Big Tiger Trout

Yesterday, my wonderful Mother was kind enough to watch the kids for us all day so my wife, Sonia, and I could go fishing together.  This meant that Sonia could actually focus on fishing instead of being distracted by our little ones.  We missed our kids, but it was really nice to have a peaceful "date" type of fishing trip.

Because of our rare opportunity, I decided that it would be a good day for her to try for a hog at one of my big fish spots.  We enjoyed the morning drive and it was neat to see the fog on Strawberry as we drove by.

The Soldier Creek turnoff was pretty thick with it.

Pretty cool to see that.

We eventually made it to our lake and got to work, casting anything and everything at the fish, who seemed to taunt us for hours.  At times, we could see up to 5 large fish swim into view in front of us.  Many of them would follow only to snub the offering at the last moment.

It was frustrating.  We couldn't get them interested with any of the usual gear and nothing else was working either.  At that point, I decided to get jiggy with an extra rod and tied on a 1/16oz olive marabou with a black body.  To the hook shank, I tied on a green killer caddis dropper.

Same story, chasers and sniffs, but no commitment.  That rod was set aside while I got back to casting spinners of all colors.  It wasn't until I threw the orange/brass Blue Fox that I was able to hook into something.  It was a medium sized cutthroat.  Nice to catch, but not what we were there for and nothing like the brutes circling around at our feet from time to time.

Back that one went and I wasn't able to get any more action from that color.  Switching through all types of gear, I finally looked back to my jig/fly setup, which seemed like it was the best option for getting something down to where I knew the fish were and it was small enough that it likely wouldn't spook them off.

Just a few casts later and a big one hit it on the drop.  I'm lucky to have noticed the line move differently with the breeze blowing, but I set the hook and the tug was on.

This happened on my reserve rod and my faith in the crummy reel and older line was low.  It was a nervous battle for me and it was great to get it in.  The shoreline was loose and footing was bad everywhere, so it was difficult to find a place to beach the fish.

Even when it was in my hand, it hadn't quite struck me how big it was and I was underestimating it at 22 or 23 inches.  Turns out, this tiger was 25.5" and 4lbs, 10oz!  A new personal best tiger (length)!
Big Tiger Trout
It had one bad eye and wore a mean grimace.  This fish had seen some battles before I came around.  It wasn't the prettiest specimen we'd seen, but really made the trip worthwhile.
Big Tiger Trout
A definite handful.  
Big Tiger Trout
As soon as I the hook out, I handed Sonia the rod and told her to get busy.  I had a goal of getting her into something big and I really wanted to see it happen.

On her second cast, she hooked a round-bellied cutthroat, chasing off the skunk, but it wasn't the pig she was after.  Still a nice catch though and she did it using something she usually didn't on a tough lake to fish.  That was something for her to be proud of.

We tried for another couple of hours before taking off to try another fishing hole.  The high desert scenery was appreciated as we rolled along.

We eventually arrived at Starvation Reservoir, where we fished a short while in the shadow of the bridge.  My first cast with that same jig/fly combo produced a 6 inch smallmouth and then Sonia did the same.  It was slow fishing after the two bass and we called it quits for the day.  We were missing our children and it was time to go.

Though the fishing was rather stagnant throughout the day, we still enjoyed the trip for just the two of us.  It's nice to experience a day together every once in awhile.  It's sad that Sonia couldn't hook a monster, but she was content and that makes me happy.

Happy Fishing, Humans.



Strawberry from Shore

This week, the cooling trend of late had me wondering about Strawberry Reservoir.  The trout are known to stay in deeper water while the summer sizzles, but they really hug the shorelines in the fall.  Needing a trip within an hour or so from home, it fit the bill nicely and I was off.

Normally from shore at Strawberry, the action is slow, yielding only one or two fish per hour, if that.  A few times in the past, I've been able to find a good school and follow it while catching a handful of dinks, but my usual Berry experience is full of casting, waiting, casting, and more casting with an occasional fish coming in.

The fish are usually pretty long and it's almost a sure thing to get into some 20+ inch cutthroat, but to find the slot buster (over 22" / slot = 15-22") is not as common for the bank tangler.

This trip would be slightly more productive than most others, in terms of catching quantity, but I failed to find a slot buster this time out.  A couple of fish came close, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Still a fun day though.

Here are some pics:

This snake was my longest fish of the day.  21.5", but skinny and kind of roughed up.  A good percentage of these fish have been caught before.

My first stop was the bay just north of Pine Hollow.  Parking on top and hiking down to the rocky areas, it wasn't long until some fish were thrashing on the end of my line.  Plenty of structure to work around here.

My second stop was the cliff area near the dam.  I found some fish there too.

This one went over 20", but it wouldn't stretch out to the mark on my rod.

These Bear Lake (strain) Cutthroat have some teeth.  I've cut my finger many times while handling them.

So it wasn't a spectacular day, but I have to say that I'm pretty satisfied with the catching, as compared to most outings I have at the Berry.  The fish are pretty close to shore right now and fishing points is a sure way to find schools passing through.

Happy Fishing, Humans.


Huntington Tigers and Lunch Break Browns

It's been a pretty good week for fishing.  The lunch break spots have been treating me right on most visits and I even got a chance to visit with a really good friend, whom I hadn't seen for a couple of years.

Lunch Break:

While I wait for the next weekend to arrive, the only way my fishing itch can be scratched is by fishing the remains of a farm creek that flows near my place of employment.  To be honest, I can't say that I know its name, but its murky waters hold some great browns, an occasional rainbow, and a slew of non salmonid species.

Here are a few pics from the last week:

Weekend Trip:

When the weekend finally came, my plans of going solo had happily been altered so that I could fish with an old friend of mine (Steve), and his girlfriend.  Neither of them had been fishing much and I knew I could help them out, at least by showing them some great country.

We departed and set our course for the Energy Loop area, near the tops of Fairview and Huntington Canyons.  Our first stop was Huntington Reservoir, where I hoped to get these two into some feisty tiger trout.

Shannon, Steve's girlfriend, was the first of us to score and a 14 inch tiger got the shore tap.

My first catch came shortly after, but after releasing it, I realized that I'd failed to grab a photo.  It wasn't much to brag about, but all tigers exhibiting male characteristics are fun to look at.

Speaking of which, my next one was actually pretty nice for this lake's average:

So was his buddy.

They really get colored up in the fall as their bodies undergo a false spawn.

Here, Steve does the dirty work for another of Shannon's catches:  She ended up catching three, I believe, and poor Stevo got the skunk.

They were both pleased to see this pretty little fold of Utah's many landscapes though.

At over 9,000ft, it's a great place to spend some hours.

Wanting Steve to get something going for himself, I thought the next best option would be the dam at Electric Lake, just down the road.  We'd spent so much time at Huntington that I was somewhat worried that we would run out of daylight.  There was also a pretty good storm brewing and it looked like we would get wet.

Wet, we got.  Just as it started to sprinkle, Steve said, "Okay, now I'm going to catch a fish".  Just like that, he caught a pretty male cutthroat that put up a good fight, giving him something to smile about.

Good job, Steve.

Right after that, it really started pouring for a few minutes, then trickled off to a gentle sprinkle again.

It was kind of neat to be able to watch a sunset while getting lightly rained on.  Personally, I thought the cold rain felt good.

We thought it fitting that Steve was the only one of us to catch at Electric, since he'd been skunked at our last spot.  The remaining daylight faded quickly and we took our cue to leave, all of us satisfied with a great day together.  We vowed to do it again soon.

Bonus Lunch Break:

As usual, the beginning of the work week initiated my yearning for the weekend to come.  The only cure for this, of course, is more lunch break brown fishing!

Monday provided a couple of small scrappers and a foul-hooked carp that slipped away, but I had once again left my camera at home.

The camera came with me today and I was glad to bring this thug out from under the freeway:

Casting into that little tunnel is actually pretty hard.  Normally, I spook whatever fish lie in wait while I splash around, trying to get some distance under there.  Today just happened to work out.

Who knows what the rest of the week will hold?

Happy Fishing, Humans.


Uinta Fix

Ah, nothing like the high country to satisfy a fiendish addiction to ice cold waters, breathtaking vistas, and finned friends! 

After last week's failure to get to the Uintas, thanks to vehicle problems, it was very rewarding to make it up the scenic HWY 150 (aka: the Mirror Lake Highway) on a sunny Saturday with my family.

Along the route, the upper reaches of the Provo River flow parallel to the road and make it quite difficult to keep from pulling over.  This proved to be too much for me to handle and I found it necessary to try out a nice run that was beckoning me.

Sadly, the action was lacking at this run, but I was fortunate to find something very special:  wild raspberries.  Yum!

 It's always a treat to find these, especially at the perfect time when they're ripe for the picking.  They were growing right next to the river and I made sure to grab a good handful to take back to the car.  My family enjoyed that and I redeemed myself for making them wait for me.

The next stop was Provo River Falls, a mandatory distraction for us.  The falls are always full of people, but what those folks don't always realize is that there are fish there too.

Somehow, they tend to hold in any spot that looks fishy and sometimes in places that seem impossible for them to get to.

Though my success is usually a lot greater than it was for this visit, I was still able to pull in a couple of chubby little brookies with the trusty Blue Fox.  I've found that I can usually catch stream brookies on the BF, but they won't touch it when I'm fishing still water.

Even James loves the falls, although we couldn't locate one of our usual diversions of the area, the chipmunks.  On a normal visit, they'll be all over the parking area, looking for handouts from the many tourists.

This hole provided one small brookie and a couple of missed strikes from something a bit larger than what I'm used to from this stretch.  It looked like a cutthroat and it was about 4 feet behind the log pictured below.  It would've been nice to confirm what species it was.  Catching cutts in this stretch is somewhat of a rarity for me.

I could spend hours fishing the falls and the stretches surrounding it.  Staircasing down the rocks, they provide endless opportunities to hook up in the splash pools.  


After our fun at the falls, it was time to get moving toward some lakes.  Our first stop was a place recommended to me by an old friend from work, who is full of great fishing information.  It's very small and it isn't far from the road, but most people don't stop to fish it, as they're normally on their way to more popular destinations up the trail a bit.

At first, I questioned the presence of fish since I was getting no play on the rod at all and the only signs of life I could find were in the form of flying insects and tiny little frogs.

Finally, I felt what was unmistakeably a bite and that encouraged me to keep trying.  Eventually, I dialed in on what and where to throw.  Then it was solid action, catching pretty good sized brookies for easy-access Uinta puddles.

 Not bad at all.  Nice place to catch some low pressure brookies.

Pretty soon, we'd spent enough time there and my boy's patience was wearing thin.  We decided it would be good to take a hike and enjoy a change of scenery.

Only a mile of gentle terrain and a clear trail brought us to Wall Lake.  This is a lake that I'd always wanted to visit, but never got around to.  Today was a great day to change that and I'm glad we were able to drop in for a short while.

Right away, I caught a small brookie with great vermiculation.

Wall Lake is amazing and I'll certainly be back someday for one of my solo trips, packing my tube.  It's a bit larger than many other Uinta lakes and being able to cover the water would really help out.

Aside from its size, its geographic features are also something I'll make sure to spend my time exploiting.  A great "wall" of cliffs lies along the west side and the lake and the water gets deep very quickly.  Kick trolling meaty streamers on sinking line seems like a lock along this side.

It's a great looking place with much potential in my opinion.  I'll be back to give it a solid effort in due time.

A breeze picked up and made my wife feel a little chilly, so that was it for our day's adventure.  James led the way back to the car (he insisted to be the leader) and we gave our state's ceiling a kiss goodbye.

It was a good day and much needed therapy for all of us.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...


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.