July has been particularly hot this year with many days reaching over 100 degrees where I live in Utah County.
The heat only fueled my desire to run to the mountains for relief and, coincidentally, the fishing is typically best at higher altitudes anyway.
My family and I took a trip to Brighton, where we hiked up to Twin Lakes Reservoir. Rods at the ready, we hoped to catch a few trout while soaking a minnow trap for the abundant baitfish that live there.
We made our way to a little bay that was shielded from the wind and tried for a few hours with no luck. My wife had a couple of bites on a worm, but that was the only trout action we saw.
The minnow fishing, however, was fantastic! Using only a dozen Ritz crackers in total, I was able to fill this gallon sized zipper bag.
I'm not sure how everyone else traps minnows, but in places like this, my go-to is to poke a bunch of holes in a zippered sandwich baggie with a toothpick.
I'll tear a few of the holes a little bigger to promote better water flow, then toss a couple of small rocks into it with 3 or 4 crackers.
Place that in the trap and toss into a visible school of minnows, then make sure it comes to rest in a good position to allow passage of fish to the sides.
Check and empty in 10 minutes. Repeat.
Works every time up there.
It's such a pretty area.
The Wasatch Range is amazing and I tend to bypass these local mountains for the fisheries down south so often that I end up missing a lot of the beauty in my own back yard.
So we got trout-skunked, but I'm stocked up with minnows for the ice season and maybe a few trips to big waters like Strawberry or similar.
It's always worth visiting the lakes of Brighton.
Holdsworth and I beat the heat by hiking into a secluded lake in the rain. It had been a couple of years since my last visit, where we saw some great fishing for good sized brookies.
It's a great place for a float.
Unfortunately, the brookies seem to be struggling this year. The largest one I caught wasn't very impressive and the rest all had big heads and skinny bodies.
The meager inlet was the only area where I found a few that were willing to bite.
I'd heard about some tigers that were stocked two years ago and was disappointed to catch one so small. Two years in a healthy lake usually yields better growth.
Still, the tiger looked healthier than the brookies did and it was neat to catch one.
After spending a couple of hours on the water there, we had seen enough and set out to finish the day in a different setting.
Aaron had never seen a little spot I've enjoyed for awhile, so we took a quick hike to fish a tiny natural lake in the rocks.
The pretty little brookies were hanging out along the shallow rocks and just off the ledge into the deeper water.
Love that glowing water. The fish get pretty colorful too.
Though they aren't usually very big, the better fish in the lake can deliver a pretty good tug.
I just think it's a really cool place to visit. Hiking the lush green hillsides of the high country was a great escape from the brutal valley temperatures.
Another good hike was in order and we were lucky enough to pick another rainy day to go and float yet another gorgeous natural lake in the mountains.
With no real trail to the lake, we chose to try a different approach this time, that Aaron had pointed out to me since our last visit.
Turns out, we didn't have to bushwhack as much as the other route required and there even seemed to be a few scattered animal trails that helped get through most of the nasty stuff.
The fishing was pretty slow though. I had to work pretty hard for 6 fish and I don't think Aaron caught any. The fish I caught were on the small side too, which was below the bar for this lake.
They were still fun to catch and it was a great place to spend the day.
Seeing a different part of that mountainside was an added bonus, plus we even found a pretty good trail on the way out!
Even saw some wildlife. This guy was pretty far away. Please excuse the full zoom grainy crop.
My heart beats a little differently in the southern region.
My family and I had been planning to camp for awhile, but never really narrowed it down to anywhere specific. Just a few days prior, I offered to take them to an area that I've been wanting to share with them for many years.
Despite the ominous forecast for the area, we brought along some rain gear enjoyed some natural beauty in the high 10k elevations.
A late start and bumpy roads caused some anxiety from my crew, but once we'd finally arrived, all complaints ceased.
We were a little surprised to find three other parties camped there, but we made due and ended up with a really nice site with soft ground for our big 10x12ft tent.
After getting the tent set up, I quickly hopped into my waders and got the tube pumped up. It had been 8 years since my last visit.
The fishing was rather slow, but I used the remaining daylight to catch a total of two dark brookies and two tiger trout.
The first tiger was really small and it was too dark to get a good photo.
The second tiger was a pretty good fish of 15-16 inches, but it slipped away with my jig before I could attempt a photo. That was right before I beached the tube and got back to camp.
With the spotty rain throughout the day and high humidity, getting a fire started was a serious chore that required me to cheat, using fuel to keep a flame going long enough to burn untreated twigs. That doesn't happen to me very often.
Eventually, we got it going well enough to roast sausages and s'mores. Paired with our freeze dried dinners, we went to bed quite satisfied.
In the morning, I beat the sunlight to the water and enjoyed an early float, catching a couple of good fish in the process.
That was nice, but the sun quickly turned a brisk morning into a warm day and I needed to get back to camp for cleanup.
Once we were mostly packed, we took a little hike to see some amazing vistas nearby.
Low water year.
What a view!
I don't know how any angler could see this meadow and not twitch a little.
My family was thoroughly impressed with the area and the overall experience.
They were able to see firsthand why these mountains are always calling to me. My wife even mentioned that she "gets it" now.
It was a great trip and my crew was much more relaxed on the way back to smooth highways. So relaxed that they even let me run off and catch a couple of little brookies at a windy lake on our way out.
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.