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12/23/12

Happy Birthday to Me! (Deer Creek Reservoir / Middle Provo

It was a pretty good birthday, not having to work, waking up when I felt like it, making a deluxe breakfast burrito to start my day...

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Mmm, hmm.

When I got around to it (around noon), I decided to take a few hours to make a little fishing trip happen at Deer Creek, then later on at the Middle Provo.

One of my favorite spots on Deer Creek has recently been plagued by "No Parking" signs along the roadside where it's easiest to park. That has been a bother, but I find that the hike and steep rocky shoreline keep most people away.

In all my years of fishing Deer Creek, I'd still never caught a brown trout, but today was sure to end that streak.

The first cast with my Gulp! brought in my first-ever DC brown. Not a bad one either!

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It was released and about 20 minutes and 50 feet of shoreline later, I got my 2nd.

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The weather was great for December 23rd. The wind wasn't much of an issue; a hoody and my waders were all I needed.

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A couple more hours were spent in hopes of hooking something else, but it wasn't meant to be. I fished my way back to where I was parked, then hit the Middle Provo for an hour before calling it a day.

A couple of small browns came in, as well as a mid-sized rainbow.

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Happy Fishing, Humans.

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12/15/12

Not Today

My original plan was to hit the river today.  It dawned on me, however, that spending time playing with my two beautiful children would really mean a lot more to me, considering the recent tragedy in CT.

Those of us with children really are more fortunate than we can imagine.  It's never too late to get closer to our young ones and show them the love that they deserve, unconditionally.

I'm incredibly grateful today, that I have these two bundles of joy in my life.  Perhaps from now on, every time I snuggle up to them, smell their hair, feel their touch, even scold them for fighting with each other, I can have a greater understanding of how precious they truly are.

It's a bit morbid for such  gruesome events to play out in order for these priorities to shine through so strongly.  Nevertheless, the message still remains:

Embrace your children and tell them you love them.  You're lucky to have them.

12/11/12

Central Utah Lower Elevations

As usual, throughout the work week, I’m always using my lunch breaks to handle vitally important business. By that, of course, I mean fishing.

The browns are showing up again, although my camera’s battery has been dying at inopportune moments and I’ve only been able to get a few pics.

I’ve decided to call the irrigation box “the Lunch Box”. Pretty clever, huh?

Here’s a medium sized brown and a tiny sunfish from there:

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Just downstream from there is where all the spawning took place, just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any video of the action when the big guys were in there, but I spooked some really nice ones.

Here’s a small one from that same stretch:

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THIS WEEK:

Lately, curiosity has been chewing at me about a couple of lakes I usually visit a few times per year. The water levels had been reported very low since mid-summer, putting a lot of fish at risk in lakes that are usually pretty shallow anyway.

This week’s destination needed to incorporate some investigation into those matters, as well as checking into some other nearby spots that I’ve meant to fish for awhile.

After a snowy morning drive, I arrived at my first stop to behold the lowest water levels I’ve personally seen there. Nervous about finding life, I ran across the road to check a small pond where one inlet pours in.

It’s a place where I knew something would be if there were any fish left in the system, so I watched carefully for a moment without seeing anything move in the shallow remnants of the pond. Even more nervous, I tossed my Blue Fox near the weed line to see if anything was hiding under the mossy canopy.

Gratefully, I watched as a tiny fish zipped out to give chase and turn at the last moment. It was a promising sign, so back to the main lake I went.

Within 5 minutes, I had a solid hit and gladly reeled in the first of many smaller trout that looked like this, give or take a couple of inches in length and girth:

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Though they were all smaller planters, they looked healthy and most of them had a pretty round belly. It was a fun couple of hours in that spot, and then I thought I’d continue my hunt for the big fish at the dam.

Here’s a nice belly:

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Again, it was mostly healthy planter sized rainbows. As fun as it was, I wondered if any of the bigger fish made it through the summer.

Fishing a few hundred feet of shoreline over the course of four hours wasn’t nearly enough to make a serious assessment, but the lack of larger fish where I’m used to finding them was concerning. Hopefully I find some in a few weeks, on ice.

My biggest catch there was about 15" long and stout. It's not the size that I was hoping for, but welcome, regardless.

The wind was blowing snow right into my face at that point, so I decided to check an area where some water flowed under the highway. Many times, I’ve wondered if there was anything to fish for in there and many times, it wasn’t convenient to check.

As usual, my roadside curiosity was rewarded and where I thought I might pull in a brown or a rainbow, a decent largemouth bass wiggled its way off my hook before I could bring it to hand. That was quite the surprise!

As neat as that was, it motivated me to keep trying. Before long, a smaller LMB was on, then a couple of decent perch!

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What a find! If fishing like that exists in December, with hardly any water in the system, I can’t wait for spring and summer.

My next stop was to be another curiosity bug, laid to rest. Gunnison Reservoir has never had much of an online following and the only info I’ve ever read about it was that it’s shallow and not worth fishing.

Seeing the high water mark vs the actual water level, I could tell that a much deeper reservoir is possible, but being part of the Sevier River system, it really has no chance of maintaining a good pool. Everyone downstream sees to that.

The deepest trench I could find at the dam was probably about 5 feet. Right at the outflow gate, it seemed to get dramatically deeper in a small area. Must be the "drain". I fished there for a short while until I lost the only jig I had brought along.

No fish were caught or seen, although I saw a sizeable swirl close to a floating mass of tumbleweeds. Probably a carp, but I'll never know.

Below the dam, the canyon looked really neat, so I embarked on foot in hopes of finding some water worth fishing. That didn't happen, but it was neat to see the red rocks. I'd like to hike around in there someday.

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With the remaining sunlight, my intention was to check on Palisade Reservoir, from where I'd heard reports of a lifeless puddle.

Having a solid history of nice fish for such a small lake, my hopes were that it had survived the dramatic draw-down of this very dry year.

The water level really was low, down to the trenches, but I'd seen similar in years past that still yielded fish. Thinking that the trenches would be the most likely spots to find life, minnows, jigs, and spinners were offered repeatedly. They were never touched.

The sun was getting closer to the horizon and as I walked back to the truck, I snapped some pics of the lake and of some deer that seemed to harbor no fear of me.

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The lack of action was disheartening, but I felt the need to see the inlet, where it was obvious that most of the water from Six Mile Creek had been diverted. It was flowing in fast and strong, which was tempting to fish, but I left for a chance to get one more bend in my rod for the day at my first lake.

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Happy Fishing, Humans.

12/2/12

Provo River / Strawberry Reservoir

The river needed me again last week, so I made the long (2 mile) trek to Provo Canyon and worked a Blue Fox for most of the day.

It was pretty productive and I caught quite a few browns, some with great spawn coloration.






The Blue Fox was treating me right, but when I saw two very nice browns swimming together and mirroring each others' movements, I switched to a Gulp! and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, those bruisers were busy and didn't care at all about my offerings.  What a tease to have them in plain sight and not get them to budge!

Oh well.  Armed with the Gulp!, I was able to convince a couple more browns to bite before calling it a day.



It was a pretty good trip, for the river and the fish were pretty good sized, albeit a bit spawned out.

This week, welcoming the month of December with a float trip was the perfect kind of crazy to symbolize this year's unseasonable weather.

Strawberry Reservoir doesn't usually ice over until about January anyway, so I thought that it would make the perfect setting to attack with my tube.

Naturally, my path to the lake was riddled with distractions that I felt obligated to stop for.  One distraction is a small creek that runs alongside Hwy 40, just east of Heber City.

Daniels Creek is a great little freestone that holds cutts, browns, and a few rainbows, none of which are currently stocked.  

The first fish of the day came from under the highway on a black marabou jig.



It's a rocky stream and it can be very difficult to navigate, let alone attempt to fish.  There are some decent pools though and careful, stealthy presentations can result in a visit from the beautiful little residents.



Keeping my main destination in mind, it was time to go.  There was still one more distraction that I needed to get past before making it to the lake.

I've always wanted to try my luck on the Strawberry River, upstream from the lake.  The river is much smaller where it passes under the highway and every time I drive by, I'm tempted to stop for a few tosses.

Special regulations state that all catches much be immediately released and can only be caught using artificial flies and lures.

Wasting little time, I made some sneaky casts into the tunnel and caught two very different looking cutthroat.  I found their contrasting appearances quite interesting, as the historic range is that of the Bonneville cutthroat, while the lake is heavily stocked with the Bear Lake sub-strain.

The second, smaller fish is clearly a BL.  I won't attempt to ID the first.



That was pretty fun and it only took a couple of minutes.  Just a few minutes later, I arrived at the lake, readied my gear, and walked to the inlet.

Even with the warmer weather of late, ice has still formed in the shallows during the cold nights.




Pushing my way through some ice slabs, I set off on my voyage, where my first victim met me within 20 yds of where I put in.


The river channel was the only place worth fishing, though it vanished under an ice sheet and I had a hard time finding it again.  Most of the bay I was in was only a few feet deep and loaded with vegetation, making fishing very difficult.

It took a long time to find deeper water and I ended up getting skunked for more than an hour while I kicked and kicked.  Finally, halfway across the large bay, I got a strike on the fly rod and fought something stubborn for several seconds before it shook itself free.  Bummer.

Another 30 minutes or so passed before I found the far shoreline and an area that was loaded with fish.  The next hour was spent chasing them, both from the tube and from shore while I let my legs warm up a little.



One fish that bit within 10 feet of shore would have easily been my largest cutthroat to date and it was certainly the best fight I've had this year.  Sadly, for reasons unknown to me, my hook pulled free after battling the large fish for a couple of minutes.  It was so close when it happened that when it came unbuttoned, it kept splashing around for a few seconds and threw water all over me.

The horror!  My mind raced, trying to comprehend what had just happened.  It was hard to accept that the fish got away without even breaking my line.  Oh well.  It has happened before and it's sure to happen again.

Back on the tube, it was time to make the long kick back to the put-in spot, most of which was churning through shallow weed beds.  A couple of fish struck my fly while I kicked away from the sweet spot though.



When I finally got back to my car, I had easily kicked for over three miles, most of which was over shallow water.  It was pretty rough, but I'm glad I did it.

I found a lot of fish, fought many, and caught several.  Accessing the lake from that spot and fishing that bay has been on my to-do list for quite some time.

It likely won't happen again anytime soon though.  Here's an outline of the path I took.


Happy Fishing, Humans.

11/18/12

Large Tiger Trout & Catching Up

It's been awhile since I posted, but I've still been fishing, of course.  The local waters have been my main destination, fishing the Provo River and Deer Creek Reservoir, but the fishing hasn't been that great.  

The Provo gave some small browns here and there, and DC has only yielded tiny bass, so that has gotten a little bit stale for me.  It's always good to get out, but sometimes my interest in the same old spots fades.  



Apparently, I've spoiled myself with such great places around the state.

Last week, I broke free from the local venues and went to Strawberry Reservoir, where it was very cold and breezy.  

The fishing was alright, but not super fast.  A few mid-sized rainbows were brought to hand, some 19" cutthroat (in the slot), and a 19" bow.






Did I mention it was cold?  Check out the crazy icicles that formed on my hub.  That's something I may never see again.


This week, my buddy Keoni and I decided that we were overdue for a good trip in search of big fish.  Tiger trout would be the main attraction and at this time of year, the colors on the males would surely be rich.

We arrived at dawn after driving through near white-out conditions in the mountains.  That was a little bit nerve-racking, but we made it.

As we pulled up, the surface was alive with ripples over the shallow flats and we got busy with our fly rods, pulling in small cutthroat.  


Many came to hand, but all were quite small.  My bug of choice was a tan killer caddis and Keoni was using chironomids, which I later switched to.

Abandoning the flats to hunt down some tiger trout, we split up and spent a couple of hours working on the frustrating beasts.  They were mostly hugging the shoreline and playing hard to get.

These tigers see quite a bit of pressure, so they can be difficult to trick into biting.  Many presentations were followed, but ultimately rejected and I finally scored on a black marabou jig.


Though I found a whole mess of really nice tigers where I normally do, that was the only one willing to bite.  Quite a few more cutts were pulled in on the fly rod though, some on the jigs too.

Keoni was into his own mess of tigers, but quite far from me.  He actually got a few on a pheasant tail nymph, one of which was pretty impressive.

After we met back up, we walked around to the other side of the lake and searched for some other brutes.  There were several really nice ones that we could see, but they were not interested in biting anything.

Back to the flats we went and took advantage of the willing cutts again, catching plenty more with ease.


A lucky cast in the right spot at the right time brought me another good male tiger on patrol.  He had quite the hunch back.


Keoni was getting pretty frustrated with some of the larger cutthroat that he could see, but would only sniff his bug and swim away.  Hordes of small cutts were all over him, but he kept trying and finally got a better one.


Still wanting some more tiger action, I went back to my sweet spot to see if the lock jaw had passed.  It was a good move and I pulled in three chunky honeys in about 10 minutes.  Wow!


 

It was just what I needed and it capped off the day nicely.  

We departed at dusk and had an even scarier drive home than our way up.  A big storm had moved in and left us creeping through many miles at only 25mph.  

With both of us worn out from the day, it was rough getting through the snowy nightmare.  The drive was complete with gas tankers stuck in the middle of the road and what seemed like a drunk driver leading the caravan, several cars ahead of us.  

We were glad to get back to dry asphalt and eventually back to our families.


Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...

WHY FISH?

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.