The plan was to get to a parking area early and take a hike through some potentially deep snow. Holdsworth and I deliberated whether to bring either an auger or a float tube. We decided to go without either and probe from shore if there was enough open water. The lake sits at over 8700ft, so it really was a crap shoot as to what we would find, if we even made it.
As we got closer to the parking area, we talked about how nice and clear the road was. I recall mentioning that we could find a snowdrift around the next bend and, of course, we did. Forced to park early meant more distance on foot, but it was only another quarter mile or so. Not bad.
The hike led us into an aspen forest with a pretty good layer of snow covering the ground. Being a crisp morning, the snow was strong enough to hold us up, mostly. We both poked through a bit and in some areas, every step. Having to pull out of one post hole and sink right back down in two feet of snow again was exhausting.
We both knew the hike back in the afternoon on such a sunny day would be miserable. We figured it would be worth the effort and pressed on.
Normally a 25 minute stroll, the hike took us over an hour. Our first glimpse of the lake showed only ice from our vantage point and we crossed our fingers while moving in for a better look.
What a relief! Pretty good timing too. It was satisfying to see that my hunch was right, especially after all the work we'd put into it.
Sadly, the fish were hard to motivate. There was only one spot where I caught fish and they were all very small.
Some bigger fish were on the line briefly, but I didn't have the magic touch that day and they shook off. Aaron got skunked.
As we left, we noted how much the ice had faded throughout the day. I would say about 20% of the ice melted. The temperatures were in the mid 60's, which was pleasant, but it would also be our undoing...
The hike out was a tribute to brutality. What a soggy mess that was! It took us almost two hours and completely kicked our butts. We'll consider it training though. We need to be in top form for this year's upcoming hikes.
The two of us tried our hand at some of Strawberry's ice-free bays. The first spot was a total bust, leaving both of us with a bit less gear and no fish to hand. Not only did we get skunked, but we ate up a lot of time marching back to it.
We chose to make our way to the river, likely stopping at another bay on our way. The bay was open and mostly unoccupied by others, so we obliged. It chewed up another couple of hours, but I found out what the small rainbows in the area liked and caught several of those. Holdsworth brought in a couple of slot-sized cutts.
The remaining daylight was focused on the river and we both caught a few fish using jigs. Aaron got a pretty good brown after awhile.
Then a tail-walking female entertained me for a moment.
And then we found some brookies as the light faded.
It was another day of more work than fish, but we still enjoyed ourselves and it's always great to breathe fresh air.
My family and I met up with Holdsworth at Currant Creek Reservoir, where he'd gotten quite a few small rainbows by the time we showed up. After getting everyone's gear set up, I threw out my little girl's worm/bubble rig and hung a bell on it.
A few minutes later, the bell started ringing. Debbie followed my instructions, set the hook, and fought her fish to shore. Expecting a dink rainbow, I didn't realize why she took so long to get it in until I grabbed it.
What a pretty rainbow! Not only pretty but it taped at 19". Not bad for a 6 year old girl. In fact, it was the fish of the day. My wife caught a long but slender cutthroat and my boy got a small rainbow as well. I also got some action from mostly smaller fish.
In search of big tigers, Aaron and I moved to a spot where I've always hooked into nice fish. Somehow, most of the fish I'd ever battled in that area were able to shake free though.
Within a few casts of getting to the spot, I was bent on a strong tiger trout of at least 22". In tradition of my previous experiences there, the tiger came unbuttoned close to shore and swam free, throwing my jig back at me. Ugh! Foiled again!
Aaron and I both caught some much smaller tigers and a few cutts and bows before heading back to the cars and calling it a day.
April 16 (Lunch)
A big channel cat decided to eat a Gulp leech on lunch break the other day. It put up a pretty intense battle that several people in the surrounding traffic noticed. It's always fun to pull up a hefty catch in front of passers-by.
Yesterday, Holdsworth and I took a long drive through the desert on the way to some southern water to float. Having purchased replacement bladders for my old tube, Aaron is now officially buoyant!
The drive was the best part.
What better place to be photographed in sweatpants?
I think we need to change his name to "Hairon" now.
Beautiful places required quick stops to scramble around and take in the amazing landscapes surrounding us.
Can you spot the Sentra? We are so small in this big beautiful world.
A solitary wildflower stood out against the surrounding dirt and rocks.
It chose a nice place to take root.
Eventually, we actually found water enjoyed our first float together. The fish were pretty and cooperative, although a bit on the small side for me.
Aaron caught a nice cutthroat and a pretty good brookie among smaller cutts and rainbows. We left for another lake to finish off our day, hoping for larger versions of the fish we were already catching.
It wasn't long before I was hooked up with a colorful brookie. It's nice to see brookies again.
And then a longer female:
Aaron did alright for small fish and actually ended up doing better at the first lake. He was still catching fish somewhat regularly though and that's always welcome.
The rainbows in lake #2 were a bit bigger and packed a punch when hooked.
But those brookies...
We enjoyed our float and it was great to see Aaron on his own tube now. A breezy day, it was good practice for him.
The drive home required a quick detour to sneak a peek at some of what Capitol Reef holds.
I really love being in the desert.
As the sun drew closer to the horizon, we basked in the last remaining beams of the day's glorious light.
Happy Fishing, Humans.