Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fishing Amongst the Corn

Well, I have been out in Iowa for over three months now and despite my school being extremely busy I managed to escape to a local pond over the weekend. I did get out once before school started and fished a small pond with a friend which was fairly productive. While not having much experience with warm water species on the fly we still managed to catch about a half dozen green sunfish on the fly, a woolly bugger to be exact. Anyway, the weather has turned cool and over the weekend I went to some ponds that lay just outside downtown. I saw a fish or two rise which got me excited. I tied on a trusty bugger and began working the water. After several minutes of casting I was just about to pull up my fly for the back cast when a flash of white came from the depths and hammered my fly. A quick and exciting fight yielding a beautiful little crappie. That was all I caught during my time on the water but it was a lot of fun. There is so much water to explore around this area. Once I get more time on my hands I will not have to go far to target a variety of warm water fish. I don't know the possibilities of catching warm water species during the freezing months that are approaching fast but I'll be sure to have a few good flies tied up for when spring rolls around. Thanks for bearing with the cell phone pics.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Uintas

With memories of small slashing brookies filling my mind as the days grew hotter and longer I figured it was time for a day trip up to the Uintas to catch some hungry fish. We started the morning off at Trial Lake which is a heavy pressured roadside fishery. They keep it well stocked and there were fish rising all over the place as we pumped our tubes up. I decided I was going to take three rods out into the water: One set up with a dry fly, one with a sinking line, and one with a slip indicator/chironomid setup. David was testing his luck with a spinning rod to start out. Once I kicked out a little ways I started working the dry fly rod with instant results. David spotted some larger fish cruising underneath his feet so I then switched to the chironomid setup and suspended a nice orange chironomid (that I got in a fly swap) just off the bottom. After a minute or two I had a nice fish on. It turned out to be a very chunky rainbow that put up a great fight.

David was not having too much luck early on with his jake's lure and opted to troll a night crawler. David starting catching quite a few fish on his worm including a nice rainbow.
I let him use my dry fly rod off and on and he hooked up with several on the top as well. I spend quite a bit of time trolling or stripping in a bugger on my sinking line with no luck. I did have a few hits but that was it. It was surprising since I covered a lot of water and my fly must have passed by a considerable number of fish. I kind of wish I had my depth finder on board so I could see how much water was beneath me at any given moment. We both trolled up the shoreline and eventually we needed a restroom break in the trees so we beached our tubes. Afterward I spend a bit of time casting my dry fly in near the shore and many small fish were brought to hand including a first for me, a grayling! I also caught a red sided shiner (baitfish) which was funny. David caught multiple species as well including some brook trout and a beautiful little tiger trout.
Eventually we were satisfied with the stillwater portion of the day and decided it was time for some small stream brooky action. The little stream was beautiful with gin clear water, just the way I remembered it.
We worked our way up the stream and any good looking hole or run gave up a fish or three. David's first catch on the stream was a beautiful wild little rainbow that I wish we got a picture of, oh well. All the rest were beautiful little brooks decorated in a colorful regalia. It was a great day spent up in the highcountry and the hungry fish didn't disappoint.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In Search of Cutthroats Part 2

Since Scott was in town taking a course that ran every day for a week, we were limited to some late afternoon/evening outings after his classes ended. With the sun setting around 9 o' clock we had plenty of time for a nice fishing trip. The second day of our cutthroat search led us to a hike-in stillwater. Scott, David, and I all drove separately for time's sake and met at the trail head. We decided to strap float tubes to our backs which made the hike very tiring. Once we reached our destination we quickly rigged up and kicked our way towards the inlet stream. No action happened on the way over nor once we got over to the inlet. I decided to mix things up and switch to a nymph rig and make some dead drifts in the current. Fairly soon I had the fish of the day (size wise) on the end of my line. I was able to land a beautiful cutthroat after a brief battle.

The action went to a halt after this first fish. After a bit Scott landed a nice little fish on a nymph rig as well. The first few fish both came on chironomid imitations. We all had some more hits on the chironomids but we all struck out and set the hook too late. There were fish that were rising sporadically from the time we arrived and when the frequency of the rises started to increase I decided it was time for some dry fly action. I threw on a small adams which was a good imitation of the small midges that were hatching. Soon enough I had a nice little cutthroat to hand that came off the dry fly. Evening was approaching fairly fast and the topwater action continued to increase. After another fish on a dry fly Scott and David decided it was time to switch over. We kicked our way around the glassy water following the pods of rising fish. Soon enough David landed a beauty and Scott followed suit with some nice fish of his own.

The fly pattern didn't seem to matter too much once they really starting focusing on the surface. There were a small handful of fish landed with many more missed. The activity continued on the oily smooth surface of the water all the way until we had to get out of the water in order to get down the mountain before it got too dark for safe hiking down the rocky trail. We slid our tubes up onto our weary shoulders and enjoyed the quicker descent down the narrow path as the light faded from the horizon which ended a memorable day of fishing for native cutthroats.

Friday, July 10, 2009

In Search of Cutthroats Part 1

One of the top priorities for Scott during his visit was to catch some cutthroats. The best option was to hit some stillwater. We met up around 6pm in Salt Lake then headed up Parley's Canyon, past Park City, down through Heber, and up to Strawberry Reservoir. We pulled up to the parking lot at one of Strawberry's many bays and there were no cars and no one was even fishing in the entire area as far as we could tell. The light breeze was dying quickly and it looked like it was going to be a great evening. We got the tubes pumped and our rods rigged up and we got into the water as quickly as we could. We trolled and kicked over to a fairly steep bank. Before we got all the way over Scott hooked up and landed a very fat rainbow.

On the way over we also noticed some consistent rises in one area. When we got to the bank we wanted to work we noticed that there were fish sporadically sipping within a few feet of the shoreline. Scott made a nice cast with his bunny leech to one of the rises just off the bank and he immediately had a fish on. This pattern continued and over the course of the evening he landed several quality fish.

I seemed to always be out of position once a fish rose, or I made a cast that was too short or too sloppy. It was just not my night. On one rare occasion I made a very confident cast to a likely spot right along the bank and low and behold I got a hook-up. I was excited but once I got the fish close I noticed it was a fat chub! Such is fishing. To overcome my casting woes I should have just trolled along the shoreline but I wanted to mimic what Scott was doing since he was having success. It was getting later and Scott threw on a mouse pattern and started working the banks in the same fashion. Although I did not witness it Scott said that on one cast he saw a wake appear just behind his fly and a fin broke the surface like Jaws. The fish slashed once, twice, then took the mouse but Scott reacted a little too fast and missed the carnivorous cutt. It was very exciting to say the least and Scott said it was one of the coolest things he has seen. I tried throwing a mouse for a little bit too with no success, surprise surprise. It was getting pretty dark and we were tired from kicking around so we just trolled slowly toward the car. Scott immediately had a few hits and then was able to hook up with two fish on the way to the car. One of the fish started flying out of the water over and over so he called rainbow which was confirmed as the fat specimen was landed.

It was an awesome time out on the water. We could not have asked for a more beautiful evening. Kicking along the oily smooth surface and looking down at the weedbeds through the crystal clear water was very rejuvenating and therapeutic.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Semi-Stillwater Browns

My friend Scott came into town last minute so I tried to line up a few days when I could go out and fish. He specifically wanted to target cutthroats but day one did not leave enough time to get to cutthroat water so we headed up to the Provo for a few hours. Scott just barely missed a fish and after working the banks of the river for a bit we decided to go try the pond-like areas I had scouted out one a few weeks earlier. We saw a few inactive fish holding right on the banks that were hardly moving. Scott was working a bugger on a floating line and had a follow or two but no hook-ups. I had not changed rigs and had a zebra midge dropper off a san juan worm. I was in some shadows and happened to see a smaller brown just holding off the bank right in front of me. I lowered the midge pattern so it was practically on the fishes nose and I started jigging it up and down. As soon as I gave it a little motion the fish opened its mouth and sucked it in. It was hilarious and reminded me of catching bluegill by jigging a shiny bare salmon egg hook in front of their noses when I was a boy.

We then headed to a different section of the pond and Scott started stripping his bugger over some moss beds. He immediately started to get follows and hits. It was fun watching. He would cast out and start stripping and out of no where a fish would pop up out of a groove in the moss and start following the fly. He had a lot of fish come and strike at his fly. He would of landed a half dozen fish but they managed to spit the hook or short strike the fly. On one occasion though the fish was persistent and sucked the fly in which resulted in a nice brown.

Although we only landed a couple fish at our first few stops we had a lot of action which kept things interesting. We then headed to a favorite hole of mine and started nymphing. Scott missed what looked like to be a nice rainbow. One good flash and the fish was off. However, he did nail a fat little bow a little later on.

There were some golden stoneflys coming off and laying eggs but no fish were rising.

Scott tried a stonefly nymph but not much action resulted in the attempt. He eventually switched it up and put on a leech. After a cast or two he pulled back to make another cast and I saw a brown heading at mach 3 for the fly. The fly left the water a millisecond too fast and the brown porpoised on the surface like a tuna crashing bait. A few casts later the same brown (as far as I could tell) nailed the leech. Not a big fish but very aggressive to say the least.

Soon we had to head to the car as our time ran out. Quite a bit of action and a few fish made for a great couple hours on the water. On the way home we talked about cutts and where we planned to target them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Green

My fishing trips in 2008 were great but while planning for 2009 I realized that the variety of water fished was not all that diverse. To add to the diversity David and I put the Green River on our list of spots to hit during the 2009 season. Having only been married a week David headed off with me for a day trip to Utah's most prolific tailwater, most prolific in terms of fish density at least. Some estimates put the fish count for the first 7 miles below Flaming Gorge Dam at 20,000 fish per mile! About a week or so before we left I found out that they were going to increase the flows from 800 cfs (winter flows) up to 4500 cfs. Sometimes the first day or two after they crank up the flows the fishing can turn off a bit. Luckily the two phase/two day increase was finished a few days prior to our trip so things would be stabilized by the time we got there. I met up with David about 6 am and before we knew it we were cruising through the high desert of Wyoming. We were quickly aproaching a small highway that shaves off a half hour from the more standard Rock Springs route that Google Maps comes up with. The drive went very quickly as we got caught up in good conversation. A large field of massive windmills broke the monotony of the rolling hills of sagebrush.

I normally have taken the southern route through Utah that passes south of the Uintas so it was fun to have a little change this time. We soon spotted the massive Flaming Gorge Reservoir and about 20 minutes or so later we were driving over the dam.

We quickly made it to Dutch John then headed down Little Hole Road that takes you to an access point seven miles below the dam. We were pumped when we first spotted the river.

We paid a small fee to the nice lady at the booth, parked, and then proceeded to go through the torturous process of rigging the rods up while the river waited below. It was a bit chilly in the morning with a cool breeze blowing down the canyon. I had repaired an old pair of neoprene waders recently and due to the chill I thought I would be ok wearing them for the day. Unfortunately I quickly found out that my repair job was fruitless and I quickly had wet feet. The first stop was at the Little Hole boat launch. There is a large back eddy that I usually can pull a few fish out of. After a little while David had one on but it let go instantly. We decided to head up the trail and we soon starting spotting fish along the bank. David stuck the first fish, a nice brown with a lot of yellow/gold coloring.

We continued to hike upstream often fishing within a rods length of the bank. At one point we were taking turns nymphing the same stretch. We would pitch out our rigs one at a time and walk down the trail maximizing our drift, then we would repeat the process. We nailed some very fine browns as we worked the banks.

David hooked one fish and every time he would get it near it would take off. This happened over and over. Then we found out why, it was the first rainbow of the day.

The browns seemed to bulldog and use the current while the rainbows had a no quit attitude. Despite the higher flows, the water was true to Green River form running gin clear while the bottom vegetation makes the river appear very green in many areas.

Although the fishing was not fast the action came consistently which included some heartbreaking misses. In one instance I was nymphing through some very large submerged boulders and I set the hook on a fish and it started running away from me. Just as I got very excited the line went slack, ahhh. Oh well, such misses get your mind racing on what could have been and keeps you motivated for more. The fly of the day was a wine colored san juan worm in a size 14. The other producer was a size 16 tungsten beaded zebra midge in black or orange. We tried throwing a chernobyl ant which got a look or two but that was it. By the time we were headed back toward the car the sun was scorching.

We were being burned alive in our neoprene waders. We stopped to refuel in Dutch John and grabbed a few drinks to cool ourselves down. To maximize fishing time we ate our lunch in the car on the way to the dam. We parked and headed down the trail capturing some beautiful vistas of the river below.

The trail down to the water at the dam is steep but short thankfully. We hit a likely spot just above the boat launch.

On about my second drift my indicator shot under and I had a fish running me downstream and out toward swifter water. I yelled something to David like "big fish, big fish!" The fish found a fairly large boulder under water and got himself wrapped around it or under it because for a few seconds it felt like I was snagged. I put a little more pressure and was able to move him away from the boulder. I saw that it was a nice sized rainbow. It was a little tricky to land the fish as he wanted to dive down under the rocks lining the bank but we manged to land him finally.

It turned out to not be too big but it was a niced sized fish and the most beautiful rainbow I have ever caught. He was speckled like crazy, a fine specimen indeed.

We were very impressed with how fat the fish were. The browns were very thick shouldered and the rainbows were plump and healthy. Years previous I had caught quite a few snakey fish but this trip it was nothing but thick healthy fish. After a bit we worked our way downstream a little ways and we targeted some dark shadows on the river bottom.

The sheer beauty of the canyon was invigorating to the soul and David managed to capture a little of what we experienced in the following picture.

It was time to start heading back upstream. After a few last desperation casts to some fish milling around near the boat launch we called it a day and headed back up the steep trail to our car. We were tired but our spirits were high and some more good conversation made the trip back home go by quickly. As David put it, the day was filled with "green, brown, and the rest of the spectrum."