Tuesday, December 25, 2012

New Rod

So, December 22nd I get the great idea to do something nice for my brother and put together a fly rod kit that I had bought 7 months before (or so).  The rod was a Pacific Bay 9 foot, 5 weight, 3 piece fly rod with a reverse half wells cork handle and black aluminum up-locking reel seat.
Quickly I set to work finding the spine and attaching the tip-top.  Unfortunately, (at least in my opinion) the handle was not countersunk to hide the top portion of the reel seat. Fortunately, with a little improvisation, I was able to carve out the handle.  After that I set to reaming the handle to fit the blank.
The next morning I epoxied the reel seat and handle on to the blank, then set to placing, and wrapping, the guides.  I wrapped all the guides in blue, then went back and did a nice gold trim to each wrap.  Word to the wise, when aligning the guides turn the blank so the guides are facing downward.  This allows you to easily see which guides need to be adjusted.  A quick signature (plus a sweet trout sticker) and this was really coming together quickly.
Next, with the help of Del, I threw the rod on the dryer and epoxied each wrap.  With nothing left to do, and it being really late on the night before christmas eve, we left the rod to dry and went to bed.

Finding the spine
Good looking handle

Don't use the drill bit! It just tears cork, but
it worked as a gauge for depth and uniformity.

Working on the reel seat and handle

A little extra glue, it scraped off easy enough.

Most nerve racking part?  Applying the epoxy.

Such a nice looking rod!

The next morning there was a good looking rod ready to be given to my brother.  Surprise!  Amazing how good it feels to give...Merry christmas everybody.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We stayed out late last night visiting family back home.  Rolled back into town just after 1:00 am, and didn't make it to bed for another half hour or so.  Morning came early and didn't feel too good.  I got up, sat there for a few minutes contemplating on how warm my bed was, but decided that it's better to go fishing and be a little tired than to stay home and feel like a schlub later.  My son didn't exactly agree with my decision, but still got up and ready pretty quickly.
My boy

Winter wonderland
So me and the boy hit the energy loop in search of a trout dinner.  After looking at the steep, snow covered hill leading down to electric lake (and no desire to drive around to the other side) we decided to back track a little and fish at Cleveland Reservoir.  A little bit of a walk down the north shore from the road, but not too bad, and we started throwing everything we had in the box.  I started with flies, trying nymphs, chronomids, and streamers all to no avail.  Kiddo started with bait, trying an unweighted minnow for a while before changing over to powerbait off the bottom.  It was the powerbait (orange twist flavor) that finally brought some action our way, he missed a couple hits but caught three that we invited home for dinner.  I changed over to my spinning rod to throw some spinners, and managed a few hits, but finally gave in to the powerbait to manage catching one fish before we came home.

Didn't know he was taking all these pics...
Quite the set-up
Usually, when I head out with the intention of bringing back dinner it brings on the bad ju-ju.  Either I don't have much luck at all, or what luck I do have comes in the form of fish too small to keep.  I usually practice catch-and-release, but enjoy a good eating fish every once in a while.  Some get upset about keeping fish, but I think they're delicious and as long as people don't take it too far keeping a few doesn't hurt anything.  In fact, I think it's a good experience for my son to bring home dinner for the family, and he was really proud to be able to.

Cleveland Res.

Proud fisherman
I filleted the rainbows as usual, but left the skin on - Del's request. She then baked them, with a little oil in the bottom of the pan and artichoke hearts with the marinade from the jar drizzled on top.  Some of the best trout I've eaten, and a simple recipe that we will have to use again.  Felt so good to get out fishing with the boy, even if we had to resort to bait...
Had to take a picture of himself...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Destination Unknown

The streams seem to be under attack here in Central Utah.  Fish kills seem to be the attack of choice, though the tactics vary; some come by fire, others by dewatering, some by a clever combination.  So it shouldn't have been such a shock when my friend Danny let me know that my plans to Lower Fish Creek might be flawed.  The Bureau of Reclamation decided last week to work on the Scofield Reservoir Dam, and turned off the water to the stream to do so.  Without a draw-down, or any prior notice, this sudden dewatering of the stream didn't allow the fish to find the deeper pools where they would've had a better chance at survival.  The Division of Wildlife Resources estimates that at least 1,000 trout died from the sudden change in flows.  The water didn't flow between 5pm on Oct. 14 and noon on Oct. 17.  While the D.W.R. claims that this fish kill mainly effected the first mile below Scofield Dam, anglers are claiming the first three miles have been drastically effected with some of the dead trout weighing in at over 5lbs.  Salt Lake Tribune Article here:  http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55151320-78/fish-dam-scofield-wildlife.html.csp So much for heading to one of my favorite stretches of river...

So I figured that I'd head to one of the many other streams in the area, and would just decide in the morning.  I really need to find some time to tie flies!  Looking into my boxes I knew that it would be tough to make it through the day, especially since both Ross and Brady would be joining me on this trek to who-knows-where, and both of these guys are just starting out and a little light on tackle of their own.  So I made a point to get some flies tied, but with limited time I had to just stock up on what worked last time: Zebra Midges.  Managed to tie up (what turned out to be) plenty.  Also, tied up some quick adjusting indicators figuring that nymphing would be the most productive method.  Planned on trying out an idea that heard about for streamer fishing as well.  The idea is simple enough, take a length of sinking line and make a sink tip that would attach to your flyline, and seeing as how I did have a full sinking line sitting on my desk...  [Yeah, I made one.  No, I didn't try it.  I'm smart like that.]

"Paul was in Wolf Creek early next morning, just as he said he would be.  Although he and I had aquired freedoms as we grew up, we never violated our early religious training of always being on time for church, work, and fishing." A River Runs Through It - Norman Maclean

Brady was supposed to be at my house between 7 and 8 am.  At about 8:00a, I get the call of shame, "uh...I kinda slept in" - or something like that.  Change of plans came quickly to me, time to 'meet in the middle' (almost literally) and fish Diamond Fork River. 

Fishing was a bit slow, but one hole was particularly kind to me around mid-morning and I managed to catch several (although somewhat small) fish.  Fishing was slow from there on till we were about to leave, then I got a couple more and Ross managed to get into a couple.  (Notice the guy that slept in didn't catch any...)  Caught all fish today on Haresear and Pheasant tail nymphs.

When you fish all day, even a little guy is exciting.
That's better
Such a poser!  Just a snag.

Not bad considering I didn't even know where to go...

Sunday, October 7, 2012


In my kitchen I have a thermometer (the actual thermometer is outside, but the display sits on my windowsill) that I sometimes look at.  Especially when I'm heading out to do something.  The something today was a solo fishing trip.  The thermometer read 32 degrees.  I decided to go anyway.  There are only so many windows in my schedule to fish this fall and I wasn't about to miss an opportunity.

After the hour drive to the trailhead I was shocked to see the parking lot (if you can call it that) completely full.  Not like "oh, I guess I'll have to park a little off to the side" like "oh crap, there's nowhere to park!"  Luckily, I was able to get off the road enough.  I figured it would still be worth the effort because most (if not all) of these guys were probably elk hunters.

My efforts were quickly rewarded as I pulled a couple of Cutthroat Trout from a beaver pond.  It was after this early success that I decided to go further down the trail then I'd ever been before.  I'm not sure how far I actually went, but it felt like a solid couple of miles (although, in wading boots I've never felt sure about how far I've hiked, only that it was uncomfortable).

Amazing looking country! No wonder why the elk hunters would love it.

Fishing was decent all day with the most consistent producing flies being BH Hare's Ear, and a Zebra Midge.  Although I did manage a few on some dry attractor patterns.  Through one, very limited, stretch I managed three or four on A.K.'s Midge Emerger pattern which was pretty cool.  It was in this stretch that I caught a small Brown Trout that already had someone else's Parachute Adams stuck in the roof of his mouth.  Oddly enough, I caught mostly Brown Trout today even though I know this stretch has a good population of Cutthroat.  At least it felt that way, I managed to lose track of the head count pretty early on.
Chernobyl Ant?
The recovered Parachute Adams
Really long, but skinny.
Awesome Country
Those red spots were glowing!
Another Waterfall
Really great being out again, even if it was pretty cold.  The return hike was uneventful and I thought my day ended well.  Until I accidentally locked my keys in the trunk along with my fishing stuff and, more importantly, my jackets.  So instead of being able to drive home, I had to flag someone down to call my wife and ask her to bring me a key, then wait for her in the cold.  It wouldn't have been so bad if the wind wasn't blowing.  Long wait, but no story really.  Del hauled up the mountain and arrived quicker than I thought, and I never thought I'd be so happy to see our Jeep.  Thank you to the family that made that call for me!  Saved me from breaking a window...

Saturday, October 6, 2012


It’s always fun to take a guy out fly fishing for his first time.  Besides wading, casting, fly selection, accuracy, line control and actually being able to set the hook; what could go possibly go wrong?  These were the concerns that I had taking a friend of mine out for his first experience.  After a quick, mostly unsuccessful, trip filled with low, dirty, and hard-to-fish streams, I felt like we needed something a little more likely to produce.  So, with hopes of great fishing, we headed out on my favorite day to fish…Wednesday.  Being in the middle of the week Wednesday has the advantage of being as far away from the weekend pressure as possible.  The fish have the opportunity to forget about all the fishermen that were there last weekend, without the new batch showing up yet. 
The good part about having one unsuccessful trip under his belt was the realistic expectations (or lower than realistic) but I was still hoping for a great day to show him how things can be.  So I took Ross over to a stream that I hadn’t fished yet this year, but that I’ve always had good success on.  In fact, this was one of the first streams I ever fished.  Those first trips were with my dad when I was just learning.  I distinctly remember my dad showing me where the fish should be, then heading upstream and leaving me to figure some stuff out on my own.  At the time I had wished that he would’ve stuck around and ‘taught’ me how to fly fish.  In retrospect, I think the time that I was left alone made me want to know things, so when we re-convened later I watched him more intently and learned.  With this in mind, I chose to leave Ross to his own devices to start the day but tried to check in often, hoping to maximize his learning without smothering him or overloading him with information. 
At first he went through some frustrations.  Seemed like every time I looked over he was untangling some mess, or retrieving his fly from the streamside vegetation.  But a short while into our day, he managed his first fish on a fly rod.  I thought that we’d be in the fish from there on out, but it took a little more time than that.  Because of the nature of the stream, it’s difficult to get an ideal drift, and even when you do you have to keep picking up the slack with your off hand.  Long story short, he had a lot of hits and managed to bring a few fish to hand.
Luckily, this was one of those charmed days of summer.  We caught fish on Chernobyl Ants, Haresears, Copper Johns (red), St. Vrain Caddis (yellow and olive), and Adams.  Basically everything we cared to try seemed to work.  Dries seemed to produce as much as our droppers, we caught fish in a good range of sizes, and had consistent action all day.  Not bad for a newbie...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hiking with the boy

A backpack loaded for the first time is the model of efficiency.  Everything you need, nothing you don't, all in it's place (you hope).  After agonizing over the contents I still end up packing at least twice, usually three times.  Then you hate to get into it for anything because you'll inevitably disrupt the efficient nature of the pack.  With high hopes I had planned on a short trip with Sean down to Southern Utah.  However, the enormous storm that hit the state on our planned days changed our plans.  With this bitter taste in my mouth I snapped a quick photo of my still unused pack.  The plan for a redemption trip quickly formed and I ended up hitting the trail with my son instead.  Just an hour from home we were already being welcomed with awesome sights of the red cliffs.

With minimal confusion we quickly found the right route to where we hoped would hold some great opportunities for us.  The hiking, fishing and camping would of course be great with my great company, and I was hopeful that the catching would be similarly great.  Soon we were at the parking area preparing for our adventure into this (for us) unknown area.

Ready to go
Hiking in to an unknown area with an eight-year-old is always a concern.  Some kids wouldn't be up to the challenge, but my little buddy had proved himself tough in past expeditions and I was confident in him.

Even if it did take a few extra water breaks.

Sometimes kids just get excited about little things, like the stream taking over the trail.

The excitement soon faded once we saw the big climb that was the next leg of the hike.


It was a welcomed site when we were finally within sight of the lake.

Unfortunately, the rain was just behind us.  Good thing I packed the rain slicker.

We quickly got our tent set up, just in time to find out it leaks.

Our gormet meal for the evening consisted of reconstituted stroganoff and a couple of Cup-O-Noodles.  Amazing how sub-par food can taste great when you're hungry.

We ended up going to bed early, but because of Atley's bearanoia attack we ended up talking for a while before getting some shut-eye.  About midnight I was suddenly awakened by Atley saying, "But that will effect our airflow!"  Startled, I questioned, "What?"  and Atley replied, "The airflow, wait...must've been a dream" and quickly went back to sleep.  I couldn't stop laughing!

In the morning we threw everything that we had brought at the fish.  But it didn't seem to matter whether we fished flies, jigs, or lures we just couldn't get any action.

So we decided to try another beautiful lake only a little further up the trail.

The fish here were no more interested than at the last lake, but it was worth the hike just to see it.  We quickly decended back to the parking area, although I think it took us just as long to hike down as it had to hike up the day before.

The car was a welcomed site at the end of a challanging couple of days.  So proud of my little buddy for making a 6+ mile hike in two days.  Not sure I could've done the same at his age.  The catching wasn't all we had hoped for, but we still had tons of fun and have lots of reasons to return to this awesome area.