Today was a family day and our hopes were to get into some nice rainbows and maybe some tigers. Really, my goal was to help my wife catch a decent fish. It's been awhile since she felt a good tug, so that was the real objective of the trip.
Of course, catching something nice for myself is always welcome too!
In our typical family fashion, we got a much later start than we should have. It wasn't a big deal because we still arrived to find "our spot" barren of other anglers, which we thought was miraculous. There aren't a lot of shoreline options available for this particular lake and real estate tends to go pretty quickly on most Saturdays.
As lucky as we were, it was cold with a light drizzle mixed in to make for some slightly uncomfortable fishing. We both threw minnows to start, as they tend to attract the larger fish. Within the first 20 minutes, I got a good hit while keeping my bait from touching the weedy bottom, but I was too slow to release the bale and my would-be victim escaped with some new wisdom. Sonia's rod had a few takers, but they were afraid to commit and kept dropping the bait within a few seconds.
When we fish with minnows (Utah requires minnows to be dead), we toss them out and allow the fish to take the minnow and swim away with it for a short while (swallowing the bait), then set the tiny treble hook deep inside. When we use minnows, we're looking to take some fish home. It's not a good practice for catch and release.
The action was slow, so I decided to hop across the road and fish the small pond that forms against the highway, where an inlet is piped to the lake. It's usually filled with small tigers and rainbows, but they're fun to catch and can help to boost my confidence a little bit. A 12 inch tiger trout paid me a short visit and I was off to fish the lake again.
When I got back across the road, I noticed that Sonia had a pretty good fish flopping around on the rocks. It wasn't huge, but a 2lb rainbow never comes with a frown and I was glad to see that she wouldn't be skunked today. Nice catch!
Things were still dead on my end though. I tried switching tactics and got a couple of bumps on my favorite spinner, but couldn't seal the deal on anything. Meanwhile, Sonia kept getting takes, but had difficulty getting anything to stay on the line. One of the fish was a really good one that came to the surface to show us how nice it was before breaking free. What a shame! It was easily over 20" and would've been Sonia's biggest rainbow to date.
Eventually, she got one to hang on and reeled in a smaller rainbow of about 14 inches.
It was a bleeder, so it kept the other one company on the chain while we continued our hunt for bigger game.
Some time later with very little action but plenty of cold wind, my wife and kids sought shelter in the car while I fished on.
The cold wasn't really that bad, but the fish were giving me fits. They'd grab my minnow and take off with it, but there must have been some sort of fixed structure that they kept getting my line wrapped up in because every time I got a taker, I ended up snagged and had to break off. No bueno.
One fish was a hog. As it was wrapping me up on the snag, it must have also alerted itself that it was about to be hooked and went into panic mode, launching itself above the water. This was my mood killer. It would have been my all time largest rainbow. It's hard to guess from 20 feet away or so, but I'm positive it was more than 23 inches. Best guess would be around 25. What a pity.
Time ticked on and several similar scenarios unfolded, though I never got a good look at the other fish. I finally landed a 14 inch tiger trout that was fortunately lip-hooked, so it was quickly released. It was nice to break up the monotony, at least and bring something in.
The rest of my troop was starting to get restless and I knew we would need to leave soon. Realizing this, I switched back to my Blue Fox to get some last-ditch casting in.
Someone must have rung the dinner bell because it was feeding time and the flavor of the day was brass! In a short amount of time, I caught six more rainbows. None of them were very big, but a couple were over 15 inches and they were kept for fillet practice.
If I could have, I would've kept casting to take full advantage of that evening bite, but I knew I was in dangerous territory and it wasn't fair to keep my family waiting much longer.
That being said, once I got back to the car and loaded up the fish, I still took another 5 minutes to go and toss the spinner in the little pond across the road.
With an unobstructed pipe flowing under the road, between the pond and the reservoir, fish come and go as they please. This means that the fish I saw earlier could have moved on and other fish may have moved in. That's exactly what had happened, actually.
A couple of pretty nice fish (maybe 17, 18 inches) were visible and my intention was to place my first cast about 6 feet past the biggest and drag my lure past its nose. Well, that wasn't what happened for some reason and my cast was about 10 feet off the mark, putting my lure within striking distance of a bunch of dinks instead of my target.
Lo and behold, I got an immediate reaction from a tiny fish, but it turned out to be an interesting catch.
This was a cutthroat from a system where only tiger trout and rainbows had been stocked in recent times, making it a wild catch and also confirming my suspicions that cutthroat did, in fact, exist there.
Awhile back, I took my first peek at the pond and saw a pig of what looked to be a cutthroat in there, though it wouldn't take anything I threw at it. Now, I have more reason to trust my gut on that one.
After the little cutt, I still managed to trick one more fish into biting before spooking the rest of the pond. It was a 14 inch rainbow that was released.
I returned to the car and got us rolling toward home. To make up for my compulsive pond fishing, the kids were treated to some form-pressed chicken foam (nuggets) at the nearest Mickey D's and some time in the playground there.
We returned home well after dark (not that late anymore) and kissed another Saturday goodbye with a new twist on an old quote playing through our minds:
Better to have fished and lost, than never to have fished at all.
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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