Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out With A Bang

A fishing trip fell through this week when my Dad caught the sickness that has swept through my family. With a day suddenly open without commitments we decided to spend the day together and do a little fishing as a family. The usual haunts were tempting, but we decided to try something else and head to a new location. The hope was that we could cross a species, or two, off the Utah Grand Slam list and have some fun together.

Yes, it was cold
After a long drive we found a solid 5 inches of ice but no real depth. The good thing about the ice not being too thick is that you can drill a bunch of holes and move around. Unfortunately, it seemed like everywhere we tried we found the same 4 feet of water. Not knowing if any spot was better than the other options, we tried to spread out and hedge our bets. 

Nice spread

Atley hooked up with a white bass for our first fish of the day! While we were hoping that it would be the first of many, it didn't start the catching how we had hoped.

Proud of this kid

This guy is always happy
Another move before lunch had us pretty hopeful because the shore had quite a bit more structure, but the water wasn't any deeper and the fish were still being shy. Right when the boys had pretty much decided that lunch time had arrived I finally had a hit and made good with a large mouth bass (a species I'd previously checked off the list) that at least got the skunk off of me. 

Not a bad bass
It seemed like a good note to end on and we made the boys happy with lunch. After that we did a little exploring but didn't find any better options for fishing than the areas we'd already hit. With that we decided to change gears and find a place to try out my christmas present, a Smith & Wesson 9mm. 

I like this gun

A good day out with the family, even if the fishing wasn't all that we had hoped. It seemed like a fitting way to close out 2016. 
Hope you're as lucky,

Good times

Monday, December 26, 2016

Thin Ice

Woke up early on Boxing Day to hit the ice with Ross. I had heard that one of my favorite places to hit with the short rods was capped so we went for it. Lots of equipment to gather up and make sure it's in good condition before the first trip of any season, but referring to my packing list helps. On the ride there we noticed that there was some serious ice accumulating on the windows despite the defrost going full blast. The truck's thermometer confirmed that it was really freakin' cold when it read -17˚!

Check out the ice on my window!

Once we made it to the reservoir we found out that we weren't the only ones who had heard about the ice, but there was still room enough for us to stake our claim. Since it was early in the season we were being careful and checking the ice thickness as we worked our way out but with about 4" of clear ice we felt good about fishing. It didn't take long for the fish to give Ross some attention, unfortunately he was busy working on a tangle when they did. The fish wasn't so lucky it when it played with me, and we had our first fish on the ice!


Another miss by Ross, and another nice rainbow by me, before the sun's warmth really started making the ice sound off. At first I could play it off as the usual sounds, but once I realized that my back was hurting from being constantly flexed and I wasn't having fun, it was time to go. Ross agreed and we cleaned up our gear and headed for the truck. We made one more stop on the way home at a lake I've never fished before where we struck out. A good start to the season!

Hope You're As Lucky,

Can't ask for a prettier place to be skunked!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Some of you probably don't think so, but if I can't get out and do some fishing the next best thing is working on rods or tying flies (and daydreaming about fishing). I've built a couple lately so I thought I'd show you what I've been up to.

The first build actually happened because my wife saw a post on facebook from a guy asking if anyone could fix a rod. She tagged me and luckily enough I could fix it for him. He must've liked what I did because he asked that I build him a rod. Not just the cheapest rod he could find, mind you, he wanted a Blue Halo fiberglass rod. Between the two of us we got all the components ordered and I put the rod together as quickly (and as good) as I could. He seemed happy, even mentioned another build in the future, and I watched this beauty leave.


The most nerve-racking part is the epoxy

Really happy with the way it all came out
If you follow me on Instagram you've probably already seen the Blue Halo build and you're not alone. Soon after I finished that rod I was contacted about another build, this time on a matte gray Hook & Hackle blank that I've been holding onto for awhile. The customer wanted a 'one of a kind' rod that she could give her husband for their anniversary. Other than that I could pretty much build whatever I thought would be best. I decided a custom handle, maple insert, some decorative wraps were in order. The thing was a ton of work in a short period (the anniversary was coming quick) but I got the rod done and she picked it up almost the minute it came off the dryer. When I talked to her a few days later she said that her husband was really excited about the rod and wanted to go fishing with me as soon as the weather improved. 

Laying out the materials and trying to figure it out 
It turned out pretty enough, and it felt great in the hand

Things got a little crazy
But it turned out alright!

This decorative wrap on each guide was cool, but a huge pain
 I wish I would've taken more pics of this rod after it was done, but like I said, it was out the door right as it came off the dryer. I've got another rod that I'm just starting tonight, another fiberglass rod but this one is a bit more old school in feel and aesthetic. Well, until I do something crazy... Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season, and Merry Christmas.

Hope you're as lucky,

* If you're interested in my rods and/or nets just message me!

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...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trophy Hunters

It seems like time is just flying by and yet I have none to sit down and write. I've been working an obscene amount this fall and getting out hunting as much as possible. The archery season was mostly uneventful unless you count some close calls and some picture taking.

When the muzzle-loader season started it was all about doing our best to get Atley his first deer. Del and I both had tags, but we were more interested in giving Atley a good experience. We went out a couple of times to shoot his gun (after getting it fixed, for that story click HERE) and he felt comfortable with his gun.

Most of my brothers were on this hunt too, so our camp was big and there were lots of kids to play with whenever we weren't hunting. The boys even had time to build a fort back in the trees. It was great to have all the kids together, brought back memories from when I was a kid.

The first morning Atley and I walked into an area where I figured we might see an elk (Atley had both a deer and a cow elk tag). Things worked out perfectly until we could hear a cow calling in the trees and when I reached for my elk call I realized it wasn't there. I had forgotten them at home. After that elk wandered away without giving us a look, we continued down the trail. Atley used his voice to mimic an elk as best he could (which he was really excited about) and we did our best to move quietly. Finally, we heard some movement up ahead and we moved slowly forward to try and get a look. As is often the case, we were looking more than walking and then it seemed like a cow had appeared out of thin air through the trees in front of us. Atley and I both got shots off before she was gone, and I was confident that we'd be tracking an elk for the rest of the morning. After waiting a while (just in case she hadn't gone far) we moved to where she had been standing to look for blood. We looked everywhere, but there wasn't a drop to be found. I was seriously confused, but figured the excitement must've gotten to us and disrupted our aim. 

No big deal. Lots of time still to hunt and I was confident that we'd have more opportunities to fill some tags. That evening, Del joined us and we headed to a different area to try and find some deer. Someone had clearly tipped the deer off, and they were extra spooky. We spotted a group of bucks that out maneuvered us early on and Atley was getting frustrated. Luckily we spotted a pretty decent two point when we started driving back to camp and Atley was able to get a shot. It wasn't an easy shot by any stretch, so I wasn't surprised when he missed, but it sure was exciting. 

The next morning Atley was again fortunate to spot a buck from the truck that was well within range and he managed to get a great shot. Somehow he missed again, and I was starting to think that maybe he didn't really want to get a deer. While tracking the first buck to see if it'd show up again, he got another shot at a nicer buck. Again, no contact. Finally I had the bright idea to take a closer look at his gun. The sights were completely loose! Luckily, my brother had brought an extra muzzle-loader just in case so that afternoon Atley would be using a different gun. 

Grandpa came along to help us out with some good luck and it wasn't long until we spotted a buck just off the side of the road. With a different gun in hand Atley made good on the shot and downed his first buck! Grandpa and I couldn't have been happier for him and someone else must've been proud too, because right afterwards the sky provided the perfect background.

He was beyond excited with his first success (and won't let us forget who provided dinner every time we have deer) but it wasn't without an understanding of the kill and the feelings of thanks. For anyone who has ever killed their own food, you know with it comes a feeling of reverence for the animal and I think Atley felt that.

With Atley's success we decided to get Del out there to see if she could get a buck too. She's already gotten her first so the smaller bucks that we saw on the last evening of the hunt didn't interest her much. I never would've pegged her as a trophy hunter....

Hope you're as lucky,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Luck

Summer was coming to an abrupt end and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I had to finish writing a marching show before we could go on one last family camping trip before band camps and the beginning of school would seriously limit my available time. I pushed through and got the show written (as well as I could, anyway) and invited some family to join us. The question of where was answered when I had a conversation with Loah (Utah Water Log) about where he'd caught some really nice fish and found out that it wasn't too far from home for me. After a relatively short drive we got camp set up in a really great spot and I headed out fishing alone before dinner.

With the intel provided by Loah I knew right where to start fishing and on the 3rd cast I hooked into a monster of a tiger trout on an olive simi-seal leech. The fish worked me over with some long runs and attempts to get buried into the tangle of weeds, but finally I brought it to the net. Luckily I'd brought my big net...

I managed to catch one more fish before dinner, a healthy tiger but not huge like the first fish. After a great meal (the wife always goes all-out when we go camping) Atley agreed to join me in heading back out fishing until dark. I can't believe how jumpy he's become if we're out in the woods after dark. We heard an owl and saw some bats flying around, but nothing to be scared of. Fishing was about like it was before dinner, and we managed to catch a couple including one that would've seemed huge if it wasn't for the earlier fish.

Early the next morning I headed out fishing alone again so everyone else could sleep in. I threw everything I had at them, but mostly my efforts were ignored. I ended up only catching one small fish before heading back to camp for breakfast. Apparently the dogs wanted to go for a swim so badly that they drug the kids through the mud, literally. Even Del got in to try and help the boys out. Glad I missed this....

We took it easy in camp waiting for my Dad to arrive. We shot Atley's new muzzloader, napped in the hammock and just took some time to relax. When it became clear that he should've already arrived we headed to where we had some cell service to find out where he and his wife Deb were. Once we had some cell service we received messages from several people that were pretty panicked. Dad had taken a wrong turn and pulled his fifth wheel trailer over one of the worst roads on the whole mountain. His truck was totally trashed and they were lucky to have made it back down into town where Dad called me from. He wasn't sure what to do, but I told him if he still wanted to come up I'd meet him halfway to make sure he made it to camp.

I hadn't realized how bad the damage was until I met them on the road. The whole bed of the truck was messed up. Right when we pulled up along-side each other I had another concern though. I could hear that he had a flat tire. Normally a flat wouldn't be the biggest deal in the world, but with the truck bed being damaged it made it really difficult to get the spare out from under it. When they had finally made it to camp they spent the evening cleaning up the mess that was inside the trailer. Despite everything, we had a nice night in camp and the boys were really excited to be camping with Grandpa.

The next morning Dad and I went out to find the fish had all decided not to cooperate. Dad managed a couple of small ones and I got one. A storm rolling in made us head to camp for breakfast and to wait out the weather. Once it cleared we headed for another lake in the area to hopefully find some more willing fish for the boys. The fish had finally gotten the script and seemed to be everywhere just waiting for the boys' offerings. 

We didn't have the lake to ourselves for long and between the loud new arrivals and the afternoon storm that was on it's way in made our visit to this little lake shorter than we had hoped. It sure was nice to see the boys catch a bunch of fish on their own!

The final morning Dad and I gave the big fish spot one more chance. We started in the dark and fished until breakfast time. Dad managed to catch a couple and I scraped out one little guy but the big fish that we could see were willfully ignoring us. Oh well, it'll make us want to come back soon!

Back at camp Dad had more problems. The fifth wheel's batteries were so dead that his pop-out wouldn't retract and he didn't have enough gas in the generator to run that either. We also found out that his stabilizer jack had broken and we had trouble hitching the trailer up too. Rather than fight the trailer all the home just to turn around in two weeks and take it down south to go hunting, Dad decided to drive straight there and try to avoid further complications. Of course, he just had to have a flat tire on the way.

Once we were home (uneventfully, thank goodness) we tried to clean out Atley's muzzloader. Somehow the breech-plug broke when I was trying to remove it. It seemed a fitting end to the trip. What luck...

Hope you're LUCKIER!