Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Concentrated Effort

Lower Fish Creek
Anytime that I can get to fish with my old friend Sean, I just have to, even if it is on a Saturday.  In hopes of avoiding more pressured areas we decided on fishing Lower Fish Creek (pronounced "crick").  We got an early start from my house, due to Sean almost never being late for fishing, but the road construction between Mt. Pleasant and Fairview held us up for much longer than either of us would have liked.  Getting past the unusually long stretch of road construction (Yeah, I've never understood why they have to shut down a huge section of road, instead of maybe just focusing on smaller sections.  Concentrated effort.  I'm just glad I don't live in Utah County right now.  Okay, rant complete.  Onward to fishing.)

I only fished this stream once last year, on my 'way' home from fishing elsewhere.  The 'way' home is of course a very relative term based almost entirely on the course you choose.  My wife, bless her heart, didn't seem to think that adding almost two hours of driving could still be considered on my 'way'.  I couldn't seem to convince her that it of course was, but that discussion really doesn't matter now.  Anyway, when I fished there last year all I caught were several Chubs.  Yes, Chubs.  Not Whitefish, or even the increasingly respectable Carp, but Chubs.  This may be why I didn't make it back up there more than that one time last year.

So as we pulled in the parking lot below Scofield Reservoir's dam, I had my doubts.  But the sight of the river was enough to get me moving.  Quickly, I was set up and ready to fish before Sean was, so I ventured a few casts just below the first bridge.  The first fish I caught there was a little brown of about 4 inches.  Okay, at least it wasn't a chub like the next one was.  After that Sean was ready to go, so we walked down river.

As we headed down to a stretch of river that I've done well on, we consistently saw schools of Chubs in every pool, back-eddy, and pocket of water big enough to hold them.  The outlook seemed grim.  While it's true that I've only rarely caught Chubs on dry fly, they will peck at your dry fly until it sinks.  It can be truly aggravating.  My preferred rig for the past couple of years has been a dry+dropper, which of course meant catching a ridiculous number of Chubs.  One of these days I'll have to take a bucket up there and supply myself (and probably whoever else wants some) with some great minnows for bait.

Biggest fish of the day, really thick.
Even with the near constant annoyance of Chubs, we managed to catch our share of Trout.  Both on dry fly and on my dropper.  Out of one hole in particular we averaged about 2 Chubs per Trout, but I also caught the biggest fish of the day out of this hole.

All nymph patterns seemed to work about the same, whether I had on a Pheasant Tail, Hare's Ear, Prince Nymph, or my modified Hare's Ear, I caught a lot of Chubs and some Trout.  On top, I had some success with a Chernobyl Ant, tied with a tan colored bottom piece of foam.  This pattern has been an especially good attractor pattern for me over the years.  I especially like the yellow and orange pieces of foam that I put on the top, it makes it really easy to see!

Then at about 1:00 there was a decent hatch of what looked to me like Golden Stoneflies.  On went a yellow Elk-Hair Caddis and it was on.  I was still catching Chubs in between, but I also managed to catch five or six Trout, a mixed bag of Browns and Cutthroat.
Pretty little Cutt
On the walk back up to the truck, I made Sean let me hit one last spot in hopes of just one more Trout.  After spooking a couple ('cause of the windy conditions right?  right?)  I turned to tell Sean I was ready to head and heard a splash behind me, instinctively I set the hook.  A pretty little Tiger Trout was on the other end!  A great way to finish up a great day with a good friend, and no, I didn't keep track of how many either of us caught.  Although it did take a concentrated effort...

I look like a freakin' spaz, but this really
shows how fat this brown was.
And no, I didn't drop him.

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...