Welcome to the Utah Water Log. Join me as I travel across the picturesque state of Utah in search of great fishing and a chance to take in the beauty that can be found along the way.
Summer Slumps into a Fantastic Fall
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.
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.