Saturday, June 9, 2012

In search of Cutthroat...

“There are only three reasons to be a teacher: 1) June, 2) July 3) August!” I know, I know! Old joke. An old joke that wasn’t really that funny in the first place. The only thing that the joke doesn’t tell you (or your college professors) is that having all that time off freaking sucks, ‘cause your too poor to take advantage! So, naturally you think “I’ll just go with friends and split the cost,” yeah? Get real. Your friends have real jobs. There are those special souls that decided to teach for a living too, but they seem to plan out their whole freakin’ summer with crap (priorities!!). 
Long story slightly shorter, I went fishing alone today. Had to stay decently close to home to save on gas, also helps if I stay on pavement so I can take the car. Keeping those things in mind, I decided to go to Huntington Creek. It takes about 30-45 minutes to get up there, and the right fork stays along the highway. I really wanted to hit the left fork, but I wasn’t sure if it’d be low and clear yet. The advantage of hitting the left fork is the possibility of getting into some native cutthroat trout. I love brown trout, but I’ve caught so many the past couple years that some contrast is needed now and again. 
Nice view, eh?
The quick and beautiful drive is always a tough one for me. First, I have to try and keep my eyes on the road instead of looking for deer, elk, and other wildlife (not to mention the great views). Then, I have to stay strong and drive past so many good fishing opportunities. When I finally got to the “Forks of Huntington” campground I was rewarded with only slightly off color water, and active fish.
With all that going for me I couldn’t wait to fling some flies. So, without even putting my waders on first, I tied on a Puterbaugh Foam Caddis (as tied on Charlie’s Flybox http://www.charliesflyboxinc.com/flybox/detail.cfm?parentID=96) with a Pheasant Tail dropper. Almost instantly (second cast) I was into a fish on the dry fly, not a big fish, but a great way to start the day. A few minutes of bank stalking got me into three more fish quick, but I knew to really get going I had to stop and get my waders on. 
First fish of the day, a little brownie
Just a little off color
With the waders on and my wonderful lunch stowed in my vest (granola bar, fruit snacks, and a bottle of water) I hit the stream all out. After five or so more fish I lost the Foam Caddis and put on a regular old tan Elk Hair Caddis without the dropper. Seemed like suddenly I was getting a hit on every cast. All small to medium sized browns, but super fast action. I continued using this fly until it literally fell apart. After that I continued to try different flies, like a Renegade, Red Humpy, and various nymphs. After an hour or so of mixed results, and a good deal of hiking, I switched back to the Foam Caddis with a Prince Nymph Dropper this time. Finally I caught a few of the cutthroats that I had come here for. 
Pretty Cutt
 At one hole in particular, I spotted a nice fish feeding across the stream in a small back eddy up close to a rock. Even from my vantage point it was obvious that this was a nicer fish. So, instead of doing what I probably should have and waded back down river to cross and come back up to the fish, I just cast across with a nicely placed reach cast. My fly landed about six inches in front of the fish, which didn’t hesitate in charging the fly and inhaling it. The hardest part about watching a fish take like that is not rushing the hook set. I’ve found that saying wait in your mind makes you hesitate just long enough. If the take is fast, your set should be fast (not hard, just fast) but if the take is slow try saying “wait” either out-loud or in your head to help yourself slow down. The fish made a quick run down stream, but I followed and managed to work it towards the opposite bank for an easy job of landing it. Perfect fish for number forty, an eighteen inch cutthroat!
 I rounded out the day with nine more fish, eight of which were browns. Stopping at forty nine seemed really strange, why not go for fifty? But as I’ve learned on days like this, once you start letting the numbers decide how long you fish you’ll never leave. Just one thing about keeping stats: I don’t like it. I don’t like others who base the success of a trip on how many, or how big of fish they catch. I’ve had great days where the number of fish were only one or two, and not necessarily big fish either. But I’m in the habit of counting the fish I catch, so I tend to keep track. Funny thing is, even though I definitely know how many I brought to hand (yes to hand, not just hooked fish or even fish fought briefly, but fish brought to hand) when asked by someone “how many?” I usually reply “A few” or something similar. 
Average fish for the day
 On the hike back to my car I ran into some people who definitely weren’t from around here (sounded like a French accent to me, but I’m not great at guessing). They simply asked if I had caught my dinner. I replied I hadn’t, but instead of trying to explain my beliefs associated with catch and release, I just told them the fish were too small and left it at that. Strange being in the middle of Utah talking to people from another continent, kinda like catching Brown Trout and Native Cutthroat Trout from the same river? 
All in all it was a great day on a nice stream that seemed to be way overdue. I think I need to fish more...