Autumn Fishing 2015

It's been an interesting fall.  From stream fishing in central Utah to ice fishing in southern Utah, add a funeral to the mix and that's my story since early October.

One or two nights before Holdsworth and I were going to explore a "new" small stream, we learned of an awful tragedy as one our close friends had passed away.

I had three friends at my very small wedding and Weston was one of them.  Three "best men" to send me off from the world of bachelor bro-dom to a new life starting a family.  He's the guy on the right, in the first photo below:

He and Holdsworth:

More on that in a bit.

October 11:

Aaron and I both agreed that getting away and pounding a couple of small streams was definitely in order.  Our first stop was just a quickie, on our way to some new water.  

Usually a better place to fish, we left without much action.  A small cutthroat on the fly was all I could wrangle.

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Finishing our drive to the main target, a short hike was required along a VERY small stream, only about a foot across in most areas, if that.  A few pools on round bends grabbed our attention and I was able to pull in a pretty little wild cutthroat.

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The stream we hiked to wasn't a whole lot bigger, but much fishier looking.  Not long after getting in there, a colorful brown grabbed a black marabou.

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The fishing wasn't great, but we both missed big fish, especially for the size of the stream, which could easily be hopped over in the straight runs.  A couple of small browns and cutts met me before we ran into a property line, complete with a sign.  

It's a gorgeous creek though and I'll be back:

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Using the rest of our daylight where we could, we burned the last 45 minutes or so at Huntington Reservoir, where a couple of small tigers came in.

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It was nice to meet a new stream and blow off some steam with my best friend, while we reverently mourned the loss of our friend in a beautiful place.  We had actually fished Huntington with Weston before, so it was good to stop there on the way home.

The next week, we attended his funeral and didn't get any fishing done.  Having meant so much to so many people, a lot of old friends were reunited to observe and pay tribute to such a great guy.  Because of this, a small get-together with some of his close friends was improvised.  

My cousin Aaron was in town for this and that meant it was time to hammer on our guitars and sing our hearts out around a campfire in celebration of his life.  It was a great time for everyone, with Aaron and I laying it down like never before.  The force was with us and Weston probably was too.

He was loved and will be missed by everyone who knew him.  RIP, buddy.

Nov. 1:

Staying close to home, Holdsworth and I fished another stream that we hoped would provide some steady action, but only after a couple of hours at a pond that skunked us, previously.  

The first few minutes made us nervous, with no signs of activity from the fish.  Soon enough, I landed a cast just inside a submerged trench in the weeds and hopped it out to see a flash darting around behind my jig.  

With the next flash, I saw the take and set the hook to a pretty good sized cutthroat of about 20".

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A long quiet spell ensued before we'd worked our way around the pond, where Aaron got a decent one to play.

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We stayed another fruitless half hour before relocating to some more productive water, we hoped.  The fishing wasn't spectacular, but a few fish were had.

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There were many line issues for me, with break-offs leaving me out of ammo, so to speak.  Before losing all my preferred gear, I did get a pretty good brown to hang on.

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Aaron got into some cutthroat, though he never got any browns to hand.

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It was still nice to get out.  We both got a fish out of the pond that skunked us on our last visit and both caught some fish from a great stream.

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Nov. 7:

Knowing our time was running out for open water at some of our high country waters, Aaron and I took a chance and hiked in to find a mostly-capped lake with limited access to open water from shore.  An extra hike to the best launching area put us in position to see if we could at least float to the edge of some of the holes in the weedy pond.

The edge of only one good hole was accessible, but not enough for a proper presentation.  The rest was covered with about 1/2 inch of clear ice.  Most of our stay was spent breaking ice and the sun was on its way down before we'd even fished very long in "good" water.

A good hike, lots of work to open some water, and one small cutthroat all day.

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Still worth it!  Taking note of the ice development, I vowed to go back within the next two weeks.

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Nov 14:

My Step-Dad had made plans to fish Strawberry with me from his boat, but something went wrong with the engine and we agreed on a rain check.  Regardless, I had my heart set on the Berry and set off to float by tube instead.

My arrival was later than it should have been and the wind was already blowing in several areas.  After driving a bit to find a settled bay, I found Mud Creek lacking whitecaps and went for it.

It took some time, but I finally started getting into a rhythm and got a 21" cutthroat.

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Working that same area, a few smaller cutts and rainbows came in, with a big one breaking me off in between.  After thoughts of leaving had passed my mind, a good thump led to my first slot buster in quite awhile.  

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At 22.5", it made my day and I pointed my tube toward the car to make an early homecoming with some daylight left.  While kicking back, a frivolous cast provided a 20" rainbow that fought like crazy.

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Already satisfied with my float, the rainbow topped everything off perfectly.  My family was thrilled to have me home so early.

Nov 20:

Needing to make sure all of my accrued time off at work gets used before year's end, I had made arrangements to take last Friday off.  My plans were to try my best to get back to my lake with the thin ice from 13 days prior.

Reaching out to some fishing buddies, a plan was made to go with an old Jr. High School classmate in his 4x4 to see how close we could get.  At 5:00 on Friday morning, I met Dan Kennedy in Spanish Fork and we took off for southern Utah.

The last mile or so of road was loaded with snow and we didn't quite make it to our intended parking area.  Looking around, the snow depth away from the road looked daunting as well, but we decided it could be worth it to endure some punishment and finish what we'd set out to do.

The hike took us about an hour, having to do our best to follow the trail in the knee-high snow.  An occasional peek at a GPS kept us mostly on track, but I did get us a little turned around for a bit before finding the real path again.  It was pretty rough and had us sweating in the frosty air.

We'd joked about doing all that work to find dangerous ice conditions, but fortunately, we were good to go.  The ice was 3.5 to 5 inches thick throughout and we used Dan's ax to break out a lot of holes, based on my pre-set waypoints.  
Being a nerd has its benefits, as we were getting bites quickly after beginning to fish.  After a couple of good missed bites, I finally landed a healthy cutthroat.

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A couple of smaller ones followed and Dan got his first of the day, with small fish honors.

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Another good one hit the deck for me in colorful fashion:

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Some time passed without getting many hits, so I grabbed the ax and pounded out a few more holes in choice spots hoping to find some willing mouths to sink a hook into.  The weather had deteriorated a bit, but at least it wasn't storming.  We continued to fish in a cool fog.

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After some trial and error in a few more holes, I started getting into some better action, especially after switching jigs to the apparent winner.

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How about this paint job?

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Beautiful cutthroat!

Having caught several fish from that productive hole, things died down again for me.  Dan was catching some smaller cutthroat from time to time and had moved closer to where I was doing better. 

One hole that was still untouched was calling to me, so I moved in for look. It appeared to be over thick weeds, but after a minute or two of active jigging, a legitimate strike was missed, leaving my jig torn a bit.

A new jig was readied and another drop led to a fast take from a nice brookie:

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At 18", my day was made.  Nice cutts and a nice brookie on the day were well worth the effort it took to get there.

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Dan was motivated to get his own and it showed.  He had his game face on and stayed focused on his presentation.  More little cutts came in for the time being.

Meanwhile, I tried another hole and pulled up another brookie after some active jigging.  This one was a bit smaller and had a messed up jaw, like some of the other brookies in the lake.

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Dan was next to score on a better fish, with a pretty nice cutthroat.  It was his best fish thus far and gave him something to smile about:

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Still working on that brookie though.

Speaking of brookies, one last untouched hole had mostly refrozen and escaped our attention.  It also appeared to be over some weeds, so I wasn't sure how productive it would be.  Still, a new hole always holds promise.  

While pulling my jig up to see if it was covered in weeds, I noticed a nice fish moving around below it, through the hole.  It was a brookie, as the fins would have me believe.  Another dip was all it took to confirm, as another 18" female hit the ice.

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With my day already over par, this fat girl payed me overtime in the satisfaction department.

The next hour was much slower, but held a couple more small cutthroat from a set of holes farther away from where we'd been fishing.  While focused on a missed bite with follow-ups, I heard Dan shout "Brookie!" from the last hole I'd fished over there.

Dropping my gear, I ran over to him in time to see the beauty get hoisted out of the hole.  A dolled-up male in full autumn apparel shone in his hands.

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Talk about payoff for one's patience huh?  Wow, what a great looking fish!  At 19", it was also tall and girthy.

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Right after the quick photoshoot, he released it and gave me a nod stating that "Now we can leave".  His steadfast will to catch a brookie was rewarded handsomely.  We packed up our things and stopped to fish our first holes for a short while before embarking on another grueling push through the snow to leave.

The snow was pretty deep, though at least it was fluffy and much easier to move through than late season ice-crusted snow.  It still kicked my butt though.

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Dan seemed unfazed on the hike back, taking point and blazing the trail through the parts I'd mistakenly led us around, going in.  He was likely charged by that awesome brookie.  I'm grateful he was in front because my legs were screaming by the time we were back to his truck.

Furthermore, I must thank Dan for offering his vehicle for the trip.  My Sentra wouldn't have gotten us close enough to Shangri-La for us to effectively hike to the promised land.  He was a good sport all day and great company for such an ambitious trip.

As I reflect upon the last several weeks, I'm left with gratitude for this beautiful world we live in and the opportunity to enjoy this life that is a blessing.  Keep on living, folks!  We're lucky to be here.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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Summer Vol. 3

It's always sad for me to kiss the summer goodbye, since it means that winter is on its way. There is a silver lining to this cloudy realization though. Fall fishing.

Here's a review of the last month of summer, plus the first week of autumn.


With a shortage of time and a need to stay local, Deer Creek was my best option and I'd been wanting to check a couple of my usual spots there anyway. 

 After a good walk, the first spot yielded a couple of small bullhead catfish, a tiny perch, and a tiny carp. The action was nice, but the size wasn't cutting it, so I hopped over to another area where I've done well for browns in the past.

The fishing was pretty slow at that spot, but I noticed a lot of small bass chasing my gear and kept tossing. A tiny large mouth came in and a couple of little small mouth as well, but time was running out and I needed to get going. 

 Just as I put my gear together to leave, one last cast was sent out and within the last 10ft of the retrieve, it got hit by a pretty good small mouth.

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It wasn't measured and it wasn't huge, but it was my best DC smallie by far. It was a nice way to end a day full of small fish.


Feeding our obsession for beautiful fish in the southern half of the state, Holdsworth and I spent the day floating in the aspens, catching cutthroat, and getting snubbed by nice brookies.

It was good to get some work on the fly rod though. These two cutts helped me put a bend in that.

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The regular methods brought in my only brookie of the day, a smaller version of the ones we were chasing.

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Once we'd had enough of that, we made a quick stop on our way out to fish a small stream with pretty little wild rainbows.

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Fun little stream. I got hits on four consecutive casts in this pool. Gotta love it.

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My family and I met Holdsworth for a trip to a couple of easy-access lakes in the Uintas. It had been awhile since we'd taken in the view from the overlook at Bald Mountain Pass.

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Our first stop was Emerald Lake, which sits at the base of Bald Mountain. It's a pretty little lake that requires a very short scramble up the hillside, just off Hwy 150.

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We weren't even sure if it held fish, but some reading of those old drainage pamphlets had me wondering. At first, Aaron and I couldn't get anything going and there wasn't any surface activity to confirm the presence of fish. We were almost ready to declare it lifeless when a splash changed our minds.

Knowing we had something to fish for only fueled our desire to get something to hand, but we still struggled, only getting a couple of knocks after countless casts.

Sonia got bored and decided to fish for a bit. Strangely enough, she got two small brookies right away, so we switched tactics and started pulling a few in. I was proud of her for coming up with her own rig. It was a winner!

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They weren't very big, but it was great to catch something. James got one too!

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Nice place.

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Our next stop was another easy access lake, but our luck wasn't as good there. Aaron got some bites, but couldn't keep anything on the hook. I only had one follow from a smaller fish before our stay was cut short. It was really pretty there and I wished we could stay longer.

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Our early departure was brought on by a little girl that got a little too playful on the spongy shoreline. She took a dip in the cold mountain water and we needed to get her wrapped up in some dry hoodies I had in the trunk.

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(Oh yeah, the filthy face wasn't a result of the spill, that was just her version of war paint, haha! Don't let that one get bored.)


A solo trip to Strawberry was the order of the day. Since my last trip was quite disappointing, I was sure to do better this time. Yeah right! The wind had other plans for me. After only three small rainbows in four hours, I'd had my fun.

Hoping to salvage the day, Currant Creek Reservoir hosted me for the rest of the evening. Though the fishing wasn't very great, the wind wasn't an issue. One of my most productive spots on the lake wasn't giving for over two hours until three fish came in three casts.

Weird. The first fish was a small tiger trout while vertically jigging. The second was a small rainbow.

The third fish was a new one for me. It felt like I'd hooked some weeds off the bottom, but there was still some movement that indicated it was actually a small fish. As I reeled it in closer, it became clear that it wasn't a trout at all, but a sculpin!

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What are the odds of getting a sculpin on a 1/8oz tube jig? Crazy.

So the fishing was pretty slow all day and none of the intended catches even warranted pulling out the camera, but it was good to get out, regardless.

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Holdsworth and I woke up early and embarked on a big day trip to properly bid farewell to the summertime. Our venue?

Boulder Mountain

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Oh yes. The fall colors were exploding on the mountain and the waters were cold. This trip was kind of a big deal for us, having never visited any of the day's stops, which I'd wanted to do for years.

Poor Aaron forgot his fins, so we decided to trade off on my tube. The first lake produced well from the tube for smaller fish. Aaron only caught a couple from shore and they were also small. It did produce three species for me though.

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Having more water on our minds, we moved on to our second stop where I hoped to get us into some grayling, which Aaron had never caught before. 

 Unfortunately, the strap on one of my fins snapped while putting them on. It didn't ground me, but it was a bit of a nuisance to have to slip it back onto my boot every couple of minutes.

A quick kick from shore led me to a big hole in the weeds where the fish were waiting. I worked the defined edge of the hole and got a plump little brookie right away.

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After that, it was time for the long rod. Almost every cast produced hits on bead head brassies and copper johns.

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They were such a blast to catch, although there really was no method to it. Just getting the fly out into the hole and waiting a few seconds was all it took. After catching quite a few of those, I figured it was Aaron's turn to join the fun.  He got right to it and, not having much experience with a fly rod, his success was almost instant. 

 Grayling on the feed are the perfect way to make someone feel like they know what they're doing with flies. While he was out, I found a spot where I could reach the hole from shore. The fishing was slightly slower there, but I still got a few while Aaron pounded them from the tube.

What a great spot! We had a lot of fun, but there was still enough time to hike to another lake, where I hoped to get into some big brookies.

The third lake didn't seem very promising as we ran into another fisherman that hadn't had any luck there, so far that day. As I kicked out, I wondered if we made the right call when Aaron actually picked up a cutthroat from shore. Shortly thereafter, I found my stroke and started getting bites regularly.

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The fishing was great! The fish were mostly smaller, but I did drift over some pretty nice ones that I couldn't convince. Aaron got a few from shore, but it wasn't nearly what I was experiencing on the water. One of his was a pretty good brookie.

Soon enough, I got back to shore to give him some time on the tube. While he was out, I wandered around the shoreline, only catching one fish from the lake. The stream looked pretty good in one spot though, so I fished that for a little bit and actually picked up my biggest fish of the day, a 20" splake.

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Aaron only got a couple out on the tube, but one of them was a pretty nice brookie, at 18 inches. We needed to cut out early to get back by 10:30 and we still had some hiking to do to get back to the car.

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It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place! We visited 3 lakes we'd never seen before, I caught 5 species on the day, and we pulled off a 420 mile day trip.

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Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...


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.