July 5, 2014

Fishing at Fiending Void

Adjunct to our float-trip, we fished a couple other spots to fill in the space before and after the epic day of Cicada madness. I've known about this canyon stream for years but failed to make a trip there a reality until now. I had a chance to fish it last year during the fishing trip with my cousin and Bishop Jan. But BJ pulled rank and ordered another day of farming trouts off the back of the boat. I think everyone I've spoken to about this stream has essentially called it their "heaven on earth" and I found out why.

We initially planned to fish this stream the day after our float and fish somewhere on our way to Bedrock, but nowhere else stuck out. So we thought some reconnaissance work was in order and headed here. When we arrived at the trail-head we only saw a group of picnic goers and a lady from Europe retiring her fly rod for the day. It was torture to hike down the canyon, not because the hike was strenuous, because the hike passed so many sections that screamed to be fished.

We hiked about halfway down the canyon and decided to start fishing back up. There was an abundance of overhead trees with grabby branches. I was having difficulty caging my anticipation to fish this famed stream and spooked a nice 16"+ bow in the first run as I fumbled up the stream in a sloppy manner. I stopped and realigned my mind to focus on what I was doing. Soon after I hooked a brown behind a rock and it immediately wrapped my line around a submerged branch, dislodging the hook.
As I walked upstream to see if Sam or Craig was faring better, Sam was having a photo-shoot with a beautifully colored Rainbow. I stopped to help take shots while Sam modeled with his catch. I found a more open section of stream with some nice holes and runs and began to finally stick a few. I tied up a half-dozen cranefly larva with my rip-off variation of the "Utah Killer Bug"...that yarn is difficult to locate so I had to improvise with psudo-antron and dubbing. But it worked well as a dropper below the Stoned-hopper and found the most love that evening.
When I reached a primo spot we peeped on the way down, Craig was connected to the fish of the evening while Sam scooped it up in his net. I think he caught it on one of the flies I tied so I'm taking 25% of the credit and I'm pretty sure Sam will take his cut too; to be frank it was a team effort. It was a great moment to share with the Fetzer duo and smiles were shared from ear to ear.

As the light faded, we quickened our step and became more choosy with the spots we fished. More fish were put to hand and it primed us for the following day of Cicada debauchery.

At the beginning of our second day on this stream, we danced with the idea of hiking to the bottom. I packed a couple drinks but less than I wished I had. Once we reached the previous stopping spot Sam and I colluded to press forward. We stopped to view some historic graffiti just off the trail, this one made me think of the backcounty.com logo 

We passed another angler that was very friendly and informative about the fishing. He had a chill aura about him that must come from fishing this stream often and his personal putting green in his front yard. He was the only other angler we saw the entire day.

We reached the end of the stream in hopes of a few more cicada caught greenies but were met with the ragging torrent of chocolate milk madness. We still pounded the water and caught a few in the transition from clear to mud. I saw a massive Brown rise into the clear water and dive back down to the mud. I hadn't had any more love from my current flies so I decided it was worth re-rigging in an attempt to catch that bruiser brown. Just as I was about to make my first cast with a new set-up, a large raft began B-lining towards me and rowed into the clear water cove. I mumbled some unmentionable phrases and decided to fish somewhere else.

 A short distance up, there was a slow moving pool full of large trout. I had a few follows and long looks but my skill isn't to the level of catching these fish. It was fun to try although fruitless. I switched between a hopper-dropper and #14 dries. All produced depending on the characteristics of the spot being fished. I was hoping to see some adult Stones but no dice today.

One of my favorite fish of the day came just after lunch when I threw the hopper-dropper in the middle of a swift current that led my fly under an overhanging branch. My dropper got spanked and a nice Bow showed me a good time. I ended up chasing it down-stream, tucking my rod under and around branches as the fish tried to lash them together with my line. I was able to coax it to my net and Craig took my hero-shot. I had a few more adventurous fights but most ended in my defeat.

When I came to a long run with open room to cast, my hopes became a reality when a feisty Bow plucked my Purple Haze from the water's surface and ripped line off my reel. I haven't had the blessing to catch a fish that tested my reel's drag that often. In fact I can only count a handful of times a fish actually took more than a few feet of line off my reel. It made a lovely sound as the fish tried to swim to the headwaters of this small stream. I missed a couple opportunities to net the fish myself and then Sam did just about as well as I did to get the fish to net. It ended up tying a square knot around Sam's legs and letting itself off the hook. I forgave Sam for his poor net-job, I've paid the same service to others many times. Sam took over fishing this run and I was a bit surprised when another fish came out to play after my fugitive fish raced around the same run just moments before.  

We fished from the bottom to about the middle of the canyon when the lack of hydration began to take it's toll. I made the decision to call it a day without any dispute from Craig. Sam kept stopping to fish likely spots while I wasn't sure how I was going to drag myself up the next couple miles of trail. At one point I contemplated drinking from the stream and dealing with the consequence later. But luckily I was able to put one foot in front of the other and eventually made it back to the Jeep. I had ice cold Gatorade and water waiting in the cooler, but the back lift-gate doesn't unlock with the button. Before I could reap the rewards of my cooler, I was required to climb back and sift through the haphazardly packed items to reach the lever in order to unlock the door.

The following day Sam and I tried our luck at Six Fingers and were very hopeful by the lack of vehicles at the access point and abundance of cicadas present. But to our dismay we didn't even see a fish in the 100+ yards of river we fished. We decided to move locations as my hall pass was quickly losing validation before I was to meet Katy and the boys at my parents. We fished the frog-water stream Katy and I enjoyed last fall during our over-night camping trip away from parental responsibility. The first fish I caught was visible hanging at the back of the run and it took my offering in full HD to Sam and I. It was hard to pull myself away from the stream but it helped the trip wasn't just a fishing trip but also a catching one.

June 26, 2014

Cicadas on the Green River

I've been hearing about Katy's cousin who guides the Green River for many years, but I haven't had the opportunity to meet him until a few months ago when we saw him at the Wasatch Fly Tying Expo. Scott Barrus is the owner and operator of Spinner Fall Guide Service based out of Dutch John, Utah. Sam's wife had the wonderful idea to surprise him with a trip down the Green for his 25th birthday and I was lucky enough to tag along. Since it was to be a surprise, I was able to choose the date of the float. When June 3rd came closer, and the anticipation was growing into obsessive thought, the threat of high water started to make me worry. I started to feel guilty I unknowingly chose our trip to be in the middle of increased flows. Either way I didn't have to work and all I needed to worry about was fishing; which isn't a bad problem to have.  
We met at Trout Creek Flies and in the rush of throwing everything in, I chose my #6 rod with the idea we might be nymphing or throwing streamers due to the high water. As we drove to the put-in I began to have a sinking feeling I chose the wrong rod. The water flow had increased the prior day, but fish were still looking up and pounding Cicadas. Today was thought to be better than yesterday, so subsurface patterns were not necessary. Sam and Craig rode in Scott's boat and I had the pleasure of fishing with Jeremy Rogers. There was no one else in the boat to compete for the front so I felt a bit spoiled to say the least.

We were the first boats on the water. I took the right side while the Fetzer duo fished river left. I had trouble making the fly land where I wanted and loathed my rod choice while longing for my Sage XP #5. No more than 100 yards from the put in I had an eat but my rod exploded rather than the water. My suspicion I chose the wrong rod was confirmed when the butt section dislodged from the other FIVE sections of my Cabela's Stowaway 6 in the middle of setting the hook. This put me on tilt and I felt like a complete ass. I've floated the A-section of the Green a handful of times but never in a drift boat or with a guide. I didn't want to be "one of those clients" but I was soon fitting the script. Jeremy did his best to talk me out of diving to the bottom of the river and hugging a rock. But it took me a few successful hook-ups to let my guard down.
This was a completely new way of fishing for me; I'm used to small streams with impulsive fish. I had trouble understanding the hydrodynamics and how to mend accordingly. But once I started listening to my guide and began to recognize how my fly would react to the current, things started coming together for me. There was a huge difference in bug activity once the sun came out from the clouds and things heated up. Cicadas began diving kamikaze into the water and the fish noticed. It was incredible to see so many fish slamming the water's surface, especially when they broke the surface to eat my offering!

Meanwhile across the river, Sam and Craig were sticking multiple fish in an attempt to catch up with my fish-count. I think I was so busy catching fish, I forgot to take more pictures. Luckily Sam was good enough to share his pictures to help document this spectacular day.  

We caught mostly Browns with the occasional Bow. I was impressed by their strength and size. By the end of the day I was happy to have a rod with a fighting butt because my forearms were hammered. The majority of fish were caught along the edges in "the yellow brick road" or in back-eddies. But Jeremy saw an aggressive strike right below the boat while I was fishing upstream . I cast less than 5 feet from the boat and Gordo-McFatty inhaled my fly. It was a memorable fish in a blur of constant catching. I landed 30-40 fish with well over double that in eats. It was a day of fishing debauchery I won't soon forget! Book yourself a trip with Spinner Fall, you won't be disappointed!

June 22, 2014

The Flyfisherman's Widow featured in Dun Magazine


Katy's poem "The Flyfisherman's Widow" was published in the Summer edition of Dun Magazine that just came out Saturday. Dun Magazine is an E-magazine that comes out quarterly and focuses on women who fish. It's about Katy finding an understanding and love for fly fishing and deciding to let her husband go fishing whenever he wants and buy gear to his heart's content...or something like that. Check it out and enjoy the rest of the magazine; they do top-notch work.

May 21, 2014

Teaching at Rouge Creek in the Spring


The family and I went to Rouge Creek a couple weeks ago to farm some wild rainbows out of the inlet side of this small reservoir. Connor and Caleb have been enjoying their $10 Tenkara rods I purchased from Amazon a couple months ago. These knock-off Tenkara rods have been a perfect match for these boys. They don't have a reel or line going in and out of guides to deal with, so they can just concentrate on their cast. And with a $5 price tag and about $5 of cork-work, these are some scrappy rods for these little boys. The difficult part has been trying to find the right line/leader combination.
Connor landed 10+ feisty rainbows and hooked about twice that may and long-line released them. Connor has the bug and really enjoys fishing. I can't believe a 6 year old is sticking so many fish all on his own!
Caleb nonchalantly stated "I hooked one" on one of his first casts. I don't know if it's because his mother converted from gear to fly while he was in her womb or that's just a coincidence, but Caleb is just naturally fishy.
Teaching Boy Scouts at Rouge Creek
Sam and I went to Rouge Creek last spring with the goal of catching a Cabela's tagged fish. About an hour into our venture, three young men donning waders and fly rods walked past and started fishing a few yards down the bank from us. A couple minutes later their scout leader walked up and stated "If they get in your way, just let me know and I'll get them out of your hair". Come to find out they were working on their fly fishing merit badge and their leader wasn't much help to them. He even made the statement "I'm not going to teach them" as if it was too much trouble. 

A few more boys walked up, but they weren't wearing waders or holding rods. They watched as their wader-wearing troop members tried unsuccessfully to catch fish. I offered to let one of them fish with my rod and immediately put him on a fish, then another, then another. I asked that we give the next guy a try and he reluctantly passed the rod on. I asked the other scouts with rods if they wanted me to help set them up to catch fish. Most of them immediately took me up on my offer and the prideful ones soon conceded. Sam jumped in and we both set their rods up while teaching them about knots, leader length, fly selection, strike detection, and casting.

The scout leader left with his tail between his legs to go cook hot dogs and another scout leader replaced him. For the next few hours, the scouts caught fish after fish; many times doubling and tripling up. The 2nd leader kept thanking us for teaching these boys. Watching them smile from ear to ear as they caught fish was thanks enough.
 I learned to fly fish and tie flies as a Boy Scout when I was 12. My scout leader was a Biology teacher, fisherman, and butterfly collector extraordinaire. Learning to fly fish at an early age kept me off the streets and out of gangs. So I owe great gratitude to the stellar folks I've come across while learning to fly fish who readily shared their knowledge and flies; I was happy to pay it forward.
I challenge all of you to take someone under your wing the next opportunity you have. I guarantee you will have more fun watching them catch fish then doing it yourself. It's kind of a less sick and twisted version of "Being John Malkovich" where you have to catch the fish through someone else's body. It's a whole new challenge and a win win for both parties.

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.