Howdy, folks! My last update left off with Holdsworth and I coming up short in an effort to find some big grayling in the Uintas.
The next week, we entertained a similar idea, checking on a hunch I had about a seldom-visited lake in the Whiterocks drainage, Cirque Lake. The lake had fascinated me since last year and I couldn't wait to go and catch huge grayling in it's cold waters.
A narrow two track road led us to a turn-off that marked where our hike was to start. The plan was to skirt the edge of the rock slides until we reached Rasmussen Lake #2, then continue farther up to Cirque.
The hike went pretty well and we enjoyed the scenery.
We had to get our fish catching mojo flowing, so we spent a little while casting into the shallow R2. After a couple of small brookies came to hand, we were at least feeling more positive about the odds of finding living fish up the hill.
From R2, we again followed the edge of the scree slope until a steep uphill section prompted us to cut through the forest using scattered meadows to arrive to the outlet of the lake. Cirque Falls is shown on some maps and we were sure to stop and admire the gentle cascade.
Finally, we made it to the Cirque Lake, resting in a cirque at nearly 10,700ft. The water was very off-color with a dirty grey tinge, which didn't look very inviting. When caught just right, the water can have a nice aquamarine color. Not on that day.
We didn't get to spend too much time on the water until a nasty looking storm system conquered our view, less than two hours into our float.
That's never good news, 2 miles from the car. The storm rushed in quickly and started dropping hail just as I was beaching my tube. The hail stones were slightly smaller than a dime, but they fell fast and hard for the entirety of our hike back to the truck.
So we never caught anything from Cirque Lake and didn't see any signs of life in approx 90 minutes of fishing the most logical areas with all sorts of gear/flies. I'm not saying that it's a dead lake, but having last been stocked in 2013 and being known for an occasional winter loss, it would surprise me if there are any fish still swimming.
Our next trip called for more high country, but in an area on our short list of places we hadn't yet visited in Utah. The mountain holds a few lakes, with one of them supposedly holding impressive tiger trout.
The fishing wasn't fast-paced at all, but a few fish were caught and all were decent fish. I could tell that some larger specimens exist. The ones we caught were nice enough though.
This one broke 20" and was a really good tussle on the fly rod.
At over 10,000ft, it was a pleasant place to spend a hot summer day. Pretty place.
Aaron made sure to wrap his hands around a handsome tiger after messing with several cutthroat.
We ended the day at a nearby lake that looked prime with all the surface activity, but we couldn't get anything to take. Both of us missed one bite, but couldn't get a hook set. The water clarity was rather low, but we expected to at least hold one of the cutthroat we kept seeing.
Another time, perhaps.
The next week, I didn't fish. That has been a recurring issue this year, since I had a lot of places on my hit list and never really got a chance to get to them when I wanted. Oh well, sometimes other things get in the way of fishing.
The next trip was a combo family/friend camping/fishing adventure. Aaron joined us for an overnight visit to a place where I first visited with my family, several years ago. Upon arrival to our first target water, we noticed a lack of suitable camping sites in the vicinity.
Having just driven for about 4 hours, we chose to deal with that later and got busy casting. Okay, Aaron got busy casting while I got busy readying several rods for my wife and kids.
Before I could even get my line wet, Aaron was ripping lips. The first couple were pretty fish, but no big deal. Soon enough though, he had a real freak on his line and I went over to help scoop it up for a better look.
Holy moly! Not a bad sized fish, but the color was amazing and THAT KYPE! What?
What a fish! I'll admit I was a bit jealous of that catch. Wow. Eventually I caught a tiger of my own, but it was nothing like Aaron's beast.
That's all I was able to trick, for some reason. Aaron made sure to keep catching more, including another colorful male with a mean kype.
Mercy. We took off to find a place to call home for the night and to see some more lakes. The area wasn't great for camping near water, but we eventually settled on a spot that only required a small amount of renovation in order to setup a couple of tents.
From there, it was a short hike to the nearest lake, where we all spent the rest of the evening fishing. The fish were happy to cooperate with all of us, including my kids.
James got several good bites and a couple of fish stayed on to fight for a moment before wriggling their way to freedom, although one wasn't so lucky.
Good job, Buddy.
Debra really surprised me with her casting ability and she even had a fish on for a little bit. Nothing actually made it to shore for her, but she still got to feel the tug for a moment and got in plenty of casting practice.
Sonia caught a small cutthroat before handing off her rod to one of the kids.
Aaron was done rooting out the hogs for the day, but he still caught a few fish from that lake, eventually catching every available species, as did I.
It was a fun trip. It's always a pleasure to go camping and having the family along was great.
The next week was another busy one that kept me away from fishing. Ouch.
My next opportunity was the following week and Aaron had stuff to do, so I went to a spot I hadn't seen since June. The fishing was quite slow for a few medium sized fish, but I missed bites from multiple big boys.
First catch was a small brookie:
A couple of decent cutthroat showed themselves as well.
I was really disappointed for missing the fish I did. Had I been able to set the hook, I may have broken my personal best brookie a couple of times. Sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles though.
At least I was able to clean up the place. I've now hauled two full bags of trash out of there this year. That has never really been an issue there, but some people that like Bud Light and Mt. Dew have taken a liking to the lake, it seems.
The next week, AGAIN, called for something other than fishing. Yes, I've had a hard time with this trend. Yes, I've been an ogre toward humanity lately. Luckily nobody got hurt.
Finally, Aaron and I got to fish again (September 30th now) and went right back to those cutts and brookies
The bigger fish evaded me again, but I got a pretty good brookie and some gorgeous cutthroat were happy to pose for us.
My colorful cutthroat actually blessed me with a really cool photo in the net.
Awesome. I was thrilled to get that one. Several other attempts were made to reproduce the neat reflection, but I was unable. It was a freak capture that I'm glad I was ready for at the time.
Aaron ended up catching a pretty male brookie.
With that, we called it a pretty good day and made plans for the next week. The idea was to fish a tricky place and hopefully to catch some beastly, well-fed fish, that Saturday.
Well, lo and behold, Friday night rolled around and I got a call from a very good friend who needed some emergency help moving a bunch of stuff the next day and he only had a few hours to access it.
The every-other week trend continues. (Facepalm)
Of course I agreed to help my friend and, lucky for him, so did Aaron, who brought his pickup truck. We got that handled and figured we'd fish on Sunday instead, but Aaron was feeling awful and so was my wife.
Fishing hit the shelf again, but it was for the best.
Fast-forward to this past week and we got to experience the always-productive fishing of October for the first time this year.
We got to the lake and saw both good and bad; the water level was right where we'd hoped it would be (concentrating the fish), but the wind was really roaring.
Having to forego the float tubes, we did our best from shore for about an hour before Aaron found what the fish wanted, catching a female tiger trout of about 20 inches. It didn't take much longer and I found myself running around the lake to catch a photo of a nice male tiger before he released it.
Wow! Gorgeous fish. After that one, I borrowed a couple of the tube jigs he was throwing and started hooking into my own tigers.
Nothing like the beautiful male he pulled in, but a 20" tiger is nothing to thumb your nose at. The next was quite nice, although the one handed angle isn't the most flattering for these fatties.
The hits just kept coming in. We were hooking and landing 3-4lb fish with the occasional hog over 5lbs. Just crazy!
This one was 5lbs, 5oz @ 23":
Aaron was just getting warmed up.
That was 5lbs, 13oz @ 25". Nice catch!
Eventually I got a big male too.
Then another big female:
So we were already spoiled stupid, considering a day on this lake usually yields one or two fish, but Aaron went and blew the lid off everything with the best catch of the day, possibly the most beautiful tiger trout most of us have ever seen.
What a beautiful tiger!!!
They just don't get much better than that! We didn't measure any of the males, but this was the biggest fish of the day by at least a pound. We're talking 7lbs+ territory. It was so tall and also quite wide. Had my gear been close, I would have been happy to get a weight on it, but in the best interest of the fish, it was released after some shutter snapping.
I'm still in awe. This last adventure is one of the better trips in my memory. We each caught at least three fish that weighed more than 5lbs. When does that happen?
Needless to say, we were overjoyed to have shared such a day in the high country. We drove home, smiling and giggling like little girls with a new pony.
The summer is well underway and all of the wonderful high country is open. I'd like nothing more than to report stellar fishing since my last update, but that wouldn't necessarily be true.
In fact, I've lost a few weekends to things that have nothing to do with fishing, all during this incredible time of year, when I should have my head in the clouds.
Regardless, I have been out a few times. For the last official week of spring, Holdsworth and our friend Serge joined me for a day on the Manti.
There was still a fair amount of snow in the higher reaches and I ended up helping someone get their truck pulled out of a large snowbank that they tried to power through. That put a dent in my fishing time but I was glad to be able to help. I've been stuck before.
Once I was actually fishing, things were slow after a couple of good brookies from shore.
On the tube, it took quite awhile to find willing fish. A few were caught, but it wasn't fast fishing.
The fish I caught were pretty nice though. All brookies, all over 16".
On our way out of that area, we stopped at another pond along the way, hoping to catch a few tiger trout. A couple of small ones came in for myself and Aaron while Serge kept trying.
The shoreline had a lot of grass extending out a few feet into the lake. Still wearing my waders, I carefully moved closer to the edge of the grass and dangled my jig straight down, only to watch it vanish in a flash of gold.
What a fun little ride that was! Catching nice fish at my feet is something I can really tap a toe to.
Right after my nice tiger, and just before we left, Serge caught his very first tiger trout. Way to go, Serge!
For my next trip, the first official trip of summer, my family was in need of a getaway. We collected Aaron, our camping gear, and set our course for the mountains of central Utah.
At my family's request, we chose a lake with a lot of nice campsites close to the water. One of the first spots that popped into my head was Pete's Hole Reservoir, which I hadn't visited for 9 years.
We had many sites to choose from and eventually settled on a perfect spot with a nice, flat area, great fire pit, and lots of shade. This spot was just beyond vehicle access, but the privacy was worth the extra walking to bring the gear over.
After camp was set up, Aaron and I hit the lake for a couple of hours, where we caught plenty of small tiger trout and sickly little rainbows with no fins. The fish were not overly exciting, but it was fun to have a leisurely float on a peaceful lake.
The next day, we thought it would be fun to walk the trail to Academy Mill Reservoir, only a gentle mile away. Along the route, Aaron and I stopped to explore some beaver ponds that looked fishy. My wife and kids waited under the shade of a large tree in a meadow, next to the trail.
The ponds weren't very fishy, but Aaron was able to trick a wild cutthroat right away.
We fished a few other ponds up that hillside, but didn't find anything right away and didn't want to keep my family waiting.
Once we'd arrived at Academy Mill, we saw plenty of surface activity and got busy casting jigs. Pretty little spot.
Jigs were being followed and nipped at, but we weren't getting many hookups from shore. Sonia actually caught the first fish with a silver Vibrax.
Aaron and I found a lot more success once we'd gotten out in our tubes. A couple of spots on the lake were very productive for 12" tigers and a couple of cutthroat.
To our surprise, Aaron hooked a nice tiger along the back edge of the lake and it fought like crazy for a couple of minutes before escaping, right at his tube. Definitely over 20", he was sure. Bummer.
The best I could do thus far was a healthy 15" tiger.
After some time on the water, I kicked my way up into the inlet area and noted a couple of decent fish spooking as I drifted over them.
A good cast against a log farther up brought a quick slam on my jig, which led to a great fight. A larger tiger of 20" filled my hand briefly before flipping itself back into the water.
Nice fish! I was glad to see anything of size in Academy Mill.
With my family's patience running out, it was time to head back home. We decided to abandon the route we'd come in from (through Price) and took the over-the-top route home instead (up and over, then through Ephraim).
Seely Creek looked prime as we ascended Hwy 29, but I didn't stop to fish any of the holes. We settled instead for views of pretty waterfalls and wildflowers in the meadows on top.
It was great to get my family up into the mountains for a camping trip again. This was only our second time ever, normally camping in the desert a few times per year. We'll need to do the mountain family camp out more often.
The first day of July seemed like a great time to go and visit the Boulder Top, where Aaron and I spent a lot of time driving for very little in return from the fish.
Our first lake was a total bust. No bites, no bumps, no nada! We floated for about 2 hours and saw fish, but couldn't get them to eat anything. That was kind of sad for me, as I have only fished that lake twice, still having never caught a fish from it.
Once we'd had enough of the first lake, we endured some very slow fishing in another area, where I was lucky to coerce a grayling to bite a fly, then a couple of small brookies later.
Aaron did a little better than I did for the brookies, but it was somewhat of a disappointment for both of us, I think. Still, a day spent on Boulder is better than a day spent somewhere else, most times. The sky gave us the best rewards, that day.
The next week, Aaron and I decided to camp on Boulder, at a lake neither of us had ever been to. Access required some hiking, via one of several routes to the lake. Before any of that, I needed to satisfy my curiosity about a puddle that normally gets driven by instead of fished.
Though I'm sure larger fish inhabit the lake, getting to them would require floating. With other water on our minds, we fished from shore for a short while and caught a few small brookies.
For our main destination, we chose to take the shortest route to the lake, which also had the least amount of elevation change. Little did we know, that meant 2 of the longest miles my Rodeo has ever had to endure.
Seeing a sight like this is worth some effort, but I'm don't think I'll ever take that "road" again. I've taken some awful roads, especially in the Uintas and on Boulder Mountain, but that one holds the title for the absolute worst I've ever driven.
I'm lucky I still have my Rodeo. Seriously. We had to get out multiple times and make ramps out of rocks so that we could even make it up some of the obstacles.
Most of that two miles was spent wincing in anticipation that I would bottom out and get stuck or that my front end would blow apart. Neither ever happened, but that was more luck than skill. Wow. I still ended up with a deep groove etched along my passenger side as I squeaked by a narrow spot with a fallen tree in the way. Oops.
If anything, the Rodeo is capable of some crazy crawling. Someone with a healthier state of mind would have probably turned back after the first obstacle.
I'm not that someone.
The Rodeo's sole mission is to get me to the water, wherever that may be. Mission complete.
We made it to the parking spot and geared up for our two mile hike, which seemed a bit longer with full packs and floating gear.
The real kicker was the thick blanket of mosquitoes covering us the whole time. They were relentless! I'm usually not on their menu (especially when Aaron's around LOL), but they feasted on both of us throughout our adventure.
After the hike, we setup camp and hit the water! Floating was great because the mosquitoes weren't as interested in us while we were on the lake.
The fishing wasn't easy and the fish weren't especially large, but some healthy brookies were caught and we had a good time in the cold, deep water.
Night fell and we enjoyed a freshly caught brookie and some freeze dried food before retiring.
When morning broke, Aaron had some luck right away, catching several brookies from shore.
That one may have been the best of the trip for either of us.
My luck was somewhat different, only catching one from that lake, before we decided to check another water that was somewhat close by.
The other water was a small weedy pond with colorful tiger trout in it.
It rained quite hard on us when we arrived and I wasn't sure I'd even fish, but the shower let up eventually and I got to cast for a bit.
Aaron also got big fish honors in the tiny pond, with a decent catch.
Those colors though!
We endured more mosquito hell as we hiked back to the Rodeo, where we then endured more road hell to get down the mountain. The ride down was every bit as bad as the ride up, requiring more rock stacking and road rebuilding.
Along the journey, I had my head out the window so I could watch my tire in a sketchy spot that was stacked up with smaller rocks. While slowly rolling onto that ramp, I heard a loud crash, followed by a cracking sound.
As soon as I could safely put it in park, I jumped out and saw that I had speared my passenger side headlight assembly with the pointy end of a fallen tree that neither of us noticed as I approached.
The bulb was still intact, but the glass was gone. More cosmetic damage on the passenger side for the Rodeo.
It'll wear it like a badge of honor.
We sat out the next week to give my truck and our wallets a break. When it was time to fish again, we set off to find big tiger trout in a fickle pond in central Utah.
The fishing was slow, yet again, and any action was something to be grateful for. One fish decided to play with me within the first hour or two. It was a good fish, but still "small" compared to what I was hoping to find.
By all means, a nice fish anyway. Nice looking too!
Quite awhile went by before I found two smaller fish in consecutive casts, then another long period of nothing.
Eventually, I beached the tube and reverted back to shore fishing, when I caught another good sized tiger.
They do grow nicely. Better than that, even. I'll have to wait until next time to hopefully see the bigger ones.
Aaron almost got skunked, but finally hooked into one, shortly before we left.
Perhaps next time I'll hit it just right and find the real hogs.
On our way home, we made a side trip to explore a canyon I'd never been on the top end of. It was beautiful and we even stopped to fish a small pond I've known about for many years.
Named "Brad's Secret", the beautiful little pond has one deep hole with the rest being shallow and weedy.
Small brookies were available and biting on most casts.
Lot's of fun. I was glad to finally see that side of Six Mile Canyon and to fish at least one of the little ponds in the area. Beautiful country.
The next week was one I skipped, due to a big step I took in my personal life; I quit smoking. Maybe I shouldn't say I quit, but I started my resistance.
Going fishing is often seen as a relaxing way to pass that time and could easily be mistaken as therapeutic during tobacco cessation. That would be a bad assumption in my case. Fishing and long drives are two of my biggest triggers, so it was best to just take it easy at home and try not to freak my family out too much.
My wife and kids were great and, to date, I still haven't had one. Resisting is working so far.
This past week, I did fish and I did take a long drive. The "trigger challenge" was on and I stayed strong throughout. Good for me. This report isn't about me though, it's about fishing!
The long drive into the Uintas on a crummy back road took about 4 hours to complete, then we made a steep descent on foot in order to reach our destination, where we hoped to find nice grayling.
The road had plenty of bad spots and was slow going, but the views were incredible.
We arrived to the lake and readied our tubes. Nothing would stop us.
Actually, we were stopped by what we believe to be a dead lake. No signs of life anywhere to be found. The clear water allowed us to see the bottom throughout the lake and no fish were seen at any point. No surface activity either. The only life I saw in the lake was a really big leech and a few bugs along the shoreline. Bummer!
We ended up hiking another half mile to a nearby lake to salvage the day. The other lake was slow, but I managed to catch a mid-sized brookie and Aaron caught two of them.
Part of exploration is the chance of failure, right? We'll just keep it up and hopefully some treasures are discovered along the way.
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.