I know that no one feels bad for me, probably because of all the fishing and hunting I get to do, but I needed a break. I had a personal day that needed to be used or I'd lose it come the end of May and Southern Utah was calling me. In anticipation of the native cutthroat trout that I imagined we'd be pulling in hand over foot, I signed Atley and me up for the Utah Cutthroat Slam figuring that it'd be easy to cross off at least one of the species.
I'm not sure if it was just the appeal of a day off from school, or if they actually wanted to spend time with their dad, but either way the boys wanted to come!! On the road for a bit of a long drive but the boys had fun picking what music we listened to and I enjoyed the scenery.
First stop was a cool little spot that Loah at Utah Water Log told me about and it soon produced some beautiful tiger trout that were suckers for a Woolley Bugger fished deep. It was all fun and games until Atley found out how cold the water was when he fell in.
The fish were nice, but the bite was slow and soon the boys wanted lunch and a change of scenery. After some peanut butter and honey sandwiches we were on our way to lake #2 in hope of more fish and maybe some cutthroats. The boys seemed more interested in playing games with each other than fishing, which is fine by me. I love when the boys fish but I was still just happy that they were there with me, and they still ran down to reel in a fish or take a picture of one I caught.
I'm not sure why I didn't try it at the first spot, but the first fly I tied on was a Barber Pole like my Dad had taught me how to tie about twenty years ago. Maybe I'll show you how we tie and fish them like a soft hackle. The fish sure seemed to like it on a slow strip and we caught one every two or three casts while the hatch kept up. Tiger trout really are pretty, even if they are a little weird. We even managed to get a Cutthroat, our only one of the trip.
As the light went off the water we watched a deer make its way down the hill for a drink as I kept catching fish. The boys were having fun playing with the camera and throwing rocks. I wished it could've lasted for hours. This lake is one of the prettiest I've been to and in the evening half light, watching the deer, hearing wild turkeys and having fish on the end of my line with the boys it was the best place on earth.
It seems like food was the only thing that interrupted my fishing on this trip, and it wasn't long before the boys were begging for dinner. Reluctantly I ended my evening fishing and we headed out in search of a place to camp.
We found an amazing camp site under the ponderosa pines where we cooked hot dogs over the fire and hung out. Dessert was supposed to be roasted marshmallows but they were pretty nasty so we burned the whole package. The boys thought it was hilarious how the flames changed colors and it burned for over an hour. The dropping temps of Spring in the high(ish) country prompted us to forego the tent in favor of the cab of the truck. Where we were surprisingly comfortable.
In the morning we set about cleaning up the camp and found a pretty old looking pile of trash. I figured we could take a few minutes and clean it up, but there was so much trash we'll have to finish the job the next time we're there. After we had cleaned up as much as we had space for we headed to a new spot where I know some nice Cutthroats live. Apparently nobody told them they were supposed to make an appearance, but we'll be back. Heading down the mountain we decided to make one more spot to eat lunch before making the trek home in time to color eggs and all that Easter stuff. Started making some Top Ramen for the boys and caught a pretty brook trout before the water had boiled.
The boys managed to catch a couple of small, but fat, rainbows to end our fishing for the trip. It was a great time out with the boys and I'm glad we got it in while we could. With the upcoming move and house build there might not be too much time for many trips like this.
This has been one of the most boring Spring breaks I can remember. 1st world problems, I know, but we ended up having to spend more money than we were expecting for our upcoming move, I hurt my neck/back, and the weather sucked. This all adds up to not enough fishing. I even had some plans involving the shed hunting opener here in Utah and trying to put together some videos. About midweek I was really starting to pull my hair out so the boys and I hit a stream for a quick trip (Read about that trip Here). It was such a raging success, and such a short trip, that I couldn't wait to get back. I saw my chance at the end of the week for a solo morning trip. Despite the cold, rainy weather, I was still excited to be out and expected some great fishing. It started out the exact opposite of what I was hoping for. Only a couple of half-hearted nips at my woolly bugger made up the action for the first couple of hours. I mixed it up, trying a bunch of different rigs that have produced for me in the past to no avail. I was heading back to the car, tail between my legs, when I decided to put on a Prince Nymph with a San Juan Worm dropper (again) to try the bottoms of a few pools. On a dime my luck turned around and I had my first fish in hand.
From there on it was a new day! Fish were more than willing to take what I was serving up, several of them took it quite aggressively too.
Fishing picked up even more when I put a flashback Hare's Ear on. I was just starting to wonder if I'd see any of the bigger fish today when a decent one made an appearance.
I moved up to a pool that has always been a weird one for me. Either it's great and I pull several fish from it or it's a complete blank. Today it was great and it saved the best fish for last. This guy jumped three times, straight up and straight back down, before coming to hand.
Just like the other day when I was here with the boys, this fish had a hole in it's back. Must be some sort of predator around.
Fishing continued to be good, so good in fact that I overstayed when I told the wife I'd be home. A text informing me that I was a liar reminded me of things I'd said and I headed for home. After one more fish...
The boys and I are on spring break this week! Too bad Del isn't and we've had to spend a bunch of money the last few days for the upcoming move. That means staying close to home and doing everything as low budget as possible. For the first few days of the break I stayed home, tied flies, and listened to the rain outside. That just made my back hurt and my cabin fever reach dangerous levels. Today the sun was shining and the trout were calling.
The initial plan was to take the DSLR camera and try shooting some video of the boys fishing. Didn't realize that I'd forgotten the SD card until we were already on the stream. Oh well, there will be other days to shoot video. The water was a bit high and a little off color so Atley tried a black woolly bugger to start.
Surprisingly, the fish weren't interested in the bugger so I threw a dry dropper rig at them. On top I had a pink Indicator Chernobyl and hung a flash back Hare's Ear down below. I was just about to hand Atley the rod when the ant went under and it was fish on. Soon a solid fish was in hand.
Not sure what put the huge hole in her back, but if it was a fish I'd like to meet him. With that in mind I handed Atley the rod (Caden wasn't too interested today) and hoped that there was another fish in the pool. Several casts later without any luck and I started thinking about getting down a little deeper. So I added some tippet below the Hare's Ear and tied a San Juan Worm on. Took a cast to make sure it wasn't going to be a constant tangle before handing it to Atley and of course a fish decided to take it. Right away I knew this was a really solid fish that was pretty insistent on staying at the bottom of the pool. Once I coaxed him out with as much pressure as my little 4wt fiberglass rod and the 6x tippet would allow we saw that he was a big fish. We had to follow him down to the next pool and hope that the connection would stay through a couple of good leaps and runs. Luckily, Atley is a great net man and he got as much of the fish that would fit into the net!
The boys and I were all pretty excited about this beauty and Atley called first dibs on the next hole. Didn't take him long to get his own fish to hand, and while it wasn't a hog I was pretty proud of how independent of a fisherman he's become.
Seeing how we had done it, Caden wanted his turn and I tried to help him as much as possible. Once we had a fish hooked, all he wanted to do was be the net man and he did a great job.
The boys realized how hungry they'd become despite us only being on the stream for an hour or so, and I knew that no matter what I said they had decided it was time to go home. So we headed back home with memories made in a short trip.
It seems like when the weather turns warm I always start fishing more stillwater. Too bad I suck at it. This weekend I decided to break out the kick boat and go for some chunky rainbows. What I found was a beautiful backdrop to a serious skunking.
The plan was to do some fishing while waiting for my Dad and his wife to show up and join me. But by the time they had made it down and set up their 5th wheel trailer the wind had kicked into overdrive. So we went out for lunch and talked over some possible house plans for my upcoming build. Once the options had been exhausted we hatched a plan for the afternoon fishing.
We thought that we could reach a different lake in the area for a change in fortunes. The nice weather had convinced us that it was later in the year than it felt like, but the snow on the road reminded us that it was still early.
A beautiful place, but a frozen lake waited for us at the end of an interesting ride through the snow and mud. This is definitely a place that I'd like to revisit in the coming months and do some camping, fishing, and hiking. Soon...
I've been tying a lot of flies lately. It's a good way to have some quiet time and think through things when I can't be on the water. I also listen to the Orvis Podcast with Tom Rosenbauer while tying, it's a really good way to learn a bunch about fly fishing and I highly recommend it. One thing that really got me re-thinking the way I do things was Tom really pushing barbless hooks. I've smashed the barb down from time to time, but I've never been too concerned with it. Which is surprising considering how many times I've hooked myself! I'm sure it won't make up for all my iniquities, but I've made a resolution to smash the barb on all my flies for the next little while to see if my catch rates go down. The past few tying sessions have been dedicated to filling my nymph box. With our house on the market (we've already had one offer!) I'm not sure if there will be much time to tie in the coming months. Which means I'm going to need lots of Hare's Ears, Prince Nymphs, and Pheasant tails in all the variations I like to fish.
When I was told about a last minute showing of the house for Saturday afternoon I took it as a sign to stop tying and go check on one of the local streams. Upon arrival I spotted a couple of fish rising inconsistently. There were quite a few midges around, but with the infrequent rises I figured it had to be the few Blue Winged Olives that the fish were after. It was at this point I realized that my dry box hadn't made the drive with me! I made due with an Orange Asher I happened to have in my drying patch, and while it wasn't what they really wanted I managed to start the day off with a fish caught on a dry fly. Unfortunately, not many fish were willing to eat a fly they didn't really want. So as I made my way to the next hole I switched out the Asher for a Tri-Colored Nymph under an indicator and picked up a few small browns right away.
Working my way upstream there were more fish to be had with the nymph rig, but whenever I spotted a rising fish I switched back to the Asher to give it a shot. I managed one more on a dry, but most fish came on the Tri-Colored. The best fish, the prettiest fish, and the last fish of the day came just before dark and was my only Cutthroat of the day. I'm so glad there are Cutts in this stream! They are always a treat to catch and break up the usual browns. The Utah Division of Natural Resources should be commended for their efforts to restore these native fish back where they belong.
I did lose a few fish, but no more than usual and not one that I could honestly say was a result of my smashed barb. Maybe this won't be so bad...
After a bunch of work and cleaning, our house is now officially on the market (you can see the listing Here). Today was the first showing with the realtor which meant that our family needed to vacate the premises while this was happening. So we grabbed some guns and headed to the hills for a little target practice.
The first thing that shocked us was the huge amount of garbage that people had left up here. I've never been able to understand how someone can just dump garbage out in random places and forget about it. Maybe it's just me, but making the places that I want to play look like a dump just doesn't make sense.
After shooting the pistols (a .22 and a 9mm) the boys wanted to shoot the .22 long rifle for a bit. Atley is quite the old pro at this, but Caden still needs to get used to a rifle. He'd better hurry though, because this year he'll be taking Hunter Safety.
After shooting we spent a few minutes picking up what garbage we could, though if we spent a month cleaning there'd still be more to do. It was still a great time spent with the family.
Time is running out if you plan to apply for the big game permits for this fall, the deadline to apply is March 2nd 11pm MST. A few things have changed for 2017 that you should be aware of. Information on all changes, hunt dates, fees, and everything else you need to know can be found Here in the 2017 application guidebook. I will just touch on two of the changes that I feel have the most impact on the upcoming draws.
The first change, is the preference point loophole for general season deer permits which has now been closed. In the past, applicants that did not draw their first choice, but drew 2nd-5th choice, received a deer tag and a preference point. This is no longer the case… if you draw any of your choices 1st-5th, you will lose any accumulated preference points—I suggest you choose wisely. The chart below shows how the new general season deer draw will work. All applicant’s first choice will be considered, in order of preference points, before anyone’s second choice is considered. This will hopefully allow more people to draw the tags they want, instead of being behind someone that is building points through the loophole system.
The second change, in 2016, the Utah Legislature passed a law that allows younger hunters to apply for limited-entry and once in-a-lifetime hunts. If a youth turns the age of 12 by Dec. 31 2017, they are now eligible to put in for these hunts. This means there will be lots of extra applicants for every limited-entry and once-in-a-lifetime hunt. This shouldn’t affect draw odds for guys with lots of bonus points too much, but it will affect those of us in the random pool (I’ll explain regular and bonus tags later). Whether you are for or against this change, one thing is certain… there will be some excited youth that are lucky and draw an awesome permit.
Playing the odds for Limited- Entry and Once-in-a-Lifetime
I apply for big game permits in many states here in the west and have drawn some great (and not so great) permits. Quality out-of-state permits are hard to come by in most states, especially with how some of their draws are set up. However, Utah has one of the best drawing systems in the west—not only for hunters that have applied for years, but for new hunters as well. Every year that a person applies and doesn’t draw a permit, they receive a bonus point for that species. Each bonus point you have, gives you a better chance of drawing the tag you want. Every bonus point gives you another proverbial name in the hat. The thing I like about Utah is they take care of their top bonus point holders, but also give everyone a chance at a permit. This is how it works. If a hunt has 40 available permits, 20 permits (50%) will go to applicants with the highest bonus points. These are called bonus permits. The other 20 permits (50%) are for everyone else that applies… these are called regular permits. Regular permits may be drawn by first-time applicants with 0 or few bonus points… maybe even one of those lucky youth applicants! Draw odds for permits and bonus point information can be found Here
I didn’t draw any tags now what?
Draw results typically come out around May 20th. For many of us, we won’t draw the permits we have been dreaming about for many years (going to be 14 years in a row for me). The excitement and anticipation of drawing the permit you wanted is now gone, but you still want to be out hunting this year. If you don’t draw a permit, there are still opportunities to be out in the field hunting this fall. Applications for antlerless hunts will be accepted May 25th- June 15th. This is a great opportunity to pick up one or more antlerless permits to fill the freezer with venison and make memories doing it. General season over-the-counter (OTC) permits go on sale July 11th. There are several different types of general elk permits (see chart below). Just be sure you are in an area that allows general season elk permits. Rifle OTC elk permits have a quota and do sell out every year, archery permits are unlimited. More information and maps for OTC elk permits can be found in the big game guidebook. The general season and antlerless elk hunts are my favorite. It gives me an opportunity to hunt every year and learn new areas for when I do draw a limited-entry elk permit. Any remaining general season deer permits go on sale July 13th (there may be quite a few with the new preference point rule). Also, worth noting, on July 13th youth general season archery permits go on sale for any youth that didn’t draw a permit. This is another opportunity for our youth hunters. No matter what happens in the draw this year, you always have opportunities to hunt every year in Utah. Get out there and enjoy this great resource we have available to all of us and make memories that will last a lifetime.
I'm a huge fan of Kanalgratis and their series Fly vs Jerk (just a warning, there is some language that might not be appropriate for every viewing situation). For the past few years I've watched this series as they release the videos which always makes me want to head out in search of pike. Luckily for me, Luc has a long standing obsession with pike and so he texted me Sunday night and wanted to head out in the morning. I suggested taking my row boat to try and improve our odds and the plan was set.
I was optimistic about our chances, if not confident of our abilities, but knew we'd have a good time. Luc had spent most of last Summer chasing pike and musky in the few places that have them around here and I hoped that he had learned something that would improve our chances. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had taken up fly tying, so at least he had some different flies to try out. I mostly rowed and let Luc cast to the banks with both his fly rod and his spinning outfit, but after a few hours of that with only a couple of bumps to shows for it we figured it was time to call it quits. We did fish from shore for a few minutes before we left and Luc managed to hook, but not land, a plastic chair that someone had deposited in the lake. Dang, could've been quite the trophy...
After a quick lunch we were heading for home when we decided a little detour could save the day and not leave us completely fish-less. So a stop at a "put-and-take" trout reservoir was added into our travel plan. We left the boat on the trailer and fished from shore. Soon a had small bow in hand on a black Woolly Bugger and all seemed right with the world.
It didn't take long for Luc to find his own silvery salvation when another stocker took his olive crawfish pattern.
While I wasn't quite ready to head back to work, it didn't seem like such a horrible proposition after a little fishing.