Sunday, April 24, 2016

Family Camp

Growing up I have great memories of camping with my extended family. These trips included every family having their own trailer and parking in the same vicinity making it look like a new subdivision had suddenly popped up. Some of my family came to water ski and tube, while others were there to fish. Most of the women and children stayed in camp, either crocheting and gossiping or playing card games and gossiping. The only fishing that everyone did consistently was bait fishing, and the fish caught were on the menu for the entire camp. They were great trips and up until just lately my boys had no idea how fun it was to camp with cousins. 

It's really nice to have the beds set up all the time
In the spirit of tradition, and for our first trip out with our own RV, we wanted to go camping with some of my family. Of course, we invited all my family but only my sister Jenny and little brother Weston could make the trip. The boys, Del and I were the first ones down there so we tried to get a decent spot near the water with room enough for two trailers and a tent. Weston wasn't too far behind us, but Jenny wasn't going to come down until the next day.

This fish had a weird kink in it's back
Once camp was set up we headed down to the water to try our luck with Del's favorite method of fishing.....with bait. Our intentions were to catch a few for a good old fish fry, but we only got one on the stringer. Lucky for us, Weston had gone to a different area and found some success with his wife and twin girls and had some fish to share so we could have enough for a meal. 

The birds always come around once you have a fish on the stringer

The first night in our trailer was a cold one! Weston had brought down a generator which allowed us to run the furnace until the middle of the night when it ran out of gas (good thing we didn't have any neighbors to complain about the sound!) then the temperature really dropped. So glad we weren't in a tent! The weather got warmer and warmer the longer we were there, so we figured Jenny would be fine in the tent with a good heater. The trailer was really nice to get out of the wind and hang out and cook, plus the outside grill made it easy to fry up some fish without everything smelling like fish once we were done.

We spotted him again a few minutes later with a fish

When Jenny arrived the next morning we thought our fishing luck had changed for the better because she had pulled down Weston's flat-bottom boat. It's a sweet duck-hunting boat that doubles as a fishing boat pretty well because it's stable enough that standing up isn't a big deal. That first evening we tried trolling some lures around without any luck. We marked fish on the finder but they didn't like what we were serving up. 

Not sure if this was supposed to be a smile or not

My favorite part of the trip was at night when Jenny's family hung out in our trailer and we all played cards and relaxed. Phase 10 can really make for some intense competition! We all stayed up way too late to get anything of an early start with the next day's fishing but it was worth it. 

I don't know why he didn't catch a fish...
The second morning we headed out with the boat in a different area of the lake to try and find some more willing fish. When trolling had again failed us we decided to anchor up and try some different methods. Weston, Jenny's husband Zach and their daughter Riann all tried bait while I tried some different jigs (there were just too many people in the boat to try and cast a fly rod). Weston was about the only one having any sort of success, getting several strikes while the rest of us smelled of skunk. Finally, Wes connected on a nice rainbow which made several good runs before he brought it to the boat, I guess that lucky hat of his paid off again!
After another night of playing games we got another later-than-usual start, but we decided to spend our last morning fishing the area where Weston and his family had found success. Back to sitting with Del and bait fishing, but at least we found some fish pretty quickly. Del, Caden and I all caught fish and Atley had a couple of opportunities before it was time to clean the fish that would be dinner tonight and get ready to go home. Atley helped clean the catch for the first time and did a pretty decent job! 

Happy boy!

Too bad this one got off
Back to camp to say goodbye to everyone and get on the road ourselves. With everyone pulling out we thought it'd be safe to let the dogs have a little freedom, but Bonnie must've known that a truck ride was coming up because she decided to wander off. That freakin dog has hated riding in vehicles since I first brought her home. Talk about frustrating. We finally got her close enough to grab and after walking her all the way back to the vehicle she went straight into the dog crate in the back of the truck. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise stellar maiden trip with the trailer. There have already been talks of getting out with the family again and I can't wait.

Hope you're as lucky,

Always fun to get out!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fishless Stream

 I finally finished a fly rod for Luc just in time for Spring break and his growing obsession of fly fishing. While the weather was less than ideal, there were still a couple of days nice enough to get out and do some fishing. He broke the rod in fast during an afternoon on the stream and was ready now for a full day excursion to chase some fin.

The rod, the stalk and the first fish
Some people just have a certain luck about them. For some this is some type of good luck, others...well, not so much. Luc is bad luck. Seems like every time we go out the fishing ends up being less than what we'd hoped. He has the type of bad juju that can affect everyone's fishing that has the misfortune of fishing with him.  Like last year when we made the hike into a stretch of stream only to find finicky fish and more people than that stream can really handle. The best catch of that day was when Luc tangled into a bird that just happened to be flying by. OR like the time we hiked down on a nice stream when we got hailed on and managed to keep pushing a couple of pelicans ahead of us for most of the day. The only saving grace of that day was when Luc stuck a nice fish. There are some people that don't believe in luck, but my guess would be that they aren't fishermen. Any fisherman in the know understands that there is some mysterious power at work that grants good fishing to some while giving the shaft to others. 

A cool old tractor cab
In an effort to hedge our bets we decided to fish on a private stretch of stream that I've gotten permission to fish. I wish there was some story behind gaining the access. A tale of working the grapevine, schmoozing the owners with promises of releasing fish, cleaning up garbage, exchanging labor for access or maybe even something a little more epic. But no, I heard that a co-worker owned a stretch of stream, brought it up to her and she said I could come fish whenever. The stream has some really nice looking stretches that have a good mix of riffles and pools with some undercut banks, trees and willows for cover. The fish food available is incredible with lots of scuds, aquatic worms, leeches, mayflies, caddis, and midges with equally incredible terrestrials with field mice, voles, and grasshoppers (at the right time of year). The problem? No fish seem to live in this stretch. We fished the whole thing which is a good days worth of fishing and if the fish were biting it would probably be more than a days worth and only saw a few fish. Perfect drift after perfect drift through some amazing looking water that brought no fish made for some frustrating fishing. We kept saying, "maybe we'll start seeing them from here up" then "Okay, from here up" then "Are there no fish, or do we just suck?" 

It really is a beautiful stretch of stream
This stretch reminds me of a stream a few years ago where the water from a dam had been turned off without warning and it killed thousands of fish. The next year there had been an explosion of Utah Chubs with very few trout in the mix, but they were really nice. Every year since we've found more and more fish, but the average size has gone down. Hopefully we'll hit it just right when there are some nice sized fish in the stream but before they begin to become stunted. 

Looks like a beatis to me
We kept working our way upstream until we found what was keeping the fish we'd found in the upper stretches from getting down to the private stretch, a diversion dam. I think it's going to take some serious run-off to flush some fish over that thing, or they're going to need to restock the stream. The beginnings of the beatis hatch were stirring, so we felt confident that if we could find some fish we could probably catch some fish. A likely looking hole that looked pretty deep proved us right once Luc switched to an indicator nymphing set-up with enough weight to get the flies down. Several fish were caught quickly, including some beautiful Cutthroat, on a BH Pheasant Tail (which we expected would work) and a big #8 Hare's Ear with a orange bead (which we didn't expect to work that well). 

After a morning of frustration, Luc seems pretty happy to be catching
From there up it was good fishing with even a few risers to keep things interesting. I managed to hook and lose a decent brown when my dropper got in-bedded into a submerged log. The cutts were definitely out in force after not seeing many of them for quite a while (where do they all hide?) and they look like they're ramping up for the spawn. All in all, another great day out on the water with good company. As an added bonus we managed to break the bad juju and catch our fair share of fish despite starting out on a fishless stream. 

Hope you can get out,

There are sharks in the water

He just doesn't like to call it a day