How great is summer in the mountains? The days are long and bright, wildflowers are everywhere, and the snowdrifts have melted. The high country is open for business! Since this year's summer officially began, no weekend has been wasted.
To start, my family and I met Holdsworth at Lake Mary, located within Brighton Ski Resort. The hike to the lake was a great way for us to get some exercise and the fishy water at its end was an added bonus to the incredible scenery.
Lake Mary is a popular spot for people to beat the heat of the valleys. Though there are large clear signs stating that swimming is prohibited (Salt Lake's drinking water), they are often disregarded and droves of people can be seen plummeting in from the steep cliffs around the lake. Those in waders are exempt.
It's kind of sad that fish, bird, and wild animal feces is considered okay, but human skin isn't. Frivolous regs in my opinion.
Check out this guy. He picks the highest available spot to jump and only misses the rocks below by a couple of feet, if that.
That's nuts! Looks like fun though. Rangers handed out a lot of tickets that day.
The fishing was decent, catching 8 brookies and some minnows with my trap. Killing and using those minnows, I tipped a 1/8oz white tube jig with a smaller one and bounced it along the bottom. Most of the brookies were 13-14", but one was a little bigger.
Pretty, at least.
We had a really good time. Sonia caught a fish too, so that's a plus. Holdsworth showed up later with his tube and we fished until sunset, hiking down later as a group.
During the week, the fam and I tackled some local scrambles in Provo Canyon, which led to some great places. One of those hikes was a lot steeper than I had anticipated, but Sonia and James were able to tough it out. Debbie did well too, but only if I held her hand. Gotta love it.
This "trail" is much steeper than it looks and it had a crumbly bottom. It was probably a mile of hiking, not accounting for the many steps that had to be repeated. No switchbacks, no flats, just UP.
We decided to quit climbing at a pretty overhang with seeps above and inside it.
Did I mention it was steep?
It was a really tough hike for all of us, but we pushed and made it happen. We got back to the car as the daylight faded, all agreeing that we'd earned some frozen treats for our efforts.
A couple of days later, I showed them a waterfall that my Dad first took me to when I was six years old. Having never taken my family, and given our newly developed appreciation for good hikes, it was definitely time to get up there.
A beautiful cascade with a great spring right next to it, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.
I remembered drinking from the falls with my Dad on that first trip. That being almost 30 years ago, much has changed and we didn't take any chances.
Along the left wall of that cove, the limestone releases wonderful water from an overhang lined with moss. The fresh spring water streams down long blades of grass and is safe to drink, as far as we can tell. We've gone up three times since, happily refilling bottles with the amazing earth juice.
The locals like to hang out there as well.
It's hard to beat that kind of refreshment on 100 degree days!
On Independence Day, Holdsworth and I got out for a half day excursion to a somewhat local pond and stream system. Having done quite well at the pond in the past, I was confident that Aaron would enjoy it for his first trip there.
Unfortunately, we got the skunk at the pond and hoped to salvage the day on the streams along the route home. The first stream held tiny cutthroat in beaver ponds and browns in the creek. This little squirt wanted a damselfly nymph.
Downstream, another stream flows in and I've always been able to catch decent fish nearby. This one put up a good fight.
Even farther downstream, the creek joins another couple to form a river. The river holds some pretty nice fish, but it isn't easy to catch them. The water clarity is usually an issue too, but it wasn't too bad on this visit.
Holdsworth and I did some careful wading to get across the large volume of water, searching for a good hole to fish. I got lucky and caught a long skinny brown but that was it for both of us.
Aaron and I got in a good float at Currant Creek Reservoir. Despite having our tubes, it was still a pretty slow day, only ending up with a handful of fish. Most were smaller than we'd have liked, but I did get one good tiger that went 22" and 3lbs.
Visiting the north end before we left, we found a couple of cutthroat in the shallows. Though the fishing could have been better, it's always nice to visit Currant Creek, hot or not.
A month in advance, my cousin Aaron (Phoenix) and I started planning a get-together, meeting somewhere in southern Utah. After some tough brain bashing, we decided to meet at Navajo Lake, near Cedar City. He was bringing his brother-in-law and I was bringing Holdsworth, of course.
Another camping trip with the Aarons was ready to unfold!
Making sure to stop at Cedar Breaks National Monument (over 10,400ft), we got some photos and finished the last little bit of our drive.
We arrived at the lake just after 11:00am and Aaron escorted us to the campsite he'd chosen (about a half mile north), where we setup before attempting to fish the lake.
Fishing from shore, we trapped some chub minnows and tried our best to find a big meat eater. This was not to be though, as our only catches were either chubs or tiny rainbows.
The wind continued to intensify and soon enough, we were getting some rain. Choosing to get rained on at camp, we bugged out and got a fire burning before the downpour hit. Waiting out the storm in Aaron's big tent, we ate dinner, popped some tops, and played our guitars until the strings popped. Good times!
Eventually, the rain cleared up, letting us enjoy the rest of our night outside. We had way too much fun and it was great to spend the time together. Aaron's brother-in-law, Jake, kept us all laughing the whole time and was good company.
In the morning, we broke down camp and got to the water. The weather was much nicer and wind wasn't an issue. Holdsworth and I searched for big fish on our tubes while Aaron and Jake fished along the dike.
Much like the day before, only small rainbows were showing up. Aaron and Jake needed to leave early in the afternoon for their 7 hour drive. It was really good to see my cousin again and to meet Jake.
Our campsite was in a gorgeous area among aspens and pines. For my first time staying in the area, I couldn't have been happier with our spot.
Along our drive home, Holdsworth and I chose to forego the faster I-15 route in order to hit some water along the way. Another rainstorm forced us to bypass Plan B and C, leaving us to fish a meandering stream in a neat canyon.
The fishing was also pretty slow in the creek, but a few mid-sized browns came to play.
Great looking water.
We got home late, beaten by a weekend with very little productivity in the way of fishing, but filled with enjoyment, regardless. Still a great trip.
With Holdsworth on a family trip to Yellowstone, I made plans to poke around a part of the Wasatch Plateau I'd seen very little of. The day before the adventure, I ran into my buddy J, who was free to come along. He even offered to drive, which would prove to be a good idea on a couple of roads we took.
Our first lake had been a big question mark of mine for a few years and shoving off in my tube, my wait was over!
What a great lake! For a water body with virtually no information available online, I was excited and hopeful to get some good fish.
We spent a bit of time on the water and caught some really pretty mid-range tigers. They looked pretty healthy, so we hoped some bigger fish were lurking.
At the top end of the lake, I saw a really nice fish, definitely over 20" and looking stout. It teased me for about 20 minutes, following me as I kicked around in my tube, only a few feet away. It's almost as if it knew I was trying to catch it and wanted to rub it in that I wasn't tricking it.
Eventually, I triggered a reaction from it, but failed on the hook set. *Slaps forehead* Such is fishing. It's a lovely lake anyway.
With more water on our agenda, lake #2 called and we were on our way. This was to be a rematch for the skunk I was served last summer.
Would you know it, this lake had my number, YET AGAIN! Even with a float tube at my disposal, the lake resisted, only taunting me with good sized fish occasionally rising, only feet away from me. J did just as well.
Gimme a break! Oh well. Next time, I'm hitting it as early as possible, with a full arsenal of bait and tackle. Round three will be mine.
Concluding that we should finish the day somewhere else, we were off to one of the highest fishable lakes on the mountain, where we'd hoped for some action at the very least.
J started hooking up with small rainbows almost instantly with his fly rod while I kicked out to see what I could pull up from the bottom.
First in line was an aggressive holdover rainbow that really put on a tug of war. I couldn't believe how hard it fought for its size.
A couple of others also came in before the bite shut off. They took to the air and showed us a good time while they were willing.
We couldn't have asked for a better spot to polish off a great day on the Manti. We both expressed an interest in camping with our families at that lake, remarking how beautiful it was and how much fun our kids would have.
Another great day in the high country passes to mark the end of summer's first month and I'm eagerly looking forward to the upcoming adventures in August.
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.