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6/7/18

This Will Be Hard To Beat

Saturday had a plan.  Holdsworth and I were supposed to drive for over three hours, then hike for at least another with our tubes.  Our hopes were to find big brookies in a new (to us) water.

The information I recalled indicated that the fishing at this lake was similar to another on the same mountain, but with better fish.  We each did our homework and carefully planned our approach, even going as far as making plans to meet up with someone else while out there.

It wasn't until late Friday that I received more current info from last year, stating that the fish were mostly small runts.  We didn't want to put in all that effort to be disappointed, so both parties agreed to do their own thing and hope to run into each other the next day.

Saturday morning came nice and early.  Aaron and I got ourselves on the road a little bit earlier than normal and were able to get to our targeted area before too long.  My thoughts were of a different lake in the region initially but as we got closer to another, it was decided to go for it, where we ended up.  Something about the water just "called to us".

My anticipation grew as I readied my gear on the shoreline, preparing to float.  Just for fun, I grabbed my fly rod that was already rigged with a Frankenstein Sculpin pattern from Fly Fish Food and tossed out a cast into the deepest water I could reach in the shallow puddle.

A few quick strips along the bottom and I felt the fly stop abruptly, followed by a hard shake, a flash in the water, then nothing.  Broken leader!

I should have tied on a fresh one prior to starting.  Oh well.  A new 10ft section of mono was tied on and a new fly.  This time, an olive Sculpinator from the same shop was selected.  Once that was tied on, I got on the tube and headed out for deeper water.

It wasn't long before I had another fish hit and I knew immediately that I wasn't messing with a chump.  It was pretty far away when it bit, so I had to work it for quite awhile to gain any line back.

The battle went on for several minutes and my forearm was really feeling the burn.  The fish on the other end still had a lot of fight left and had taken some strong runs, peeling out drag from the reel.

Letting the rod do the fighting, I reeled in the slack and finally noticed some fatigue in the massive tiger.  My rod is 9ft long, but the leader was a tad longer, plus I didn't want to let the connecting knot where the leader met the fly line get into the guides, just in case Murphy was hanging around.

This meant I was high sticking, but still couldn't reach the fish effectively.  No net either.

Eventually, I worked it out to where I leaned way back and had the fish basically swim up onto my legs, then a quick toss from the legs to the lap, then a bear hug, of sorts.  The beast was landed!

When the dust settled, I was happy to hoist my prize up for a few snaps and measurements.

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What a monster!  7lbs, 10oz @ 27 inches!  A new personal best for me and somehow it came to me on the fly rod!

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What?  I really didn't expect that to happen.

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Shortly after, I started throwing jigs on my spinning rod.  It didn't take long to hook up with another fish, though this one was much smaller, at only 20" and pushing 3lbs.

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Gotta love it when that's a smaller fish.

Again with the jig, I had another good fish on the line, this time a 4lbs, 3oz tiger with an attitude.

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The day was rolling out nicely already and I couldn't imagine it getting any better, but then it did and I hooked into another beast that like that marabou jig I was throwing.

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Another great fish at 6lbs, 9oz.  That one would have beaten my former best trout, had I not caught her big sister earlier.  I got a video of this catch.  Notice how I had gotten better at landing big fish with no net.



Somebody pinch me.

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Meanwhile, Aaron's only action so far was taking pics of my monster.  I felt bad for him and hoped he'd get his bruiser soon.  Strange how the fish gods can shine a light on someone some days, while totally snubbing another.

To make matters worse, I hooked yet another pig tiger trout.  Another large female.

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I got a video of the release of this one.



Ridiculous!  Cloud 9 was hardly visible from where I was sitting.

Switching back to the fly rod, I ended up breaking off again on another nice fish.  Another great fly was gone, but I still had one more Sculpinator.

Throwing that around, I connected with the smallest fish of the day.  That didn't stop it from putting up a great fight (or maybe my forearm was still worked from the hog) and as I brought it to hand, I realized that there was something a little extra "special" about this fish.


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So how about that for a productive fishery?  Even fish that can't close their mouths can grow to a healthy 20" by swimming around with their mouths open.  Must be because of these:

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Definitely because of those.

One last good fish gave me another battle before my day was done and I was happy to finally land a solid rainbow from there, which had eluded me on former trips.

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Looks like this one only has one good eye.

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We stayed for awhile longer, praying for Aaron to get some action, but it just wasn't meant to be.  He was obviously happy for me, but I'm sure that burns.  The poor guy had to watch me battle monsters all day, only to come up empty-handed.

It happens.  Next time, it's his turn.

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Happy Fishing, Humans.

5/28/18

Stomping the High Country

As the year presses on, more of the high country is opening up and I'm having a good time putting miles on my boots.

Before the hiking adventures began, a quick trip to Currant Creek Reservoir with Holdsworth provided some diversion and a few fish.

Here's Aaron with a decent rainbow:




Then he got a really good tiger:

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My own luck was only good for small tigers and a mid-sized cutthroat:

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Still a fun day though.  Currant Creek is a solid fishery and it's only a matter of time before I catch another lunker tiger trout there.

The next week, we found our way south, to a small lake at the end of a bad road.

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A bit of casting was required before I was able to pull anything in, but eventually something held on.  A stout brookie filled my hand after a brief battle:

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We kept after it for awhile, enduring plenty of rain and a quick snow storm before deciding to relocate.  Curiosity led us on a short hike, where we investigated a small lake in a meadow.

Turns out, it was hardly more than wet grass and there were no fish to be had.

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Ditching that spot, we thought we'd check in on a lake that I haven't seen in 5 or 6 years.  The road, unfortunately, was far worse than I remembered and I chose to keep my truck alive by turning around.  It wasn't worth damaging my truck or taking the time to build ramps, so we left to fish an easy spot on our way out of town.

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I'd never fished it, so it was worth checking another one off the list, even though it was all smaller fish.

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Still pretty fun, even with the clouds of gnats that were so thick, we had no choice but to breathe them.

Our next trip was a camping to the south.  We drove longer than usual and then embarked on a hike for a couple of miles before setting up camp.

The fishing was okay.  My action was pretty slow, but I still ended up with about 6 fish and as many missed bites before day one was over.

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There were no hogs to be caught that day, but we had a good time trying.  It actually snowed a few times that night and we woke up to a layer of ice on the tent and a skiff of snow dusting most surfaces.

That melted quickly, leaving us with a calm lake, topped with mist.

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The early bite looked promising, but we weren't rooting out any big fish.  One guy showed up with his son and they were able to hook a monster on the third cast.  Good for them, but I wished they would have kept out of my casting area, as they caught my line and messed up a good presentation I was working.  Meh.

We decided to use the rest of the day to explore a whole basin of water we'd never seen, so we hiked back down and got ready for the next leg of our adventure.

Our first lake looked promising and I was quick to catch a small rainbow near a beaver lodge.  Shortly after, Aaron caught a brookie.

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Continuing to work the beaver lodge, I found a deeper hole and fished a good brookie out of it.

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With a mix of rain and snow falling, I talked Aaron into hiking to another lake, then another, and so on, until we'd actually done the entire loop.  We caught fish in all lakes except for the top lake, which was super shallow and the tiny inhabitants didn't make us want to spend any length of time trying for them with jigs.

Had we hiked our fly rods, there may have been more desire to fish them.  Here are a few pics from our hike:

This lake was actually really fun to fish.  A variety of species swam the water and some were kind of impressive.

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The next lake was mostly quite shallow and there were some dead brookies on the shoreline, suggesting some winter kill.  We didn't think there would be any alive until we saw a splash, then walked around to find a better spot to cast from.  Bingo.

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Looks like the kill didn't get them all.  We went off trail for the next lake, following the stream.  One branch of the stream led us to a steep hill, where the stream emerged from a spring.  Saw some pretty stuff that most people don't get to see along the way.

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We followed it up and arrived at our next lake:

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This lake was pretty large in surface area, but very shallow and the marshy grasses around the shoreline tried to eat me.  It's a scary bog to try and wade through.  I was swallowed up to my waist and had a hard time getting out of the muck.

Finally around the lake, to a rocky area where the only depth can be found, I saw some small fish and even caught one.  My assessment:  This lake is not worth the fishing, unless you're just checking off unseen lakes like we were.

We noticed a trail that continued uphill, to the highest lake in this chain, where we were met with this sight:

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If the last lake was too shallow, this was just ridiculous.  The tiny fish could be seen darting from the cover of one mat of algae to the next as we walked around the lake.

As pretty as the area was, those last two lakes were not worth fishing.  A few casts were made into that last lake, but without flies, all we could catch was slime.  Not catching anything didn't hurt my feelings at all and we left to see one more lake along this loop.

The trial wrapped around to one more shallow lake in a very grassy area.  Luckily, the grass was suitable to walk on without being swallowed.

We didn't want to walk around to a better casting area, as we were just passing through, but I tossed out a couple of casts anyway and actually ended up catching a 12" brookie.  That wasn't expected, but welcome.

With that, we found our way back to our starting point, a little bit tired, but the weather had improved and we took off to check out one last lake for our trip.  At this last lake, I didn't expect much, but we stopped to cast for a few minutes anyway.

Within the first couple of casts, Aaron said he felt a bite.  The next cast proved him right and we were both surprised to see a pretty good sized brookie filling his hands.

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Wow!  We really didn't expect that.  In fact, I thought we were in hatchery rainbow territory with a possible side of tiger or brown trout.  Seeing a nice brookie was beyond our expectations and really topped off our trip nicely.

Aaron only got that one and another, but I caught several in our 20 minute stop.  Quality fish in unexpected places are happily welcomed.

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So that was it for our camp out.  The first day was fun and we caught some decent fish.  We endured snow and other stormy weather on both days, but being equipped with the proper gear, the weather was hardly noticed.

We visited 8 lakes on day 2, for a total of 9 different lakes on the trip.  It was an excellent time.
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Memorial Weekend:

About two months ago, I planned a day off for the last Friday of May.  This was a day to get out with my friend and research partner, Keoni.  Keoni is a very busy guy, juggling a family and several careers' worth of work for BYU, as a Professor of Life Sciences and one of the world's leading experts in the field of Alzheimer's Disease as it relates to genetics.

Finding time to fish is rare, outside of his work-related travels, so planning a couple of months ahead was a good move.

It was decided that we'd share a day at one of my all-time favorite places, during my favorite time of year to visit, trying for my two favorite species of fish.  Sounds fun, right?

We wasted no time and were quick to present our offerings to the many beautiful fish we could see in front of us.  The main point was to find and catch big brookies, but the Bonneville Cutthroat are actually the biggest and most colorful fish in the lake, so getting some photos of those in their most vibrant time of year was also welcome.

Here's the first cutthroat of note, to meet my hand:

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There were actually a lot of cutthroat present and getting our flies and jigs past them was difficult.  No complaints here.

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(Pardon the squeeze.  She was pretty hollow, so please trust that I wasn't wrenching her very hard; that's just the way her belly rolled over my hand.)

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Keoni was catching some fish too, including a fat brookie on his Tenkara!  While "helping" to get the brookie landed, I grabbed the line at the wrong time and it snapped at the knot, freeing the fish.  I felt awful and should have let him handle his fish and his 13ft rod on his own. LOL

Plenty more fish were caught while trying for other brookies.

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Some tense moments were had, as I hooked what may be the largest brookie I've ever seen TWICE, only to have it straighten one hook and steal another.  I may have screamed in emotional agony over that one.  It was huge.  It was either the biggest or the 2nd biggest I've ever seen.  Kills me.  Oh well!

I caught it's buddy though.

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That was no small fish, so it offered a little bit of consolation.  I'll see that one when it's as big as its friend, I hope.

Wanting to poke around at other parts of the lake, I got out on my tube and got to work.  Normally, I cast jigs at the lake, but for some reason, I felt as though I needed to embarrass myself on the fly rod to start things off.

Surely I did that, casting wildly and fighting a breeze, but I eventually got a few to lay out nicely.  My bug of choice was a big olive Frankenstein Sculpin from Fly Fish Food.  For some reason, I was really feeling this fly and knew it would produce.

Being a mediocre fly angler (at best), I don't tie and have always used cheap, mass-produced bugs from the local sporting goods/outdoor store.  It has been a real treat to use quality flies lately, having visited Cheech and Curtis at the shop in north Orem and bought a handful of their goods from them.

It's been a real eye-opener to see the difference in quality, and seeing the results on the end of my line as well.  Be sure to give these guys a visit, either online or in person.  Serious workmanship in these flies!

So after making a bunch of awful casts, I actually laid one out that landed in a good spot, by some structure I was aiming at.  I knew this was the cast that would deliver and after a series of short, hurried strips, I let my sculpin sink and saw the hit.

Lifting my rod, I was bent on a big brookie and enjoyed a spirited battle.

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Yes!  The brookies in the lake typically don't budge much for flies unless you bounce them off their snouts.  Then again, that Frankenstein Sculpin was hard to pass up for this one.

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The rest of my float was rather uneventful until I went back to where Keoni was (his tube had a leak and he stayed on the shore) and attacked the other side of the mess of floating material, where a bunch of fish were congregated.

During that spell, I caught a few cutthroat and then Keoni and I each caught one more brookie to call it a day.

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Both were solid fish and they sent us off on a really good note.  It was a great day of fishing, as it always is when I can get out with Keoni.  Thanks to him for all he does for me and especially for his important work.

The best time of year is now!  Get out and fish the high country before the fish go deep and hide from the summer sun.  The hills are truly alive right now.


Happy Fishing, Humans.

4/30/18

Couple of Good Weeks

Finally, the good spring fishing is here!  It's been such a relief to stomp some earth in the high country again.

Two weeks ago (4/21), I had a rare solo opportunity and found myself driving up a familiar road until some snow stopped me a little bit short of where I'd hoped to drive. 

No biggie.  I got the tube pumped up, grabbed some rods, and off I went.

The hike in was a little tougher than usual with the snow, but I knew a nice warm day would really mess up my exit.  Once I got to the lake, all that washed away in the glistening beauty of the open water, rippling before me.

My first cast from shore was rewarded with a beautiful blood red cutthroat:

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Photos don't do it justice.  It was gorgeous.

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A long time passed before I met any other fish.  Next up was a cutthroat on the fly that was a little smaller than the first.

After another long dry spell, a cast landed just right and I anticipated a strike as my jig sank next to a rooted shelf.  A quick jolt on the slack line was all the indicator I needed and I set the hook into something heavy.

A strong battle ensued and I was relieved to scoop up my 2nd largest brookie to date.  Weighing 4lbs, 10oz at 21", it was so fat that I couldn't really hold it in my hand for a proper photo.

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What a fish!

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Sadly, that was the last fish of  the day, but it was well worth the effort.  A big brookie is worth a rough day with little other success.

April 27:

At work, I reached a new milestone and now get an extra week of PTO every year, as a result.  This means I don't have to blow all of that time off for our Christmas break anymore.

With that in mind, I had planned a day off on Friday, specifically for some fishing.  Holdsworth and I mulled over ideas and eventually landed on some remote water at the end of a crappy road.

Having never fished it, and with very little information about it available online, we were hopeful that we could find some good fish.

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Our original plan was to float, but casting from shore was working just fine.  We saw a lot of this:

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Aaron wasn't doing super well, but he was catching fish here and there.  My own luck was better, catching quite a few on jigs before switching to my fly rod.

The Egan's Red Dart I tied on got bites frequently and I ended up catching several before we decided to check a different part of the meadow we were in.  An even smaller pond was our new target.

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Wow, talk about small!  Casting to the other shoreline wasn't very hard with a jig.  Getting into the deepest spot with my fly rod was a cinch. 

Within the first few casts, we knew that most of our remaining time would be spent picking on the fish there.

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The nice fish were quite the surprise, but welcomed gladly.  They required a little more work than the rainbows in the big pond, but the fishing was good and many stout tigers met my hand.

Only a couple of fish bit Egan's fly in the little pond, so I switched to something everyone screams for, ICE CREAM!

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The ice cream cone was destroyed.  Even after the wire was unwound and a sorry thread dangled from the shank, the hits kept coming.

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Everybody loves ice cream.  I was having a great day on the fly rod, which is kind of rare for me.  It was a blast. 

My presentations switched between flies and jigs whenever there was a quiet spell and that seemed to be all we needed to stoke the flame on hot fishing again.

The size of the fish was already nice enough, but the cherry on our sundae was the appearance of the male tigers.  The deep hues and crisp vermiculation made the trip!

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Beautiful fish are definitely a trademark for the region and these were no exception.  Such clean lines!

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It was hard not to get lost in their patterns.  They were a-MAZE-ing.

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It was a very rewarding trip for me.  Aaron didn't fare as well, but he still made out alright.  One male tiger in particular teased him a bit though. 

It swiped at his gear several times and even held on for a moment, but he never managed to land it.  It was a deep red/orange male he could see hanging out by some weeds.  Other fish came in though and some were pretty nice.

His truck surely has some new little brush scratches in spots from the narrow rugged passage.  It handled the nasty stuff well though and kept us mobile, which is always appreciated.  Good truck.

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It's been a great couple of weeks and I'm elated to finally have some good trips pan out.  Hopefully I'll have more exciting trips to share soon.  Thanks for reading.

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Happy Fishing, Humans!

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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.