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:
Photos don't do it justice. It was gorgeous.
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.
What a fish!
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.
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.
Our original plan was to float, but casting from shore was working just fine. We saw a lot of this:
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.
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.
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!
The ice cream cone was destroyed. Even after the wire was unwound and a sorry thread dangled from the shank, the hits kept coming.
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!
Beautiful fish are definitely a trademark for the region and these were no exception. Such clean lines!
It was hard not to get lost in their patterns. They were a-MAZE-ing.
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.
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.
The past two years may have started out slowly, but this year has been ridiculous. My first trip was to Strawberry Reservoir near the marina, where I worked hard to chip out many holes in the ice.
From that effort, only 4 fish were caught, but that's better than nothing. No slot busters.
A week later, I tried again with a couple of buddies. This time we fished the ladders and nobody caught anything except for the 4 fish I was able to land, all within the slot. Hoping for better action, we left to try our luck at Currant Creek Reservoir, where nobody caught anything. It was a rough day. Again, 4 fish is better than no fish.
Two weeks later, my cousin from Phoenix was in town, so the Aarons and I went to Fish Lake, where we were sure to have a good day on the ice.
Sure we were.
Well, the Aarons caught fish. They both had holes right by mine and we fished with basically the same stuff. They each caught quite a few as I watched. Only once was my gear touched by a fish and I whiffed on that hook set. Once again, Fish Lake gave me a dirty skunking. I'm starting to believe that someone put a curse on me in regard to Fish Lake. It seems as though I'm the only person that doesn't do well there.
At least I got to spend some time with my buds and hang out in an area that I love. The "clouds" were starting to change color and it was time to go.
My family and I tend to take a lot of trips to the desert together. We have our usual hangouts but also enjoy seeing new places, so we set off to an area I've wanted to visit for some time, Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Along the way, we enjoyed the drive along Highway 12, through Red Canyon.
It was a long drive for a day trip, but it was worth it, once we got to the park.
What a cool place! It's not the biggest area, but it's definitely unique and beautiful. For state park purposes, it's perfect.
Surrounded on 3 sides by the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument, the landscape is red rock with tall stovepipe spires of various geologic makeup. Interesting, to say the least.
Being only a day trip, my family and I reserved only enough time for one good hike, so we chose the flagship hike of the park, the Panorama Trail.
Around 6 miles, round trip, it's a moderately easy stroll with little elevation change. The trail led us around the picturesque edges of two valleys to the west of the parking lot, which makes up the majority of the scenery within the park.
Everywhere the eye lands is rich with beauty, but there are certainly highlights, one being "Indian Cave", which is a thought provoking concave area along the eastern wall of the first valley.
The biggest, deepest grooved hand print totally dwarfed my hand.
Next stop was "Ballerina Spire". Not everyone agrees as to how these whitish colored spires were formed, but a popular theory is that they were ancient geysers that filled in with hard minerals over time, leaving the soft sandstone around them to erode away.
Other spires do seem out of place, geologically, among the strata surrounding them.
Continuing along the trail, a collection of spires in the NW corner of what I'll call Valley #1 is called the "Hat Shop". Likely due to the tops of many of the spires that are topped with a different type and color of rock, as though they were wearing a hat.
Onward still, the end of Valley #1 provides a side trail called "Secret Passage", which is just a quick loop that reveals some otherwise hidden splendor.
With shadows growing longer, we needed to pick up the pace on the last leg of our hike. Instead of following the wall of the valley (which has some neat side canyons), we took a spur across the valley that led us straight to "Cool Cave", which is really just the entrance to a slot canyon.
Entering "Cool Cave":
Near the end of the passage that is navigable without ropes.
Looking up to where the slot continues, about 15-20ft above the ground.
It's probably really neat in there and not many eyes get to see it. Perhaps someday I'll find another way in. Future trips are surely in order.
Thanks, Kodachrome! We'll be back.
Hoping to float open water, Aaron and I drove down to check on Joe's Valley Reservoir. Once we made it to the dam, it was clear that only a small part of the lake was open at all, right by the dam.
The rest of the lake was still capped with a few inches of ice.
We actually went out and fished the ice for a couple of hours and had zero action, so we tried our luck at the open water, each catching one splake before heading down the canyon.
As usual, a few stops to fish the stream were warranted and appreciated.
The browns were chasing more than they were biting, but we each caught a few and enjoyed the scenery.
That gap held a mess of little browns.
The sights along the stream never disappoint.
I never leave this canyon without a smile.
Aaron and I made our first float of 2018 at a lake I had only fished once before. Knowing some decent trout, bass, and perch were in the water, we hoped for the best and proceeded to fight the wind for a few hours.
My own luck was poor, missing only two bites throughout our stay. Aaron fared slightly better, catching two or three rainbows.
Hoping to catch at least something on the day, we left for a river, where I usually pull a few healthy browns in.
Aaron got right to work.
For some reason, I had a "string" of bad luck, as I broke off every jig I tied on. Three of those times were on big browns, which was really disappointing. I lost at least 60" of trout in three consecutive casts.
I've had better days.
March 17-18 - Moab:
Mid March was as late as my family could stand waiting this year to go camping in the desert. Even though the weather was potentially bad anywhere on that weekend, we chose to try our luck near Moab.
We scooped up Sonia's little brother (Ray) along the way and camped at a primitive site a few miles north of town. The little side canyon we were in was gorgeous and provided some light hiking as we explored it on day 1.
Plenty of slick rock to scramble around on.
Despite weather reports, we enjoyed perfect conditions on day 1.
So cool! We hoped the good weather would hold, at least enough to stay dry throughout the night and for a hike or two the next day.
At around 5am, Sonia woke me up to let me know it was raining. Nice.
Eventually, we got out of bed and scrambled through a pause in the rain to get our stuff packed. As we were getting the last of it into the truck, the sky starting falling again, only this time in the form of snow.
The road we'd taken to get where we were was okay, but I was concerned about a couple of steep spots and how they'd act when muddy.
Luckily the drive went well. We left just in time to see a small stream forming across the road, immediately after passing that spot.
We had a nice camp breakfast packed, but being so close to town in this weather, it was time for a treat. First stop, of course, was at Wicked Brew.
We thoroughly enjoyed our beverages. I've never been so glad to pay $6 for a coffee. I'll do it again.
After a quick breakfast in town, we set off to see some classic Moab landscape and hiked to Corona Arch. The 1.5ish mile hike was pretty easy for all of us, but packed with stunning vistas and cool formations, natural and otherwise.
Bowtie Arch is seen, just before getting to Corona:
It was a fun hike. Corona Arch is pretty impressive. Luckily, we got to see it before someone defaced it recently in a childish "show of love" to his wife. Way to go, guy. Grrrrrr.
Beautiful place. We drove the Potash Road for quite a distance and enjoyed views of the Colorado River, the incredible red rock formations, and distant views of Canyonlands before setting our sights for home.
The weather had a lot to do with our early departure, but it was still amazing to get out there and do fun things without having to pay an arm and a leg. Thanks, Moab.
Aaron and I took a long drive with our tubes to find ice on our intended lake. We used my small hatchet to bang out many holes in ice ranging from 4-8", mostly the latter.
It was rough work and we fished for a couple of hours without a bite. Eventually, we bagged that lake and went for a "Plan B" of sorts.
Forsyth Reservoir was still mostly capped, but a window of open water in the area surrounding the springs was open and the bite was on!
The fishing was good enough that I brought my family the next week. A very historic trip for us, everybody caught fish! I'd say the highlight was my little girl, who caught her very first fish without assistance.
Tons of fun!
Keeping the southern itch at bay, Aaron and I went down last weekend and checked on a few lakes in an area that is getting better and better.
The first lake wasn't very productive, but the one fish I did catch was solid.
Some exploration led me to a small pond that I've had my eye on for over a decade. No signs of fish, but examination of the pond leads me to believe that fish would likely do well in there. We shall see if that ends up happening...
Another no-name pond was visited without any fish caught, though I observed a nice one that was dead, under some logs. Hopefully there were some survivors there. Nice cutthroat were in there last year.
Moving on, we checked another lake that can sometimes give up a few nice fish. Only a few small fish showed themselves that day, but a couple of hard bites were missed.
We made time to finish our day at another lake that usually yields high catch rates, as Aaron hadn't caught any fish on the day yet. Not only that, but I always like to check on lakes with potential for nice fish, like this one.
Happily surprised, the catch rates were good and the fish seemed to be bigger, on average, than in past years. The only fish biting were tiger trout, but we had fun catching them up to 18-19 inches in length, albeit a little on the skinny side.
Aaron even got into them after awhile. There have been far too many skunky trips since the onset of winter this past season, so it was good to have a strong day of catching.
Love these lakes.
As always, the ride home is sad, but usually full of beautiful scenery.
Many of you may remember a certain photo I took last fall, of a beautiful Bonneville Cutthroat in a net with crazy reflections on the water's surface.
Somehow, I got lucky enough to capture the reflections the way I did. I tried several times after and couldn't reproduce the neat effect.
This photo caught the eye of my artist friend, Travis Sylvester, who is a well-known and very talented colored pencil artist. He selected the photo for one of his amazing reproductions and I must say that it is really something special, what he's done.
I'm beyond excitement that he was able to wrap it up just in time to be able to display at the Wasatch Fly Fishing Expo, just last week. It's a new favorite of mine for sure (a little biased, maybe? LOL - Doesn't even matter).
Here's my photo:
And here's Travis' rendering of it.
To say he knocked it out of the park would be an understatement. I'm very honored to have played a part in yet another one of his fantastic works of fine art and can't express my gratitude enough that he chose to make my photo his best work yet.
Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and even visit his website Travzart.com.
Another side note: Utah Water Log is finally on Instagram!
@utahwaterlog wasted no time in flooding the 'gram with a large backlog of images that highlight some great times of the past and the future is as bright as ever, so give a follow and stay tuned for plenty more to come.
The fishing is just starting to really come around, so I hope to update you all again soon. Thanks for reading!
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.