Monday, December 23, 2019

Worth It

Winter break came just in time to salvage what little sanity I still have left. With a break in the cold weather we saw our opportunity to get out an do some fishing so we took it. Dad and I tried to make plans that included my brothers but they couldn't get away from the pre-christmas honey-do's, so we went without them. Gotta get out while you can.

1:30 in the AM felt more than a little early, but in order to get enough fishing in to make the trip worth it you've got to get the driving done in the dark. Making the trip 'worth it's is highly subjective, but getting at least as much fishing in as driving you have to do to get there is the minimum for me. A 1:1 ratio isn't the ideal, but I make up for it most of the year fishing close to home. This drive is a long one that includes lots of caffeine, conversation and working out all of life's problems. A bull elk, several deer, a coyote and even a fox came in into our headlight's glow on the way, luckily none are in our lane.

We arrived just after light and started fishing as quick as we could get our warm clothes on and rigged up our rods. Small hits we're pretty regular right away, but hook ups didn't come as quick. Once I managed to get a couple in, it was clear that the hole was chuck full small rainbows. Dad couldn't seem to hook up, but I managed a real nice fish in between the little guys.

Onto the next spot, where it was more of the same for me. Lots of little fish without much difference between them. Dad was getting some strikes but just couldn't get a hook set and was getting a little frustrated. Not sure how this works sometimes, but once he got one fish more followed without too much difficulty. Fishing can be weird like that sometimes. 

We tried a bunch of different spots, each one seemed to have the same size and number of fish. We decided to try a small pond that has held some nice fish in the past, but tended to be pretty difficult to fish. Shallow, super clear water is tough enough but this pond has the added fun of thorned bushes around the shore that like to grab your fly line and make the long casts needed to get to where the fish are almost impossible. While working into position and trying to find a good place to cast from we were reminded of another reason this pond is less than ideal when dad stepped into a hole and fell down. Thankfully the loud crack I heard as he went down was only his net. Dad wasn't too happy about his net, and the fish were less than sympathetic ignoring our efforts. 

We finished out the day starting on our long drive in the light. Spotting deer and another coyote was a pretty cool way to finish out a good day of fishing with my dad.

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, December 15, 2019

90% of the Fun

The weather outside is progressing further away from what most people would consider "fishing weather" and yet I'm getting more excited about getting back out there. Over the past few years we've been finding some great fish during the colder months, and that's got me back at the vice trying to anticipate what might work and going over every detail that I can recall. It's easy to remember when we had epic days where everything we threw seemed to work, but these are less helpful.

The days when little or nothing worked are where my mind wanders as I try to make every wrap as perfect as I can. Like the day last year when we hooked a fish on the first cast with a wooly bugger, but that was the only one that showed any interest for hours. Only when we changed over to small zebra midges fished under indicators did we find some small fish for consolation. I only had a few of those flies on me that trip, so I've been working on refilling that box. 

What's going to make or break the cold days ahead are anyone's guess, but if a little extra time in the basement will put a few more fish in the net then it's worth it. Besides, like grandpa used to say, "anticipation in 90% of the fun!"

Hope you're as lucky,


fyi, these two nets are still available! 

Monday, October 21, 2019


The weekend started by taking the rifle out for a long walk, otherwise known as elk hunting. Going into it I didn't have much confidence in the last day of the rifle season, but I decided to use the hike to explore a new area. Coming across bear tracks when you're out hiking always puts a new edge on things, but when it's obviously a sow with cubs it definitely makes you pay attention!

I wasn't about to let seeing some tracks ruin my hunt or deter me from the area, so I continued on up the trail. As I was trying to find a way across the gully I found this really cool claw. Not sure what it is, but I think it's pretty neat.

Slowly working my way across the north-facing hillside I found some heavily used bedding areas and was getting excited when I spooked a cow that spooked every other elk in the draw. I tried to find a spot where I might see the elk on the opposing side, but couldn't before the herd had worked it's way out of my life forever. This is definitely an area that I'll be heading back into, but I don't know if that will be this year or next. 

I finished the day sitting on a hillside above a group of does watching the light fade on the rifle elk season. The next day I was really feeling all the hiking, so I stayed around the house and tried to get some honey-dos off the list. Fixing posts on the patio and running kids around is all part of the job, but when we pulled the cards from our back yard trail cams I got excited to set some traps. 


Got the traps set and planned on taking it easy with the wife until we saw some turkeys in the yard and Atley wanted to fill his tag. We snuck up behind the flock and Atley made a great shot on a bird, then he handed me the gun and I couldn't help but fill my tag too. I had to leave to pick Caden up from a sleepover and told Atley to take care of the birds. When I got back I was pretty impressed that Atley had both birds cleaned out and ready to go. Pretty fun, and really tasty! 

Started the next day with a family breakfast and cleaning up around the house. After our turkey nugget lunch I started getting the bug to get out and do some fishing! I haven't been out for months, but the itch seems to be coming back and I wanted to hit a local stream for the afternoon. Started out hot with an olive jig fly that caught a few then turned off cold.

Made the switch over to a Purple Haze to throw at some risers and picked up a few more fish. If they were rising consistently the fishing was pretty simple, just put a good cast in front of them without spooking the fish and you'd get an eat. I was working my way upstream switching between the small parachute dry and a dry/dropper set-up when I tried a Barr's Emerger pattern for the first time. Why haven't I used this fly before? Several more fish came to hand, including a nice one to end the day.

The next day I woke up to dogs barking and a headache. Whenever I have traps set I make sure to check them often and I was sure glad that I did this morning. Both traps that I had out had a fox in them! First catches ever for me and quite the way to end our Fall Break! Hopefully, Deli's chickens will be a bit safer now...

I'm not sure if a break like this makes it any easier to go back to work, but I'm very thankful for the time to be with my family and to get out into nature. 

Hope you're as lucky,


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Turkey Town pt 1

Even though I'm a complete novice turkey hunter, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite hunts of the year! Not only was I excited to get back into the woods, but I was also excited because this was going to be Caden's very first hunt. Since he passed Hunter Safety earlier this year (read about that HERE) we've been looking forward to his turkey hunt to practice what he learned. I put in some evenings scouting and found a few toms and some jakes doing almost exactly what they had done last year. We also came across several spots where some turkeys hadn't quite made it through the long winter. 

The 'scouting' hikes were also a great opportunity to do some shed hunting and we actually found a few!

Being a music teacher never seems to come with an off-season, but spring isn't even close to that. Festivals, concerts, practices, and finishing out the school year all managed to get in the way of turkey hunting but we tried our best to get out in the evenings whenever we could. The boys were going to take turns going out with me because we only have one shotgun (and I thought having fewer people would be easier to minimize noise/movement/distractions). The first evening came and Caden got his first chance in the field. The plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost, not really trying to call them in unless they wanted to talk. The cold evening was just starting to go dark when we spotted some birds that had snuck in behind us. Caden got a shot at a tom, but he had to turn quick to shoot, and missed. 

Atley got the 1st morning hunt, but we completely struck out other than spooking some birds as we were still trying to get where we wanted to set up. Amazing how quickly thoughts of being cursed, or unlucky, creep in despite him having success in the past. The youth hunt ended without a bird for either boy, but they still had the opportunity to get one during the general hunt. Unfortunately, the weather kept trying to extend winter and I didn't want to force the boys to go out in bad weather, fearing that a bad experience might turn them against going out at all. Of course this is when a group of several jakes presented an opportunity. I decided against filling my tag with a young bird since I'd shot one for my first-ever turkey last year.

An evening of better weather got both the boys to come with me and Atley was up. Again, the plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost. Before we could get into position we spotted some birds in a field on private. We used the terrain to stay out of sight and worked up and above them. We slowly worked to where we thought they'd be coming through on the way to roost. As seems to be the trend of this year we were busted by a hen on our way to set up (maybe we're being too aggressive?) and we froze in our tracks until she moved off. Then we went into "Ninja-Sniper" mode, as Atley called it, and tailed the group of birds hoping they'd cross the fence to where we could get a shot. Super slow going! We did get to see a jake try to mount a hen and get smacked down by a tom. Suddenly, a red head was on the right side of the fence, but Atley couldn't see it. Quickly, it disappeared down the trail and we were in hot pursuit. Once we spotted it again Atley made a great shot and filled his tag! 

One thing I'm trying to be better at is letting the boys be more involved with the decision making and calling. Atley made all the decisions that led to his harvest. Once we spotted the birds he decided to use the scrub oak to hide us, he decided to take the high trail, and he decided to trail the flock. It definitely made the experience better for him and hopefully will translate into getting him out hunting more.

More to come about Caden's hunt and how I finished out my season. Good times with great people and lots of turkey nuggets! 

Hope you're as lucky,

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Da Greeen!

Dad taught us how to fly fish small streams and rivers with an automatic reel, a level leader and a renegade. There were no other flies on the stream. Fly fishing was for July and August only, once the water came down and cleared. I fished this way for years, catching quite a few fish and devoting the other months of the year to fishing lakes with my spinning rod. One summer, we did a job building a garage and pouring a new driveway for my Dad's cousin Gary. We knew Gary fly fished, but he used all those weird flies and didn't fish like us. During the build, there were several mornings when Gary would head out to fly fish, even though it was only May! He had a lot of success which made us want to get out too. Weston and I headed for the middle provo river where we figured was some of the only fishable water in the state at that time of year. We caught some fish, little ones, using our 'traditional' approach. Talking with Gary at the end of the next day he invited us into the house to show me a couple of flies and how to tie them. I still have those flies: Deer hair caddis, pheasant tail, para-hopper, Chernobyl Ant. After a trip (or two) to Sportsman's Warehouse and a local fly shop (full of snobs) I gathered all the needed materials to reproduce these flies on my own and an addiction at the vise took hold.

Another thing that Gary showed us was how to float Utah's Green River below Flaming Gorge on kick boats. I distinctly remember floating that river and watching Gary catch 5 fish or more to my every strike. This fishing was SO WEIRD! Sitting in what felt like an easy chair floating down the stream "with" your fly was strange, but the way the fish would come up and sip the fly from the surface was the weirdest. Fishing the riffles with a renegade meant that strikes came sudden and violent, it was too much to wait until the fish took the fly and several times I pulled the fly right out of their mouths.

Fast forward 15 years and I don't think there's a single renegade in my boxes (although I should have some, it's a great fly) and I've been trying to fish like Gary ever since. With these memories haunting me throughout the long cold winter, I decided to make the trek out to the green after several years of 'being too busy' with Dad and my boys in tow. 

Stayed the night at Dad's with Del and the boys since she had to be up north the next morning for a work conference. Early morning we headed out by way of Wyoming to the green, arriving at Little Hole not long after sunrise. To start we were the only ones around, though we knew that wouldn't last. In my rush to get a fly wet I didn't put on waders, and ended up not getting them on all day even though it would've made things a lot easier. 

Fish were active in the riffles taking beatis nymphs and I managed to catch a few before people started joining us and we decided to hike up the canyon to try a different spot. Most active fish were out of reach from shore, so we headed back to the truck for some lunch and a break from the wind. Watching more and more people arrive made us decide to drive up to try below the dam before heading for home. 

The change in scenery and getting out of the wind was nice, but Dad didn't want to fish too much longer so he dropped Atley and me off to fish for a little while and he took a nap while Caden told him all about the movie "Tron" that he's been obsessed with lately. We found a pod of rising bows to play with and they were willing to come up for a parachute blue wing olive. The  fish were cruising around a back eddy - so timing and accuracy were needed to fool them into eating at the end of a 40 foot cast. Some of the most fun you can have while flyfishing - sight fishing dries to rising fish. A few fish brought to hand and we decided it was time to call it a day. 


A sleepy blur of sagebrush and kids talking about random things is all I remember of the drive home as Dad made good use of the nap time he'd had. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Saturday, June 29, 2019


In addition to teaching music at the local high school, for the past two years I've also been in charge of jazz music for our state which includes running the State Jazz Festival the weekend before Spring Break. Leading into this festival is always pretty stressful, but the one thing that kept me going were some loosely laid plans of fishing during the break. The one definite plan was a trip with Weston and Dad to where nessie has been rumored to live. As it always seems, the best laid plans were screwed by the unexpected. This time Dad catching a stomach bug kept him from coming, but me and Wes decided to go without him. 

The new plan included staying at Weston's the night before and then making an early morning drive. I haven't watched basketball for awhile, so I was shocked when watching the game before going to bed. When did the NBA stop playing defense? Went to sleep with the image running through my head of some guy breaking his leg during the game...

The drive was a good one talking with Wes and listening to Randy Newberg podcasts. The wind was waiting for us as we got out of the truck but right away Weston hooked up on a good rainbow. These fish were coming off the spawn looking like they'd been run through a blender, but still had a lot of fight in them. 

Tried lots of streamers since that was the kind of fishing we wanted to do, but the good old Olive Wooly Bugger was more effective than anything else. Fishing was spotty, but we made contact in most spots we stopped. Even the new spot that required a little more effort by way of walking produced some fish, including the only splake (Brook Trout + Lake Trout = Splake) I've ever seen out here.

The next day Weston had to work early so we called it a day decently early and hit the long road. Lots of fun and a great reprieve from work.

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Good for What Ails Ya

All week long I've been fighting with nausea and soreness, missing a few days of work because of it. Dad called mid week and said he was heading south to a lake where the fishing is usually good in the early spring, and asked if I wanted to come down Saturday. I wanted to, but an early morning, a long drive and more time on my feet than I'd had all week just didn't seem to fit with how I was feeling. The fishing was epic by all reports. 

Instead, I stayed home and watched the weather improve throughout the morning until it was just too nice to stay home. A local stream would make for a quick trip and the boys decided to come with! When we got to the stream I was a little surprised to see someone else fishing, but there was still plenty of stream for everyone. Unfortunately, the rod that we'd grabbed to share between us was the one that Atley had broken on our last trip....

Ran back home to switch out the rod and stopped to get Deli a drink on the way. As we came out of the little restaurant the guy that had been fishing the stream passed us. With the drink delivered and a new rod in hand, we headed back to the stream to see if any fish wanted to play. Atley was up first and did a great job nabbing the first fish on a prince nymph.

We tried to get Caden a fish, but they were being just difficult enough that he couldn't make it happen. We moved upstream, working the spots we could reach from the shore since none of us had waders on (in fact, I need to buy some new ones...) The last spot that we fished before we all agreed on heading home was a deep pool where we usually can trick a trout or two. Luck was with us as I hooked and landed a beautiful brown. Any day I can get out and fish with my boys is a good one! 

Hope you're as lucky,