Sunday was supposed to be a family trip, but the forecast called for some possible foul weather and that never plays out well for our group. Personally, I don't mind the rain, so I went on ahead and got into some streams!
My first stop was about halfway up Fairview Canyon, at Cottonwood Creek. This stream holds some pretty good browns if they can be found. Getting to the creek is really rough though. There's a steep hillside to descend and thick brush to chug through. Not recommended for the novice hiker.
As can be seen, once the creek is reached, further navigation either requires getting wet or getting beaten by the brush even more. The holes are deep and snaggy with plenty of obstacles to keep the angler's offerings from finding an open mouth.
It's very scenic though and as previously mentioned, the browns are pretty stout...if they can be located. Today wasn't my day to find the fishy holes and I didn't want to spend too much time looking, as I had higher altitude on the brain.
Though I hadn't found success from my first whim, my next impromptu stop showed promise.
Oh how I love a gentle meander.
Just upstream from Gooseberry Reservoir, its respective creek was very weedy with deep grooves where the current had carved its channel.
The only fish I saw in the first few minutes were small suckers that surely fed something larger, I figured. After about 20 minutes of schlogging through the marshy banks and missing some bite-sized trout, my suspicions were finally confirmed.
Just around a bend from this beauty was a nice undercut bank that I was able to guide my spinner into. Another good sized cutt came out and hit it, but I failed to set the hook and that was it for my interest on this stretch.
The tailwater below the reservoir held my focus at that point, having never explored it, and I set off to park at the dam. Along the way, a much smaller feeder caught my fancy and I spent the next 15 minutes concentrating on some ambush fishing on Japanese Creek.
As small as the creek was (about 18 inches wide in most spots), it was necessary to get on my hands and knees to creep up to any significant bends to avoid spooking the tiny cutts hiding in the nooks and crannies.
Several of these bends provided nips and bumps, but I was only able to catch one small cutthroat from the downstream pool of the culvert, under the road.
With that, it was time to get to the real fishing on lower Gooseberry Creek. The wash below the dam was great fun and kept me occupied for a little while as I hooked into many finless planter rainbows, likely washed out from the reservoir. Here's the longest of those:
A little further downstream, the creek flattened out into some shallow riffles and the fish were in every possible dip in the stream bed. It was fast fishing for planter rainbows with the occasional wild one in the mix.
And let's not forget the wild cutties either.
Once the riffles subsided, I hit a stretch of nice bends and deeper holes between big rocks. Plenty more fish came to hand, mostly nubby rainbows, but it was still a lot of fun to have the fast catching. Cool area, too!
This one looked like he'd met a bird one day.
The creek just kept getting better and better as I made my way downstream.
The fish seemed to get prettier too. Cutthroat were showing up with much more frequency and every once in awhile I felt the need to pull out the camera to capture the colors on these gorgeous fish.
There were still some occasional rainbows and I could usually tell right away by their aggressive fighting, usually accompanied by some airborne maneuvers.
The flowers are still out in force on just about every available hillside.
The catching continued for quite awhile and I ended up much farther downstream than I had planned. More than a few times, I told myself that my next cast would be my last before turning around, but I just kept getting seduced by the next run.
"Next cast" turned into "next fish", then "next cutthroat". Finally, I forced myself to turn around and made pretty good time ignoring the fishy holes I'd just visited.
A few spots beckoned and I found myself trying to find a couple of really nice ones that I missed. They never showed themselves, but I still got into a few more. Here's a really pretty one that required some closer examination:
They look so good wearing my favorite "gold" jewelry.
Finally, I made it back to the truck and started driving to a favorite stream of mine, where I hoped to find some bigger cutthroat. Once again, however, I succumbed to a passing temptation and had to pull over for some stillwater fishing on Huntington Reservoir. My intention was to catch a big tiger trout and to do it quickly.
Well that almost happened, but I failed to properly set the hook twice on good bites and ended up burning a couple of hours there, awaiting the next. The only thing I caught there was a good rainstorm, foreshadowed in the photo below:
It was hard to do, but I managed to peel myself away from the earthen dam, accepting my skunk from the fickle waters of Huntington Reservoir.
Pulling up to my creek, I knew my time was limited. My moves needed to be calculated if I was to get what I wanted out of this water and no time was wasted getting to my honey hole.
Due to an error of judgement, I left my gear bag in the truck and only had one lure at my disposal, a Lucky Craft Pointer. Not a bad lure at all, but it prevented me from changing up my presentation when the big one hit and wouldn't come back for more.
This prompted me to hike to another spot to kill some time, hoping that the hog would forget what had just taken place and readily swipe at my tasty lure once more.
For the next half hour, I worked some familiar holes and pulled in several smaller cutts, only two of which warranted a photo:
Back at the honey hole, my bruiser was nowhere to be found. The only explanation for this would be that he had moved into an undercut bank, just upstream in the small feeder creek that also spills into the hole.
A very sneaky jaunt through the bush and I was about 10 feet above his bank, staring at it and trying to formulate a plan to drift my neutrally buoyant pointer under some twigs and swim it right next to him in hopes of a spectacular take and an equally impressive battle.
The only problem was his buddy, that I didn't notice until right before I made my move. This buzz killing fish was right under my nose and spooked violently downstream as my arm lurched forward to drop the pointer.
Naturally, the big guy caught the vibe and I watched in horror as he blasted out of his spot, cutting a large wake as he vanished into the honey hole.
One more try at the honey hole was in order for the sheer principle of the matter. Perhaps I still had a chance.
My casts were well placed, but the beast wasn't interested. It wasn't all bad though, as I'm pretty sure I got his buddy as a consolation prize. They're probably both mocking me as I type this. I'll get the boss next time.
Feeling somewhat defeated for the moment, I fished my way back to the truck to call it a day. As a result, I ended up catching a couple more cutthroat and a decent sized finless rainbow.
All things considered, it was a really great day and I couldn't possibly be dissatisfied, catching fish almost everywhere I went, not to mention the beauty of my surroundings.
Once again, I drove home grinning as I revisited the day's events in my mind.
Happy Fishing, Humans.
SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE FLY - No. 29 - Grossman punches the clock of 40, Jason Tucker finds brook trout in new places, two "scientists" get nerdy on what's in the water, the Floridian Viking sha...
4 hours ago