Sunday, January 29, 2017

First Ice at Flaming Gorge

Fishing Time:  January 28-29 (Saturday to Sunday).
Weather:  Gorgeous, no wind, clear, T-30s
Moon Phase: New Moon
Location:  Flaming Gorge (Swim Beach)
Best Bait: 7-inch Tora tube jig (rainbow pattern)
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick Everson, Jess Everson, Josh Newton, Dunc

After enjoying some good success up at Flaming Gorge a couple weeks ago fishing from the boat, we were itching to try it through the ice.  It has been frigid cold the last couple weeks and the rumor was that Swim Beach was capped with ice.  Invites were thrown out and soon we had a crew of fisherman headed to Manila, Utah. 

We arrived to a balmy temperature of -3 degrees in Manila on Friday night.  The first night it was just myself and Bobber John.  We drove down to Swim Beach for an ice check and sure enough it was frozen with a skiff of snow on top.  Perfect walking conditions for the mile journey we faced to get to our favorite hump the next day.

We woke up early and were the first ones on the ice.  However, it didn’t take long for the parking lot to fill with trucks and the 4-wheelers started flying by us as we made the journey to our spot.  A couple 4-wheelers made their way to our hump.  Lame.  Price you pay for walking I suppose.  We nestled in with the groups and set up our tent. 
We started seeing fish beneath us immediately and while they weren’t super aggressive they did show a little interest in our techniques.  We fished for about an hour before Bobber missed the first bite of the day.  Shortly after he redeemed himself by hooking up with the longest 20 pounder I’ve seen yet.  It didn’t have much of a belly, but if it ever grows one it will be a 40 pounder in no time.
The fish were active for another hour or so, but soon became grumpy and showed no interest in our offerings.  At around noon we gave up and made the long walk back.  

Bobber John and I drove up lake and found a burbot spot that has treated us very well in the past.  We set up our tent and gear and prepared for our return at dusk to hunt for some slimy eels.  Meanwhile, Rick Everson, Jess Everson, and Josh Newton were on their way towards the Gorge from SLC. 
Bobber and I returned to the burbot spot just before dark and started our meat hunt.  Bobber had big plans of filling the freezer with eel meat.  Unfortunately, the spot we picked was not as plentiful as past trips.  Rick, Jess, and Josh arrived around 8 PM and joined the effort, but only a dozen or so burbot were landed between all of us.  Filling the freezer will have to wait.

The next morning the whole group made the journey to the same spot that Bobber and I fished the day before.  Within the first half hour Rick was hooked up.  It was no monster, but a good fish in the 8-10-pound range.
The fish were a bit grumpy right from the start today, and made for some tough fishing.  Late in the day Bobber John hooked up only to lose it right at the ice hole.  We never did see it, but it came up quick, so no need to lose sleep.  Again shortly after, Bobber redeemed himself and hooked up again.  This time he was able to pull the small lake trout up through the ice hole.  
He decided to keep it, and we all started to immediately give him grief.  You see, Bobber has a track record of being gung ho to keep fish, but when we ask him later how the fish tasted, he usually responds with “uh yeah I didn’t quite get around to cleaning it”. 

When I dropped Bobber off at his house we decided to make a quick “how to” video for cleaning lake trout, Bobber John style.  After filming we quickly sent it off to Rick, Jess, and Josh for their viewing pleasure.  You can find the video on my YouTube channel here:

Another good trip to the Gorge with the same theme… me getting skunked!  It’s been a rough run for me.  I didn’t even get a bite this trip after spending two days on the ice.  Tough to swallow, but I guess you have to work through the slumps!  Maybe it’s because there's a 40 pounder in my future, and I gotta pay my dues.  A man can dream!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Good Things Happen When a Storm Rolls In

Fishing Time:  7:00 to 2:00 PM
Weather:  Cloudy, snow, T-30s
Moon Phase: 19% Moon
Location:  Flaming Gorge (Anvil Draw)
Best Bait:  6-7-inch Tora tube jig (rainbow color)
Water Temp:  38 degrees
Who Went:  Rick Everson, Josh Newton, Dunc
It’s my favorite time of year to go chase the big boys at Flaming Gorge, and it’s always difficult to know whether there will be ice or open water.  This year I prepared for both and tucked all my ice fishing gear inside the boat. 

Josh Newton and I left Salt Lake City late afternoon and Rick Everson met us up there later that night.  After arriving to Manila, Utah, Josh and I drove down to the Anvil Draw boat ramp to have a look.  We found open water as far north as the eye could see.  Boat trip it is.  We grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the Flaming Gorge Inn where Eves met us a couple hours later. 
We heard wind all night while we slept and woke up to 2-inches of snow in the boat.  I didn't have the boat cover with me because the snow was not predicted and that later proved to be a mistake on my part.
We shoveled out the snow and launched the boat just after sun up.
After a very short boat ride we immediately started to graph some fish.
And on the first drop of the day Rick was hooked up with a nice lake trout.  Little did he know this was only the start of the clinic he was about to put on the rest of the day.
Every time we moved it seemed we found more active fish and Eves would end up putting one in the boat.  They all ranged between 15 to 20 pounds with one small 5 pounder to break up the monotony.  Josh and I missed a couple hits, but it was Eve’s bait they seemed to want every time we dropped down.
The fish stayed active even up through early afternoon, which is not the norm, and just before we were about to wrap it up, Josh hooked up with the biggest fish of the day.  Woohoo! This was his first time on the other end of the line with a big lake trout, and he was in awe of how hard they pull.  He fought the fish well for a first timer and ended up putting a 22 pound lake trout on the deck. 
We continued fishing for about another hour until the white squall set in.  Interesting enough, when the snow came in around 1 PM the fish suddenly got very active and that’s when Josh hooked up with the big boy of the day.
I have encountered this many times while fishing and would say that many of my big fish have come right before a big storm moves in.  Definitely something to this theory.

It ended up being a 6-hour drive home on snow packed roads and white out conditions.  Coming down parleys canyon pulling a boat in a blizzard was an experience I never need to go through again.  After getting home safe I can say it was worth it, but man was it scary.  We ended up landing 5 lake trout, Oh wait, Rick and Josh landed 5 lake trout.  I only had one bite and missed it, but, I don’t care who lands em, I just love when they come aboard my boat.  Okay, okay, one fish would have been nice to feel on the end of my line, but still one of the best lake trout trips I’ve ever had! 

I woke up the next day to the boat looking like this...
Spent the rest of the day turning it back into this...
The crazy things we do for big lake trout...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Just One More Musky

Fishing Time: 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Weather:  Calm, partly cloudy, T-30s
Moon Phase:  92% Moon
Location:  Pineview
Water Temp: 42
Best Bait:  Perch imitating lures
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick Everson, Dunc
We fit one last musky adventure in before the ice takes over the lake this year.  It wasn’t easy though with 6-inches of snow on the boat ramp.  We slid sideways down the ramp at first and then I kept jack knifing the boat, but the worst part was pulling the boat back out of the lake.  I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.  I had to submerge the truck into the lake to get a running start up the snow covered hill keeping the gas pedal floored the whole way!
As for the fishing it was the same story as the past couple times, just a bit colder and a few less fish showing up on the fish finder.  We used the same techniques that have proven to work, dragging baits right over the tops of the underwater ridges, however, this time it was Bobber John's turn to go toe to toe with a big green torpedo.  The beast taped out at 42-inches.
It was the only fish of the day, and the cold temps didn’t give us a lot of motivation to tough it out, so we called it a year on Pineview.  What a great fall catching a musky or two on each trip.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Drive

Bobber and I snuck out of the house for a few hours to take a drive and look around at some old haunts and look for some possible new ones.  At the end of the day not many casts were made, except at one small tributary into Utah Lake that has previously produced a lot of fish in years past during this time of year.
However, Utah Lake was tough this year, due to extremely low water and I'm afraid it may have caused some long term damage to the fishing.  The water is still extremely low and our honey hole did not produce like it has in the past.  I didn't fish Utah Lake much at all this year due to low water and it started growing algae that actually affected the secondary water for many residents of Riverton City, including me. I couldn't water my lawn for a few weeks.  Hopefully we get some good snow pack this year to refill the lake, but the damage may already be done.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Musky Fever

Fishing Time:  8:00 to 2:00 PM
Weather:  Mostly sunny, slight breeze, T-50s
Moon Phase:  99% Moon
Location:  Pineview Reservoir
Water Temp:  52 degrees
Best Bait:  Perch and crappie imitating Lures
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick, Dunc
With Muskie Fever still in full swing, Rick, John, and myself headed back to Pineview to harass some more tiger musky.  We hit up the crappie and perch fishing first thing again, just in case we didn’t land a muskie, we could go home with some pride.  The crappie and perch were right where we left them last week, and just as willing to bite.  We played with them for an hour or so, and then moved on to musky fishing. 
We approached the musky fishing using the same approach as last week hitting all the underwater ridges along the narrows, concentrating on the tops of the ridges in 24 to 30 ft of water.  We didn’t see as many fish today as we did a week ago, but they were showing up here and there on the fish finder.

Not long into fishing we had a fun experience that reminded me of lake trout fishing at Flaming Gorge.  Rick was reeling in his lure from the bottom and I told him I could see it coming up on the fish finder.  Soon after I saw a fish show up on the fish finder and start racing up towards his lure, just like lake trout do.  I told him to get ready and sure enough his rod instantly doubled over.  When lake trout do it we call it the reel and chase.  Bobber called this one the reel and chomp due to the teeth of a musky.  It was an epic fight and Rick won the battle landing a beautiful 40-inch musky.  They have to be one of the coolest looking fish ever.
After releasing Rick’s nice musky we were right back to it.  We had a few drag bottom errr bites that were unconfirmed, but no other muskies made it into the boat on this trip.  We searched a few different areas trying to find more musky, but it seems like all the life is in the narrows this time of year.  However, any day you land even one 40-inch musky is a good day in my book!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

10,001 Casts Finally Pay Off

Fishing Time:  7:30 to 3:00 PM
Weather:  Mostly sunny, slight breeze, T-50s
Moon Phase:  39% Moon
Location:  Pineview Reservoir
Water Temp:  54 degrees
Best Bait:  Perch imitating Lures
Who Went:  Bobber John, Dunc
The weather this fall has been unbelievably dry and warm.  Most days you can’t find a cloud in the sky and the day time temps are reaching the upper 60’s.  It’s not good for our current drought situation, but it makes for some comfortable fall fishing.  Bobber John and I took advantage and hauled the boat up to the land of muskies at Pineview Reservoir.  Reports have been good for crappie suspended in the narrows, and where there are crappie, there are muskies nearby. 
We were the first boat on the water and the lake was glass and covered with fog.  We made our way to the narrows and as soon as the boat came to a stop the fish finder began to show the treasures below.  Crappie were suspended everywhere just above the bottom in 50 ft of water.  We decided to give it a go for a bit and quickly started catching some 8-10 inch crappie and a few decent sized perch.  It wasn’t on fire, but it was consistent.  Soon the pan fish brigade showed up in numbers and we decided to move on from the crowds and search for some toothier critters. 

We focused on underwater points where the lake contours would jump up to about 20-30 feet and then drop back down to 50 ft.  We would drift across the points running perch imitating lures right across the tops of the ridges.  If your lure ticked the top of the ridge as you drifted by then you were in the right zone.  The fish finder proved this to be true as most ridges held fish on top that we felt were tiger musky.

Muskies are called the fish of 10,000 casts, and I know because I think I’ve made about that many casts since I last caught one, but today the fishing gods decided to shine some light on me.  We were crossing over a ridge in 30 ft of water and I felt the tick of my lure touching the bottom just as we made our way across the ridge into deeper water, and then my rod went bendo.  I laid back with a good hook set and it was musky on!  The fish came to the surface for some aerial acrobatics, but then quickly went back underwater.  Muskie don’t usually put up long fights, but they are ferocious to the bitter end.  Bobber did an excellent net job and we had our first musky of the day taping out at 40-inches.
After the celebration we went right back to it, continuing to focus on underwater points.  We were seeing musky on the fish finder every time we hit the crest of these ridges in 20-30 ft of water, and on the second ridge we passed it was Bobbers turn to hook up.  He fought the heavy fish for about 10 seconds before his line went limp and the fish was gone along with his leader.  Bobber was heartbroken to say the least.  You just don’t get many chances to catch these awesome fish, however, it gave us a lot of confidence in our technique and we started down the bank of underwater ridges once again. 

We made a few more passes over each ridge with no bites, but on our last pass on the last ridge in 24 ft of water just as we passed the crest of the ridge and started heading to deeper water, my rod slowly doubled over.  I told Bobber that I was snagged, but I set the hook anyway.  Again I confirmed to Bobber that I had a snag and started to pull upwards to set it free, but the rod started bouncing!  Sure enough I had another musky on.  This musky did not come to the surface, but instead went to the bottom peeling line off my reel.  I told Bobber this could be the big one.  It was the hardest fighting musky I’ve caught to date, but ended up being just another nice musky at 38 inches long with a bit more girth than the previous one I had caught.  Either way I was ecstatic!

I’ve never caught two musky of that caliber in one day, so I was totally stoked.  No better way to start your work week on Monday with the memory fresh on your mind of two monster musky landed the day before.  Needless to say, Bobber and I both have a major case of musky fever!  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Not the Usual Fall Trip at "Da Berry"

Fishing Time: 8:30 to 1:30 PM
Weather:  Partly cloudy, breezy, T-50s
Moon Phase:  1% Moon
Location: Strawberry Reservoir
Water Temp:  50-52 degrees
Best Bait:  White tube jig (1/4 oz) tipped with worm
Who Went:  Bobber John, Devin, Dayton, Dunc
I had the opportunity to take my boys up to Strawberry Reservoir for some fishing from the boat this weekend.  Bobber John tagged along, but the jury is out whether he will do another kids trip again.  We shall see. 

October is usually red hot fishing up at Strawberry, and my hope was to get my boys into some non-stop action.  I should know by now that over confidence in fishing usually ends up with me eating a big slice of humble pie! 

We tried all my usual haunts with very limited success.  We never did find a good group of fish to sit on.  Usually by late October it seems like you can’t move without finding fish, but not so on this trip. 

That’s fine.  I got to watch each one of my boys catch a fish all by themselves, from hook set all the way to the net.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery like always up there in the fall, was unbelievable. 
I was especially proud to see Dayton (5 years old) catch a fish all on his own.  Devin (7 years old) is already a pro, but little Dayton saw his bobber start to go down and he was all over it.  We were screaming at him “reel it in, reel it in”!  He did and had the fish on for a few seconds, but then it came off.  As he was reeling in his tube jig I noticed the fish was still following it to the boat.  I told him to stop reeling and when he did the 20-inch cutthroat kept on coming and inhaled his bait.  We all started screaming again, “REEL”!  This time the fish held on and little Dayt had his first ever cutthroat trout in the boat.  Getting him to hold the fish however, was not as easy, but big brother Dev was more than happy to help out…
Not long after Dayton landed his fish it was Devin's turn.  He made a cast out towards the shoreline and had what we like to call instant action, where the bait hits the water and immediately it's fish on. Dev did a great job with the hook set and reel in.  Proud moment for his old man.
It wasn’t the fall fishing at the Berry that I’m used to, but getting the boys outdoors made the trip a success.  Devin, who is usually terrorizing his little brother all day when we are at home, asked me “Dad can Dayton come with us all the time, it was fun to have him here.”  It looks like little Dayton has earned his spot on the team.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Breaking in the New Downriggers at Bear Lake

Fishing Time: 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Weather:  Windy, clear, T-70s
Moon Phase:  95% Moon
Location: Bear Lake
Water Temp: 60 degrees
Best Bait: 3-inch white/blue swim bait
Who Went: Bobber John, Dunc

With the word getting out about Devin’s 20 pound lake trout from Bear Lake, I had interest from others wanting to try their luck on the big blue.  I just bought two brand new Cannon downriggers and they were installed and ready to go, so Bobber John and I headed to Bear Lake to try them out.  Turned out to be much better than the $70 clamp on model, imagine that.
We were on the water with downriggers in action before the sun was up.  Just like last trip we instantly started to see fish on the fish finder.  We had four rods rigged with two running the bottom for lake trout, and two running mid-depth for cutthroat. 
We had a lot of lookers but nothing wanted to commit.  We tried a variety of lures with no success.  It was windy most of the morning, but we had an hour where it died down, so we turned to jigging.  We found a good school of fish on the finder and dropped our jigs.  Within a few minutes Bobber John, the lake trout whisperer, had a fish on.  It was no 20 pounder, but a beautiful Bear Lake, lake trout none the less. 
The wind kicked up again, so we went back to trolling.  This time Bobber John ran a 3 inch swim bait on the deep rod, and it proved to be a success.  He caught a clone of his first fish.

One more hour of trolling was all we could handle in the wind, and the fish seemed to be lock jawed.  We felt lucky to have landed the two fish we did.  Looks like Devin still holds the lake trout record at Bear Lake!