Monday, July 27, 2009

Bumpy Roads

Kyle, Mike, and I headed up to the mountains late last week for a two-day fishing smorgasbord. We left before the sun came up, and after meeting up with Mike in Cedar I took my regular seat (half of my butt cheek in the back of the truck, sitting sideways) and we were off. We were stopped on the road due to some road construction, so we talked fish to the flagger. We got some fantastic info on some nice shortcuts into the lakes that we would be fishing, so we were more excited than ever, believing that our trip just got even better. We followed the directions which consisted of little more than how many cattle guards we would pass, and pulled onto the dirt road. Shortly after pulling off, we saw a big sign "CLOSED - FIRE HAZARD." In spite of the still-smoking trees ahead of us, we forged onward. After almost ariving to the end of the road and the start of our shortened hike (thanks to the kind flagger), we saw 8 or so firemen hard at work, testing the durability of their tailgates. Kyle tried to cast a Harry Potter invisibility spell on the truck, but we figured it obviously hadn't worked when the muscle of the firefighters walked towards us. "Sorry guys, the whole area is shut down, I can't let you through." Like a dagger to our hearts. After little heckling/pleading with the fireman and much internal discussion whether he really had the authority to keep us out, we pulled away to fish a nearby lake. We parked the truck after the road got too hairy to drive on, and started walking.

We were pretty stupid, we forgot the map. The trail split into 3 different directions, and we didn't follow Mr. Frost's example. After hiking for a few minutes, one of us said "I don't really imagine that there would be bears in this area." Literally no more than 50 yards later we see an orange flag and a sign.
Oops. We hiked about 1.5 miles in, but didn't see the lake we were looking for. We decided to just chalk this one up as a nice scenic hike, and headed back to the truck. When we got back we looked at the map, and we couldn't have been more than 500 yards or so away from the lake when we started the hike. Crap. Nice warm-up hike and it felt good living so dangerously by a bear lure station.

Back in the truck, we headed to the next lake series that we decided to go to on our nature hike. The road to the main lake (after driving a considerable distance to reach it) was 9 miles. We stopped at a muddy cow pond (that is probably being a little generous) and started to fish. We saw some fish rise, and the book that we had said that fish were in it. We were there only a short time, and I was ready to be done with it. I decided to cast out one more time, nice and far to the middle of the pond. I began my false casting, hauled, and as soon as I was coming forward to shoot the like a nice strong gust of wind blew the line right into me. I felt a thwwwwaaap on the back of my ear, and saw my law continue forward. Everything was nice and dandy until I realized that my little scud was stuck in my ear up to the body of the fly, and my leader had broken during this disgraceful casting. I walked over to the truck, showed Kyle the carnage, and tried to pull it out. It didn't feel good, and it didn't come out. I had Dr. Kyle try his luck, and he ripped it out of my ear. Fish barbless hooks people.

Mike gave the pond a few more minutes, and we were off. We continued up the rough road, and saw a Jeep approaching. We stopped and talked to them. The gentleman informed us the lake we were going to was "All dried up," and that we could "Wade across the entire lake." EFFFF! How could this trip get any worse, we thought. Did the twilight gods curse us for vowing to never read their books or watch their films? We decided that we might as well drive the last 2 miles up to the lake, see if there was anything to do there, and possibly just hike 1 mile to a lake nearby. We pulled up to the lake and immediately became saddened at the sight. It was extremely shallow, dirty, mossy, mucky, blacky, gucky, any -ucky word you can think of basically; anything but fishy. Mike told us that the lake curved around in the back and it may be fishable, so we hiked down the 'road.' As we came through the trees, we saw some decent water, that appeared to be boiling. We got closer and fish were popping out of the water unceassingly to gobble up delicious callibaetis (Mike knows his bugs). We all had great success on a variety of dries catching high mountain lake brookies. Kyle and Mike went to the truck to set up camp, while I was on dinner duty. These are the first fish I have kept on the fly, and Kyle and Mike rarely keep fish. We figured we would be ok keeping and eating some since they will all probably be drained out and dead in a week or two anyways. Mike makes a mean fish taco. It felt good to get back to my Chucko roots and eat some fish. Natural Born Killer as you can see in the photo.

After a welcomed bear-less night we hiked down to a nearby lake. We were all really excited to fish it because of the tigers that are in it. After some slow fishing Mike stopped a spot with a dozen fish or so fish hanging out in the shallows. Kyle and I went over to steal his fish away. I was fishing a dry because there were a ridiculous amount of callibaetis on the water with occasional fish rising. Much to my chagrin, my adams became very acquainted with a fish's mouth. After a wonderful fight, I was extremely happy with a beautiful fattie.

When the fishing slowed we headed out to the next spot. Due to much laziness, we decided not to endure the hour drive plus 3 mile hike to the next planned lake, so we headed to fish some streams. I watched Kyle and Mike kill it before we headed out at dark. This was a funny trip. Our hopes started out so high, got even higher, crashed, exploded after the crash, then everything ended up working out.

Photos courtesy of Kyle and Mike.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Haunted Mills, Grandslams and Rattlesnakes

We woke up bright and early for a full day of fishing. We went to three different streams, all were new to both Kyle and I. The first place we went was a stream running below an old mill which was kind of spooky. The day started off kind of slow until Mike figured out the winning connection. By the time I could rig up, Mike had pulled four fish out of one pool. I got my setup together and Mike let me hit the next spot where I nabbed this little fatty, which ended up being my biggest of the day. We took turns fishing the holes upstream and ate some grub. Kyle, if you are going to tell us how healthy you eat, don't try to do it after slamming a butterfinger.

We drove a little ways and came to a stream that Kyle has been wanted to try for a while and that Mike has fished a lot. We were terrified of rattlesnakes because Mike kindly told us a story of him being chased by a rattlesnake there. This was a short stop en route to our next location, but we all landed some fish and had a good time.

As we pulled up to our last spot, Mike had the triple play already. He had landed a cuttie and some browns and bows. This stream is awesome; hardly fished, open, nice water, beautiful canyon. Shortly after arriving, Mike landed a nice little brookie, completing the grandslam. Well done my friend. I then made it my goal to catch a brookie because I never had before. It took me a while, but I finally did it. We fished as late as we could and hiked out of the canyon and walked down to our car. Kyle had his big toenail removed the day before, and I'm sure his toe was killing him the whole time. My feet hurt bad enough with both my toenails... he must have been dying. All in all it was a great day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goodbye, So Long?

Because we are moving soon, I decided to go back to a stream that I fished a lot when I moved down here to St. George. I consider this as the stream that taught me the most concerning what little I know about fly-fishing so far. It can be a hellish place if you decide to go exploring through the brush, which I did a little today. I actually found a few really nice holes that I would fish again, but it was frustrating as always fighting the thorns to get to them. I ended up catching a ton of fish as usual at this skinny stream, but they were all pretty small. I will usually land a fish that is 'decent' for the stream, but not today. It was still good to get back there, it has been about 4 months since the last time I fished it. It may be a long time before I see it again...

Yes, that fish pictured was the biggest I landed. I know, I should have mounted it, I'm an idiot.