It's been awhile since I've posted, but I've been staying busy! The warmer weather locally has triggered a lot of activity at Utah Lake and I've spent quite a few of my lunch breaks trying my hand at the warm water species.
A few times, after taking my wife to work, the kids and I have stopped in for a short time, hoping to get something out of that big pond down the road. Time and time again though, I find myself shaking my head, getting served.
I'm sure my time is coming there, but I'll likely need to dedicate a little more time than 20 minute bursts. The scenery isn't too bad though. It's actually pretty relaxing to kick back on a lonely beach, listening to the birds and waves...the occasional carp violently splashing in the shallows.
The kids really enjoy getting dirty too, so we all win, regardless of the multiple skunkings.
Did I mention that they like to get DIRTY?
In a beautiful place with my kids, nothing else really matters anyway.
Last weekend, my buddy Keoni and I planned to get back into some brookie holes we're privy to. The whole thing was jeopardized when I somehow failed to rise at the agreed time, but we made decent time, once moving.
The drive was long and we anticipated a bit of a hike to get where we needed to go. We were right.
Although we were able to get past a gate that we thought would be closed, a snow drift stopped us about a quarter mile in. That was expected, since last year the road wasn't open until very late in the year.
As we strolled along, we took turns fishing a couple of holes on a creek we were following and Keoni scored a pretty little brookie.
We marched on for 3 miles or so and eventually came to our lake, despite my delay, getting stuck in the slop at a silted-in beaver pond.
In disbelief, we looked on at a frozen lake. All but a tiny window of open water about 25 feet out was covered in re-freeze.
Not to be dissuaded, we fished that window for quite awhile, hoping the thin layer of ice would melt away quickly. It took a long time, but finally opened up.
Several hours passed and Keoni finally caught a small brookie while I was exploring the other side. I had seen a few, but none that were very impressive so far.
When I got back to Keoni, I cast a jig toward the receding edge and it popped through the ice, then sank a few feet before I saw a flash and set the hook. A small brookie flailed through the ice and back down before getting off the hook.
Another fish swooped in and bit my jig a little later, but I missed that one too. It was a bit of a downer to spend so much time with nothing, then finally get a strike and miss twice in a row. Oh well, that's fishing sometimes. It was an honor to get the skunk in such nice surroundings.
Opting to cut our losses, we hiked out to one of my own little secrets out there. A big beaver pond with hefty brook trout sounded like something we both needed pretty badly by then.
Along the way, Keoni started catching little brookies in a tiny stream with his Tenkara rod. Having never tried Tenkara, he was quick to hand it off and let me at it. It was just the ticket for the skittish little residents.
Keoni grabbed my camera and snapped some pics.
He also got a shot of the stream.
It was great to finally shed the skunk from my shoulders, but our pond wasn't getting any closer, so we cut out of there, excited for what was to come...
...Or so we thought. It seems that sometime since July of last year, the beaver dam had breached, leaving my special place nothing more than a muddy, barren flat, devoid of life.
That hurt to see, since my friend Holdsworth and I had such a good time last year, leaving many fish to grow larger for this season.
Yet another buzzkill for the day, but we were dedicated to having a good time and these were just minor setbacks. Water flows downhill, so we followed it into a meadow and farther downstream to a tiny beaver pond before a long steep grade.
The pond looked fishless, but there was a small collection of grass along some rocks, forming a small area of cover. Keoni spotted a fish and placed his cast well. The fish took, but spat the hook, darting off under the flotsam.
That prompted us to investigate the grass line. I dropped a jig through a small opening in the cover and it got a hit right away, but I MISSED IT! AGAIN! The repeated whiffing on solid strikes was getting ridiculous.
As the fish reacted to my setting attempt, about 12 others scattered out in all directions, quickly darting back to the cover immediately. They were mostly pretty decent fish, but one was a dandy. I even think I saw a rainbow or a cutthroat in there with the brookies. That wasn't expected at all.
Lo and behold, they were spooked and we failed to get any to hand. I even missed another bite.
Enough was enough and our thoughts moved toward water bodies along the route home and whether or not we'd have any sunlight left by the time we got to them. The day was growing late and we still had a long walk back to the car.
Exhausted from the total beat-down we'd just received, we got back to the car and drove to Fish Lake, where we waded out on the cobble.
It was my fist time fishing open water at the lake, only ice fishing it twice before. My results were never proud, catching only one rainbow each time, previously. The possibilities in Fish Lake are grand, so a 16 inch rainbow is nothing to shake a fin at.
Keoni had quite a few follows from some decent fish before catching a tiny splake that was good for a laugh. I had a couple of tiny followers before I landed my last fish of the day, a small brown trout. Quite the rarity for Fish Lake, so it was a welcome surprise.
It was a good day, even with the discouraging happenings. Keoni is great company and we kept each other laughing throughout.
This week, the family and I needed to get out and see some distant lands, new to us. Much preparation the night before and an early rise gave us a good start on a serious drive. New waters and vistas awaited us and when we saw this, we knew we were getting close.
Capitol Reef National Park lie below us, in all it's glory.
Half the reason we were down in that part of the state was to visit Capitol Reef, but only if we had enough time after fishing. First stop was a short hike after a bubble blowing session to boost the kids' morale.
The hike was pretty easy and our first lake shimmered in front of us. The steep hillsides plunged downward and this place was deep, especially for what looks to be a natural lake.
The fish were very picky and I had a hard time dialing in on what they wanted. A couple of smaller tiger trout with full bellies came to hand before I got something to swallow a pretty big minnow.
The minnow I used was quite large, so I was pretty excited to see what was on the other end of my line. When I pulled up my largest splake to date, I was quite pleased, although I expected larger.
Pretty good looking fish though.
Here's the video:
The wind picked up and the kids started moaning to leave, so we made our way out of there and down to another couple of lakes, the first of which is not stocked that I know of.
The first lake was loaded with tiny cutts that were eager to nip at my kastmaster. Most of the time they wouldn't get hooked, but a lot of them did. They were all about this size, but pretty with deep red slashes.
Then it was onward, to our next lake, where I had a really hard time getting anything going. Gorgeous setting, and the many fish I saw looked pretty good, but they weren't playing.
Despite the slow fishing, we still enjoyed ourselves, had a picnic, and horsed around with the kids.
Only twice, was my jig followed and the only fish from this lake came from the trusty Vibrax.
It wasn't too big, but deeply colored and it filled my hand nicely.
We tried for awhile longer, but never got another bump. Time to go.
One more stopped was required and I agreed to only 10 casts. 2 casts into it and I was connected. The other 8 casts brought in three other rainbows of similar size. Fun place, but just a quickie.
At that point, only one more visit needed to be made, Capitol Reef. This is the part that got my wife interested in the trip. I just showed her a few photos from the map and she was on it. She and I both love playing in the desert and seeing new places is welcome.
Having only a vague memory of the roads from my map hounding, I had to wing it, but there were plenty of signs directing me to where I needed to go. We decided that the Upper Cathedral Valley would be our venue and made a right turn, dropping into a wonderful world of cascading veils of sandstone.
The place was amazing! Every curve in the road made way for something even more spectacular than the last.
It just kept getting better and better as floated along the soft, sandy road.
Then there was the giant "fin" of rock with huge gaps. This was probably my favorite part of the valley.
A little farther down the road, the outcroppings became less frequent and we started getting close to juniper country again. We turned around and hoped the Sentra would make it back up the sandy plunge we took to get there.
When we arrived to the sandy hill, I was really struggling to see, as the sun was shining right in my face once I rounded the curve before the big climb. It completely illuminated the sand-pitted windshield and visibility was zero. Catching me off guard, I almost drove us into the inside wall, but got my head out the window in time to correct and stomp the gas pedal.
Luckily, we made it through the sandy patch and got enough traction to make it. Whew! Saved me a 30 mile desert drive to Hwy 24 in fading light.
Out of the desert, we ascended the mountain we'd come from as it provided us with shade from the sun for awhile, at least. Getting closer to the pass, my head went out the window again, thanks to the blinding sun.
On the bright side, we were rewarded with a great view of Cathedral Valley as the sun cast its last light on it, igniting the red rock.
We'll be sure to visit the area in more depth some other time. It was great to get out there and see what we did though. Awesome place.
On our way back to civilization, we stopped in at one last lake (10 cast rule again) to see how the bite was at dusk. Five casts into it, I lost my spinner after catching a small splake, a small perch, and something nicer that got off the hook before I could see it. It was a good note to go out on.
What a trip it was! These days are only getting longer and how thrilling is it to spend all day pursuing the things you love, with the people you love? It's priceless.
Happy Fishing, Humans.