Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering 2010

So I haven't posted on here for at least half a year.  School found me and took over my life.  I'm not even going to attempt to post a detailed account of every fishing trip since my last post,  but I felt it would be best to just post some highlights of the year.

Against all odds, 2010 will likely go down in history, (at least in my little life), as one of the most monumental fishing years I will ever experience.  Winter just didn't want to release it's icy grip on the area.  We had snow in May and low temps in the 30s until the end of June.  Bass were still pre-spawn during the latter part of that month.  That's just crazy.  The first week of August I began nursing school and between class, clinical, work and homework, I was putting in 18-20 hours of work a day.  We had a hard frost the first of September, though early October brought temps in the 90's.  Despite the tumultuous times, everything came together for an outstanding year. 
Many records were broken and many goals were accomplished.  Some of those goals were ones I had decided on at the start of the year, but many of those went unmet.  Probably the largest milestone was finally catching (and surpassing) 2010 fish in the year 2010.  I came up with this idea back in the year 2000.  I got to somewhere in the mid 1800's that year, but illness and an early winter thwarted my plans.  Shortly after that, I moved to the city and didn't end up fishing much.  When we moved to Cache Valley, my passion for water and the things that swim in it was renewed.  In 2009 I tried again.  I stumbled into the upper 1800's, but it just wasn't to be.  I thought there was no way I would even have a chance in 2010 with school looming.  I wasn't even going to try, but as the numbers of fish caught grew, a little part of me believed it was possible.  I was able to get Thursdays off from work for studying, but those ended up becoming my fishing day.  After class I would hurry up to Idaho, my car packed with gear and have at it.  Oddly enough, though I wasn't using that time to study, the stress relief that my excursions brought me led to higher grades in the end.  When the early frost came, I feared it would be snowing by the end of September, but instead we enjoyed a lengthy Indian summer well into October.  I never thought I would be nailing good bass on my 8wt with popping bugs at dusk while people were visiting spook alleys and corn mazes.

Then it ended.  Cold soaking rains descended, followed by cold, crisp, bluebird days as I sat in the 1800's once again.  The lakes began to turnover.  The vegetation was dying back.  But I was so close.  The third week of October, my wife was out of town on business, and I had a free day from school.  I returned to a favorite water for numbers of mostly small bass.  If I wasn't going to catch quality, I was going to at least try and make my goal with little guys.  The water was in the low 50's, and the warm and sunny morning was soon replaced by a churning gray sky and wind.  I wasn't expecting a hot bite, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I began fishing small jerkbaits and caught a lot of smaller fish as I expected.  But then more and more larger fish began to show up.  The fish were still up in the shallows, hiding amongst the last dying clumps of vegetation on a large flat.  I had just gotten a couple of Lucky Craft lipless cranks that I was eager to try, but I thought it was too cold for them.  I tied one on any way, and first cast a good bass hammered it.

And then the next cast, and the next cast, and the next cast.  

This kept up for some time when I realized I needed to go check in with work.  It was supposed to be a slow day, so I was hoping they wouldn't need me and I could just run back to the lake and finish things off.  I was so close now, I couldn't miss now.  Unfortunately, work needed me after all and I hightailed it back to Utah.  I had caught 107 fish in just a few hours.  I only needed 54 more fish.  With the way they were hitting, there was no doubt I could have made it that day if I hadn't had to leave for work.  I made up my mind to head back the next morning, rain or shine.  Luck was once again on my side as the sun was actually peaking out as I drifted out onto the pond.  Things weren't as fast as the day before.  I was catching fish on the jerkbaits, and a few on the lipless cranks, but not like earlier.  Still, if I kept at it, I was probably going to make it.  Most of the fish were on the smaller side, though I did manage this fatty,

my biggest from this reservoir, and on my ultralight no less.  Clouds began to move in with wind and chilly temperatures.  My time was running out, but that weather shift got them going.  They were pulling off the flat and really concentrating on the outside edge of the drop, but once I found them, they began hitting the Lucky Crafts again.

Somewhere in there I reached my goal.  It wasn't a monster if I recall correctly, but what a fish.  I couldn't feel my legs anymore and it was beginning to drizzle.  Still, I knew this was the last time I would be bass fishing for half a year.  I got out and walked the shore, alternating between small jerkbaits and an LV100.  I picked off some smaller bass, but nothing grand.  The rain was beginning to intensify, but I lobbed out a few more casts.  To my surprise, I caught 2 or 3 decent rainbows my last few casts.  I made it back and packed up my car just as the torrent arrived. 

I ended up making it out for some stillwater trout fishing a couple of weeks later

bringing my final number to 2049 fish for the year.

In addition to this achievement, I finally beat my old best largemouth record of 18".  I set that record back when I was maybe 13 or 14 on Lake George in upstate New York.  I tied it on several of the northern Utah and southeast Idaho waters during the past couple of years, but I was never able to beat it.  In 2010 I caught a bunch of 18" largemouth,

 3 at 19",

and one at 20".

I don't know how long it will take to beat 20" with the short growing season here, and with the draw downs these little irrigation reservoirs experience, but I'm going to keep trying.

I also finally beat my old best smallmouth record, which had stood since that same trip to upstate New York back in the early 90's.  I only beat it by a 1/2", but I did it on a light spinning rod and 6lb test as October burned around me.

That same day I also got into some very aggressive walleye.  They were up against the shoreline rocks and obliterated my little jerkbait.

I had never caught walleye on a hardbait before, and I had never seen one tail walk before that day either.  That little perch colored Lucky Craft was definitely a star performer last fall catching that big smallie, walleye, lots of largemouth, perch and rainbows.  Not surprisingly, I have accumulated a bunch more over the winter in preparation for the coming spring.

In the spring, when the rivers were blown out, and the Idaho bass ponds weren't quite ready, I kept myself busy slogging along the shores of Cutler Marsh with a sack of carp meat and plenty of circle hooks.  I ended up catching my best channel cat.

It wasn't a monster, and it wasn't the ten pounder I'd hoped for, but I still had a lot of fun wrestling her in.  I also learned not to lip larger cats like a bass.  They clamp down hard enough to draw blood.

Another highlight was a short trip to Wyoming just before school started.  I was able to spend a few hours on the Grey's River, and caught several large Snake River Cutthroat,

they were my best yet.  It helped heal the wound of the big one I had lost on The Snake because of a bad knot a year prior.

Another first was finally catching two fish on the same lure.  I have to say two fat 14" smallmouth can really put up quite the fight when they gang up on you.

I was pretty mad at myself for forgetting to bring my camera that day, but to my surprise, the first fish of the day the next day ended up being two fish.

2010 is going to be a hard year to beat.  Now that I've done it, I'm not going to try so hard to catch 2011 fish this year.  So I need to think of some new goals.  I never did catch a tiger musky on the fly, so that is something I'm going to shoot for this year.  I got fed up with how crowded that lake has become and didn't want to fish there, but with it being just down the street from my home, I'm going to just make myself go there until I succeed.  I also didn't make it to Willard Bay to try for wipers, and I didn't catch any giant walleye from The Bear in the early spring.  So those are on my to do list once again.  Overall, I think this year I'm not going to worry so much about goals and just enjoy the time outside when I can get it.  Quite honestly, at the moment, with the ice fog heavy in the air, I would kill just to be outside on a sunny 40 degree day catching ugly whitefish.