Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Renegade, eh?

I remember my first outing in the cold with just the boys. Rabbit hunting was the venture and though being invited to go was a big deal for me, I still wasn't sure that I wanted to. Then one of my brothers made fun of me for wanting to stay home with the girls and I was ready to go. Atley still has some of those misgivings, but he doesn't quite respond the same way as I did to questions of his manhood. So I was glad that he agreed to take a trip with me and my Dad for some fly fishing. The drive was to be a long one (which I'm sure doesn't help talk an 11 year old into going) so we had to head to my Dad's house the night before to ensure getting on the road early. The trip up included some really bad music, talk about legos, and anything else I had to do to keep the boy happy. 

After a very short night (in terms of actual hours) that felt like a very long night (on the couch) we were out well before dawn so we didn't waste any daylight. This time of day is a dangerous one to try and be in a hurry, though, so we tried to keep our eyes peeled for any wildlife on the roads. In addition to the many rabbits that were almost a constant we also saw lots of deer, including two pretty nice four-points and one really nice five-by-five, and a couple of antelope. Throughout the day we added a couple of elk and two coyotes to our wildlife list.

Not the best pic, but you get the idea
Rising fish in the early morning is a wonderful thing, and being able to cast to them is even better. Because of the rise forms, we decided to cast Zebra Midges suspended just under the surface with a strike indicator. Once it became apparent that most of these fish weren't too picky (yeah, they hit the indicator) we decided to swap out our indicators for large, easy to see, dry flies that would work as an indicator while providing another way to hook into some fish. We spotted some nicer fish around, but they wanted nothing to do with us. Atley couldn't cast quite far enough to reach these fish, but he had fun helping to pull some fish in and playing with his camera. Dad kept talking about getting Atley hooked on fly fishing, but when Atley wandered into Dad's backcast he was lucky to not get hooked in the face. It probably would've been hard to get the boy back out on one of these longer trips if he had been hooked like that...

He's a good boy

That indicator wasn't really that close, it's dangling down the other side...I think

Pretty chunky

The boy started taking selfies

And figured out how to work the panoramic function on his camera
With the fish being so willing to come to the surface, my Dad quickly reached for his favorite fly, a red-butted Renegade. Back in the day, fly fishing for Dad was a seasonal activity dictated by when the Renegade was effective, and they weren't busy hunting. This puts your window of opportunity (at least in his mind) from mid July to September. "If they aren't hitting a Renegade then I don't want 'em." Now, my Dad, his brothers and my Grandpa did have other flies but the Renegade was their pattern of choice for stream fishing. It's a pretty versatile fly, really. You can fish it dry,wet, dead drifted or stripped. At one point in the day Dad reminisced about Grandpa teaching him how to fish a Renegade "backwards", or in other words downstream on the swing. I had no idea they knew how to wet-fly fish! 

The next spot we decided to hit was chuck full of fish that were well within the casting distance Atley was comfortable with. So we helped him to catch a bunch! Because of the nature of the spot we set him back up with a nymph/indicator rig and he was quickly into fish. Where before the fish seemed to prefer the red Zebra Midge, these fish liked a new-to-me fly, Brian Chan's Baby Damsel which I had tied up specifically for this trip. Atley proved himself very able to read an indicator, and when I complimented him on it he said he was "using the force" to know when he had a hit. I should have known!

He was pretty proud, but cold enough that he didn't want to hold the fish

Dad kept a close eye on his grandson

There were a few of these lil bucketmouths mixed in

I did manage to find one quality fish in amongst all the smaller ones. He fell for a Cheech-Leech variation that I tied up in all black. I had hoped the bigger fly would deter some of the smaller fish, but they seemed to like this fly too.

Always a welcomed sight
The next spot was one that where we've been able to find some quality fish in the past. Right off the bat I caught a really pretty bow on a Baby Damsel. Dad was throwing an olive Woolly Bugger and hooked into a nice fish that must've had a plan. The fish was quickly long-line-released and left us feeling a bit dejected. Dad kept casting though, which is all you can really do, and hooked into another nice one a few minutes later. But once one fish figures out how to get off the hook he is sure to tell his friends. Two missed opportunities and it seemed like the day was over. We headed back to the truck with one more stop on the way out as our only chance at redemption.

Probably the best looking one of the day
Ended out the day casting fruitlessly into the dropping temperatures. Nowhere else I'd rather be, and no one I'd rather be with (though I wouldn't mind adding my Wife and other son to the mix). Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Last Cast

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Personal Space

I wasn't sure if getting out twice in one weekend was going to be in the cards for me. The wife was quite clear when she let me know that she was against it. I'm not really sure why, though that hardly matters, really, the point was that she's against it. Then my Dad called, wanting to take a trip that we'd discussed a couple of weeks earlier. The trip in question called for at least two days, significant mileage, and the possibility of some great fishing. The climate at home being what it was made me reconsider, and I talked Dad into making it a day trip. He was fine with that as long as we were wetting a line somewhere. I thought this compromise would keep me in good standing with all parties involved.....turns out, not so much, but I did get to go fishing.

We were able to turn the trip into an excuse to visit some family and that at least helped to calm the tension on the home-front. Del and the kids went to the aquarium with her parents while I went fishing with my Dad. Seems like a win-win. Proud to hear how Atley and Del were both able to identify several species of fish for the in-laws, I guess hanging out with me has helped with something.

My Dad and I decided to head slightly further North from his house to fish the Weber River, a stream I haven't fished for a few years. In fact now that I'm thinking about it, I probably hadn't fished the Weber since I lived in Farmington and that puts it closer to eight or nine years. Some things, however, haven't changed as we found more people than available water at the first stretch we decided to try. My Dad claims that I've become spoiled by living and fishing in Southern Utah, where if I saw this many people on the stream I'd pack it up, and if I have become spoiled...I regret nothing.

Doesn't seem to be as much water as there used to be
The next spot we tried was also sporting a fisherman hatch, but we managed to find a small, unremarkable looking hole to try for a bit. After a few minutes of catching nothing, and nowhere to move on to, I decided to find the bottom and see if the fish were lying low. Sure enough, they were down there and were willing to play once they saw my red Zebra Midge. 

Good one to start with
They can be pretty fun
Living in Southern Utah has also made me kind of forget about Whitefish. I know how many people feel about them, seeing them as some kind of trash fish, but I've always felt they were under appreciated. They can save your day on the water from the dreaded skunk, they're typically a heavy fish that doesn't tire out quickly (in fact, I had a couple of straightened hooks from them today), and live in the same places as our storied trout. I'll stop, though I definitely could go on, and leave you with a visual to reinforce my point. The best part of a River Runs Through It (you know which one I'm talking about) there's old Paul emerging from the nearly ice cold bath he just took in order to land the big one and out he pulls a Whitefish. Not nearly the kodak moment, right? But why? Anyway, we had some fun with the Whiteys and a couple of small Browns,  till Dad needed lunch, or, as he put it, "A burger and a Coke." (He had to settle for Subway and a Dr. Pepper) 

(Not even pretending to own any rights, just using what's available)

After the quick trip to Morgan for some grub, we hit a spot that I remembered from back when I fished the river more. Though it used to look quite a bit deeper, it still seemed like it might hold some fish. After a few fruitless minutes I was starting to wander downstream when Dad yelled to me that he needed my forceps. He was having trouble getting the fly out a small Brown. After that it was on for several browns that liked anything red (San Juan Worms, red Copper Johns, and red Zebra Midges) and fished deep. 

Not sure why he made that face

Some good lookin' fish

Really purty 

The last spot for the day was a deep hole that I was sure would hold several fish of both species. As we worked up and into position at the foot of the pool my Dad hooked an landed a small Whitefish. As he released it I noticed another angler making her way down the steep embankment to the river. I thought that once she saw us, she'd continue on to a different spot. Maybe that was the ultimate sign of me being "Spoiled", because I was truly shocked when she parked and tossed her bait into the same hole we were fishing. Dad headed back up to the truck, but I waited for some sort of acknowledgment from her. I received none, and being utterly amazed at the lack of common courtesy, I made my way back to the truck and began putting my rod away. 

You can see her sitting on the rock at the head of the pool
I had wrongly assumed that Dad was ready to be done for the day, but he wanted to go back to the spot where we had first had success. The light had gone off the water on that bend in the canyon and the fish weren't interested in our offerings. It wasn't all that surprising, but seemed like a good end to a good day. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Friday, February 13, 2015

Narrow Escape from The Skunk

In our District we get a day off of work in compensation for our time spent at Parent/Teacher Conferences and I knew right where I'd be spending my extra day off. So I was up in time to watch the sun rise while I waited for Ross to show up at my house. As soon as he pulled up we were on the road heading South to a stream I hit a couple of weeks ago (read about it here). Driving in Southern Utah is always great because of the awesome scenery, and this trip was no exception. As a bonus we even saw several deer, a herd of elk, a golden eagle and a bald eagle. 

Couldn't ask for a prettier day
Once we arrived at our first stop we realized that the water was running high and extremely off colored. After a few fruitless minutes of casting we set off to the same stretch that I had success on during my previous trip. The water here was still pretty dirty, but it was a least fishable. We were really struggling to find fish, however, and just as it was starting to smell of skunk Ross came through with a small bow on a red Zebra Midge.

This was supposed to be just a shot to make sure the camera was working, Ross made for the quick release however...
After that we regained hope that the day could be salvaged, though we didn't find any more success immediately. There was a serious midge hatch coming off, but no rising fish. I turned over some rocks and found what I thought was the answer, lots of very active mayfly nymphs. Too bad the fish weren't told, as they continued to ignore our offering. Finally, I threw on a rubber legged stonefly nymph (not too much different from this one) for weight and followed that up with a black Zebra Midge. Well, wouldn't you know it, the fish seemed to like the rubber legs even though it didn't look like the hatching midges or the mayfly nymphs. Go figure. Quickly found a few fish to end the day and was really happy to have them. 

Best fish of the day. Can't complain about a healthy little brown
Too bad I had some things that I was obligated to get back in time for, I think the afternoon could've been pretty awesome if those Beatis starting hatching. Oh well, just an excuse to get back down there I guess. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy the water.

- Kidder

Catching fish isn't really the motivation, but it's definitely part of it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


This past weekend I was able to attend our state's Music Educator's conference down in sunny St. George Utah. While there were some really good clinics (and a couple of terrible ones) I couldn't help but think about sneaking away and doing something outdoors. For the record, I didn't play hooky, but I wanted to. 

We decided to do something fun on our way home from the conference, and the logical choice was Zion's National Park. The Wife and I had been there years ago, but the kids never had. We had a great time doing an easy hike, driving the mile long tunnel, and doing a little exploring. The rest of the story is in the pics (which the Wife took).

Mind-blowing beauty everywhere you look

Cado looks like he's going to get in trouble...

The only wildlife we saw in the Park

Atley loves it when we ask him to take a picture for us

The rock just looks like it flowed


Nice panoramic
There isn't much green here, but when you find it the green stands out
The stop made for a late night drive home, but it was totally worth it. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

There's just something about water...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday isn't nearly as much fun when you just want both teams to lose. I thought about staying home and working on rods, but decided that I'd rather get out and use one on such a great Winter day. No one seemed to want to leave the house but me, so I made it a solo trip and headed south. 

First stop was a small stream I've had a hunch about for quite sometime, but I always seemed to be going somewhere else. With the warm temperatures the water was running a bit dirty and no fish were interested in my streamer, but I see some potential here. Especially when Summer brings some hoppers to play. Must've been excited this morning because I left the house without my I had to use my phone.

Even when you follow up on a hunch and catch nothing you never really scratch it from the list...
Next stop shouldn't even really count as a stop. Last year I ice fished this lake and had to cut through 15"+ of ice. This year the ice is receding and will probably be completely off soon enough. I just took a couple of pics and kept on driving to the stream that I had set out to fish. 

Crazy weather this year
I've fished this stream a couple of times, but never for a full day. Each time while fishing it I swear I could hear the fish laughing at me. I know that there are fish in the stream, but they wouldn't even show enough of themselves to extend the middle fin at me. Today I was determined to change all that. When I got to the river's edge I was excited to see a good midge hatch developing with a few Blue Winged Olives in evidence, but there were absolutely no rising fish. Water clarity wasn't very good, which could've been the reason for no surface activity, or the fish were laughing too hard to eat. 

It's a good looking spot
Decided to move down canyon a bit in hopes that a different section would help me find some active fish. Found a stretch of great looking stream and actually did what I know I'm supposed too! I waited and watched for clues. Soon I found some answers. There were two fish on the opposite bank rising in a shadow. One was definitely a better sized fish than the other, but at this stage in the game I wasn't about to be picky. Their tails would come out of the water, but not their heads......emergers! It was a thought, but both fish refused my midge emerger pattern and stubbornly stopped feeding. (There's that middle fin I was looking for!) While I was waiting for them to come back to the surface I set up a different rig, a parachute zebra midge with a #20 Bead-Head Pheasant Tail dropper about 8" behind. My hope was that if they weren't eating the midges, maybe they'd be zoned in on the mayflies. First cast, fish on! 

Pretty little thing
Definitely the smaller of the two active fish, but it didn't take long till the second fish was spotted and fell for the same nymph pattern.

I love sight fishing
From there it was game on. Once I moved up to a little heavier water I switched out the small parachute pattern for a much larger Royal Wulff pattern that would be easier to see and less likely to sink for no reason. As I'm tying it on the thought occurs to me, "Wouldn't it be funny if they came up for this?" Of course, second cast and fish on. February 1st and I'm catching fish on a size 12 Royal Wulff. I had several fish on both patterns till the deepening shadows told me it was time to head home. Nothing huge, but some great fish to finally take the skunk off this stream for me. 

The kick that says he's ready
Big fish of the day came on the big dry
Made it home in time to see the end of the football game. Crazy finish. Glad I got to see it, but the day on the water was worth missing most of the game. Hope you can get out, be safe, and enjoy nature.

- Kidder

Great day on the water
I am holding the camera level!
Big Rock Candy Mountain