Friday, April 27, 2018

Fall and Spring Mashup - Tigers and Brookies

This is an overdue blog post. Due to the lateness, I have decided to combine a couple of trips together as they were in the same area, though at different times. Truth is, fishing trips have unfortunately been few and far in-between lately. As I said in my last post, I have been quite busy lately with lots of changes going on. I am however excited to say that I was accepted to graduate school and am moving to Maine! I am stoked and cannot wait to scout out the area and see what Maine has to offer.  I will be super busy in school but I hope to make the time and get out and fish and explore. Stay tuned for future blog posts!

The lack of fishing lately has been a bummer but the trips I have been on have been good ones.  Last fall Mike and I went to chase some tigers and I was awarded with a new personal best.

Smashed a damselfly nymph

This lake is used for the breeding of the native Colorado river cutthroat. Surprisingly, we caught lots of smaller brookies and just a few cutthroat. 

Tim Allen???
You know there is a big ol brookie under that tree

Just this past weekend, we visited the area again but, unfortunately, the tiger lakes were frozen solid. We did find a lake that was completely open (which remains a mystery), and a couple others partially open. The gang this go-around consisted of Mike, his neighbor Conner, and Conners friend Mitch and myself. Upon leaving Cedar City, the weather was not pleasant. It was cold and snowing. I was second guessing this trip but then again, I wasn't because this would be my last time in who knows how long. We were all optimistic the weather would turn and our beliefs were granted. Though, mother nature did make herself known that first evening.

Mike fell through the ice here
While fishing ice free water our first evening the winds picked up and snow began to fall. A bitter cold chill came and I hurried for the fleece and rain jacket. We all kept on fishing for another hour and a half or so until the cold and lack of fish had us seeking the warmth of a fire.

Beaver home
The following morning we geared up for the tiger lakes.  We hiked through roughly a five inch depth of snow the entire way. Much to our dismay, when we arrived both lakes were completely frozen. I remember feeling super bummed out, as I desperately wanted to catch some big tigers. We also felt bad for Conner and Mitch because Mike and I had talked up the lakes so much. With nothing we could do, we headed out and back to the truck, but not first without a bird lesson from Conner. Turns out, Conner is what you would call a "birder", aka someone who ventures out to find and identify species of birds and record their findings. We all got a good chuckle out of his enthusiasm for birds but I admit it was interesting to know about the various types in the area we were in. Hiking and birding!

Plan B was to head to a couple other lakes we had success before. The lakes, to our knowledge, did not contain anything big but, they produced lots of numbers. The first lake we arrived at had a small opening from where the stream came in. Mike immediately hooked into a couple but, no more came out to play.

We then headed to the other nearby lake. This lake, while still mainly frozen fortunately had some open water at either ends. Mike and I headed across the lake and caught some small brookies though it was not easy. Our flies had to dodge all the logs and come in close contact with the ice shelf to entice the fish. This made it more fun than when we were catching countless of these little guys last year in open water. It was rewarding to place our flies in tight quarters and catch the small yet aggressive brookies.

Snack time!

Big ol caddis

After a couple hours of fishing we decided to head back to the open water lake in hope for some bigger fish. But not first without a little fun. On this trip I brought some of my uncle Paul's homemade M-80's. These were a wedding gift nearly seven years ago and an awesome one, in my opinion. My wife thought otherwise.

We decided to light one and chuck it out onto the lake to see if we could blow a hole in the ice. Our plan failed. When the bomb made contact with the ice slush put the fuse out and we were left with no explosion. Within a matter of minutes however the four of us were working on trying to retrieve the bomb to try and light it again. This consisted of Mitch wading halfway out and Mike and I lobbing a tree out onto the ice for Mitch to use to scoot the bomb closer his way. It worked. Though after lighting the fuse again it stopped once again with only a pinch away from going boom. We waited a while and then Mike bravely went over and hurried and grabbed it and chucked it into the water. Maybe a fish ate it and was dealt a lucky surprise?

The highlight of the trip for me was a nice brookie I caught under a beavers home. The day prior, I tossed a fly over the edge and waited patiently as I bobbed the leech up and down hoping for a strike. A brookie eventually exploded out but did not commit to the fly. This fish was much smaller than the one I caught the next day with the same technique. This time, I tossed a chironomid over and just as I brought it right up under the beaver home, the fish bolted out and smashed the little fly. I then had the challenge of keeping the fish on as there were logs all over the place. I raised my rod tip high and kept the fish as close to the surface as possible and walked over the beaver home onto the shore. From there, I netted the fish and Mike came over and snapped a couple pics.

The other memorable fish I caught happened right along a deep weed bed. It came from under the weeds and slammed my black leech.

All of us caught nice fish at this lake and the fish were much bigger than the other lakes nearby. Im just glad that my last trip here wasn't a total bust and that we all had success.

Midges were plentiful

That evening something special happened. Mitch happened to have a turkey tag and the turkeys were plentiful. It was rather interesting to see so many because we had been there other times and had not seen any. 

After fishing we were driving back to camp and stumbled upon a tom turkey and lots of hens by his side. Mitch immediately grabbed his shot gun and hurried out of the truck to chase the tom.  He got off one shot and the tom leaped into the air and we though he had gotten him. However, within seconds the group was suddenly booking it over the ridge. Mitch chased them and Mike, Connor and I sat and waited. Soon, we heard another shot, and then another. After a while Mitch came back through the woods with a turkey lunged over his back. He got him.

Not a bad first turkey
That evening, the beautiful bird was gutted and prepared. Conner, knowing the process instructed Mitch as it was his first turkey. It was obviously not the typical way to hunt the bird but, it will be a memorable first for him. I kept some feathers for fly tying. We'll have to see what I come up with.

In all honesty, watching the whole process of hunting this turkey kind of made me want to start hunting for them. I have never hunted before but, this had me really thinking about it.

These two last trips on my favorite mountain made for memorable adventures. I am surely going to miss this place but am glad I got to experience it one last time before the move. I am very excited to move to Maine and look forward to exploring a new area. I will definitely be making time to explore and fish so once again, stay tuned for future blog posts!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Blog Update/Photo Contests

I know, it has been a long time since I last posted.  A lot has been going on in my life, and some of the events have made it hard for me to blog. Our family recently moved and I have been travelling for grad school interviews. Lastly, my computer decided to crash. It simply will not turn on anymore. I haven't been able to take it to a computer store as of yet to see what the problem is but hopefully I can soon. As of now, I am borrowing a computer until mine is up and running. Truth is, writing is a form of therapy for me. There is something about journaling and expressing your emotions through writing that is therapeutic. I hope to get back to posting more regularly soon simply for my own well being.

Being that it is now winter, though it honestly does not feel like it due to the extreme lack of precipation Utah is experiencing, I have not been out fishing. Sad excuse because I know there is open water. I have also not been tying flies. Moving has really put a halt on tying due to lack of room in our current living situation. Hopefully I can get back to tying soon as I miss the art. Regardless, this season I have done other things with the family such as hiking and snowshoeing. It has been a lot of fun making memories together.

Recently, I am honored to say that I have won two photography contests. One was just a small Facebook contest, the other, a larger one put on by American Angler magazine. The Facebook contest was through a fly shop in Wyoming- Fly Shop of the Bighorns. They sent me a surprise box filled with all sorts of goods and also threw in something special for my daughter. As you can see in the picture below, Emma was quite happy with the gift, so was her dad. For the American Angler contest, my image debuted in the February/March edition which was recently released. I received the mag in the mail last week and it was awesome to see my image in the magazine. I won third place in the "Pass It On" category. Photography is something I really enjoy and seek to get better at. The few contests I have won have been a rewarding experience.

Hopefully I can get back to posting more regularly soon. Thanks for reading and tightlines!

Emma loves her new Patagonia jacket

My image is featured on the bottom right

Monday, August 7, 2017

Gear Review: Smith ChromaPop Sunglasses

It's hard to admit, but I used to be someone who never really wore sunglasses when fly fishing. I know, crazy right? Well, this all changed in June of 2014 on the green river. My awesome wife organized a fishing trip for my 25th birthday. I brought along my dad, and brother-in-law Mike. I remember getting on the boat floating over the greenest water I had ever seen when my cousin Scott (owner of Spinner Fall Guide Service) said, "hey Sam, did you bring sunglasses." I told him no, and he reached in his pocket and pulled out his spare sunglasses. From that day on, I never set foot on a body of water without polarized shades. Wow had I missed a lot. Both the sun protection and the polarization helped me tremendously out on the water.. With the sunglasses I wore that day on the Green, I could see fifteen feet down at the big browns lurking below.

Fast forward one year later to IF4 in Provo Utah when something very lucky happened. The twenty dollar raffle tickets I bought scored me some new Smith ChromaPop sunglasses. I remember when Nate with Outsmarting Fish read the winning number out loud. I was listening eagerly and yelled out loud when he read the last number. "Better be louder than that with a prize like these" Nate says. I yelled out again, this time even louder while smiling uncontrollably. This was the best twenty dollars I had ever spent. I now had some top of the line shades to fill my sunglasses void.

The Smith ChormaPop lenses are awesome. They really do make colors "pop" as intended. Colors all seem to have a higher saturation. This makes spotting fish that much easier. I fish a lot of alpine lakes and spend a good amount of time scouting for fish and structure. With the ChromaPop's, it makes it really easy. The colors of fish really come through and often I can see deep into a lake and it's structure.

I have now had my Smith shades for a couple years, and had no issues with them. They continue to provide everything I need in a good pair of sunglasses. Comfort, durability, and excellent polarization. I am somewhat biased toward my Smiths, as they are the only pair I use when fishing. However, I do believe they compete with the other top brands. If you have been searching for a good pair of sunglasses, look to Smith ChromaPops. They will enhance your fishing experience, and provide the important protection to your eyes in the relentless sun.

Below, I took a photo with my camera shooting through my Smith's.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Beaver Dams & Feisty Rainbows

My dad called me the other day and asked "hey, want to go fishing Saturday? I need to take my new car on a road trip." Of course I said yes. I was jealous as he had just bought a new Outback, a car I had been trying to find for months. Long story short, I was unable to get one, maybe someday I will. Right now the plan is to get one when I finish grad school. Though I will be in thousands of dollars of debt, maybe I'll pull the trigger. Time will tell.

We chose a stream that we knew would not be blown out from recent rains. I wanted to fish bigger water, but the rivers were either too high or chocolate milk, some both. I was confident the stream we chose however would be clear, and I was right.

This little stream makes it's journey through a spectacular desert landscape lush with pine trees and vegetation. It portrays true Indian country, with it's vibrant almost unreal red rock and towering cliffs.  It is also the home of a particular animal, one that serves as a double edge sword for fly fisherman; the beaver. You hear stories of how beaver dams provide great habitat for trout. The backed up water forms a sort of mini lake per se, why would there not be fish in there? Well, for this stream, the beavers have made a true mess. They have foraged sticks and branches from all over, creating lots of dams along a portion that stretches fifty yards. This has changed the natural course of the river, and created lots of very small streams that branch out like the roots of a tree. This made the fishing in this area nearly impossible. I saw a few fish, but they would pass as bait for an eight inch brown. We had no success until we went well above the beaver's chaos.

The fish that day were picky of our offerings. We finally dialed it in, the true producer being the elk hair caddis. Further confirmation of this fly was given when we were walking back to the car. A man and his son, fly fisherman, were rigging up and asked us how we did. I began talking and he eventually said "and they were hitting caddis?" Portraying he was already well aware of what the fish would want. I smiled and nodded.

The cloudy skies with distant thunder and five minute rain we had made for a great setting. I love monsoon season, and the unexpected weather it brings. Just as you think a storm is heading away from you, the wind shifts and a big purple cloud is soon right above you. It's a humbling experience, feeling so small and at mercy of mother nature. The power and beauty she shows enhances the wild experience.

The rainbows we caught that day really impressed me. They were aggressive, and often leaped out of the water to smack our dries revealing their crimson red stripe. My biggest, which had to be around sixteen, fought hard and made a few leaps. The browns also came out to play. We did catch a few, though they were smaller than the rainbows. Catching quality fish in small stream is tough to beat.