What can I say? As these last few hours of 2014 slip away forever, it's time for reflection and gracious appreciation for yet another stellar year.
The year started with a sputter, only yielding average fish on short local trips. Ice fishing was fun, but it didn't "scratch the itch" and wore itself out quickly.
There was one highlight from mid January, when a 3lb largemouth was caught on lunch break.
A new personal best, for the time being...
Awhile later, some forum buddies took me out for a shot at some big tigers and cutts. The larger fish escaped me on ice, but a nearby river showed me some nice browns.
A really pretty one my buddy caught:
He also did well for some nice rainbows at a lake that skunked me that day.
As did another buddy.
It was neat to cast for awhile in the open water, then walk onto 10" ice to drill some holes in the back of a bay.
The next week, another attempt to catch big bows at that lake was thwarted by wind, but again, the river paid in full.
My next full day trip lead me south to fish the freshly thawed Minersville Reservoir. The fishing was slow and I didn't catch anything on the tube, but the fish that did bite were worth the drive.
This pig rainbow was super girthy:
A fruitless visit to the river, west of the lake:
Next trip was to a local stream that usually fishes really well. It was a lot slower this time, but some beautiful fish were caught in a lovely venue.
My family and I traveled south to Otter Creek and Piute Reservoirs for slow fishing. What fish were caught were pretty nice though.
The Sevier River in Kingston Canyon separates the two reservoirs and it provided some diversion along the way.
The historic courthouse in the town of Junction:
Piute left me with only missed bites.
On our way out of the area, Hoover's restaurant left a happy lump in our bellies.
Soon enough, more water was opening up, finally allowing me to hit some preferred spots and chase off Old Man Winter. A couple of forum buddies and I met up to hook into some real fish.
This tiger looked like someone smacked it with a frying pan.
We had an audience.
Eventually, I pumped up my tube and went around to my preferred shoreline area, where I got into some bruisers.
The first and heaviest one attacked a Lucky Craft Pointer as soon as it hit the water. What a treat to reel in a 5 pound, 1 ounce beast! Just under 25".
Very shortly after that catch, another big one put a bend in my fly rod.
That one was just over 24".
Quite a few cutthroat also came to hand, topping off a really good day on the water. It was badly needed.
The following trip led me to Koosharem Reservoir, where I've never caught a fish. Large rainbows, cutts, and tigers live in the shallow lake, with possible brookies and browns as well.
Having never dedicated solid effort at the lake, I was convinced that I could catch some dandies from a float tube.
It wasn't meant to be though. No bites, no sign, no nuthin!
Fortunately, Koosharem is just a quick drive up the hill to the famed Fish Lake, where a small window of open water was ripe for the picking.
Several small rainbows, a really ugly lake trout, and some tiny browns helped me redeem the day.
A forum buddy and his best friend Mark led me south to a small group of lakes where we hoped to find some nice splake and tiger trout. We brought float tubes, though we should have brought an auger.
We chipped holes in the ice with rocks instead of fishing other nearby water.
We were rewarded for our efforts.
Mark fared really well with the two big splake of the day.
The weather moved in and kicked out butts for awhile before we called it a day. The drive home was spectacular!
A quick stop at Millsite Reservoir on the way home only provided more weather.
In early April, my family and I took a trip to go and visit my cousin Aaron in Phoenix. With 10+ hours of driving between here and there, we had plenty of time to take in the vistas.
Lone Rock at Lake Powell:
Before too long, we were surrounded by palm trees!
Being a couple of music geeks, Aaron and I spent a lot of time nerding out in his mini studio.
That was awesome. The whole trip was a great experience for us. If only we had more time!
Back to Utah.
On Easter Sunday, a return trip was made to a place where I had caught my last tiger trout of 2013. The notorious wind made no exception for my visit and it was blowing into my face most of the while.
Not a small lake, I circled the entire shoreline, fishing all the way and it took me over 7 hours to finally catch my only fish of the day, a 19" tiger, from the spot where I started my day. Go figure.
But I did see the Easter Bunny:
A surprise during lunch break brought me a 4lb channel catfish. Didn't see that coming.
Word got to me about one of my favorite places having open water again and I marched through some deep snow to see for myself.
Good thing I did!
It was a really good day, but very cold and it snowed like crazy. Totally worth it.
Next up was a trip to Currant Creek Reservoir for some cutthroat, tiger trout, and rainbows.
My buddy Keala got a break from med school, allowing a trip home to Utah. We took a blind leap to a "hunch spot" of mine and ended up turning back due to nasty road conditions. Luckily, a stream ran parallel to the road we took and we salvaged the day with some beautiful cutthroat.
I enjoyed the stream so much that I returned the following week, after discovering that my hunch was on private land, behind a locked gate.
After those cutts, I thought it would be fun to stop by a small pond that I discovered the year before. Wild Bonneville cutthroat were the draw, but after my first or second cast, I caught something else instead.
What a treat!
By the end of May, I was really excited to get back to a place where the cutthroat spawn brings large fish in strong number to one general part of the lake.
The cutts do their business and the brookies are there waiting for the eggs. The fishing was actually pretty tough and it required a bit of focus to get anything going.
Eventually, I got my mojo flowing and the nice fish started noticing.
The lone brookie of the day:
The best part was when I reunited with a notable fish from the previous year, 51 weeks earlier.
My buddy J caught it last year, then I caught it about an hour later. Seeing it again this year was incredible.
Can't wait for the 2015 spawn!
Once access opened up in the Uintas, my family and I took a horrible road to a lake that treated me well a couple of years earlier.
The brookies were really nice for my first trip, but this one left me scratching my head. The fish were much more prolific and noticeably smaller, on average.
Throw in a broken rear window on my Rodeo and a forgotten set of fins and the trip was pretty much a wash, but at least I caught plenty of fish.
My next trip was to the Fish Lake Plateau with a fellow forum member. We spent all day chasing brookies. It was a lot of fun, though the big brookies eluded us.
The best fish of the day was pretty good for brookie standards, but I expected better from that hillside.
Still a fun trip though, and it was really good to check in on those spots again.
My boy and I took a Father and Son trip the next week and between Currant Creek and Strawberry Reservoirs, we did alright. Most importantly, he caught some fish on his own and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We had a great day.
My cousin from Phoenix made his way up to Utah for a few days and we were sure to get our hiking legs stretched out. We used to spend a lot of time hiking around the local canyons so it was good to get back.
With my cousin Aaron in town, news of our mutual friend Holdsworth moving back to Utah at the same time only meant that we'd all have to get out and camp somewhere.
I knew just the place.
It was a wonderful trip with my best friends.
With my cousin's time in Utah coming to a close, I dropped him off at the Provo Airport, fishing the river for a couple of hours afterward.
Somehow, I picked the right time and place because the walleye fishing was nuts!
Most were pretty good sized, but one beat them all.
That spot became a bit of an obsession for awhile after that and the walleye were nowhere to be found. Some other fish were able to keep me busy though.
Having Holdsworth back meant that the two of us could attack plenty of water for the rest of the year.
That we did, and it started with a trip to the Wasatch Plateau. We explored some unknown ponds that didn't hold fish, then got skunked at a fishy reservoir.
Fun trip, but it hurt to fare so poorly at new waters.
Strawberry Reservoir and then the river were my next targets.
A family camp out to Red Fleet State Park was long overdue and we obliged for a good time out east.
A new personal best largemouth was hanging out inside the cave.
Holdsworth and I revisited the spot we'd camped at with Aaron, earlier in the year. Previously, he didn't catch as many fish as he wanted, so we were hopeful of a better trip this time.
We were not disappointed.
First cast, a nice brookie:
Then a nice cutthroat:
Soon enough, he had a gorgeous male brookie, sporting some great color:
Eventually, I got my own as well.
Gorgeous fish from that lake.
Our next trip was an overnighter to Boulder Mountain. With so much potential on the mountain, it was very sad to have our plans washed away by crazy weather.
Still, we had a good time together. We checked out an old hunch (no fish), camped at over 11,000ft, and I ended up with a couple of nice browns on day 2.
Though most of our plans were ultimately amended, we still made the best of what we could. It was a good trip anyway.
Another couple of weeks with limited success passed before I took some solo time on a local stream. The fish cooperated and my hands were once again filled with thick bodies.
This one was a slob.
A much needed day!
Another camping trip was scheduled with my friend Keoni and his buddy. Again, the brookie/cutt spot would be the destination. Again, I met some sweet brookies.
We ended that trip with a hike to Aberdunk (Lake Louise). It's a placid spot that seems to only hold small fish, but it's a good hike and a gorgeous lake.
As autumn pressed on, a trip to Strawberry provided some nice kokanee from a shallow bay. The trout fishing was slow, but those kokes were fun for a bit.
A new lunch break spot has been really handy, offering plenty of chubs. They make excellent bait and are quick to take various offerings.
Other species are in the pond as well, which makes it really fun to whip a fly around for a half hour, most weekdays.
My family and I went to Electric Lake, with a quick stop at a great little creek on the way. The nice fish didn't come out to play this time, but some rainbows met me briefly.
E-Lake was slow and somewhat frustrating with line issues/breakage for my son and I. Fish were caught though.
A week later, Holdsworth and I went south for splake and tigers. Our first stop led us to some easy targets for fly training. He fly fished for the first time and caught a small rainbow, which was pretty neat.
The main destination was a blast of catching a ton of willing cutthroat, but the target species' were hard to come by. My best fish was a 19" tiger, no splake of any size.
The Provo River served well to tide me over on lunch breaks and on the way to another spot, that weekend.
The other spot was rainbow city.
I went back two more weeks in a row for more of that and on the last trip, a really nice brown ate a chub.
More lunch time activities:
As fall turned to winter, fishing tapered off a bit with all the holiday distraction. Quick trips were taken on occasion, mostly somewhat local.
Strawberry on Black Friday:
Holdsworth and I spent 5 total hours driving for about 90 minutes at Joe's Valley Reservoir. A few small splake were caught, but it was mostly just a way to kill an afternoon.
The last trip of 2014 was this last weekend, an ice fishing trip to a big tiger spot. It wasn't easy and the only big fish of the day made off with a spoon I was jigging with. It was fun to drill some holes though.
It's been a great year and I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for me.
Happy New Year!!!
Tuesday Photos -
5 hours ago