Saturday, November 26, 2016


Now that the tryptophan has worn off and we're working through the piles of leftovers, I slipped away for a half day on the stream. The weather was calling for a clear and cold day, but a day that was supposed to warm up into the lower 50s. It didn't feel like fifty degrees was going to happen when I got out of the truck and the thermometer read 26 degrees. 

The hope was to swing some streamers before light and avoid spooking the fish in the low, gin-clear water. The fish didn't seem to get the memo that they were supposed to eat before light today, maybe they were still full from Thanksgiving? By midmorning I had only caught one fish that wanted to play in the snow before getting his picture taken (normally I try to keep them out of the snow, but accidents happen).

Although I had avoided the skunk the skunks seemed pretty intent on being a problem today and these two made me rethink my usual course.

I switched my woolly bugger out for a couple of nymphs under an indicator hoping that my luck would change, but it didn't seem to matter, the fish refused to cooperate. That isn't to say I didn't see any. The water was so low and clear that spotting fish was pretty easy, but making a good presentation was difficult. With nothing hatching (not even midges were out and about today) even when I did pull off the seemingly impossible and got my flies in front of a fish without spooking it, they were unwilling to eat. I was just about to call it a day and start heading back to the truck when this pretty little cutt restored hope and took an olive bugger.

After that I started working my way back to truck and managed to catch a couple more fish (where were they on the first pass?) and still get home in time for lunch. 

It seems that winter fishing is in full swing now, but I'm ready. I'll fit in some time on the streams whenever possible and fill out the rest of my free time tying flies and wrapping rods. I definitely have much to be thankful for, a beautiful wife (who is supportive of my many endeavors), two growing boys (that are turning out better than I could've hoped), a great place to live and the means to pursue my interests. Who could ask for more?
Hope you're as lucky,

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fitting Some In

In Utah the opener of the rifle deer hunt aligns with the UEA break, which would be great if the two days off were during the hunt. As it is, the extra days off are Thursday and Friday then the hunt starts on Saturday. I'm sure a lot of guys would spend the days scouting, but I figured it was a great opportunity to get a little fishing in (besides, I've spent all fall on the mountain).

There was a stream on the way to where I hunt that I thought would be a good, quick, stop where some fish could be found without too much trouble. So, Friday afternoon Atley and I stopped to get a few casts in before heading to camp. Atley was more than content just playing with the camera so I set about fishing in the first likely hole we found. I was fully expecting to catch 6-10" trout so the fiberglass rod seemed like a good choice, it was only when I hooked the first fish that refused to come in that I wished for a little heavier rod. With my curiosity peaked, we headed downstream to see if the larger fish was a fluke. Luckily for us, it wasn't.

The fish were in pre-spawn mode which meant that they were pretty aggressive, but not yet dropping eggs. Perfect timing as far as I'm concerned, and we had fun catching a few before Atley was bored (he wasn't interested in fishing today) and deer hunting distracted me again. Caught some on an all black Woolly Bugger and a few others on an egg pattern.

Always a nice surprise to find some decent fish out of a stream you thought you knew.
Hope you're as lucky,

Monday, November 7, 2016


*Warning: Bloody hunting pictures!*

It's not exactly a recipe for success when you have to work both Saturday's of the elk hunt, but I bought a spike tag anyway so I could get out. I already had a cow permit that I'd been trying to fill during my deer hunts and buying the spike tag allowed me to get a cow during this hunt if the opportunity presented itself. 

I never get tired of sunrise pictures
After working late on the first Saturday, Atley and I headed out early to chase some elk. Right away we could hear elk and as we came up over the ridge and started to descend into the canyon I'd planned to hunt we were pretty excited. Too bad a couple of other guys had beat us to the spot. Dang. But there are other good vantage points and we headed to one of these to see if we could spot any elk. It wasn't long before we spotted a couple of cows in the bottom and one presented us with a good shot. I misjudged the distance and held high on the cow thinking it was further than it really was. I was pretty sure that I had missed, which was frustrating, but we made the hike down just to make sure. The bottom of the canyon was even better than I had imagined with elk tracks & sign everywhere. We decided to climb up a draw on the other side where we could still hear some elk. The bulls would respond to my calls, but were unwilling to come out and play. Once the elk got tired of talking, we made our way out of the canyon and the climb really wore Atley out. Back at camp we found out that my Dad and my brother had both shot cows and had an awful pack-out that morning. For the evening hunt, we headed back into the same canyon where we saw elk 600 yards away from us but there wasn't enough time to make any sort of a move. 

Pretty spot. The google made it all retro for me.
The week took forever to get through, especially with the thoughts of my miss taunting me, but eventually Sunday morning came. Atley had no desire to go with me because he knew exactly where I was going to hike back into. Showed up at camp right as people were heading out for the morning hunt and talked to my Dad. I tried to convince him to come with me, but he didn't feel like making the hike. So I went in solo and hiked down to where I could see the bottom of the canyon where I was confident the elk would come through. There was lots of fresh sign, but absolutely no calling. I was just beginning to wonder if the elk had already passed through for the day when suddenly a bull and two cows made there way around the hill to my right, 200 yards away! There wasn't a clear shot through the aspens, but the wind was perfect so I wasn't in a huge rush. I crawled up the trail trying to keep the elk in sight and find an angle where I could get a shot. I had just lost sight of the elk when seven more cows came into view just in front of where the others had been. I waited for a good shot and one of the cows came out into the clear. Made a perfect neck shot and dropped her. Cow called to the elk and they stopped about 150 yards away, giving me just enough time to make sure there wasn't a spike in the group.

That's a big cow...
Anyone who's harvested an animal knows...

Quartering and boning out an elk by myself was a lot of hard work, but I got it done pretty quickly. During the process a bee stung me on the finger and in an attempt to shake it off I managed to cut my finger pretty good. Sometimes I wonder how I've managed to live this long. I tried to text my family and let them know I could use some help but couldn't get it to send in the bottom of the canyon. Without any help on the way, I packed all of the meat into my pack-frame and started my slow ascent. I made it about 100 yards up the hill (vertically, it took a longer distance switchbacking) when the burning sensation in my neck and shoulders got so bad I stopped for a break. I've never had a load feel like that, and began to worry that if I hurt myself getting out of the canyon wouldn't be fun. So I found a place to hang up 1/3 of the elk in the shade and shouldered the much lighter pack. It still wasn't easy, but I made it back to the truck. After loading the meat into the cooler I got a drink and something to eat before heading back into the canyon. The second trip seemed much easier than the first (probably because I'd taken 2/3rds of the elk the first time) and soon I was just about back to the truck when I ran into Weston and my Dad. Apparently they had found a couple of spikes first thing and once they were done packing them out they came looking for me. I'm glad to know that they would've found out what I was doing before they left for home, but they were a little late to help me out.  

Hope you're as lucky,

Little brother always seems to find what he's looking for...