April 4, 2014

Willow Creek, Oh How I Miss You So...

About eight years ago, when my small stream fishing experience was in its infancy, I stumbled upon Willow Creek. I had recently graduated from Southern Utah University and Bishop Jan and I went camping and riding ATVs. While driving off the mountain I was listening to the Horse Whisperer" soundtrack and was inspired. I decided to stop at a pull-out to see if the small stream I had driven by many times before was even fishable.

I was surprised how wide the stream was once I walked down to it. I assumed it was a willow-choked trickle. The first spot I came to was a large beaver pond that has since been destroyed by runoff. My first cast was met with an eager 10" brown and many many more fish were brought to hand that day. I hadn't planned to fish as long as I did, so I was ill-prepared. I had a severe sunburn on my face & arms and extremely dehydrated. I didn't notice my physical condition until I ran out of fishable water. I had been in a trance for the past 4 hours catching more fish than I had ever done in my life.
With addiction, there is a switch that is flipped in a person that changes everything. Once this switch is flipped, there is no going back to the way things were. This was the moment my "fly-fishing switch" was flipped; my paradigm had shifted. 

 Willow Creek and its surroundings is one of my favorite places on earth. I've shared countless memories with friends and family within this 2-3 square mile area. Each fork and section of this stream has it's own character and they all hold fish. I have great anticipation to get back on this stream as soon as the snow pack allows.
The following is a smathering of pictures over the years on Willow Creek. Many are recycled from earlier posts...


I've spent many evenings fishing this stream until it's too dark to see the fly.  

March 20, 2014

IF4 Film Festival Trip 2014

It was Sam's Spring Break and we originally planned to fish all day Thursday but last minute I got a wild hair and suggested we start early and attend the Utah leg of the IF4 film festival Wednesday night.  It was fun to be in a room with so many people who share a love for fly fishing. There was a TON of giveaways and the videos were top notch. I want to take the family next year and continue the fly-fishing indoctrination.
After getting pumped up from the IF4 show, we left early the next morning with a mission to chuck meaty morsels to willing trout. We arrived at Candy Canyon just as the sun was hitting the water and decided to try a stretch of river we've only eyed from the road. After a few great runs with not even a fishy follow, we relocated to our trusty stretch of streamer heaven and immediately began hooking into some beautiful Browns. 
Since I'm such a nice guy, I gave the best hole in the river to Sam. We fished this section a few times last fall and turned some nice fish in this hole. Sam soon connected into an 18" brown with an ugly mug.
The fishing remained good most of the morning. It's so much fun dancing big visible globs of fur, feathers, & steel past boulders and undercut banks anticipating the predatory strike. Half the fun of streamers is how visual it is. Even when a connection isn't made, the rush of moving fish keeps me going.
Ice-off on most of the southern Utah lakes has already happened. We wanted to end the day at Big Fish Lake. There was only a small section of the lake with ice. I did well last April as the ice was just peeling off. I'm not much of a lake fisherman and today the stars didn't quite line-up for me. Sam and I both caught a fish each before we decided to chase after something shiny and fish another stream with meat.

By the time we landed at the Brown Meadow, I was pretty pooped. We covered a few hundred yards of water with only one decent brown between the two of us so we called it a great day and headed home.

March 11, 2014

Six Fingers and Frog-water

Katy and I had a chance to go camping and fishing without the boys. We left them with my parents and headed up to a little stream I enjoy fishing from time to time. By the time we got up the canyon it was dark. Camping spots were tough to find but we managed to find a nice little spot tucked away in the willows and next to a small stream. 
The following morning we fished Six Fingers. I missed a turn and ended up wasting about an hour trying to find it, but we were lucky to have it to ourselves once we got there. We had a lot of fun catching some beautiful Bows, Cutts, and Browns. 
On the way back down the canyon we stopped to try our luck on a very small creek very little current. Small streams are my bread and butter, but this was an extreme to my norm. But we caught fish pool after pool. Casts had to be soft and completely accurate. But I found myself having more fun with these small fish in frog water than the larger fish we caught earlier in the day. One of my favorite trips with my favorite person. Thinking of it only makes me want summer to come that much sooner.

March 5, 2014

Brown Meadow Meat

 I've been experimenting with different articulated streamer patterns lately. I've usually tied my streamers heavy with the thought that making a big splash and getting my fly in the "strike zone" as quick as possible was key. But my paradigm is changing to keeping it higher in the water column and only using enough weight to get the fluff under the water. This most recent batch of streamers seems to be the right combination of water displacing fluff and weight.

I stopped by the Brown Meadow about a month ago and it was frozen. I wasn't sure what to expect today, but I decided to throw big streamers rather than fish ice-off at Minersville. I bought a new #7 Airflo Tactical taper line last week and I've been itching to get out and throw meat. My old line was a Rio bass taper #8, but it has gone through the ringer and needed replacing.
The water was fairly clear, but as low as I have ever seen in. I hooked up with a ~16" brown in the first hole but it took some time before my streamer was smashed again. I found ripping the streamer back to me with a few sudden slower strips was the ticket. I tried to use stealth as much as I could, but most runs were very shallow. Between me sludging through mud and Oakley running up to the next hole, many fish were spooked before I could entice them with a fly. The day was a success, but the walk back to the Jeep was daunting. I covered a lot of water and with boots caked with mud, it felt even further.