Monday, February 27, 2017

Guest Blogger: Utah Big Game Draw

Utah Big Game Draw 2017
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.  

Best of luck!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

No Pike

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. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Return

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus 

The Twitchell Fire back in 2010 decimated trout populations in clear creek and its tributaries shortly after my first, and only, trip there. Before the coals were cool (figuratively) there were already plans at using this opportunity to eradicate non-native species in the drainage and further a native cutthroat restoration effort already underway. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, along with Trout Unlimited, worked to remove the unwanted rainbow and brown trout, restore habitat, and move the creek towards a self-sustaining, wild, native population of Bonneville Cutthroat trout. (Read the SL Tribune Article HERE

Fast forward to today (February 19, 2017) and I'm struggling to get out of bed after a long night of tying flies and being indecisive about where I should go fishing. The first inclination was a lake, possibly with my kick boat, but several people on the interweb told me it would be a mistake. So I decided to hedge my bets and hit one of two streams. The first stop would most likely not be in the best condition for fishing, which meant that I'd finally be heading back to clear creek to see what had become of it. 

As the name indicated, the water was indeed clear which is always a good sign. With all the flies I've been tying I was tempted to just throw some experiment on and see what happened, but instead I flipped some rocks to see what they might be eating. There were quite a few mayfly nymphs and a bunch of cased caddis, so I put on a new fly that would work for the cased caddis and a bead head pheasant tail for the mayflies. 

The calendar says it's still winter, but the weather feels much more like an early spring day and the fishing followed the latter. The Bonneville Cutthroat were anxious to have a taste of my new pattern (as with any pattern I come up with, I realize that several others have probably tied the same fly before me) and a few came to the pheasant tail. 

While the fish weren't big, they definitely made me glad that there were people with the presence of mind to step up and re-establish their population. I'm a sucker for cutts, and I enjoyed being back on the water chasing them. Once I'd caught enough I headed back to the car to start heading home.

It didn't really hit me until I was almost back home, but the stream wasn't the only thing that has changed since I'd last been there. Back then, I wouldn't have been able to decifer the aquatic life on the bottom of a rock and know what flies to start with. I also wouldn't have noticed the awesome cliffs in the canyon (that were obstructed by power lines, typical Utah treatment) or the four bald eagles and two ringneck pheasants on the ride home.
Hope you're as lucky,

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tying Video - Simi Seal Leech Variation

I've decided to start making fly tying videos again. Let me know if there's a pattern you'd like to see and I'll try to add it. For past videos check out the Fly Box tab.

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Congratulations Mel Moore! You've won the Risen Fly Beanie giveaway! Email me with your address and I'll send it over!


Sunday, February 5, 2017


I've been at this blogging thing for a couple of years now and I'm thankful for all of you that stop by to read my ramblings. To show how thankful, I've decided to do a giveaway (or two, depending on the response). We'll start out with a really sweet Risen Fly beanie. All you have to do is follow me on Google+ or follow the blog (both buttons are in the right column). On Sunday, February 12th I'll pick a winner using a random number generator. 

Share with your friends! Hope your lucky,

*I'm sorry, but you have to be a resident of the USA and at least 18 years old.