October 13, 2017

Big Fall Browns!

 Caleb and I hit Willow Creek last month. The water was a little off color and the fish didn't seem to be looking up much. We fished through a few holes before finding a winning combination of a hopper-muddy worm dropper. Caleb must have tapped into his Fetzer-flyfishing genes because he was hitting each spot with great precision.

About 10 fish into the trip we came upon an elbow in the river with a deep undercut bank. The first cast into this spot elicited a voracious hit and subsequent hook-up. I could see the fish had some heft but had no idea it's stature. Caleb masterfully landed the Brown--largest I've witnessed in 5 years of fishing this stream--with a grin from ear to ear. I couldn't have been prouder in that moment!

Later last month...

I've been preparing to take the GRE all summer and on the eve of the test I needed to unwind. A solo trip to my favorite stream to fish in the fall was in order. It was briskly cold and cloudy; a perfect day to chuck meat. Mouse patterns were on the menu and that's what I tried to serve the trout the entire afternoon. It was slow at first and I began to doubt my game plan. I retreated to casting a streamer and began to catch some scrappy rainbows on a fast retrieve. But I realized I was catching most fish when the streamer barely skimmed below the surface of the water.  Once I tied on a smaller mouse pattern, it was game-time! And it wasn't long until a big boy peeked it's head out to play. One of the fattest, largest, and prettiest Browns in my history!

September 21, 2017

Boys Trip **earlier this year**

 We took the raft out on it's first voyage and had mixed success. We decided to bring it along on our camping trip and launched it on Panguitch Lake. It was VERY windy but the boat tracked accross the water fairly well. But the oar-lock system I came up with to attach to the PVC pipe was inadiquate so I had to use the stock oar-lock; which was too low in conjunction with the frame. No fish were caught but the boys had fun taking their first raft ride.

We had Smores that evening and the boys played on the rope swings in camp. The river was still to swollen; that didn't stop me from trying but nothing came of my efforts. The following day we went to Mammoth Caves; the boys have been hounding me to take them back since our first visit last year. It was an exciting boy's trip and fun to make these memories.

June 16, 2017

First Willow Creek Session 2017

 Sam, Craig, and I had our first Willow Creek adventure a few weeks ago. The main stream is blown out but there's a tributary that's first to clear and we were lucky to have it for ourselves. I replenished my box with Muddy-Water Worms since my trip to Vernal and was luckily prepared with the right fly and enough to freely share with my co-anglers. A pink Chernobyl Ant and a sparkly pink work was a deadly combination for these small stream trout.
Craig and I have been coming up this mountain seeking solace for years. The frequency of our trips dropped off some the last few years. But he's since moved back to southern Utah so I anticipate many more adventures on this stream in the near future. Although it was mostly subsurface action, Craig was able to abandon his dry fly purity for an afternoon and roll around in the mud.  
 The following week I took my family back up the mountain in hopes of getting Katy onto some small stream fishing action. But when we arrived to our destination there were already anglers rapping and pillaging the fishing hole...literally. I don't understand why someone would keep such small fish, but maybe their extraction of a few fish will help the other have more room to grow larger.
 We ended up at a favorite picnic spot (and camping too as long as there aren't too many ATVs driving by). We didn't find any willing fish in the adjacent stream but the boys had fun shooting BB guns and building forts in the bushes.

June 15, 2017

Barbell Eggs, Muddy Worms, and Soaked Waders

I finally made it back up to visit my cousin in Vernal and fish the famed Jigalo Creek that runs into Flaming Gorge. This time we had an even larger group including my son, brother, dad, cousin, and another cousin (and his son and dad the 2nd day). I planned and packed for this trip weeks in advance, but I didn't plan to take my son until the day I was slated to leave. That morning I asked my wife to pack Connor's clothes and I picked him up early from school. I hastily threw in Connor's waders and by early afternoon we were headed north to start our adventure. When we arrived to Bishop Jan's I quickly checked Connor's waders for holes and something looked off. When I held the waders up to Connor they barely reached to his waist! In a panic I called around to various stores in the area as we continued north towards the airport to pick up my brother. Connor and I quickly ran into Cabelas and he walked away with a new pair of waders to help remember this trip by.
Connor was the first to connect with a fish each morning. And he gave multiple fish (and my new Loop 6wt) a workout throughout the two days of fishing; I can't say that for some of the other participants in our group. The 2nd day Connor mixed his time between fishing and playing along the shore with his cousin. At one point he decided to check the depth of the lake beside the boat and found it deeper than expected; the rest of the day he wore a sweatshirt for pants and wool socks for shoes while his waders hung inside out in a tree; we were lucky that was the worst of it.
The weather was much warmer; a few years ago a newly fallen blanket of snow had just been laid down and we were breaking ice to access the bay. I came better prepared (so I thought) with dubbing loop eggs tied on stout hooks weighted with dumb bell eyes. Although the dumb bell eyed eggs produced, it was the Muddly Water Worm that took the show; unfortunately I had only a handful of them between a 1/2 dozen fishermen. The water was a little higher than 3 years ago and much more turbid so pink and sparkly was an asset. Even Bishop Jan found some action on the end of his line before resting on the hillside nursing his over-grown toenail. It baffles me how patient he can be watching others fish but can't seem to stomach having to wait for a fish to tug on his line!
Unlike Bishop Jan, my uncle Kerry has the fishing bug. But like his older brother, Kerry likes to bonk the fish he catches. It took some coaxing to get him out of the deeper water and allow me to rig him with some productive flies. But soon enough he found his rhythm and hooked a few.
I've always looked up to my brother Orman and I remember watching him fling flies with his bright yellow Eagle Claw rod; I couldn't wait until I could do the same. He was also a master at fishing "Balls O Fire" eggs, but that never caught on with me. I feel badly I didn't get a closeup shot of Orman holding one of the fish he caught but we seemed to always find ourselves on opposing sides of the stream; plus he broke my favorite streamer rod so yea...
My cousin (and trip host) Nolan and I finished the last day fishing one of the uppermost pools of this stream; above this the fish' path upstream is blocked by enormous boulders. Three years ago I caught my largest fish of the trip. I again caught my largest fish, but unfortunately we didn't get picture-proof due to a camera mishap. It was another amazing trip and I was happy to be able to share it with some many people close to me; especially Connor.

May 5, 2017

Late Night Construction Project

Journey On from Tight Loops on Vimeo.

I was still in a fog when I arrived to work this morning and watching "Journey On" while I took care of some medial tasks helped me break into my day. It inspires me to plan more trips exploring nature; summer is upon us and I an so amped to get outdoors!

I stayed up until close to 1:30 am last night constructing the frame for my raft. The design for this rig is inspired by Flycraft rafts; someday I hope to own the real thing. I started with a 9.5' raft I bought from Amazon and constructed the frame from 1" schedule 80 PVC conduit pipe & PVC fittings; the seats and rack are reinforced with metal tubing that fits snugly inside the 1" pipe. It can be broken down into 5 sections; seats (rowing & front), oar stands, front casting brace, and back rack/kid's seat). But I still need to complete a few more items--mainly paint the frame, thread the anchor system, and weave the seats & rack (out of 1" webbing)--but I plan to have this rig in the water by next week...
I have the hope (and plan) of floating a few of the larger--yet still very small--streams (and of coarse alpine lakes) in southern Utah; particularly a few private sections of river that to my understanding can still be accessed if floated from/to a public roadway...we'll see how that goes.

April 18, 2017

RR on Willow Creek- circa 2009

While looking over old posts on this blog (instead of working like I should be) I started looking back on my first blog "Pickle's Place" and really enjoyed reenacting this trip in my mind. It was a stressful time in life (one on many to come!) and was a great reprieve from working, going to school, and trying to fix a broken-down truck in my spare time...

Craig and I met at the Shell station and headed up the canyon. We've made this journey many times in the past three years and never once have we been disappointed. After a sour month of missed fishing opportunities, I was in dire need of respite. As we pulled up to the small, willow choked stream, we could see the flow had receded a substantial amount from just one month ago. It was second nature as we geared up and walked down to the first of many honey-holes. I tied on a Royle Wulff and immediately began catching fish.

After losing my fly to a small brown with a deep throat, I fumbled through a few patterns before I regained my momentum. I tied on a modified Boots Allen Emerger with a PT tail and body and the catch rate maintained from then on with about 90% Browns and 10% bows/cutbows.

Craig and I both had great success. I love catching fish on flies I tied and a rod that I assembled. Where these fish lack in size, they make up for in therapeutic value. With my batteries recharged, I'm ready for another week.

March 31, 2017

Boy's Trip March 2017: Camping, Fishing, & Hiking

I promised the boys a camping trip once I completed my Bachelor's in Nursing. It's been a long 18 months but I'm finally over that hurdle! My plan is to continue on to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner; but I'm looking forward to a summer without school to recharge my life. We had a haphazard plan to head due-south and end up camping somewhere near Lake Powell; I hoped to take the boys camping AND get some fishing in as a reward to myself. But I wasn't sure if we would actually make it to Lake Powell and even if we did Oakley (9 year old Golden Retriever) may keep us from fishing off the dock again.

So we stopped midway at one of our favorite camping/picnic sites and the boys swung on the tree swing while I flung some streamers in hopes of an eat. The water was perfect flow/clarity, I had some nice follows, and I connected on a scrappy brown.  
 I cast the fly across current, stripped twice, and let it soak. The brown slammed the streamer and the rest is history. I love the visual aspect of streamer fishing!

We hurried south after this intermission and ended up between Kanab and Lake Powell just as the sun was setting. Connor searched the area on Google-Earth and directed us to a great overlook and flat camping spot. The following morning we hiked down the hill from our camp and explored the wash, rocks, vegetation, and wildlife. We tried some prickly-pear innards and I ended up with prickly-lips (luckily the boys avoided this torture).

On the way home we witnessed a deer kamikaze into oncoming traffic. It was an unfortunate event for the deer and the girl driving her friend's parent's Mercedes-benz! Ouch! We stopped to help but I thought photo evidence would have been distasteful; in her defence, that phucking deer had a death wish...   

Bonus graduation trip...

I took off from work a little early this week and hit a local lake that just lost its ice. I spent more time driving then fishing but was rewarded with a nice chuncky Rainbow to knock the new off my graduation present to myself; a Loop Evotec X-grip 6 wt! The pictures are lacking but here's my best effort :)

March 17, 2017

Smallie from the OC

I took a much needed break last week to wet a line. The past month has been a grind trying to finish the last two class assignments before I am finally done with my degree. I frequented this lake last spring and found good success with a crawfish imitation. The pattern is quite simple to tie--a 90* hook with some rubber-legs out the back, a ball of dubbing, and a cut-out of a craw-body using material that came from an old microfiber couch--but it's a dead ringer in looks and action of the real thing. 
The water was a bit turbid with floating algae accumulating on the surface. I used an intermediate line and stripped my fly back in short jerks. Last year I fished from the dam, but that was before I read the sign prohibiting it. I now stand upon a step-stool; making waist deep water only come up to shin-level.
When I felt my fly stop, I anticipated a healthy, chunky rainbow on the end of my line; that's what I have always caught here. A few strong runs and some bull-dogging ensued until the fish finally gave it's first clear view. I at first thought I had caught a carp but was astonished to find a smallie that seemed to be trying it's best to impersonate a football. 

That was the only catching for the day, but I'd take this fish over multiple smaller ones. I'd never caught a smallie in this body of water but I was happy to make its acquaintance.