Welcome to the Utah Water Log. Join me as I travel across the picturesque state of Utah in search of great fishing and a chance to take in the beauty that can be found along the way.
My buddy J called to invite me to a river last week and I had already planned on calling him for the same thing. We put our heads together and decided to fish a great pocket water stream with browns, cutts, and bows.
After some hiking, we were ready to drop in and pay more attention to the very fishy holes below the steep walls of the canyon. We were quickly rewarded.
This creek is full of great holes. Fishing 100 yds of stream could take a few minutes or a few hours, depending on the topography. When a pool looks this good, I personally tend to stick around and give it some focused attention until I catch a few.
The fishing didn't disappoint as we moved along, upstream. Each hole typically had a couple of fish in them and one of us would usually pick one up.
In one shallow dimple behind a rock, J nabbed a sturdy little brown and we were both surprised when I dropped into the same dimple to find a really nice one waiting.
A few small cutthroat and a lot of 10-14" browns were caught, with a few bigger ones too. As is usually the case when I fish with J, the fishing was fantastic, he was great company, and the surroundings were incredible. It was a great way to spend a Sunday.
We also saw two flocks of wild turkeys on our way out. Good stuff!
This week (Friday):
My friend Keoni and I have been planning a little camping trip for awhile and I finally put in for some time off at work, taking Friday to get a head start on a campsite. With the general rifle deer hunt starting Saturday morning, it was a good move.
Right in the area we were hoping to camp, I usually see a small city of camp trailers and ATV's. It was a relief to find a really good spot that wasn't covered with snow. There was only one other party in the area.
After setting up a tent to throw our gear in and claim the site, we parked at the trail head and got ready for a hike. My new waders would finally get wet and this would be my 2nd trip on the new Fish Cat 4.
Inflating our tubes first (my new tube doesn't fit in a backpack) and strapping them to our backs, we began our adventure to the land of beautiful cutts and brookies.
Following a well-developed trail for a little while, we soon took an unmarked turn on a faint animal trail which would lead us to the water. We noted the footprints of people we knew that had visited the day before with minimal success.
Unwilling to be dissuaded by their bad news, we were determined to work it out on the water. The first fish to taste a hook was a small cutthroat from shore with stunning coloration.
Pretty little thing.
Once we realized that fishing from shore was otherwise useless, we donned our fins and headed out in search of gaps in the tight carpet of aquatic vegetation only a couple of feet below us.
We found a few small holes to work our jigs through and hooked up with some medium sized cutthroat here and there.
It wasn't easy fishing and we really had to fine tune our presentations to get any action. It was a thrill to find a fat brookie after only catching smaller cutts thus far.
Quite the deformed tail on that one, but it apparently had little effect on its ability to feed in the nutrient-rich water. The available feed seems to have increased over the past few years, in my estimation.
I hadn't previously been assaulted by scuds the way I was this time around. They were all over me, my tube, and the bracts of the weeds everywhere.
It's no wonder that the fish take some coaxing. It almost seemed as if the jig had to land right in front of them to get any knocks.
A short while later, Keoni locked onto a really nice one. Having known of the great fish there for years, yet never actually going until now, it was really nice for him to finally experience it firsthand.
Look at that belly! What a great female. She registered 3.75lbs on his lip-grip scale.
One fish like that is reward enough to make one's day, but he wasn't done yet. His next fish was even bigger, of the cutthroat variety.
What a gorgeous cutt!
We hit a pretty good dry spell for awhile after those fish and it was pure torture to miss the only hits I got for over an hour.
Finally, a thug male brookie dressed in red decided to smash the silence in violent form. I knew right away that it was a winner, but after it broke the surface for the first time, we both saw that it was a good male.
Sadly for me, the angle I had for the photo was poorly chosen and it didn't quite do the fish justice. Luckily, Keoni caught the colors of the beast quite well with his new iphone camera.
What a great catch! Just what I needed.
Thanks for the great photos, Keoni!
Another dry spell ensued and the sun dipped behind the tree line. The temperature dropped very quickly and we had already been bobbing in frigid water for a few hours. Thoughts of starting a nice warm campfire had me ready to get going, but not until I ran into a big cutt as I kicked across one of the smaller holes in the weeds.
Hiking back in the fading light of dusk, we arrived at the truck and got back to camp in a hurry. The fire was actually really tough to get going, as our starting paper would only smolder instead of catching flame. Once it was going, we enjoyed the warmth and some tin foil dinners as well.
My new waders were so comfortable, I wore them until bedtime. Not only do they keep water out, they also served as a good windbreaker over my insulator layers. I'd say they passed their first test with flying colors.
Though we had set up my tent, it was really just to claim our spot and to store our gear to make room for us in the Rodeo, where we slept. We nodded out after reviewing the day's events, satisfied with a well-earned day of fishing and the respective rewards. It was declared a victory.
Even with the shelter of the truck and warm winter sleeping bags, it was a really cold night. The morning fire was equally difficult to get going, as our coals didn't fare too well overnight. The foil-wrapped breakfast burritos were well received though, once ready.
Originally, we had planned to fish the same lake on day 2, but we were so satisfied with our experience there that we decided to leave it at that. Day 2 was to be slightly less strenuous, with some exploration mixed in.
We started by trying our luck in a creek that I'd wanted to check out for many years. This was after noting that some of the other lakes nearby had a skim of ice over much of their surfaces.
The creek wasn't much different, at the bottom of a shady valley. The creek was so iced over that it was very difficult to present anything effectively in the many great looking holes. Add to that, access was very tight and we ended up working pretty hard to move upstream and stay upright.
Remarking that I couldn't leave without catching something, I finally got a willing patron.
The creek was so neat that we stayed a bit longer, weathering the freezing cold temperatures while marching on. Keoni got a pretty good one on the fly somehow and I hooked a couple more as well.
It will be a great place to spend more time at in the warmer months.
On our hike back to the truck, we were surprised to walk right past a forest grouse, who was stubborn enough to stay where he was as we passed. We got within 10 feet of it.
Not knowing what to do for the rest of our day, I suggested we hit another lake from the tubes and figured that the fishing would be fun and easy.
As it turns out, Rex Reservoir was a little off and a bit under par. We floated for about three hours and the bites were few and far between.
My first fish was a round-bellied rainbow that got away before its photo shoot, then a cutthroat met my grasp as well.
Keoni wasn't getting much action though and I could tell that we wouldn't stay for too much longer. Finally, he was able to cash in on a bite and he caught something I had never seen in several years of fishing Rex, a brown trout!
Rumors of browns in there were always spread around, but I had never personally seen one or known anyone who had caught one. Pretty cool, I thought! Catching browns from a still water is usually pretty tough.
Not even two minutes later, I somehow caught a brown of my own! What a score!
Several missed bites later, another rainbow came to hand. 2 rainbows, a couple of cutts, and a brown made for a grand slam for Rex Reservoir.
Despite that accomplishment, it was still very slow fishing and Keoni's waders had a slow leak that was becoming a bother. Time to move along.
On our way home, we stopped to pick on some browns on another creek neither of us had fished before. Again, it was tight fishing in small spaces, but the fish were healthy and noticeably aggressive in their pre-spawn condition.
Some were guarding reds and others were fighting for position. Keoni broke out some ninja skills with his fly rod, somehow putting his rig right where it needed to be to get both surface and dropper action, though setting the hook was difficult with so little room.
With my own setup on the spinning rod, I got chased out of the holes often, but actual bites were hard to come by. I still connected a couple of times and one got a photo.
Check out the smile:
And the reflection of the autumn colors on the gill plate:
Keoni got a really pretty one on a dry fly:
Such a neat little stream and the surrounding canyon was also very scenic. I'll be back for more of that someday.
As sad as it was to call it a day, we missed our families and needed to get back to them. It was a quality trip and we had a great time. Keoni is excellent company and has the right attitude to work hard for good fish. Thanks a lot to him for coming along. I had a great time.
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.
This is a photo of my kitchen blinds, through the bottom of a drinking glass.
Collect Neat Stuff?
Relic Mercantile might have just what you're looking for.
Travis Sylvester, of Travzart.com
Travis Sylvester is a local Utah artist, whom I've known for a few years. His artwork is sensational and he seems to improve with every new piece. He reproduced one of my cutthroat photos in colored pencil and it turned out great. Check out his website and click this pic.
While Googling trout images one day, I stumbled upon some art by A.D. Maddox and became a fan right away. Photos link to her site.