Saturday, December 18, 2021

Coyote Hunting

I'm not sure what it is, but it seems like we all go through phases where we get super obsessed with one thing and that's all we want to do. Right now, Jeff's got the predator hunting bug again so I decided to take a day and go with him. Last time we went we took our boys and despite all the extra movement & noise we still called in a coyote. Unfortunately, I was trying to film the hunt and Jeff didn't see it. So this time we tried to improve our odds by only having adults and not trying to film the hunt. 

Coyote hunting to this point has always been an exercise in futility. We go out, make a few setups, and then spend the rest of the day driving around. This time would be different because we were going to keep making 'stands' all day (or at least until we called it quits). The first two set-ups seemed very familiar, with what we thought would be great when we first sat down, but they were pathetically bad by the time we decided to move and stood back up. Kinda crazy how the landscape can change like that. We did see a nice mule deer buck chasing does around and a small herd of elk, so that was pretty cool. 

The third stand seemed pretty promising as we walked into position. We decided to sit a little ways apart from each other to cover all the angles. My mind was just started to wander when suddenly there was a coyote running right towards us. My initial thought was to hurry and get a shot off before Jeff could, but my better senses kicked in and I waited. If a shot presented itself I would take it, but if Jeff got a shot first that would be great too. It's crazy how greed can rear its ugly head in moments like this. I continued watching the dog covering ground on its approach until it just disappeared. I don't mean like it ran off, but it was there one moment and gone the next. I stayed focused trying to look with a wide lens for few seconds (that felt a lot longer) and just as suddenly as it had disappeared the dog reappeared slightly to my right and really close. Just when I was hoping that it would stop it did, and I took the shot at 49 yards. My Ruger 243 doesn't have that much knockdown power, so when the dog disappeared I thought I had missed it. I quickly re-loaded and waited a few moments for a chance at a follow-up shot. When the coyote didn't reappear I stood up to get a better look at the situation. I may have gotten a little excited when I saw the coyote laying almost exactly where it was when I pulled the trigger. My second ever coyote!

Jeff was just as excited as I was about the success and this made it easy to stick with it a little longer and we quickly moved to another spot to make another stand. Even though the next stand looked very similar to others that we've made over the years, coming straight off a success makes having confidence easy and we were sure that we'd be seeing another coyote soon enough. Too bad we were wrong! The next few stands produced no action other than seeing a few bucks chasing does around and a huge group of turkeys. 

The day was getting late as we made our way back to my truck, but I couldn't help but feel pretty happy with a successful trip. It probably won't be too long before we try it again. 

Hope you're as lucky,


Saturday, December 11, 2021


Google photos started showing 'memories' like Facebook, and the morning of our trip I had a memory pop up that one year prior, to the day, is when Lane and I hit the same water that we were supposed to fish. It's pretty weird when you're that consistent without even trying! As I worked with the Summer Marching Band program I watched the clouds gather over the area where we were supposed to be heading. Ross claimed that he was too busy to go, but I wonder if those clouds had anything to do with it...

Once I was done working, I made the call to Lane to see what he was thinking and to make sure he wasn't going to bail. As I expected, Lane was still ready to go so we headed out to a small stream where we hoped to find some fish that were willing to rise. Or at very least hit a dropper so we could pretend to be fishing dry flies. We arrived at the empty trail head and decided to hike a little ways from the parking lot, hoping to find some less-educated fish. Started out slow for action on top, but we did manage a few on weighted nymph droppers.

We kept working our way up until we came upon a pool where fish were starting to rise. A couple fell for my purple haze before the rain (and hail) starting falling. The storm ended almost as quickly as it began but a couple minutes after it had stopped the stream changed colors and not for the better. 

A few other fishermen hiked past us as the fishing turned off and we started talking about bailing on this stream and heading somewhere else. It was about this time that we hooked into a couple more fish.

Then the water cleared just as fast as it had clouded up and we started catching fish on top again. Just like that. 

Evening was coming on and thoughts of making the hike back to the truck were intruding on our fishing when I tried swinging a prince nymph (okay, it might've been on accident) and instantly improved the catch rate. It kept working as I caught up to Lane. We switched over to caddis dry flies and started taking turns swinging them to splashy rising fish. Just before the light completely left the water we caught one of the emerging bugs that were making the fish go crazy, it wasn't a caddis but a green drake! 

Luckily, I had a head lamp in my vest that made the hike out much easier. Thoughts of getting back to this stream as quickly as possible to try and hit the hatch again was all we talked about on the hike out and the ride home. Unfortunately, we couldn't line up our schedules for another day of fishing for quite awhile. Oh well, maybe we'll hit it again next year...

Hope you're as lucky,


Sunday, December 5, 2021


I'm always willing to get out and do some fishing, but I'm even more excited when someone else is willing to go with me.  With the success I experienced on the dry fly last week (read about that trip HERE) I couldn't help but let Lane know where the fish were looking up. Lane is always the first to switch to a dry fly at the slightest indication that the fish might be willing. We exchanged a few texts and soon enough a plan to get on the water together took shape. We decided to head to the same place as I've been fishing lately with hopes of finding more rising fish. 

We arrived on the water bright and early and initially, it didn't feel too cold, so I didn't put on my coat and gloves figuring that it was only going to get warmer as the day went on. We made our way downstream, biting off a good chunk of the stream that would take a good portion of the day to fish. Right away we started sight-fishing to nymphing fish, and we had some hits but couldn't seem to close the deal. Before we could make much headway with the fish the wind started coming down the canyon making it really cold and almost unbearable to fish. It was so cold that Lane's fly line snapped! As he tried to figure out a way to make it work I realized that I really needed my coat and gloves that were sitting, uselessly, in the truck. I suggested we make the walk back to the truck to get Lane a spare reel to fish with (but really it was because I couldn't feel my hands!) 

I worked on getting warm in the cab of the truck while Lane got set up with my spare reel. Once we were both ready to get after it again I put on every spare piece of clothing I had and we started fishing. After casting to some fish we spotted without any takers, a few fish rising upstream from us got our attention and we started chasing rings without any luck. About when we were thinking about picking up and heading for different waters we got over a pod of active fish in the bottom of a deep hole and I finally got a fish to the net.

With an idea of what the fish might be interested in, it didn't take long for Lane to get his first to the net too. 

Things were going good trading off whenever one of us managed to get a fish in on a tiny midge pupa, or when our heads got too cold. I'm not sure how many fish we brought to hand, but it was just enough to hold our attention and keep us from moving on. That's when the unthinkable happened: My rod broke. Not sure that I did anything wrong this time, I just went to cast and as I was just starting out of my backcast I heard a snap and knew it was over. This has been the best rod I've ever owned. The blank was from Hook & Hackle and has just been phenomenal. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. I walked back to the truck to get my spare rod, a sweet little fiberglass rod. It took a few minutes to get used to the different rod, but once I did I was back in the game. 

Towards the end of the day we spotted some rising fish in the hole above where we were fishing and I told lane to have at them. While he was chasing risers (and coming in brief contact with a couple) I continued fishing my nymph rig and managed to get one more to the net.

When Lane came back with tales of almost making it happen on the dry fly the temperature was dropping rapidly. So we fished our way back to the truck and lane managed to finish out the day with a great fish. 

Even though it was a rough day in some ways, it was a really good day in other ways and one that I needed in a lot of ways. I'll try to repair the rod, or just build a new one and get back after it as soon as I can. 

Hope you're as lucky,


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Not a Repeat

It's hard not to keep going back to the same places to try and re-create your experiences, but we all know that isn't really how it works. Last week I went to a local stream and had a great time catching some really nice browns on a nymph rig, so this week I went back hoping to have the same type of day. After taking care of a few things around the house (not the big project of finishing the flooring in the basement though...) I ended up getting to the stream at almost the same time as last week. I decided to start where I'd left off with the same rig and on the same stretch. 

This week, other than a brief connection with a small fish, they weren't having anything to do with my black and copper zebra midge. I worked my way upstream where I spotted some rising fish in an almost dead still pool. I sat down, trying not to let the feeding fish distract me, and retied my leader to be longer and finer. A #16 Griffith's Gnat with an orange hot spot and a #20 Midge Parachute dropper got tied on. The time away from fishing was evident as I struggled to get the longer leader to go where I wanted it to, but eventually, I put my flies in front of a rising fish that didn't hesitate to inhale the Midge Parachute. The fight on 6x tippet had me holding my breath, especially when the fish somehow got wrapped up for a moment, but it didn't take too long before a nice-sized male brown trout was in the bottom of the net. 

It seems like the majority of the time that I find rising fish in this type of smooth water I only catch one or two before I've spooked the lot of them and either have to wait for them to come back or move to find new fish. Today, for whatever reason, the fish just kept feeding and if I was able to put my flies in front of them without throwing a shadow, or my fly line, over them I had a decent chance of getting a take. 

Getting a take doesn't mean that you've caught a fish, but it's a good start. The takes were slow and deliberate and by some miracle I was patient and waited for (most) the fish to close their mouths before setting the hook. I found myself whispering wait just before setting the hook deliberately, but not too fast or hard. Then, if I remembered to play them gently on the light tippet, I would end up with a fish in the net. 

All the fish seemed like they were in really good post-spawn shape and should winter over just fine. The days are short in the canyon, and by mid-afternoon, the temperature started to fall and the action slowed down. Rather than fight it or switch my setup back to a nymph rig I headed for the truck happy that the day wasn't a repeat of the last trip. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Playing Hooky

I haven't written in a while. I know, but to be fair I also haven't been out too much either. The end of the summer was spent in my basement playing sheetrock games (there's a crazy story there, but now's not the time or place) and not out chasing fish. Hunting season came and went with only one close call, but I still suck with a bow and missed an elk at a ridiculously close range. Oh well. With all that behind me, I decided to skip out on working in my basement (flooring) and hit a local stream. The best news was Caden decided to join me! 

The stream in question is one that is pretty close to where we live and every time I fish there I wonder why I don't go more often. A beautiful stream, close to home, with some nice-sized fish in the mix. I guess I'm always looking for greener pastures. We arrived around mid-day and quickly hooked into a fish that almost as quickly freed himself from the hook, but it gave us the confidence to move upstream and make another go of it. We spotted some fish that were feeding at the bottom of a small riffle and in a spot where I usually find fish (I do fish here sometimes). It took a little doing, but eventually, the first fish fell for a black and copper Zebra Midge. 

Working our way upstream we came to another great pool and started to fish it. Caden was content playing with the camera while I changed flies and practiced casting. For some reason, another fisherman thought it would be okay to drop in right above us and start fishing. There isn't much stream to fish in this stretch and he parked right next to us, pretended that our day didn't matter, and started fishing above us. I was tempted to go let him know that he'd just pulled a jerk move, but instead, I caught a couple more fish and we walked back to our truck. 

We drove to another spot and found some very spooky fish, but I did manage to trick one more before Caden was too cold and we walked back to the truck. 

After letting Caden get into the truck I fished for a few more minutes just downstream where I could keep an eye on my boy. A couple more fish were anxious to eat a zebra midge and I finished out with the best fish of the day. 

I'm not sure why I haven't been getting out too much lately, but I plan to change that! I'll let you know if I do. 

Hope you're as lucky,

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Koke Kid

I've been told by several people now that "boat" stands for "Break Out Another Thousand" (or "Bring Out Another Thousand") and I never would've thought it could be true until I owned a boat of my own. Now it isn't really funny... I've been trying to get the boat set up to do some trolling. I've upgraded the bow mount electric trolling motor and in preparation for this trip I added two downriggers that I bought from my brother Jeff. He was kind enough to deliver them and help me get them installed.

Since May I've been hearing about how great the fishing has been at Flaming Gorge for Kokanee salmon. Weston and my Dad purchased a really nice boat this past winter (I guess it was the thing to do...) and have been getting out on the water as much as possible. They finally talked me into making the long drive to try my hand at some salmon fishing, and I finally had the boat set up enough that I could. The drive took a while, but Caden and I passed the time by listening to the MeatEater podcast, specifically "The Meat Tree" episodes which are phenomenal.

Met up with Dad and his wife Deb in Evanston and followed him to camp. Camp was a great spot, close to the water where we could launch the boat/play in the water, but it was really hot when we arrived. We opened up the trailer and tried to get things aired out, and worked on getting the boat ready to launch. In the meantime, Weston and his family arrived. We launched the boat and took it out only to find out that the electric motor that I had re-mounted didn't clear the bow. Back to shore to try and fix it. Struggled to get the boat on the trailer. Got the truck stuck. Lost my temper and acted like a jackass (not a proud moment). After I settled down a little bit and got the boat fixed up, Weston and I took it out for the last 30 minutes of light and managed to catch a great kokanee to start the trip.

The next morning we hit the water early! At 5 AM, we all went out in Weston's boat since his family didn't feel like waking up that early. We got set up and it didn't take long for Cado to hook into his first-ever Kokanee! And then his second!

When Weston's family was up and ready to go we headed back to pick them up and Dad, Caden, and I got into my boat for the second effort. Caden hooked into another kokanee pretty quickly and we thought we were in business! Unfortunately, the fishing turned off pretty quickly after that. 

The next morning we split up to start because my Bro-In-Law Zach had arrived at camp. Caden and I were alone in my boat and Caden kept up his streak as the koke kid, quickly landing his personal best (so far) salmon.

I followed that up with my personal best Kokanee.

After that, our batteries on the trolling motor died and we had to head in. It's definitely an issue that I'm going to have to figure out for the future. In the meantime, Weston came and picked us up and we all headed out in one boat. Then we found out that the morning in the other boat hadn't been that great, but Zach did manage to catch the littlest fish of the trip, a little cutthroat.

Once we got back out Zach hooked into a much nicer Koke

The fishing turned off pretty quickly after that, so we headed back to camp for lunch and then we took my boat out to play in the water! The kids all got a chance to do some tubing, and even some of the adults took a ride. Lots of fun. 

The evenings were really tough fishing, but we still tried to make it happen. At very least it gave me a chance to get better at this trolling game, trying different set-ups and practicing putting rigs out. 

Barbequed salmon for dinner was amazing! According to Weston the fishing was pretty slow, but it was good enough to make us stay for an extra night just to give it one more try. Unfortunately, the fishing was incredibly slow for our last morning and our batteries died after only two hours of fishing. We did manage to catch some trout while trolling and Cado caught a nice rainbow on a jig. 

It was a good way to end a great trip out with my boy! It took us awhile to get all loaded up, but we made the drive home in a lot better time. With one big trip under our belt, I realize how much I have to learn about this new-to-me style of fishing. When we were kids we did a lot of trolling, but things have changed from the way we used to do things and I'm excited to dig in and learn new things. Also, I'm hoping that this style of fishing will make it a little easier to talk my family into going with me. We'll see how that goes! 

Hope you're as lucky,


(The morning after we left, Zach caught another great Kokanee)

Monday, July 19, 2021

A Good Float

I've been wanting to go fishing with my cousin Garry for a long time, so I reached out to him and planned a day that we could go and float a river. Met up with him at midnight to make the drive out to the green river below flaming gorge, drinking coffee and swapping stories including how this is Garry's new drift boat his previous one had been sunk by his friend. It sounds like the friend was probably lucky to not have drowned in the process. To his credit, he replaced the boat. 

Arrived early and got the boat launched before light. While I was waiting for Garry to come back down from the parking area I caught two rainbows on a woolly bugger. Once there was enough light to see we set off on our float down the A section. Using an amazing secret method that Garry showed me, we found some willing fish and missed/long line released several more. 

Fishing slowed down considerably once we got into the sunlight and other boats started catching up to us. I know that these fish see a lot of boats and are probably used to it, but I swear that seeing a boat spooked the fish...and there were A LOT of boats. Some were fishing boats, but the majority were pleasure boaters. Lots of people seem to be getting out and enjoying the outdoors which is great, but do they have to do it the same day & time as me?

We found a pod of rising fish and anchored up in order to cast to them repeatedly. Everytime a boat would go by the fish would stop rising for a couple of minutes. We also had two guides come and park next to us while they re-rigged their clients, which seemed to take an extra long time. It's weird that a guide would want to park right next to another boat, and it seemed pretty rude. Garry managed to hook up on one of the picky risers and landed his best fish of the trip. 

This might seem weird to some people, but I was really excited to row. I've been in a drift boat once before, but I've never had the opportunity to try rowing. Garry was kind enough to let me learn on his boat, but he still took over on the rapids or if there were a lot of rocks. It wasn't nearly as physical as I though it would be (maybe because I did the easy part?) but it was a lot of fun to try and help make each drift as long as possible. I'm not sure if I did a good job or not, but I tried and Garry didn't give me too much crap for my rowing. 

When we were getting close to the take out, I managed to catch my biggest rainbow on a Chernobyl Ant and after the long dry run, I was shocked that I didn't screw up the hook set. 

It's always a little sad to realize that a day of fishing is coming to an end, but I felt like we'd made the best of a tough day of fishing. Garry suggested that we come back and fish the green again once I get some more time off, an offer that I'll have to take him up on! 

Hope you're as lucky,