With my paid time off coming to an end, I feel obligated to share some of the week's exploits with all of you.
As my last post indicated, Goblin Valley State Park (Utah) is where this 9 days without work would begin. That was really fun and I can't wait until the next time I'm out there.
Next on my agenda was to hike to a virtually unknown lake to check on the cutthroat trout in there. Unfortunately, the person I had planned to journey with couldn't make it happen and I decided to visit a different place, where I'd had some nice success in the past.
Receiving very little pressure considering its close proximity to some very popular fishing areas, this lake on the Fish Lake Plateau has beautiful cutthroat, some with very nice measurements.
Getting to the mountain, the area's beauty was too much and I was forced to pull over a few times to get some pics. The last time I visited, the aspens were barren of leaf, the grasses were hidden by snow, and the flowers had not yet bloomed.
And the wildflowers? They're out in force and blanketing many acres on the Fish Lake.
The lake was stunning, as usual. The fish were somewhat cooperative, but the larger specimens evaded me this time. There were several "long distance releases" that felt a bit larger than my average catch, however. Pity I couldn't meet them in person.
Gorgeous water, nonetheless.
I actually packed my tube on the relatively short hike, which is the preferred way to fish this weedy lake, but as I was shoving off from the shoreline, I realized that my waders had been compromised on the hike in.
Although a great obstacle, I decided to suck it up and float anyway. Kicking around the lake with my right knee elevated proved difficult and there were many times where the water found its way in. The cold water and strange position I was forced to sit in provoked some cramping and it wasn't long until I was back on the shoreline.
Shortly thereafter, the looming rainclouds opened up and I found myself scrambling to get my tube deflated and rolled up into my pack. It seemed it was time to get out of there.
The rain wasn't so much an issue as I thought the road would be on the way down. A heavy downpour could get me stuck in a hurry on that mountain and I wasn't going to wait any longer.
While hiking out, I stumbled upon a narrow trail (I was bushwhacking) and figured it led back to the trailhead, since I'd heard about an actual trail to the lake I had just exited. About five minutes on that trail and I came upon a glorious sight:
This had to be the hard-to-find upper pond to my previous venue (named Upper *blank* and just plain *blank* on the DWR's stocking charts). I halfheartedly intended to try and find it on this particular trip, but ended up at the lower lake instead. What a great accident! As a bonus, the pouring rain had mostly subsided and I was in no immediate rush to get back to the truck.
All looks aside, I had been told by a very knowledgeable connection to the DWR that they stopped stocking this lake because it could not winter fish. My curious nature still prodded me to peruse the shoreline and search for signs of life anyway, which I found immediately!
The cutts were aggressive and healthy, especially since they weren't supposed to exist at all!
Where the first lake provided stocked fish with little orange dots on their bellies (a sign of DWR stocking - dye dots), this upper pond was full of wild fish that have somehow made it through the worst winter we've had in eons. Wow. Talk about a good find. Perhaps the real reason that the DWR no longer stocks it is that it isn't necessary, if they are even aware of its reproducing population.
After having my fun with those cutts, it was time to hit the trail and get back to the truck.
As usual, I had to stop for a moment at Twin Ponds, which are along the route to my target lake. Full of small brookies and surrounded by the area's trademark beauty, it's always necessary to stop for at least a few minutes and some pictures.
Flipping my Blue Fox around for a moment provided only a couple of chasers and missed bites, but I wasn't planning on staying long enough to switch to the brookie magnets (marabou jigs). It was time to get going, so off I went.
Being a sucker for a sunbeam, the skies that night were cause for me to be quite trigger-happy on my drive home.
It was a great way to spend a Tuesday that I'd usually be at work.
On Thursday, I met a fishing buddy at his house, where we took his new ride to Willard Bay Reservoir in hopes of catching some wipers (hybrid white bass x striped bass...mean fish), walleye, and whatever else decided to bite our hooks.
It's rather rare for me to travel north for my fishing adventures, but Willard is definitely worth the diversion. Wipers are a really tough fish that fight super hard. They'll bend a high quality hook right off its ring, break high dollar lures, snap line, and generally wreak havoc on the equipment used to pursue them. They also taste great!
Unfortunately, our trip was very windy and my buddy's boat wasn't quite up to the task of taking on the whitecaps. We ended up anchoring in the marina for the last couple of hours to finish getting skunked. Very strange to get skunked there (twice in a row for me), especially with the guy I went with. He fishes Willard almost exclusively and really knows where to find the fish.
Bummer! Oh well. Hopefully Willard doesn't have another skunk up its sleeve for my next trip there, whenever that will be.
On Saturday, my family and I took a nice hike to Twin Lakes Reservoir at Brighton Ski Resort. The main goal for this trip was to trap minnows, which I like to use when I'm bait fishing. Twin has an overabundance of redside shiners and some suckers as well. Trapping them is as easy as dropping a couple of Ritz crackers into the basket and walking away for a few minutes.
The fishing has always been slow for me there, but I had hopes of catching some of the well-fed cutthroat and getting my wife into some as well. The last time I went, I was able to catch a few and they were pretty round.
The lake required a pretty good hike (for a family at least) that took about 45 minutes to get to. It's a really pretty area and it was nice to see that Old Man Winter had finally released those mountains from his frosty grip. Only a month earlier and the hole place was under five feet of snow or more.
Brighton is a pretty neat place with several water bodies, many of which have fish. From stocked rainbows & brookies, to cutts and even some wary lake trout in one lake, this place is fishy and plagues my thoughts all year long. I'm hoping to land my first lake trout here, although that is another story.
Twin Lakes Reservoir is at maximum capacity, as are most waters in the state. I've never seen water flowing over its spillway, which it was gushing over on this trip.
Luckily, the minnows were schooled up along the shoreline near the dam, as I'd expected. Trapping them was as easy as ever and I was glad to harvest several pounds of them using only a few crackers. Nice!
The sport fish skunk from Thursday had lingered on, however, and we saw absolutely no action from the trout over the course of about three hours. Oh well, that's fishing sometimes. We got our minnows and plenty of scenery, so it wasn't a total bust.
A yellow bellied marmot provided some entertainment for us on the way down and didn't seem to mind our presence at all. Practically domesticated from all the human traffic of the area, we didn't feel bad to offer it our last Ritz, which it happily accepted. The kids loved it!
So as the last few waking hours of my time off whittle away, I'm left to reflect as I write this and it really was wonderful to spend the extra time with my family, see some old favorite areas, and chase the fish tail around, although it certainly could've been more productive. It's been grand and now it's back to the grind.
Happy Fishing, Humans.
The Southern Belize Fly Tying Initiative - Placencia Session - *(If you missed the first post in this series, please circle back and start with the Hopkins Session before continuing on.)* The next morning we were up ea...
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