Monday, July 19, 2010

Taming the Tempest

After the success of my previous trip, I was eager to throw another $5 into the abyss.  The drive to Clifton was sunny, calm and pleasant.  As I dropped my fees into the tube, a bit of a breeze billowed up.  I was disappointed by this new development, but it wasn't the end of the world.  As I drove the mile or two up the dirt road to my favorite new spot, I was horrified to find the trees dancing violently and whitecaps on the lake.  There was no way I would be able to fish from my tube in this.  I was really wishing I'd saved my $5 and stayed home to mow the lawn.  Since I'd already spent the money, I decided to try sticking it out for a bit and wade fishing the trees again.  I caught a couple of smaller bass on the old trusty Slug-Go, and then I hooked what I initially thought was a foot long bass as it tail walked toward me.  Rather quickly I realized that it was a large crappie.  Unfortunately it escaped while I foolishly tried lipping the beast, so no picture.  I fished for bass a bit longer, scoring a few more smaller bass and losing one good sized one.  I had actually brought my ten foot crappie pole with me, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I dabbled my jig amongst the woody vegetation and missed several fish before catching this whirling dervish:

 Shortly after I managed to land a crappie, though a smaller one.

Around this time, the waves were nearly coming over the tops of my waders, even in the forest.  I decided I'd had enough, so I tossed my rod in the car and took off for the river.
When I arrived I found the wind was a lot calmer there.  I stopped at my usual first spot and tossed out a pink X-Rap.  I jerked it violently past some shoreline vegetation and this little bugger shot out and nabbed it.

 I noticed a mat of vegetation and debris at the tail of the run, so I tried drifting a Slug-Go beneath the canopy.  I had several hits before landing this little chunk.

 I caught a few more further up snapping a tube quickly across the bottom, and then the wind hit even worse than it had been in Clifton.  I fought it for a few minutes before giving up for the day.  It was lucky that I did as shortly after leaving the canyon, a wall of rain and hail pummeled my car, forcing me to pull over for about 15 minutes.

Final Tally:  5 Largemouth Bass, 2 Black Crappie, 1 Bluegill, 6 Smallmouth Bass

Year Tally:  350 Fish

And So it Begins


The weather was threatening once again, so once again I avoided the slippery clay path that leads to C Pond.  I had really only fished out by Clifton once before, but had left me curious for another try.  I drove north and was happy to discover that the drive wasn't really any longer than the one to my "Old Faithful", and was equally thrilled that the rain stopped and the sun peeked out.  I donated my $5 to the Evil Ones and set out for a spot.  I found a pull off with some nice openings in the flooded trees to allow my passage. 

I fished along the deep edge of the submerged timber and did quite well for largemouth fishing with Slug-Gos in watermelon and sort of a green pumpkin with silver holo and peacock green flake.  Most fish were around a foot in length, but some larger fish to around 15" were mixed in.

These were some of prettiest bass I'd ever caught.  I just love their distinctive markings.  With only about forty minutes left to fish, the wind and clouds finally returned, chasing me back into shore.  I put away my tube but decided to try wading in amongst the trees.  I scored several more fish this way.  I glanced at my watch and muttered something about one more cast.  My bait plopped down into a pocket in the brush, and as my lure sank I noticed a slight twitch of the line.  I reared back and realized I was dealing with another class of fish entirely.  I wrestled the fish through the jungle (I'm very impressed with the new Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft line, great stuff) and eventually landed a nice fat 18" largemouth.

I snapped some pics, released her, and was on my way to work.

Final Tally:  25 Largemouth Bass

Year Tally:  336 Fish

Letdown at L Pond


So it's been a great long while since I made a post here.  Things finally warmed up and I'd really rather spend my time actually fishing than writing about it.  However the fates have smitten me down with a vigorous case of the poofruits, and now here I sit, trying to remember a month and a half of fishing trips.  I will forgo my usual meandering prose (or at least try to) and just get down to the real meat of the outings.

After finding shallow bass at "The Usual Place"  that were eager to eat Slug-Gos, I thought I would check out C Pond for some of it's larger bass.  However it had rained all night and was threatening a repeat performance that afternoon.  The road to C Pond is slick, so I opted for smaller fish and a safer venue and go to L Pond.  As I was getting set up a mom dropped off some lunatic children to try swimming in the 60 degree water.  They didn't last long.  60 degrees should have invited some good bass action, but sadly it was a rather meager day.  I caught 16 largemouth and 1 rainbow.  I did take a few from shoreline brush on Slug-gos, but they also hit spider jigs, small Diawa cranks and a small Bass Pro Shops XPS lipless crank.  Some passing storm cells kicked up and brought cold, cloudly, windy weather.  Overall it was a pretty dismal day, and seeing as the fish were all under a foot, I didn't feel it worth pulling out the camera to capture any of those 17 moments.

Final Tally:  16 Largemouth Bass, 1 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  311 Fish

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Diamonds in the Rough


I hadn't planned on fishing Memorial Day weekend, but my sister was visiting and made a comment about how nice it would be if I caught some perch to make fish tacos.  I couldn't really argue with that, so Sunday afternoon I packed up my stuff and took off for my favorite perch pond.  I was hoping it wouldn't be too crowded as it didn't have any camping facilities, but as I arrived to a packed parking lot and glutted pull offs, I was kind of wishing I'd stayed home.  I parked at my usual spot, and while I was packing my tube Fish and Game came and chatted with me for a bit.  He remembered me from last year, I guess I fish this reservoir a lot.  I lugged my tube down the hill to a shallow bay where I could easily climb into my tube.  As I paddled to the mouth of the bay, I discovered I was flanked by detritus.  Shirtless, obscenity spewing, drunkard, troglodytes on one side, and lawn chair sitting, play-doh huckers on the other.  I quickly caught a bass on an X-Rap and missed another, but I decided I'd better head across the lake to freedom.  Shortly after getting there I caught another small bass on a swimbait.  I noticed there were some weeds in about 10 feet of water off a small point here. This seemed like a good spot to look for perch.  I lowered a small pink jig  down and felt hits almost immediately.  They didn't seem like perch pecks though.  10,000 trout were stocked in the reservoir over the past month, and that's what I'd found.  I finally landed one of the little buggers.  I got tired of it and decided to move down toward the bluffs where I always catch fish.  I was nearly there when I realized my lanyard was missing.  I had gotten out to adjust my rod holder when I was fishing for perch earlier.  It must have fallen out then.  I paddled all the way over, and there it was, floating off the bottom in a couple of feet of water.  While I was on shore I figured I'd head down into a shallow cove on foot to look for bass moving up to spawn.  I saw a silt plume where a bass had been, and soon spotted another fish of about 15".  I got back in my tube and worked a Slug-Go over the area, but they must have been off from my earlier intrusion.  I decided to make my way back to the bluffs.  I reached a bank just down from the bluffs where I did well for bass last spring, and began working a green pumpkin Slug-Go up against the bank.  I placed the jerkbait by some brush, letting it sink on a slack line, when I saw my line jump.  I set the hook and soon brought in a decent bass.

The fish were biting lightly, and I missed a few more.  I was nearly to the bluff when a group of bank tanglers descended upon my destination.  I tossed out an olive crystal bugger on my fly rod and began trolling back across the bay.  About half way across I hooked into a nice rainbow that cleared the water by several feet seven or eight times.  The fish was a good 16-17" and shaped like an overstuffed football.  He was a squirmy little nugget, and this is the only photo I got of him.

I remembered there was a beaver lodge up in the cove I was near and I thought I might find some bass there.  I scored a couple smaller trout on the fly rod as I trolled my way in.  When I arrived I switched to a bubble gum pink Slug-Go and tossed it around the lodge.  Nothing happened, but about twenty feet down from the lodge I missed a fish.  A short time later I hooked a really nice bass, but it threw the bait when it jumped.  Now that I knew there were some fish moving up against the bank, I decided to head back over to the perch spot.  That bank has a lot of rocks and brush, a rarity on this body of water, along a steep drop off.  Within a moment I scored a nice bass.  I began drifting down the bank, pulling fish out pretty regularly.  They were all pretty decent sized and hard fighters.

Eventually my pink Slug-Go was obliterated and I decided to try a small perch colored Fluke.  Most of the fish had taken it on the initial fall, but as I twitched it back, a nice bass shot from the depths and broadsided it half way to the tube.  I love clear water.  I caught several more fish, but eventually the rocks ran out, and so did the fish.  The sun was getting low and I decided I needed to head back soon.  I kicked back across and trolled my fly parallel to the shore.  I scored several trout, and when I reached the bay where I started I began getting hits on every cast.  Eventually they destroyed my fly so I switched to an X-Rap and scored several smaller bass before I left.

I may not have found any perch, but what began as a frustrating trip turned out really well.  Good thing there was some tilapia in the freezer.

Final Tally:  21 Largemouth Bass, 7 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  294 Fish

Monday, June 7, 2010

Battle in the Not So Promised Land


I had been hoping to hit a private section of The Bear, and I had finally gotten the go ahead for Friday.  I had all sorts of images of giant prespawn smallmouth dancing through my head the night before I was to set foot on this glorious stretch of water.  I awoke to a beautiful sunny day, and I quickly loaded up my car.  After I arrived I loaded about 30lbs of gear into my vest and set out across the farmland and river bottoms.  I made my way down to the water, tanagers flitting through the trees as I walked, and popped out at a small offshoot from the river.  As I waded into the water, a rather perturbed crane came stumbling out of the bushes, cursing me all the way.  I still had a 1/4 ounce chartreuse and orange curly tail jig on my jigging rod from my adventures downstream a couple of days earlier.  I figured I'd toss it out and give it a try before re-tying.  I placed it at the head of a gentle riffle, ticking it along the rocks, when something thumped it.  I set the hook into a solid fish that bent my rod nicely.  The bass went airborne a couple of times before calming down so I could lip her.

I was pretty excited to have caught a nice bass so quickly.  I worked up to the main river and fished a likely run, but nothing happened.  About this time a wall of dark clouds appeared to the south, and the wind began to kick up.  I moved upstream to an area where I'd done well before, spotting an elusive wood duck along the way.  I threw an X-Rap for a while, but I only caught weeds.  By now it was completely cloudy and the wind was howling.  I moved up above a nice shelf and fished the area with the jig.  Still nothing, so I switched to a small tube.  I wasn't having any better success until I drifted the tube straight down and crawled it back up to the shelf.  A fish grabbed it but quickly pulled free.  I went back to the chartreuse curly tail and tried the same trick.  I quickly caught about a ten inch smallmouth.  I worked my way across the shelf, and eventually hooked into another decent fish.  It leaped clear of the water several times before I landed it.

I fished the area a while longer with no more fish.  It was beginning to sprinkle now, and I had a decision to make.  I could bag it, the water was still apparently on the cold side, or I could hike about a half mile upstream to a really nice looking run.  I ended up going with the latter, the rain intensifying as I traversed the river banks and barbed wire.  I arrived at my destination and worked my way across the river.  I began working my jig down a shelf when I noticed two giant carp holding just below me.  I presented my jig to them, and one appeared to go for it.  I set the hook, and that was the beginning of the battle of the year.  I stood there at the head of the run, watching my line retreat downstream.  When the mongrel had pulled out roughly 100 feet of line I felt that it was time I go chase her.  With my rod held high I labored back across The Mighty Bear until I hit some slack water on the opposite bank.  I began trying to take in line and hike downstream.  I would bring in five feet, and the fish would pull off ten.  After about five minutes we found ourselves in some waste deep, but sluggish water. I could see that I had actually foul hooked the fish in the side, giving an already strong fish more leverage.  I began putting a little more pressure on the carp, but whenever I grabbed my net, the fish would pull off ten or twenty feet of line and we'd start again.  My hand was beginning to cramp and I was afraid my rod was going to be shattered on a scungey old carpon.  After a good ten minutes I found myself about 100 yards downstream from where I'd started with a very heavy fish in my net.  I could barely lift the thing with the stubby little handle on my landing net.  I lay the beast down on the grass and taped it at 26 1/2".

I didn't get the girth, but it was substantial.  I decided that any fish that could make my hand hurt and take me that far downstream deserved my respect.  So I resisted the urge to have catfish bait for the rest of the year, and turned her loose.  It was a steady soaking rain now, but I fished on.  I snagged another carp, but it pulled loose after a mere moment of struggle.  I covered the run extensively , but no smallmouth ever showed themselves.  I hiked back downstream, visiting the areas where I'd caught bass previously, but to no avail.  I tromped back to my car feeling pretty disappointed.  A few smallmouth and a carp were not what I'd had in mind, but I guess Mother Nature just wasn't ready for summer yet. 

Final Tally:  3 Smallmouth Bass, 1 Carp

Year Tally:  266 Fish

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carp Chunks and Dimwits


I ran down to Cutler for a bit to see if the catfish had become active again.  I tried the oxbow, and had a bunch of taps on my line, but no hookups.  I got fed up with it and moved down to the marina.  The water was down, and although it was muddy, I was able to get out to the spot where I had caught the big cats a month ago.  I caught a couple of small bullhead on crawlers, but just wasn't finding any channel cats.  I moved further down and had some taps, but no hookups.  There were some really loud and obnoxious rednecks by the marina that said lots of entertainingly stupid things, but it got old after a while.  I had a couple of hard thumps on the carp meat, but somehow they didn't hookup.  Some storms blew in with high winds, scaring off the white trash.  It also turned the fish on and I caught a few more bullhead before I had to go to work.  Not really worth going to work with stinky hands for, but what can you do?

Final Tally:  6 Bullhead Catfish

Year Tally:  262 Fish

Wandering in the West Again


I went back to Idaho to see if the bass were still active.  There was only one other person at the reservoir when I arrived, and they were alone and on shore.  Unfortunately, as I was getting my gear together, a van load of snooty old men arrived and descended upon my favorite area.  They were the kind of guys that think trout are the only good fish, and that fly fishing is the only way to catch fish.  When I got down to the water they were spread across the area I had planned on fishing.  I launched between them and quickly caught a small bow on a deep jerk bait.  I decided I would have to paddle around them and head west.  I trolled some leech patterns on the fly rod on my journey, picking up another small rainbow as I passed the intruders.  I could overhear one telling the other that he'd caught a bunch of perch up to 14 inches.  That's a really big perch.  Turns out the dingbat didn't know the difference between a bass and a perch.  I continued along the bank when I felt a little tap on the end of my line, I hesitated, then tightened up the line, and then it took off.  For the next five minutes I battled an unseen fish.  I figured I must foul hooked a good trout with the way it was peeling off line. When it finally came into view there was a fat trout of about 18", hooked perfectly in the mouth.  Finally I was able to net the bruiser.  I love Kamloops, they're even tougher than the bass.

I soon came across a rocky drop off and decided to try for bass.  I quickly hooked a nice largemouth on the replacement River2Sea jerkbait.

Now that I knew they were in the area, I thought I would practice casting the baitcaster with a River2Sea deep diving crank.  The new lighter line I spooled on was working much better.  I made several long casts without a backlash, but I got a little too confident and lobbed my lure into the wind.  Of course I got a backlash, though thankfully a small one.  A moment later I had it worked out.  I took about half a turn of the reel when a bass blew up on it on the surface.  I finally had a decent fish on the casting rod.  Definitely a different feel to the fight. 

Now that I'd caught a fish on that rod, I figured it was about time I caught something on my new light spinning rod.  I tied on a size six X-Rap in purple gold.  It's such a cool looking color.  I threw it tight to the bank and after a couple of twitches I had another fish on.  They definitely fight hard on this little rod, but that just makes it all the more fun.  That was quite the little fatty.

I caught a couple more bass when another float tuber came down and cut me off on the west side.  I had no choice but to kick across to the other side, there were some more rocks over there that looked inviting anyway.  I deployed the fly rod, and about halfway across the channel I hooked into a good rainbow.  This one wasn't quite as big as the last, but it spun me around five times clockwise, and then two more times counterclockwise.  I finally got the fish in my net, but it still managed to soak my camera while trying to snap a pic.

I scored a few more bass on the X-Rap along the shoreline when I noticed that the other fisherman had moved a few hundred yards to the west.  I worked my way back to the rocks where I'd started catching bass and quickly caught another good fish on a tube snapped erratically off the bottom.  Things were quiet for a bit, so I ditched the X-Rap for a River2Sea V-Joint Minnow.  I quickly caught another bass and a trout.  It was nearly time to leave, so I began trolling my way back to the car.  I picked up a few more small rainbows, and then I hooked into something big.  Or so I thought.  Eventually the fish came into view, and it was another smaller fish.  Then I noticed a flash underneath the fish and I realized I had a fish on each fly.  Somehow I was able to land both of them.

The old guys were gone now and I managed a few more small bass and trout on the V-Joint from the bay they'd been fishing before I had to leave.

Final Tally:  13 Rainbow Trout, 10 Largemouth Bass

Year Tally:  256 Fish

Thursday, May 20, 2010

River Monsters (not really)


Now that I had finally caught a bass this year, I felt it was time to catch the other black bass.  I was in serious need of a smallmouth fix.  I loaded my vest up with about 30lbs of gear and took off for Preston.  Things were quite a bit cooler and cloudier than they were supposed to be as I arrived at my favorite smallie run.  I decided to try the fast water below the pool where I had hooked a couple of fish last time around, but nobody was home apparently.  I situated myself a the tail end of the slow water and let a pink X-Rap fly.  A couple of casts later I wrestled in my first smallmouth of the year.  I must say, it was quite the leviathan!

I fan cast across the lower end of the pool and soon caught a bit larger specimen.  I tried fishing a dropshot rig through the area as well, but only came up with moss.  I moved up the run a little way and decided to switch to a small rattle bait.  That quickly did the trick as I brought in this fat little fellow.

I cast downstream to the spot where I caught the first two fish and scored another bass.  I was getting frustrated by all the moss I was hauling in, so I switched over to my jigging rod for a bit.  Since the drop shot wasn't working, I thought I would try a little 1/8 ounce Bitsy Bug Jig with a small reaper as a trailer.  I'd heard that these were killer on smallmouth, but I hadn't had a chance to use them.  About five minutes later, as I hopped my jig through a deep trough, I felt a thump on the end of my line.  I drove the hook home and it was obvious right off that I'd hooked a better fish.  No jumps today, but I enjoyed a hard, bulldogging fight before I brought in this bloated chunk of a bass.

Not a giant, but a good, heavy, quality fish.  I was just glad to have finally caught a bass on my jigging rod.  I worked my way upstream and caught another bass of about 10" on the jig.  I tried a small pearl white swimbait on my lighter rod for a bit, but oddly nothing touched it.  I fished the jig some more, but at 1/8 ounce, it was having a hard time getting to the bottom with the current.  I switched over to a small tube on a 1/4 ounce head, but still nothing.  I didn't get any hits for a bit, so I decided to move upstream.

I drove about 1/4 mile or so before stopping at a spot that had looked intriguing last time, but hadn't produced.  I worked the far bank's slackwater with both baits to no effect.  I moved upstream to where some nice riffles came down and made a seam.  I ditched the swimbait in favor of an old trusty Panther Martin spinner, gold blade with a black body. It came through the slower water but only made it a few feet into the riffle before something hammered it.  I chased the fish downstream and eventually scooped this lovely rainbow into my net.

I still don't feel quite right about catching trout on spinning gear, but at the same time I felt a bit nostalgic.  When I first moved to Utah as a teenager, fishing spinners for trout in streams was the name of the game most of the time.  I worked my way up a little way, but no more fish showed up to play.  I had about an hour left now, so I drove up to the shelf where the rainbows were hammering the pink X-Rap on the previous trip.

I saw a couple of fish jump as I approached the run, and my first cast brought me another bow of about 12" on the spinner.  I took up the jigging rod again, and the first cast got me a fat little smallie. 

The coloration and markings on the fish were just amazing that day.  I was getting a lot of trout chasing my tube but not committing, so I tried fishing flies for a bit.  Oddly, I never saw another trout after that.  I put the Bitsy Bug Jig on again and cast it tight against a mammoth boulder on the far shore.  A fish took it as it was sinking, but I swung and missed.  I ran into the same problem with the current and the light jig, so I switched back to the tube.  My lure swung in the current at the end of the drift, and a fish thunked it hard.  I was into another decent fish.  We danced for a bit, and soon I held this fatty.

As I was working the hook out, I noticed something odd in the bass's throat.  Upon removing the jig, I discovered a mouthful of fish eggs.  Yellow ones.  That makes me think they might be sucker eggs.  I hope so, I'd feel kind of bad if he was raiding walleye nests, though I would imagine their eggs would have already hatched by now.  I caught a few more small bass before moving upstream.  There was a deep pool between some boulders here, and I quickly scored three more smallmouth on the tube before I had to leave.

Overall it was a fun day.  I've caught more and bigger fish on this river, but they were all beautifully marked, and all very well fed.  I'm curious to see how this fishery develops.  If the bass are packing on the pounds like they are, we may see some true monster fish before long.

Final Tally:  13 Smallmouth Bass, 2 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  233 Fish

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Go West Young Man, Go West


I haven't caught a bass since Veteran's Day of last year.  It's not that I don't want to, they're my favorite thing to fish for.  It's just been really freaking cold this spring.  We finally had several warm days in a row, and I decided to see if the bass had finally awoken from their winter slumber.  I was also anxious to try out my float tube rod holder.  I knew their was only one place to start my bass fishing season, so I packed up my car, grabbed my Idaho license, and headed north.  It was a warm and sunny day with calm winds.  Calm until I got there anyway.  By the time I got all my gear stowed away in my tube and lugged it down to the water, it was already 11:00, and small waves were beginning to form.  At first it looked like my rod holder was going to lean the rods away from the tube out over the water.  I wasn't too thrilled with this, but when I sat down in the tube, they flopped the other way and were right in my face.  This definitely wasn't going to work.  Once again the strap from my landing net came to the rescue, and I was able to lash down the bottom of the rod holder and keep it tight against the tube.  It worked like a charm.  Now that that was taken care of, I set about getting into some bass.  The water was 56 degrees, which was pretty encouraging.
I decided to start with my new casting rod as I really need to practice casting with it, and because I haven't had the chance to fish it much.  I tied on a River2Sea deep diving crank and had at it.  The wind was making casting and tube control difficult, but despite this, I soon had a hit.  I quickly brought in a small rainbow.  A couple of casts later, it finally happened, the first bass of the year.

He wasn't a large fish, but a bass, nonetheless.  The wind was bringing me more and more backlashes, so I switched over to a spinning rod rigged up with a deep suspending jerkbait, also made by River2Sea (Those Australians are on to something).  It cast like a bullet, and the first cast brought me another small bass.  The next cast brought another, and another, and so on.  I had over ten bass in my first 15 minutes of fishing.  The problem was that they were all little males, and I wanted to find the big females.  I tried fishing out just a few feet deeper with a dropshot rig, but with the wind it was nearly impossible to feel a strike.  I managed one little guy on a watermelon reaper, and that was it.  
I felt it was time to try a steep bluff on the other shore that has always been kind to me.  I paddled across the straight, trolling a couple of flies as I went.  Something smacked one in about 20 feet of water, but I missed it.  I soon found myself at the other shore on a shallow flat.  The water was only 54 over here, but I went for it anyway.  I fished a lipless crankbait over the flat as I paddled toward the bluff, but nothing payed it any notice.  I arrived at a nice steep bank that dropped into 10-13 feet of water.  I worked the jerkbait over it, but still nothing.  This spot had brought me a lot of nice fish last spring, but I guess each year is different.  I kept fishing my way up toward the bluff with nothing to show for my efforts.  Finally I was within casting distance of my target.  I hurled the jerkbait against the wind, landing it about a foot from shore. Twitch, twitch, bam!  Finally a good fish had found it's way to the end of my line.

I worked my way up the bluff and soon connected with another good fish.  My lure just stopped, like I'd snagged a log, and then the end of my line came to life.  Soon I was holding a nice chunky female. 

I caught a few more good bass off the bluff, and then I realized I was running out of time.  I quickly paddled back to the other shore, the wind finally doing something good as it caught me like a sail and helped drag me there.  I arrived to find 57 degree water and a strong mud line that had been whipped up by the wind.  I tossed the jerkbait up against the bank and hooked into a good fish.  About 10 feet from the tube it pulled free.  I kept working the line, and hooked into another fish.  This one was even stronger, and when it came up to the surface and rolled, I could see it was a good three and a half to four pound fish, the largest I'd ever seen at this reservoir.  No sooner had I muttered, "Wow that's a nice fish," then it dove down and snapped my 8lb test like nothing, taking my new favorite lure with it.  I sulked for a moment, and then rummaged through my jerkbait box to find a decent replacement.  I settled on a deep diving x-rap in a goby pattern.  I know there aren't any gobies around here, but it actually looks a lot like a bass pattern to me.  I quickly scored another fish and released it.  I was getting a lot of moss on the bill, and seeing as the fish had moved in shallow, I ditched the deep diver for a shallow jerkbait.  I found a Lucky Craft Pointer knockoff in a baby bass color and started throwing that.  For a two dollar lure, I have to say I'm rather impressed.  That lure does some crazy stuff.  From underwater walking the dog, to flipping around 180 degrees on the pause, to gently wobbling in place when the retrieve has stopped, it does it all.  I caught another bass pretty quickly on it, and then it was time to go.  As I pulled out, I noticed the water was up to 59 in the back of the bay.  It's hard to believe it was snowing with lows in the mid 20s a week and a half ago.

Overall, I did better than expected.  I'm still thinking about that big fish that broke me off.  I keep thinking, "If I'd only checked my line more recently, if only my drag had been a bit looser, if only I'd changed my line before heading out this season."  Oh well, I will definitely be heading back next week.

Final Tally:  20 Largemouth Bass, 1 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  218 Fish

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vengeance Wasn't Mine


I was going to mow the lawn today, but all that rain had left things pretty soggy.  I was still feelingly rather unsatisfied with yesterday's adventure, so I went after the elusive catfish again.  I hadn't been down to The Little Bear since I first moved up here, so I thought I would start there.  I arrived to find some dirt baggy guy and two rambunctious dogs galumphing about.  The guy left while I was taking a whiz, but only one dog went with him.  The other dog tore around being obnoxious the whole time I was there.  I also noticed a creepy old guy sitting in his car blasting talk radio.  He eventually pulled around to another part of the parking lot and sat for another ten minutes.  Then he honked his horn at nobody several times before pulling back around to his initial spot.  He got out and sat at a picnic table for another ten minutes before getting back in his car and driving back around to a new spot.  He honked again at some phantom, and eventually drove off.  As for the fishing, nothing really happened.  I didn't notice a single hit on the carp meat, and nothing hit my jig or x-rap.
After about 30 minutes I left and went back to the marina. 

I was hoping to go hit my old spot where I got into the nice channel cats previously, but it was now under about 8 inches of water.  I hiked about a quarter mile north before finding some dry land that abutted the water.  Unfortunately it was in a large shallow bay with no current whatsoever.  I tossed out my bait and fished a spinnerbait around the rushes for a bit, but nothing happened.  I saw a point maybe another quarter mile up that might give me channel access.  I hoofed it over there, and found deeper, cleaner looking water.  Unfortunately I had the same results as the last spot.  I felt it was time to give up on finding the channel, so I walked back to the bridge.  Despite the warmer weather, things were slower than the previous day.  I managed to land two bullhead and lose a few rigs to the rip-rap.  They were decent sized for bullhead, but that's not saying a whole lot. 

I had about 45 minutes left before work, so I packed it up and decided to give the oxbow a try.  Within five minutes something grabbed the carp meat.  It had some good weight behind it, but after a few seconds it pulled free.  A moment later I snagged a small carp through the dorsal fin with my jig.  That poor rod.  It's my nicest spinning rod, and it's become my carp catching rod.  I still had a pretty nice pile of carp flesh from earlier trips, and I didn't feel like stinking any worse than I already did, so his life was spared. That ended up being it for the spot.  I didn't have a single bite after that, though I did manage to lose my new Super Spot to a big wad of braided line.  It was pretty frustrating to see it, a rod's length away, but hopelessly snarled in the bird's nest. 

So off I went to work, two bullhead and a snagged carp my only glory after several hours of fishing.  I should have gone to Idaho.  I should have gone fly fishing for trout.  Instead I stunk like carp and garlic ridden shrimp, and I didn't catch Jack crap.

Work was slow, and everything was done by 7:45.  I was still feeling bugged by my lack of success, and I kept thinking about that big cat that grabbed my bait.  I really had no choice but to leave early and stop off at the oxbow on the way home.  I arrived to discover a melee of geese, cranes and peacocks.  It was seriously dissonant, but in a pleasant sort of way.  Carp were jumping and swirling all over the glassy surface.  I got a bite pretty quickly on the shrimp, but I was having the same struggles as before.  Even on the carp, I just wasn't hooking up, though both baits were seeing more and more frequent visits as the sun began to set.  Finally I was able to bury the steel into this little "eater" cat. 

Things kept on like that as the sun descended.  Finally, when it was almost dark, I caught another channel cat that was a little bigger than the last, maybe about 14".  I didn't take a picture as it was too dark to bother.  My hands were growing rather cold, and I didn't bring a flashlight or lantern, so I packed it up for the night.

Overall it was a pretty disappointing day.  I spent a good four hours fishing, and all I had to show for it was 5 smallish fish.  Those two channel catfish at the end helped ease the pain a little though.

Final Tally:  2 Bullhead, 2 Channel Catfish, 1 Carp

Year Tally:  197 Fish

Nothing to Write Home About


It's been cold.  Cold and wet.  It snowed last week.  Again.  It's May.  Stupid Utah.  Today was cool and cloudy, but it seemed like the lumbering storm system had finally moved on.  All morning it had been calm and dry.  So of course as soon as I set out to do a little fishing the storms came rolling in again.  Oh well, at least it wasn't snow this time.  With all the rain, everything is becoming a nice emerald green.  The birds are really showing up, and it's finally seeming like a Cache Valley spring.  My Utah fishing license had expired, so I needed to obtain a new one before I could hunt for any kitties.  Bep's didn't have any, so I had to drive into Logan.  I was hoping that the storms would pass while on my journeys, but it wasn't to be.  As I approached the marina, a wall of gray greeted me.  I hung out in my car for a bit, perusing some fishing magazines I had tucked away in my backpack.  The storm tapered down to some light drizzle, so I went for it.  I hunkered up against the highway bridge, which took the brunt of the wind and rain.  I lobbed out some carp meat and then rigged my other rod up with some shrimp that was left over from the weekend's party.  I had foolishly sampled some the day before and found it not fit for human consumption anymore.  I only had about an hour to fish before work, and unfortunately no channel cats showed up in that time.  My rod tips were tapping away, but most of the fish never hooked up.  The shrimp was especially frustrating.  The fish went nuts for it, but it was soft and easy to gnaw off the hook.  I only hooked one on it.  I ended up with 8 bullhead that I felt weren't worth taking the lens cap off of my camera.

Final Tally:  8 Bullhead

Year Tally:  192 Fish

Thursday, May 6, 2010



Today was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day with highs in the mid to upper 60s. I wasn't exactly ecstatic when I awoke to find clouds, wind and cold greeting me. I had really been wanting to head out to a southern Idaho reservoir to test out my new rod holder, but I just didn't feel up to floating around in 45 degree water with air temps about the same. I contemplated forgetting about fishing entirely, but sadly this was supposed to be the best day of the week weather wise. I mulled it over for a time and finally settled on hunting for early smallmouth at The Narrows. The weather report showed calm conditions up that way, but the foulness apparently followed me. At least the new Damien Jurado album was a joy to listen to as I passed through the countryside. The road was a little rough and was littered with rocks, but I took it easy and arrived at my favorite smallie haunt before long. I rigged up my new medium spinning rod with a spider jig, and my medium light with a small hot pink x-rap. I fished the run with nothing but moss to show for it, so I thought I would try a few casts into the fast water below the pool. I worked the x-rap quickly through the current and something quickly hammered it. It looked a bit more elongated than a smallie and looked brownish. It quickly dove below a rock and sought shelter, but I soon coaxed it out. It shot downstream into the rapids and before I could catch up to it, it was gone. I'm pretty sure it was either a brown trout or a walleye, but I guess I'll never know. I was pretty bummed. I worked my way downstream and worked some quiet spots on the opposite bank with no action. I thought it wouldn't hurt to toss the jig to the spot where I'd hooked up before on the jerk bait, and my thoughts were right. After a couple of twitches, something nabbed the grub. The brown immediately went airborne several times but quieted down before long. He was a rather greedy little nugget.

At least I wasn't going to get skunked today, and at least I finally caught something on my new rod other than a carp. I fished back in the slack water where I started, and even tried throwing a spinner for a bit, but it was fruitless. I drove upstream a short way and noticed some extremely deep runs that I had never noticed before due to high water. I immediately spotted a bloated Mr. Bungle holding against the bank. He didn't want to play unfortunately, and neither did anything else. I switched to a Gulp! Minnow on a jig head and still nothing. I only had about an hour left, so I thought I'd find some trouty water and break out the fly rod. About a mile upstream I found some nice looking pocketwater and gave it a try. There were a lot of tricky currents, and careful fly placement and line control were imperative. Unfortunately the wind was howling and essentially prevented this. I was down to the wire on time now, so I grabbed a spinning rod and began chucking the x-rap into some slower water below the pocket water area. About midstream a fat little fish shot up from the depths and pounded my lure. Unfortunately I didn't hook up, but a couple of jerks later a larger fish grabbed it, and quickly became unhooked. That was some smallmouthish behavior, so I was pretty excited. I swung my lure through the current once more and got a solid hookup. I was surprised to find something smooth and spotted on the end of my line.

I continued swinging my lure across current, much like you would a streamer, and for the next few minutes it was fast action. You'd think that with two sharp treble hooks I'd hook up with every fish that took a pass at it, but I only landed two more rainbows out of maybe ten or twelve strikes. Still, it was better than nothing, and it made me very curious about trying streamers here in the future. I had maybe ten minutes before I needed to leave for work, and wouldn't you know it, the sun popped out and that beautiful day finally showed up. I did a quick run and gun stroll upstream to some large boulders that were the start of the pocket water stretch. I got a follow, and a few casts later another bow shot out from beneath a boulder and slammed the x-rap. He pulled loose after a few flips, and that was that. It was a weird day. I can't tell you the last time I intentionally tried to catch trout on a spinning rod. I feel a little guilty, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I must say that I missed the feeling of something clobbering a jerk bait, even if it was the wrong species. As I write this a few days later, it's below freezing and there's snow on the ground. It might be a little while before a bass finds it's way onto the end of my line.

Final Tally: 1 Brown Trout, 3 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally: 184 Fish

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Silver Lining on All These Crappy Clouds

Even though it's May now, it's snowed everyday for the past four days. Thankfully it gave me time to work on some projects I've been wanting to get done. The main one was turning this:

into this:

For about $20 I can now bring three more fishing rods with me in my float tube. That's about the same cost as the single commercially made rod holder I bought last year. Watch out fish, I'm now armed with up to five rods, covering most any situation and/or species I come across. One word of caution, definitely work in an extremely well ventilated area if you are working with pipe sealant. I was floating off into space within 3 seconds of popping the lid off.

In addition to playing with PVC plastic, I had a chance to do some work with liquid plastisol. Since I started making soft plastic lures last year, I have struggled with getting a two color bait to hold together. Well I finally pulled it off.

These little buggers are made of saltwater grade plastic, so hopefully they will hold up well to the punishment the tiger musky and bass will unleash upon them.

The forecast is looking a little better for the next two weeks and I'm excited to try out my new creations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Romping through the Marshes


With the forecast calling for several days of cold nasty weather, I decided I had best find my way outdoors. It's been a long, long time since I last caught a bass, so my first order of business would be to check on a little smallmouth spot I know. Thankfully I brought catfish gear and bait just in case. The river was a raging torrent of swirling brown foam. Well, that was a waste of a half hour I could have spent chasing kitties, but at least I tried. I drove back into the valley making it down to the highway bridge with a few hours to go before work. I must say that I'm very grateful for my new rubber boots. All the rain and snow from last week had left the place a mess. I tromped over to the spot where I'd left off on last week and hucked out a nightcrawler. It didn't take long before old Mr. Muddy Buddy came by for a visit. I caught a couple of the little guys before they stole my worm. I had gotten the skunk out of the way, so I felt it was time to get serious now. I slid a wad of carp meat onto the line and lobbed it back into the water. After a short time something was tapping at my line, and I brought in a larger bullhead.

I tossed him back and soon felt another fish tugging on my line. It felt quite a bit bigger. I worked away at it for a minute before realizing it was a bullhead, about the same size as the last one, that was tangled up in someone's line. I felt pretty bad for the little guy, but eventually the line pulled out of it's mouth. Hopefully he was able to get out of the line and escape to freedom. About this time the people across from me were getting on my nerves. Between their obnoxious ringtone and constant casting up near me, I had had enough. I moved down further and set up shop. I hurled the carp chunk as far as I could and then began working various lures with my other rods. Not much was going on until I noticed my cat rod was jumping about wildly. This was new, no tentative tapping here. I immediately knew this wasn't a little bullhead. Eventually I hauled in this lovely specimen.

This would have been a perfect size to eat, but it was his lucky day as I had to go to work soon after. I got to thinking that I had caught this fish out by the main channel current seam and that I should probably focus on that area. I moved down to the next opening in the reeds as it gave me better access to the channel. I re-rigged with a much heavier sinker, sprayed some reel butter on my reel, and let it fly. That stuff really does the trick, I probably cast out half a spool's worth of line. I worked some shallow brush with my ultralight rig, hoping for crappie but finding none, when I saw my other rod going nuts. This fish felt even better than the last one. After a few minutes I beached another nice channel cat.

He was a bit confused when I released him, he kept trying to come back ashore. How precious, I guess he missed me. Eventually he found his way back to the murk as I put on a fresh piece of bait. Things were kind of slow for a bit, but at least I was getting some much needed casting practice after the long winter. Eventually the rod came to life again and another battle ensued. I was soon holding a rather pregnant kitty.

I quickly set her free to go make kittens. Quite some time passed and nothing happened. I decided to move back to the spot where I had caught the first channel catfish. It didn't take long before my rod tip was twitching. It looked more like a bullhead bite, but when I brought the line tight it was quite apparent that this wasn't the case. There was some serious weight to this fish. I loosened the drag a smidgen and she began peeling line off the reel. I gained the line back and the great beast stripped it back off. After about five minutes I beached the behemoth. I leaned down and lipped it like I had the other fish. That was a mistake. She immediately bit down hard on my thumb twice, blood quickly welling to the surface. Those cats have some serious jaw strength. I snapped some pics before popping the hook out and then let her go.

Some guys that had been fishing a few hundred yards north of me saw me holding the fish as they walked by and asked what I was using. They thanked me and then moved down to the first spot where I had caught the bullhead. They were kind enough to ask if that was okay, even though it was at least a hundred feet away from me. I wish everybody was that courteous. For the next while I got several hard hits on my bait, but no solid hookups. Since nothing was hitting my lures I thought it might be a good idea to put a circle hook and crawler on my walleye rod and see what might happen. I fished it much closer to shore than the other line, just to see what was there. Within a few minutes something took off with the worm and I enjoyed a nice little fight before bringing in this nice big pile of bait.

Catching fish on IM8 graphite is fun, you can feel every little swish of the fish's tail. Too bad the only thing I've caught on my nice new walleye rod is a couple of carp. Oh well, soon enough that should change. I set to work on butchering the mongrel, and about half way through some movement caught my eye. Fish on! I brought in another nice channel cat of about 18". I was almost out of time. I finished up my work and buried him at sea. On the way back to the car I passed the kind fishermen and they asked me for some advice as they still hadn't caught anything. I was flattered, this was the first time I felt I'd done any good on catfish and here I was spreading my new found knowledge already. They thanked me and then I rushed off to the car, that wasn't in my schedule. I think Ryan and I are going to come back here as soon as it warms up again. He really wants to catch a nice catfish, and I still need a ten pounder. At least today I was halfway there.

Final Tally: 8 Bullhead, 5 Channel Cats, 1 Carp

Year Tally: 180 Fish

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another Jaunt at the Scum Pond


After working in the yard for a bit I thought I would go back to Cutler and try that current seam I'd found last time I was down there. I didn't have any worms, but I scrounged up an old package of prepared catfish bait. This nasty, sticky mess got absolutely no attention from the fish but did a good job of getting packed into my cuticles. Pretty soon some annoying shirtless rednecks arrived on the other side of the bridge and proceeded to cast up into my space. I decided to see what the marsh looked like further north. I lobbed my bait out along the current seam and decided to cast jigs with my other rod while I waited. About ten minutes later I thought I had a snag, but then it started moving. No, there will not be some epic story of a ten pound walleye, or a huge largemouth finally succumbing to my amazing skills. I'd snagged a carp just under the dorsal fin. At least I finally caught something on my new rod. I brought the swimming turd ashore and did what I had to do to old Mr. Bungle. At least I had good bait now. I put a piece of carp on my circle hook and lobbed it back out. Pretty much as soon as I put my rod down I had a fish on. This filthy little mongrel soon came out of the water to say hi.

Certainly a greedy little bugger. Long story short, the fish loved the fresh carp meat. Just as soon as the bait would settle on the bottom I would have a fish tap, tap, tapping away. Unfortunately most of them must have been really, really small as I couldn't hook them with the size 2 circle hook. I caught another bullhead about like the first, and I did lose something a little bigger after a short fight. Just as soon as it began it was time for work. At least I had a baggy full of bait to put in the freezer after this trip and an interesting new place to fish. That night after work I swung by the inherently evil megastore and bought some knee high rubber galoshes. Just as soon as these thunderstorms pass I'm heading back there with a sack of carp to do some more exploring. I'm determined that this is the year I catch my ten pounder.

Final Tally: 1 Carp, 2 Bullhead Catfish

Year Tally: 166 Fish

Raging Torrents of Ovaltine


I had thought about going back up to Idaho for some more still water fishing, but alas time wasn't on my side. I decided I'd go see how the Blacksmith Fork was looking. Runoff has begun. Nowhere near as bad as the title suggests, but it's definitely murkier than it was the last time I fished it. I was actually pretty happy about it, a little color can make the fish less spooky. It was a roasty toasty day and I didn't even think about wearing a jacket. I suited up beside the remnants of a teenage love fest (blanket, pillows and undershirt left to rot in the bushes. People are filthy.) As I approached the water my expectations were raised even higher when I encountered clouds of caddisflies. Unfortunately the caddis emerger situation in my fly box wasn't too good. I scrounged up a rather large October caddis emerger from last fall and gave it a try anyway. I had a fish swipe at my Turk's in the first run, but that was it. I worked up through some likely water and didn't even see fish eating the naturals. Definitely disconcerting. I approached one of my favorite runs and spotted a couple of fish holding by some brush at the tail of the pool. They didn't so much as glance at my offering. I soldiered on and finally a nice cutthroat nailed my Turk's.

I pulled a typical brown out on the emerger a bit further up before turning my attention to a nice seam across from me. I fished it quite a while with nothing before getting just the right drift and I missed a fish. I tried the same cast again and scored a whitefish. After getting back into position I noticed a smallish brown rising in the run and took him on the first cast. I fished that stretch of water a little longer and moved on. Nothing happened until I got to another larger run. I ended up having to switch to an indicator setup with two nymphs before getting a good hit, though the trout quickly flipped free. I worked a bit longer, getting just the right drift to get my flies all the way to the bottom, at which point this homely customer came calling.

He munched my new creation, "The Timmy." I fished it a while longer and was about to give up, when another whitefish ate Timmy. I switched back to a dry/dropper rig and kept working upstream, scoring a small brown here or there, but nothing too exciting. I received a number of refusals on my dry in a set of riffles, but no takers. I've never seen the fish in this stream be so particular. Lame. In one deep run I could see a trout actively feeding on emergers up in some brush. This was going to be tough. He wouldn't turn around for my fly if I dropped it below him, but he was surrounded by branches. I kept at it and was eventually able to tuck my fly in to his right. He immediately shot over and nabbed my emerger.

I also managed a couple more whitefish out of this hole before moving on. I fished on through some great looking stretches, but nothing really happened. I switched my dropper to a Carrot's Ear even though I'd only seen a few mayflies hatching today. Soon I came to a good bend pool with some nice undercuts. I let my flies drift up against one of these undercuts and a brown yanked my fly under the bank. After a short but spirited little skirmish I held this little devil in my hand.

I was nearly out of time, but I managed a couple more browns of similar size in that run and the next. Overall a pretty fun couple of hours, but I had expected more under the circumstances. Perhaps if I had come prepared with smaller caddis emergers things would have been different.

Final Tally: 15 Browns, Whitefish and Cutthroat

Year Tally: 163 Fish

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In the Land of the Deafening Frogs and Buttrock


I found myself alone on a Sunday afternoon, so I decided that today was the day to head to Idaho for some stillwater fishing. I drove over the secret passage and got my self some Chubway and gas. I drove north up I-15, enjoying the new Horse Feathers album as I went. The album ended right as I pulled into my destination. I noticed a fisherman in a pontoon hunkered down in the shallows near a small inlet. As I ate my sandwich and got geared up, he stayed in that area. Though I didn't see him catch a fish, I figured he must be getting into them over there. I eased into the water and was delighted to find water in the low 50s. All this warm weather has really gotten things going. I fished a couple of leeches on a sinking line with nothing. I decided I'd try to some deep midge fishing, but still nothing. I noticed the pontoon guy was heading up the bank I was fishing, so I thought I'd pass him by and try his spot if he was leaving. As we passed we got to talking, and it turns out my suspicions were correct, he'd been knocking them dead over there on an olive leech. He showed me a four pounder he'd caught, I thanked him and hurried over to the honey hole. I missed a fish before even getting there, and then I had one on, but he threw the hook. The next fish I hesitated on and got a solid hookup. I heart Kamloops. They fight so hard for their size. I brought him in and was dismayed to find that he'd completley engulfed the size 8 Crystal Bugger and was bleeding badly. I decided I'd be eating trout for dinner tonight, but I didn't have a stringer as I wasn't planning on it. I eventually fashioned a stringer from my landing net's cord.

R.I.P Little Buddy

I caught a couple more and missed several more, and then things dropped off for a while. I bobbed around enjoying the cacophony of amorous frogs and foul minded fowl, though not the sound of redneck's buttrock blaring from their trucks. I guess that's what happens when you fish near Malad. This place is weird, people drive down, look at the water, and then turn around and leave. I don't really get it, but there's always traffic coming and going. I watched a bald eagle hop around on the far shore, and felt kind of embarrassed for the osprey that missed a fish and then couldn't get back out of the water again. Eventually he made it, but it took several tries. The sound of a loon flitted across the water, and I realized that most of the annoying people had gone home. About this time some clouds came in and fish began to eat midges off the surface. I started getting tons of hits, and I actually managed to catch some too.

One of them seriously jumped seven times in a row. I love these fish! I tried fishing an indicator with a midge pupa and a beadhead olive Crystal Bugger below it since the fish were eating midges. I missed three before finally landing one. He took the bugger. I switched back to fishing my sinking line. The sun came out and things slowed down again. I decided I needed to get home and clean my fish. Overall it was a fun day. If I would have landed everything that hit it would have been my best stillwater trout trip ever. I probably missed 40 fish and landed 12. Two took a size 12 black peacock Crystal Bugger, and the others took the size 8 olive Crystal Bugger. I didn't get any monsters, they were all pretty much the same size, 14-16" and healthy. I went home and enjoyed some grilled trout and green beans. Delicious. The stories I've heard of how tasty the trout are from this reservoir are true, it was one of the best trout I've eaten. It's flesh was bright orange like a salmon, and it tasted a lot like one too. Yum.

Final Tally: 12 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally: 148 Fish