About a month ago, my family and I set off to find some nice brookies in the Uintas. The road to the lake was terrible, but we made it through a few remaining drifts and spent a few hours taking in the scenery and solitude.
The fishing was pretty good too, although the fish weren't anywhere near as big as I thought they'd be. A couple of years ago, a couple of 18" fish had been caught there. It was a really nice day though.
The next week, I went down to the Fish Lake Plateau to check a few spots that I hadn't seen in awhile. A fellow forum member met me at a park n' ride lot and we were off.
First was a small lake that held small fish about 6 or 7 years ago, with some bigger fish rumored to be there now. This rumor was mostly false, but it was nice to be back and have a good float. It was a beautiful day.
Later, we hit a familiar hillside down the road, in search of big brookies still. Another spot that gave up some great fish a couple of years back was checked and another place had seemingly gone south.
We stomped across much of that hillside and visited many beaver ponds. We weren't finding fish though. Only two ponds showed any signs of fish and those were both tiny and very shallow. I still caught a few in them, but it wasn't what we were expecting.
The only things swimming in this huge beaver pond (that we could see) were salamanders.
And this one was too shallow to hold anything.
We even put our heads down and bushwhacked into a small natural lake I'd always wondered about. Nada.
But not everything failed. My best fish of the day came from a shallow little pond with a few brookies hanging out.
It's a beautiful area and I'm glad we went.
The following week, my boy (James) and I went on a father/son day. I wanted to take him out and really focus on his experience, help him with his cast, and hopefully open a door to future possibilities.
We went to Currant Creek Reservoir, where James had hooked a really good tiger in the past, but ended up losing it near the shore.
At first, the fishing was very difficult along the dam. The wall of submerged vegetation blocked our ability to fish anything farther than 10 feet out. It was rather frustrating for James.
I still managed to hook a smaller tiger with great color, after pointing it out and having James cast a few times at it.
With his growing frustration, I knew our day was getting shorter with every errant cast or weedy retrieve. Something had to give. We marched to another area on the lake with a good drop off and less weeds. This would either make or break the trip.
James had just cast out (his cast had improved greatly since morning) and noticed a loop in the line, already spooled. He handed me his rod to fix the loop, but as I grabbed it, it was heavy and pulling.
"James, you've got a fish!" I screamed and handed his rod back. "Bring it in!"
Watching his face transform from boredom to pure wonder and excitement was worth the previous hours. I watched proudly as he brought it to the shore and I smiled as I handed him his catch, a nice 18" tiger trout.
I also caught a decent fish a bit later.
After that, we fished a short while longer before driving over to Strawberry to try for some bigger fish. James' attitude had greatly improved and we had a wonderful time fishing a spot I usually do pretty well at. James caught another fish and had a lot of action from others.
HE ACTUALLY ENJOYED FISHING! ALL DAY!!!
We had a wonderful time and that father/son time was greatly needed. Days like that really strengthen the bond.
The next week on Sunday, I drove to the Provo airport to pick up my cousin (Aaron) from Phoenix. He and I have been like brothers since we were little. Having lived here for much of his life, he was very excited to get out of the Phoenix heat and into some lush green mountains.
Having arrived in the morning hours, we had time to wander around the Aspen Grove trails on the back side of Mt. Timpanogos, Utah valley's massive guardian sentinel.
As great as it was to see him, I was really happy that he was getting a heavy dose of mountain scenery that he had surely been missing. Any other time he had come to visit, he often mentioned how he would like to hike some of our old haunts.
It was a gorgeous hike. We didn't go up too terribly far, but we found a few waterfalls and a bit of a nook in a cliff.
Great fun. The preparatory hike was just training for what I had in store, later in the week.
Somehow, the universe worked out a similar situation that happened last year, around the same time. Cousin Aaron showed up and our great friend Holdsworth also visited. I had about a week with both of them last year.
Well, lightning struck a 2nd time this year and it just so happened that Holdsworth (another Aaron) actually moved back to Utah! So again, the summertime was kicked off by the presence of both of my favorite Aarons.
The only thing in the way was my job. I had prearranged to take the 3rd off, making it a 4 day weekend. Due to other plans for the holiday, we were all afforded one overnight trip to my favorite place. This is something I was happy to show these guys.
Camping beneath a canopy of aspens, next to the best water I know of. Oh yeah!
Once the tent was setup, we all took a moment to enjoy the scenery and sounds of a beautiful mountain lake. It didn't take long and we had some rain drops sending an army of ripples across the otherwise calm surface. Before we knew it, it was really coming down.
Luckily we were prepared for that, in spite of the forecast.
The first catch of the day came from Aaron, with a small but lovely cutthroat sporting plenty of color.
Now I have to confess, I left my tube in the car for this trip, but didn't want to. The load that I was carrying on my back was already more than I cared to lug around the hillside. A second trip for the tube seemed like it would be worthwhile, but then I got focused on the same window of water between the logs that I'm always seduced by.
Though there was plenty of other water to try my hand at, leaving the window was just too much to ask. I find myself obsessed with trying different presentations and fly combinations while attempting to persuade the large visible fish to open their mouths for me.
I thought that catching a nice fish from the window would curb my obsession with it for at least a little while, but even after this nice male came to hand, I went right back to the logs to try for another.
There was a 2 hour block of time that I allowed myself to fish other parts of the lake and a few small cutts came to hand, along with my only brookie for this trip, a 17" female.
Then we all went over to "the hole", where I usually find brookies, outside the cutt spawn. The hole is difficult to fish from shore, but we gave it our all. I was only able to get a small cutthroat to hand, but Aaron got into a nice cutthroat, his biggest trout to date.
That one and the brookie ended up on the coals, wrapped in foil. Camping right next to a lake wouldn't be complete without fresh fish from the campfire, as the sun set over gentle water.
We stayed up way too late and I slept in long enough to miss the sunrise bite. Holdsworth didn't though, as he had already gotten into a few fish and had a 17" cutthroat roasting on the coals before I even made it out of the tent. Way to go!
Our time on Day 2 (Independence Day) was limited, due to my prior arrangement to attend the Stadium of Fire (Carrie Underwood performed - very good show), but that didn't stop me from getting sucked back into the window for more punishment.
A few dinks kept hitting, which only fueled my intention of landing their grandpa or one of the brookies that kept mostly out of sight, but within striking distance of the window. The dinks were still pretty though, like everything in that sweet water.
A little bird seemed amused enough to sit and watch me for quite awhile as I got rejected by the big fish.
I took a video that may exemplify the reasoning behind my crazed fixation on this window:
I actually got several bites from the biggest fish I could see, but none of them seemed to hold on very long. Such is fishing though. Time melted away and we had to leave. It was a great trip though and my friends were very impressed with the venue, which I knew they would be. It's right up our alley.
Unfortunately, Aaron's visit came to a close and I dropped him off on Sunday afternoon at the Provo Airport. As the two of us left my house, I made sure it was alright that I spent a few hours fishing the river afterward.
So as I pulled away from the airport, my thoughts were busy weighing out my options. Should I hit the canyon? In town?
These questions only caused more confusion, but when I pulled up to the stop sign on Center Street in Provo, I found myself turning left, of all directions.
Left? Why, that leads to Utah Lake! What business does a troutster like me have at Utah Lake?
Actually, my inner psycho fish monkey had led me to the "Lowest Provo", the last stretch of the Provo River before it feeds Utah Lake, where warm and cold water species coexist for much of the year.
My expectations were limited. Really, I was just trying to kill some time next to water and maybe catch a few white bass or whatever else felt like biting.
While rifling through my gear, I noted that I already had a 1/16oz jig head rigged and ready to accept a Gulp minnow, which I had plenty of. Ah, what the heck? Why not?
So I took a short walk from where I parked and started casting. After one miss, I worked the same retrieve that got me that bite. Soon enough, I was homed in on what they wanted to see.
Never in my life would I have imagined catching walleye on purpose, but I was really into them!
Show me those pearly whites:
One after another, I was hooking into some pretty good sized walleye. Many were long and skinny, but a couple were really nice!
Here's what my typical catch looked like:
(Please pardon the distortion on my forearm. I had to hold these fish way out to get them in the frame and it skewed the view of anything close to the lens).
But this one was a lot thicker and just a hair under 24":
An ambitious carp surprised me at my feet as it sucked up my jig, then took me for a ride. That was a mistake on its part.
I even caught a mid-sized brown after that. A family of mink also kept me company as I watched them curiously explore me and the immediate area.
There were about 5 or 6 of them rummaging around.
As I was preparing to leave and bagging the 3 eyes I chose to keep, the ever-present thought of "one last cast" entered my mind and I let one fly to the far bank, just downstream. A couple of quick twitches brought my jig out of the shallows and into the channel, where I felt a big thunk and my rod curled over.
Another carp, I thought, as the fish raced upstream and took a bit of drag. Imagine my surprise as a very nice walleye of 25" and 5lbs, 10oz surfaced.
Wow. That was a new personal best in terms of weight. My standing best in length was 26 inches and change, but only weighed 4lbs, 6oz. Quite the skinny catch under a road on lunch break. That's the only other time I caught walleye while targeting them.
It was a great way to cap off an awesome week. An awesome 4 weeks, at that!
Happy Fishing, Humans.