Needing to stay close to home this week, I thought Deer Creek deserved a day trip. Given my sour history on soft water at DC, my hopes were that the colder weather may have turned on the trout and that I could actually catch some without fishing through the ice.
Arriving early, I took a long walk along the trail and stopped to cast some lures at one bay, where I lost my only size 2 Blue Fox (Doh!) and didn't get any bites.
Now casting a size 3 Blue Fox (rainbow pattern), I kept making my way along the shoreline until I reached a spot that just looked fishy. It was a good hump that protruded out a little farther than the surrounding straight, steep shoreline in both directions.
It didn't take too long and I had a hard hit and an impressive battle with a sturdy female rainbow. She was dropping eggs at the lightest touch and I'm not big on eating "hollow" trout, so I let her go. Nice fish though and my biggest from the soft water at DC to date.
(I should explain: The rainbows from one hatchery in Utah have been tricked into spawning in the fall and Deer Creek Reservoir is stocked with some of those, as well as normal rainbows. There's a spring run and a fall run in certain Utah waters. Crazy, huh?)
Over the next half hour, I pulled in a couple more and lost some, all about this size:
After that, the bite died down and I walked a bit more before settling into a nice little spot that showed promise.
The water was calm and the air was cool. My first cast in the new spot had a couple of bumps and I was able to see a small flash behind my lure on the retrieve. The next cast got a solid hookup with something I haven't seen much of at Deer Creek for awhile:
A slightly smaller one followed after a few more casts with bumps. Figuring that I was in the middle of a good school of them and not having any more luck with the large hooks on the lure I was using, I switched through all sorts of tackle in hopes of getting more of the feisty perch for a good fish fry.
Nothing seemed to work, not even worms, so I tied the Heddon Sonar lure back on (first day trying this) and continued to get follows without hookups. Finally, I turned to the fly rod and worked a black sculpin pattern. Many hits were missed, as the perch would only take quick nips at it, but every once in awhile I connected.
Perch on the fly! That's a new one for me and it was actually a lot of fun. I missed so many bites, but ended up catching quite a few of them in that spot before it died down. It was a little surprising to find them so shallow in that spot. The smaller ones were released while the biggest hit the chain.
One ratty planter rainbow came to play as well and it was released. I had already made my decision to eat perch for dinner last night.
Now I know I've talked plenty of smack on "stupid perch", calling them "bait thieves" and whatnot, but truth be told, they were biting and the trout in DC were currently in a spawn, so the chance of getting a mushy or hollow fish was high. Not my favorite thing to eat, so seeing the perch on my line was quite welcome. Plus, catching anything on a fly rod is a good time.
One peculiar thing I noticed while at that spot was a dark mass in a shallow area, just a few feet off the shoreline. At first I didn't think much of it, but it seemed to change shape, which prompted me to have a closer look. Visibility wasn't great and I wasn't able get a really good look, but the mass turned out to be a tight school of little black fish.
They scattered when I got too close and a few of them swam right in front of me, where I got a much better visual. I can't say for certain, but my best guess is that they were fingerling catfish! Square heads, a very clumsy wobble to their swim action, and black. They were probably 1.5 - 2 inches in length and looked just like the groups of baby cats I'd witnessed on the Jordan River a few years back. Seeing them in DC was a bit unexpected, although I had heard of them being in there in the past. Crazy!
As mentioned, that bite died and there was still room on my stringer for more fish. I moved one more time to another area and starting working it over. Nothing I did seemed to do the trick, so I decided to throw on a worm and a full water bubble, throw it out as far as I could, and just kick back while it sank to the bottom. If something bit, great. If not, no biggie. I already had a couple of perch and that would be a good snack.
Having the bale closed on my reel allowed me to see when the bubble hit the bottom, as the taught line would go slack. To my surprise, there was movement and that slack line went tight again within moments.
Picking up my rod, I started cranking and reeled in yet another perch! Looks like I just had the perch mojo yesterday. Those perch were really deep, so their swim bladders were fully inflated upon retrieval. They were pretty decent in size too, although not quite as large as the ones I got on the fly earlier.
Liking the way that rig was working, I set up my second rod with the same and threw it out only about half as far as I had been, just to see what might happen.
It didn't happen quickly, but after about 10 minutes, something messed with my line and it felt bigger than the perch I had been catching. Bigger it was and I was happy to see a largemouth bass thrashing about. It wasn't a big one, only about 10 inches, but it was round and angry. Sadly, it escaped while I was getting my camera out. Oh well. It would've been released anyway.
Dropping my next cast on that rod to the same general area, another wait ensued and I pulled up something I was used to seeing at DC, the dink smallmouth.
The wind picked up and the sun got closer to the horizon. I took my cue to leave and embarked on the long walk back to my car, perch in hand.
Not a bad haul for the day's efforts, especially since I let most of them go from the shallow spot that I first found them in.
All in all, it was a good day and it's nice to know that I've got Deer Creek within 15 miles of my house and it's not as bad of a place as I've made it out to be in the past.
The Heber Valley Railroad rumbled by me three times throughout the day and I had to make sure to take a couple of pics for my boy, who is absolutely crazy about trains.
I got home at a quarter after seven and pleasantly surprised my wife with some white-fleshed bounty for dinner. Very tasty and pretty easy to fillet too!
Happy Fishing, Humans.