

4 Weeks

The past four weeks have been pretty exciting, filled with fishing, family, and old friends.  

About a month ago, my family and I set off to find some nice brookies in the Uintas.  The road to the lake was terrible, but we made it through a few remaining drifts and spent a few hours taking in the scenery and solitude.

The fishing was pretty good too, although the fish weren't anywhere near as big as I thought they'd be.  A couple of years ago, a couple of 18" fish had been caught there.  It was a really nice day though.

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The next week, I went down to the Fish Lake Plateau to check a few spots that I hadn't seen in awhile.  A fellow forum member met me at a park n' ride lot and we were off.

First was a small lake that held small fish about 6 or 7 years ago, with some bigger fish rumored to be there now.  This rumor was mostly false, but it was nice to be back and have a good float.  It was a beautiful day.

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Later, we hit a familiar hillside down the road, in search of big brookies still.  Another spot that gave up some great fish a couple of years back was checked and another place had seemingly gone south.

We stomped across much of that hillside and visited many beaver ponds.  We weren't finding fish though.  Only two ponds showed any signs of fish and those were both tiny and very shallow.  I still caught a few in them, but it wasn't what we were expecting.

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The only things swimming in this huge beaver pond (that we could see) were salamanders.

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And this one was too shallow to hold anything.

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We even put our heads down and bushwhacked into a small natural lake I'd always wondered about.  Nada.

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But not everything failed.  My best fish of the day came from a shallow little pond with a few brookies hanging out.

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It's a beautiful area and I'm glad we went.

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The following week, my boy (James) and I went on a father/son day.  I wanted to take him out and really focus on his experience, help him with his cast, and hopefully open a door to future possibilities.

We went to Currant Creek Reservoir, where James had hooked a really good tiger in the past, but ended up losing it near the shore.

At first, the fishing was very difficult along the dam.  The wall of submerged vegetation blocked our ability to fish anything farther than 10 feet out.  It was rather frustrating for James.

I still managed to hook a smaller tiger with great color, after pointing it out and having James cast a few times at it.

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With his growing frustration, I knew our day was getting shorter with every errant cast or weedy retrieve.  Something had to give.  We marched to another area on the lake with a good drop off and less weeds.  This would either make or break the trip.

James had just cast out (his cast had improved greatly since morning) and noticed a loop in the line, already spooled.  He handed me his rod to fix the loop, but as I grabbed it, it was heavy and pulling.

"James, you've got a fish!" I screamed and handed his rod back.  "Bring it in!"

Watching his face transform from boredom to pure wonder and excitement was worth the previous hours.  I watched proudly as he brought it to the shore and I smiled as I handed him his catch, a nice 18" tiger trout.

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I also caught a decent fish a bit later.

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After that, we fished a short while longer before driving over to Strawberry to try for some bigger fish.  James' attitude had greatly improved and we had a wonderful time fishing a spot I usually do pretty well at.  James caught another fish and had a lot of action from others.

HE ACTUALLY ENJOYED FISHING!  ALL DAY!!!

We had a wonderful time and that father/son time was greatly needed.  Days like that really strengthen the bond.

The next week on Sunday, I drove to the Provo airport to pick up my cousin (Aaron) from Phoenix.  He and I have been like brothers since we were little.  Having lived here for much of his life, he was very excited to get out of the Phoenix heat and into some lush green mountains.

Having arrived in the morning hours, we had time to wander around the Aspen Grove trails on the back side of Mt. Timpanogos, Utah valley's massive guardian sentinel.

As great as it was to see him, I was really happy that he was getting a heavy dose of mountain scenery that he had surely been missing.  Any other time he had come to visit, he often mentioned how he would like to hike some of our old haunts.

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It was a gorgeous hike.  We didn't go up too terribly far, but we found a few waterfalls and a bit of a nook in a cliff.

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Great fun.  The preparatory hike was just training for what I had in store, later in the week.

Somehow, the universe worked out a similar situation that happened last year, around the same time.  Cousin Aaron showed up and our great friend Holdsworth also visited.  I had about a week with both of them last year.

Well, lightning struck a 2nd time this year and it just so happened that Holdsworth (another Aaron) actually moved back to Utah!  So again, the summertime was kicked off by the presence of both of my favorite Aarons.

The only thing in the way was my job.  I had prearranged to take the 3rd off, making it a 4 day weekend.  Due to other plans for the holiday, we were all afforded one overnight trip to my favorite place.  This is something I was happy to show these guys.

Camping beneath a canopy of aspens, next to the best water I know of.  Oh yeah!

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Once the tent was setup, we all took a moment to enjoy the scenery and sounds of a beautiful mountain lake.  It didn't take long and we had some rain drops sending an army of ripples across the otherwise calm surface.  Before we knew it, it was really coming down.

Luckily we were prepared for that, in spite of the forecast.

The first catch of the day came from Aaron, with a small but lovely cutthroat sporting plenty of color.

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Beauty.

Now I have to confess, I left my tube in the car for this trip, but didn't want to.  The load that I was carrying on my back was already more than I cared to lug around the hillside.  A second trip for the tube seemed like it would be worthwhile, but then I got focused on the same window of water between the logs that I'm always seduced by.

Though there was plenty of other water to try my hand at, leaving the window was just too much to ask.  I find myself obsessed with trying different presentations and fly combinations while attempting to persuade the large visible fish to open their mouths for me.

I thought that catching a nice fish from the window would curb my obsession with it for at least a little while, but even after this nice male came to hand, I went right back to the logs to try for another.

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Handsome.

There was a 2 hour block of time that I allowed myself to fish other parts of the lake and a few small cutts came to hand, along with my only brookie for this trip, a 17" female.

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Then we all went over to "the hole", where I usually find brookies, outside the cutt spawn.  The hole is difficult to fish from shore, but we gave it our all.  I was only able to get a small cutthroat to hand, but Aaron got into a nice cutthroat, his biggest trout to date.

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That one and the brookie ended up on the coals, wrapped in foil.  Camping right next to a lake wouldn't be complete without fresh fish from the campfire, as the sun set over gentle water.

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We stayed up way too late and I slept in long enough to miss the sunrise bite.  Holdsworth didn't though, as he had already gotten into a few fish and had a 17" cutthroat roasting on the coals before I even made it out of the tent.  Way to go!

Our time on Day 2 (Independence Day) was limited, due to my prior arrangement to attend the Stadium of Fire (Carrie Underwood performed - very good show), but that didn't stop me from getting sucked back into the window for more punishment.

A few dinks kept hitting, which only fueled my intention of landing their grandpa or one of the brookies that kept mostly out of sight, but within striking distance of the window.  The dinks were still pretty though, like everything in that sweet water.

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A little bird seemed amused enough to sit and watch me for quite awhile as I got rejected by the big fish.

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I took a video that may exemplify the reasoning behind my crazed fixation on this window:



I actually got several bites from the biggest fish I could see, but none of them seemed to hold on very long.  Such is fishing though.  Time melted away and we had to leave.  It was a great trip though and my friends were very impressed with the venue, which I knew they would be.  It's right up our alley.

Unfortunately, Aaron's visit came to a close and I dropped him off on Sunday afternoon at the Provo Airport.  As the two of us left my house, I made sure it was alright that I spent a few hours fishing the river afterward.

So as I pulled away from the airport, my thoughts were busy weighing out my options.  Should I hit the canyon?  In town?

These questions only caused more confusion, but when I pulled up to the stop sign on Center Street in Provo, I found myself turning left, of all directions.

Left?  Why, that leads to Utah Lake!  What business does a troutster like me have at Utah Lake?

Actually, my inner psycho fish monkey had led me to the "Lowest Provo", the last stretch of the Provo River before it feeds Utah Lake, where warm and cold water species coexist for much of the year.

My expectations were limited.  Really, I was just trying to kill some time next to water and maybe catch a few white bass or whatever else felt like biting.

While rifling through my gear, I noted that I already had a 1/16oz jig head rigged and ready to accept a Gulp minnow, which I had plenty of.  Ah, what the heck?  Why not?

So I took a short walk from where I parked and started casting.  After one miss, I worked the same retrieve that got me that bite.  Soon enough, I was homed in on what they wanted to see.

Never in my life would I have imagined catching walleye on purpose, but I was really into them!

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Show me those pearly whites:

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One after another, I was hooking into some pretty good sized walleye.  Many were long and skinny, but a couple were really nice!

Here's what my typical catch looked like:

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(Please pardon the distortion on my forearm.  I had to hold these fish way out to get them in the frame and it skewed the view of anything close to the lens).

But this one was a lot thicker and just a hair under 24":

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An ambitious carp surprised me at my feet as it sucked up my jig, then took me for a ride.  That was a mistake on its part.

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I even caught a mid-sized brown after that.  A family of mink also kept me company as I watched them curiously explore me and the immediate area.

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There were about 5 or 6 of them rummaging around.

As I was preparing to leave and bagging the 3 eyes I chose to keep, the ever-present thought of "one last cast" entered my mind and I let one fly to the far bank, just downstream.  A couple of quick twitches brought my jig out of the shallows and into the channel, where I felt a big thunk and my rod curled over.

Another carp, I thought, as the fish raced upstream and took a bit of drag.  Imagine my surprise as a very nice walleye of 25" and 5lbs, 10oz surfaced.

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Wow.  That was a new personal best in terms of weight.  My standing best in length was 26 inches and change, but only weighed 4lbs, 6oz.  Quite the skinny catch under a road on lunch break.  That's the only other time I caught walleye while targeting them.

It was a great way to cap off an awesome week.  An awesome 4 weeks, at that!


Happy Fishing, Humans.

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 animals 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.

THE PAST

As a fingerling, I only fished a few times with uncles or my father. We typically never went out of the valley except for a couple of trips to Deer Creek, where I remember catching my first perch.

My Dad took me to the Provo River a few times and once up to Ruth Lake in the Uintas. It was always a fun trip, no matter where we went and it got us out of the house. I wish I would have asked to go more often at that age.

At age 14, I went with the Scouts to climb King's Peak, the high point of Utah. We had to hike some 8 miles with heavy packs to get to our campsite at Dollar Lake in the High Uintas. At that lake, I caught my first trout and never got around to fishing again for several years.

When I rediscovered the joys of fishing in my early 20's, a close friend named Holdsworth and I spent a lot of our time at a handful of places within a reasonable driving distance. The first lake that gave us any trout was Currant Creek Reservoir. The fish weren't huge, but they were gorgeous and plentiful once found.



We made it a high priority to fish there every weekend for much of the summer. Every time we went, however, the monkey on our collective back grew a little bit stronger while passing the intimidating Strawberry Reservoir.

Eventually, the seduction of the Berry's fame lured us to turn onto the Soldier Creek Dam Junction. Never having fished it before, we thought we'd start at the dam and test our luck.

We didn't get a bite for over an hour and I started to doze off. I was awakened when my Ugly Stik swept over to the other side of my lap from where I had it resting. Coming to, I started reeling and fought in a feisty rainbow of around 18 inches and fat. We'd never caught anything like it up at Currant Creek, so a new weekly destination was born.



Moving forward a few years, Holdsworth had since moved to Germany, but I continued to feed my passion for fishing. I joined a wildlife forum online, sponsored and run by the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The DWR forum had an eclectic stew of sportsmen and women from all over the state and abroad.

Participating in the forum made me realize that my fishing license was valid anywhere in the state and that taking on a few new venues couldn't hurt. Ever since I joined, my summers have been spent trying out new waters in between trips to the usual haunts and fishing has never been better for me.

Much information was shared freely between the sportsmen of this online community and it was a good place to get in some useful reading. Being active in discussions there and applying new ideas really helped me develop into a better fisherman.

In the "Fishing Reports" section, you could read about recent trips to places all over the state. Reading the reports, I was inspired to begin recording my own experiences. Why not? Writing was always something I enjoyed doing plus I had a camera and web access...

From then on, I posted detailed write ups of my exploits quite regularly. Positive feedback prompted me to continue and now I have almost as much fun putting the report together, as I do actually fishing.

The DWR forum was shut down abruptly in September of '07 due to bureaucratic red tape. A slew of new "replacement forums" popped up in hopes of gaining the now disbanded 5000+ members.

Once the dust settled a bit, a clear replacement appeared when the former moderators of the DWR forum got together with a former member named "Petersen" to start the Utah Wildlife Network.



Quite a few members donate (myself included) and that helps to keep the site running. Additionally, we're not in any danger of the gov. stepping in and pulling the plug, as this forum is privately owned and operated by Petersen.

Once the news caught wind that a true replacement was found, the pages started looking more familiar with old screen names showing up left and right. It didn't take too long and we had our spot back, essentially.

Aside from the UWN, I also check in with a few other forums, including Big Fish Tackle, (BFT). This nationwide forum is full of knowledgeable anglers from all over the world and can be a great resource.

...But really, if I burn all of my time on the internet, there won't be any left for fishing!

Due mainly to the forums, my fishing eyes have been opened. Now more than ever, I really make it a point to explore new waters and fish the spots that nobody talks about. My day trips have gotten much longer and involve many more stops than before.

Please stay tuned for trip reports and feel free to explore the links in my highlights section, where I go into more detail about specific waters and areas.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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