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8/11/17

Summertime Fishing

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.

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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.

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On the tube, it took quite awhile to find willing fish.  A few were caught, but it wasn't fast fishing.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The other water was a small weedy pond with colorful tiger trout in it.

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Very colorful.

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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.

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Those colors though!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Perhaps next time I'll hit it just right and find the real hogs.

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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.

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Named "Brad's Secret", the beautiful little pond has one deep hole with the rest being shallow and weedy.

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Small brookies were available and biting on most casts.

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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.

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We arrived to the lake and readied our tubes.  Nothing would stop us.

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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.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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6/8/17

Waiting for the High Country

Hello everybody.  The weather has allowed the north to remain in a half-winter state so far this year.  It's very strange to think that lakes in the 9000's are still holding ice up here.

Meanwhile, I've stayed busy in the south, where it's mostly open water and access opens up more every week.

For starters, some water I'd never explored opened up in April and I was happy to poke around that hillside with Aaron.

We stopped for a bit at a lower lake, where Aaron picked up a good sized brookie.

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Then we marched on for some scrappy tiger trout.

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Most were just medium sized fish, but a few were in the upper teens in length.

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In one pond, I managed to float over the top of a really nice tiger over 20 inches, then I hooked another one about the same size that fought its way off the hook.  Wish I could have those back.

Still, it was a fun trip and any time I get to fish "new" water, I'm happy.

After that trip, the next was a march through snow with both Aaron and my wife, who was happy to come along.

The fishing wasn't great though.  I caught four fish all day while Aaron and my wife got the skunk.  A couple of brookies came in and two cutthroat as well, one on the fly.

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All in all, a fun day, although I never like it when my fishing partners get skunked.  Such is fishing though.

The next weekend, I had a solo day to go and check out some water I hadn't visited in awhile.  First stop was a small pond where I've historically had slow fishing, but some quality fish.

Upon arrival, I cringed to see the water in its chocolate runoff state.  Having already made the trip, it seemed necessary to at least cast for a bit to see if anything could be coerced into biting.

Turns out, a nice cutthroat decided to play after all!

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(That grass was wet - partially submerged)

More casting was answered with nothing, so I left to check some moving water, up another canyon.  Much like my pond, the creek was swollen, brown, and really moving quickly.

I decided to stick it out like I did at the pond, but it wasn't long before I realized that I couldn't even wade in the raging current, nor could I present anything effectively.  Call it a wash!

Literally.

So the one fish of the day was still pretty cool to end up with, considering the conditions.

The next trip was a long day trip to the south, with Aaron and our friend Serge coming along as well.  Our target destination has a specific area where the fishing is much more productive than the rest of the lake and we were a little put off to find 5 tubes already in the spot when we arrived (they had camped).

Regardless, the folks that beat us to the water were quite friendly and welcomed us to join them for some slow fishing.  That's a plus.

The fishing wasn't spectacular, but occasionally one would give us a bite.  Serge had joined us in the past and wasn't always very focused on the fishing, but this time he was equipped with a brand new float tube and got to experience that for the first time.

He was actually the first one to catch a fish and continued to catch several more throughout the day, which we were all happy to see.  His first brookie ever ended up being the fish of the day.

I also had slower fishing, but still got four on the day, this being the heaviest:

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Quite the shape on that one.  We hoped for bigger, but it was nice to get down and float a southern lake.

The next week, Aaron and I went to Currant Creek Reservoir to hopefully find some nice tiger trout.  Starting near the inlet, the water was a bit too murky to keep fishing.  The wind was blowing pretty hard as well, so floating was out the window.

We ended up at the dam and fished fruitlessly for quite some time.  A small cutthroat came to hand eventually, but we kept casting away in all directions, hoping for a bruiser.

Finally, after thoughts of leaving invaded my mind, a firm take pulled my rod into a steep arch while I fought a pretty nice tiger in.

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4lbs, 8oz @ 23.5" - That'll do.

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It was barfing minnows out of its mouth the whole time I handled it.  Kinda funny.  I wonder if it would've broken 5lbs had it kept its lunch...

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Really needed that, especially after such a grueling day.

For my next trip, I met up with some web buddies from out of state for some southern Utah fishing.  We got right to work and they ended up doing pretty well.  The Smokin Jigz plastics they were throwing were doing a good job on the wary cutthroat and even a nice brookie.

Everyone caught fish and had a good time.

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Purple.

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Fish of the day was a 22" cutthroat, though several larger fish escaped after a few head shakes.

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Quality fish were met by all and it was a good day.  It was especially nice to fish with a group of good guys that know what they're doing.  We'd been talking about it for awhile.

The past week, my cousin from Phoenix (another Aaron) made plans to come home to Utah for a spell.  He came up on Wednesday to meet Holdsworth for a couple of days of camping/fishing, then they met up with me on Saturday for more fishing.

Their camp out went especially well for Holdsworth, but we'll get to that in a bit.  Our trip on Saturday was also pretty fun.

I'd been hunching on a little lake that I believed to be "under the radar" and a potential sleeper, so we hiked about three miles to go and check.

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As we approached the small shallow lake, we noted many rise forms, hinting that the lake would be full of small fish in numbers.

That observation was correct.

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Having just lugged all of our gear there, we decided to stay for about 45-60 minutes to enjoy the fast action, but ultimately knew we'd leave to fish some more exciting water, somewhat close by.

That, we did.

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Holdsworth and I pulled in quite a few feisty brookies from our tubes, but the shore fishing wasn't as good for PHX.  He ended up with a couple to hand, but most of the action was in the deeper water that we could reach.

Now let's go back to the Aarons' camping trip.  Holdsworth met PHX down south, mid-week, and they setup shop at a tiger trout lake.  The tiger fishing was slow, but they both got into a few good fish of almost 4lbs.

Holdsworth took the big fish honors though, as he found his jig in the mouth of a real beast tiger that took him for a thrill ride from shore.  He was lucky to land it without help!

I learned of this by way of text message that afternoon, while at work, of all places.  Having two more days of work in front of me after seeing the photo they sent me was pure torture.

The monster was 27.5" long and weighed 7.8lbs!  Holy crap!

All I can say is CONGRATULATIONS, buddy!  What a pig!

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As more great water and access to it opens up, we should see some more excellent fish this year, however that one may be tough to beat.  This late winter up north is crazy!  It's June and a lake here in Utah County sitting at only 9000ft still had ice on it yesterday when the Aarons hiked to it.

The Uintas are still in Christmas Town in most places.  It's warming up significantly now though.  It shouldn't be but a couple of weeks until we can play in them thar hills.  Looking forward to it!

Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...

WHY FISH?

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.