"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." John Buchan

Monday, October 3, 2011

Making Candy!

Well Jason and I have been both thinking similar things for some time and recently we both realized what the other was thinking and got motivated to do some testing.  That being that most of our soft plastic tubes are the Southern Pro Scale Head Lit'l Hustlers 1.5" or 2" tubes.  These tubes have the color on the tube head made up from a layer of glitter that is manufactured onto them, SCALE HEAD LIT'L HUSTLERS.  Based on the help from TubeDude we had started with these great little tubes using the red scale with chartreuse tail with a hand painted jig head TubeDude also makes with a matching red glitter paint job, the famous RC (red-chartreuse) Killer.  TubeDude users other color combos as well but that was the intro jig for Jason, myself and many others. Well like a good student does Jason and I both have acquired a nice selection of other colors of these little tubes.  In our quest to make and paint up our own jig heads we wanted to make jig heads that matched the soft plastics we used.  Right out of the gate we nailed the RC Killer with the 'ruby slipper' powder paint, but for the other tubes that we had we were not where we wanted to be.

Since we got started with making our own jigs this last January we have seen a lot of other options in terms of paint, molds, etc...  One key one, and what this post is about, are the transparent "Candy" colors Pro-Tec offers.  They offer a wide selection of transparent colors, Pro-Tec Powder Paints, and Jason for part of his birthday picked up a number of them to play with.  Blue, Pink, Orange, Green (maybe a bit too minty?), Purple, and Yellow.  He also picked up another set of Silver and Gold glitter overcoats and 600 or so new jig hooks.  So we made plans to get together today and make another batch of jigs.

We started off with the can of nails.  We have been using nails to test out color combos before we waste a jig on it.  The nails work pretty well but since the steel is a bit darker and less shinny then fresh cast lead you have to use your imagination  just a bit to visualize how it will look.  Anyway it helps get us to the end result faster and with less waste.  Might one day results in some really interesting furniture framed up with some pretty nails!  We worked through the colors and only had a couple "difficult" results to improve on before we were ready.  We first got our glitter base figured out.  We chose to use the silver glitter clear coat we have been using all along as a high concentration silver glitter undercoat to put on the jig first and then lay the candy coat over it to give us nearly the same colored glitter effect the scale heads have.  This worked out really really well for Purple, Blue, Yellow, and what we will call 2X Silver Glitter (meaning just a heavy coat of just clear coat with silver glitter).  The Orange, Green (minty?), and Pink needed a different approach.

Here are a few pics of the end results on some larger jig heads to help show off the effects.  Sorry I'm not a lighting or camera guru so the pics leave something to be desired.  Also note that the extra Hot Pink (upper of the 2 pink), Black with Silver (above the pinks), and Light Blue (lower of the 2 blue) were extra tests not tied to new paint.  Well the pink one also used the new candy pink but also other previous paints too.  The blue was using the super glow blue that produced a lighter but still transparent blue good for certain plastics in terms of matching.  The black & silver was an attempt to better support the black with silver scale head tube jig.

Pink really wasn't that hard just that the scale head tubes with pink never use pink glitter, they are simply pink plastics with silver, blue, or black scale glitter heads.  So for our setup here we were trying to match the pink tube that had a silver glitter scale head.  We knew the simple 2X silver glitter head would work but also wanted a Pink with Silver Glitter overcoat option too.  So really instead of putting the glitter under the pink we put it on top.  Pink solved!

Green really looks like mint and not the true green I had hoped for.  The color does match the color tab on the lid so it's not for lack of accurate packaging...  Though that doesn't help online ordering either...  We tried a few things with green like doing a base undercoat of our solid green color then the glitter coat and then the candy green coat.  That helped some but 3 coats is asking for a full on "bloody nose" when the over cure baking takes place.  "Bloody nose" being that when you bake/cure a jig in the oven that has too much paint on it the paint will flow to the tip of the jig that points down and create some really interesting "drip" shapes...  The green in this setup was also still not dead on to what we wanted.  Looking at the color it was leaning a bit toward a blue green so we figured a bit more yellow might help so we changed from doing a silver glitter base coat to doing a gold glitter base coat and then the candy green on top.  That ended up being our "best effort" selection that looks plenty good enough to be happy with.  Not perfect but I don't know that a fish is going to care so we shouldn't either...

Orange was hard because being a lighter color it was more transparent then some of the others, except maybe yellow.  This resulted in more diversity in the quality of the orange color depending on how thick the paint covered the head.  So after some testing with orange to try to get the best combo figured out we simply chose to do the 2X silver base and then carefully apply the candy orange over the top.  Some extra touch up dips might be needed to help flesh out the full orange color.  Again not perfect but pretty darn good if you ask me.

The rest turned out well without much effort at all, Blue, Yellow, Purple, and 2X Silver.

I know it's dark but you can get get a decent feel for how well the blue turned out for it's matching scale head color.  Plus there are other blue scale heads with don't have at this time to give additional value for down the road.

The yellow as you can see has more glitter effect then the lowest soft plastic but not as much as the top one which is the chartreuse glitter on pearl tube.  The light doesn't show this that well but for both the top and bottom tubes the jig head results in a really nice medium to go with both.  The middle tube just shows that you could mix in a silver scale head with this head too if you wanted a bit of contrast.

Purple's pick was the worst for light.  The two tubes in the middle of the pick are both southern pro purple scale heads and the end result on the jig head is a perfect match for them.  The upper "gumdrop" and lower "june bug" plastics also go well with this head, though both of them can also work with the above yellow head too.

2X Silver was the most versatile end result going with the most number of plastics in our boxes.  I know I was surprised at both how well this jig looks as well as silver not being a color we focused more on before.

Here are the other picks of the super glow blue and black & silver setups.  The extra pink was already shown in the pick picture above.

Well that's it for now.  We didn't manage to paint anything more then these sample heads.  Casting 500+ jig heads, taking care of lunch for both families, and all the paint alchemy spent the time we had.  More soon as we get time to come back and paint up the jig heads and to get eyes on them as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 21st White Bass Action @ Provo Harbor, Utah Lake

Well it's been a while since the last fishing trip.  There have been a few that I've had to pass up due to schedule conflicts so after a much to long break we had a chance to get out again.  Originally I thought that it would be Jason and myself on float tubes.  However with the kids off track right now Alex, my oldest, wanted to come as well.  So that changed the plans a bit so that I was going to take the boat for Alex and me and Jason was going to still do the float tube.  Tuesday at work I was talking about these plans and Erik was interested in joining us on his kayak.  So we set plans in place to be at the harbor near sun up, about a quarter after seven in the morning.

When we got there we found the south dike still closed off.  That left us choosing with less choice for a launch with my boat so we settled for the southern ramp on the inner harbor with the plan that I would tow Jason out to where we were heading.  Our target was to get out into the open water just a few hundred yards west of the SW corner of the outer harbor where the Provo river water is mixing into the main lake water.  Erik passed on the offer of a tow and opted to paddle out on his own.  Well we all made our way out without much trouble.  Nobody even bothered trying to fish our way out, and while I'm not sure that we didn't miss out on some earlier fish it didn't prove to impact the day in any negative way at all.

We dropped Jason from the tow service as we made it to our target location.  There were lots of Seagulls concentrated in the area.  I figured maybe the knew something even though I never did see them doing much other then flying and floating.  The other guys told me later that they saw a few bring up small fish from the water.  Anyway Alex and I moved a bit south of where we dropped Jason off and put down the anchor to hold us in place as there was a slight breeze blowing mostly north.  Erik was arriving about this time as well so we all setup to get our lines out.  Alex got his line out first and also managed the first white bass.  Actually on the first cast he had a couple hits that I, being the skeptical dad, passed off as your dragging on the bottom, that's not a fish...  So right on the second cast as he protested my skeptical responses his pole went bend quite dramatically.  He pulled in the first white of the day and the biggest of our combined basket.  Well we got Alex versed on how to handle the spinney fish, remove the lure hook from the fish, and string the fish on the chains we used to hold them from the boat.

Jason shortly announced that he had scored a white and the game was on between Alex and Jason.  It was a contest to see who could catch more or brag more about the size of their catch or how often the got doubles ( I, being the bias father, rigged up Alex with a tandem setup to help increase the odds ).  Also I should point out that no radios were damaged, drowned, or lost in any inexplicable events today... ;)    So, back to the story...  Erik and I were a bit behind the other two in numbers at this point but we also were doing well.  I had a second line out for cat fish offering a nice piece of carp meat but never ended up getting any inquiries on it.  A number of times as Alex or I would bring in a fish on the boat we would lean our poles to the side of the boat and throw our jigs over into the water to wait while we put the fish on the stringer.  Then after putting the stringer back in the water we would see that our poles were dancing and pick them up to land another fish.

One thing we did talk about over the radios is that we were all impressed with the size the whites were coming in at.  Alex and I only had one that was on the smaller side while the rest were defiantly bigger then the past few years average size.  Fish were all much thicker in build as well with a lot of visceral fat that we found later while processing the fish we kept.  Well as we all kept at it for a while trying many different lures and presentations, most producing pretty well or really well, Alex and I were really getting to the point where you question if you need or even want to catch any more.  Well Alex clearly still wanted to abuse some more white bass, but I did manage to talk him into heading over to the weed line south of the river inlet area where on previous trips this year we have found good numbers or crappies.  So we pulled up anchor and headed over letting the others know where we were heading.  On the way over I talked with Alex about the difference between catching a white bass vs a crappie to prepare him for their less then aggressive strikes, inability to handle a strong hook set, and the likely chance that they wont put up much of a fight until you get them near the boat.  Mostly I told him to slow down the retrieval and if he felt some gentle bumps or light drag on the line to simply speed up the reeling without a real hook set.

Well, we dealt with a few poor casts that hooked up in the reeds and moved around a few places without much success for a while.  Finally we got ourselves anchored  in a nice spot that gave us a number of good places to cast with less risk of snags.  Alex again was announcing that something was working on his lure and after a few casts like that he did manage to bring in a nice sized crappie.  After a bit more both he and I had added a couple more to our catch.  Erik was heading our way to join us after we announced our find.  Part way to us Erik inquired to the type of fish he had just caught saying it had a huge mouth.  Some radio conversation was had about the characteristics of the fish to figure if he was just impressed with a crappie mouth compared to a white bass, if it was maybe a large mouth bass, or maybe it was a walleye.  It ended up being Erik's first walleye ever.  Not a had one either at about 16 or 17 inches long.

It was about 1:30pm now and the white bass action for Jason, still out near our starting point, was slowing down and the crappies were here and there but not often enough to keep the hunger pains of overdue lunch and the overworked arms from winning over and so we called it a day.  Heading back Erik was very willing to accept a tow so we pulled him over to Jason and made up our interesting chain of water craft that more like a snake swerved back and forth as we worked our way back to the boat launch.

As we were working back we discussed speculation on how well our day went.  Erik felt he lost/freed more then he had kept in his basket.  Jason was pretty sure he had put back over 30 white bass over what he kept.  Alex and I didn't end up putting any back over our catch other then fish lost before making it to the boat.  To help make the tow back easier we had put both Jason's basket and Erik's in the boat along with out stringers and it was very clear we all deserved the "happy harvester" titles today and maybe then some.

Turns out that the cleaning station at the Provo Harbor was literally boarded (boxed might be a better term).  So being that we were not prepared with cooler space to hold the fish as they were we found a picnic table in some shade and pulled out the fillet knives and the other supplies we had to do an on site process.  This is really where we learned that we had over done it in how many we kept.  So after the long process of filleting fish we finally were able to call it a day and head out about 4pm just in time to get some lunch... ;)

Oh and Alex had to help pose with Erik's walleye as we were working on the filleting.

In the end this turned out to be one of the best white bass "catching" days/trips I've had the joy of being on.  To top it off I got to do this with my son Alex.  Oh it wasn't bad that Jason and Erik were there too... ;)

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 18th Starv'in Perch Service Project

So we made plans this week to try to get out to Starvation.  Weather was looking reasonable for Thursday so we pressed go and headed out.  We in this case worked out to be Jason, Guy and myself.  This was Guy's first fishing trip on a float tube.

We headed out of the Salt Lake area at about 4am to be able to make the drive in time enough to be at rabbit gulch for a sun up launch.  For Jason and I being to the water at sun up has become something desirable vs dreadful.  Guy is more of the latter camp on this angle, but he was a good sport about it anyway.  Anyway we got to the launch site and got going on the setup. 

Jason was first on the water in his now leak free tube and he headed out toward the marker buoys to work along the rock structure.  Guy and I joined him shortly after that and got the show on the road.

Jason took care of the first fish for us which turned out to be an 'eatable' sized perch.  That got our hopes up a bit for aspirations of toad perch overflowing our baskets before the end of the day...  Guy and I, as we worked out toward the rocks, started to get some attention on our lines as well.  Felt mostly like smaller perch, but we were still in the shallow between the shore and the rocks under the buoys.  By the time we made it to the rocks both of us had caught a few perch.  Mostly dink sized perch, but a couple were big enough to land in the basket. 

We worked that area around the rocks for a few hours.  During that time Jason had manged a good sized small mouth bass and a grundle of dink perch.  Guy had caught a foot long walleye and a bunch of dink perch that got sent back to grow up.  I was also dealing with the starv'in dink perch that simply wanted a bite of the bait we tipped our jigs with.  Went through more worms today then most other trips because of them. 

As we moved over this area our finders were showing us a lot of weed like structure in the water that seemed to go from the floor up to just a few feet from the surface.  We were in about 15' of water where we were seeing this.  Mixed in these weeds were fish showing up on the finder, lots of them showing up on the finder.  It took us a while to figure out, or better said guess, that there were no weeds down there except on the bottom...  All of the mess showing up on our finders were the clouds of dinkster perch down there.  We also concluded that the larger fish icons on the finders that were keeping up hopeful either were full bellied larger fish already full of perch meat or a few smaller perch huddled together giving off bigger signals to the finders.  We could get large groups of the smaller perch, that looked to range from about 3" to about 6" to follow our jigs up in the water column enough that we could see them through the water.  Amazing how many perch must be down there.  Makes me hopeful for the seasons to come, both for large perch as well as for other larger fish that like to eat perch.

I find myself lacking when it comes to running a second pole at the same time when your working the perch.  Trying to watch both poles and be johnny on the spot to set a hook on two poles is trying at best for me.  So I simply setup the second pole and dropped the jigs down to just off the bottom without much expectation from that pole.  Then I focused on the other pole for working the area.  A couple times as I moved/drifted around I managed to snag up on the rocks and would have to work to get my jigs free.  Then as it looked like I had snagged up again on my 2nd pole I saw it take a couple hard tugs in the holder.  Quickly switching poles I worked to bring in my first small mouth bass of the day.  I ended up landing a few more in much the same way, having them hit a no-action jig sitting just off the bottom.  Very fun to fight those smallies on my little ultra light pole.

After a while of searching for more small mouth and feeding the future generations of perch I headed across the bay toward the rocky far side. Jason and Guy followed along.  The count of fish on the finders really dropped off when depths dropped down to 25"+ feet.  So other then a few mid strata marks the center of the channel didn't offer much.  As we got into the 20" range nearing the far side the masses of perch started to show up on the finders again.  Since these groups were about 5' deeper then the other side I got myself hopeful that might be bigger perch.  First fish I brought up in this area was an eater sized, though not a toad.  Promising anyway...  Dropped a marker buoy on the center of a large area of fish and started to work around it.  Jason setup shop a dozen yards to the side as he was marking similar amounts of fish.  We didn't find our toads in any concentration, even the eater sized were still sparse, but we did feed a lot of hungry youngsters as we worked the area.  I managed a walleye, but the area didn't really produce much to put in the baskets.

Guy had continued on past where we were toward the rocks along the far shore line.  He found dink perch in groups over there as well with very few sized enough to be worth putting in the basket.  He did finally find justification for the effort it took to kick across the bay when a fat 20" rainbow tested the stretch of his his line and took him for a spin in the tube.  Happily he brought the trout in and landed his top prize for the day.

It was getting close to 1pm at about this time and the wind was starting to pick up to we started our kick back across the water.  I think all of us had a fair smile on for the day.  Jason had the fullest basket with over a dozen fair to toad sized perch as well as a nice smallie.  Guy managed the biggest fish of the day with his 20" trout as well as put a couple walleye and perch in his basket.  I had a happy day with the smallies and while the trout eluded me both the perch and the walleye made a cameo appearance in my basket.  Nice when everyone has something to smile about.

Now if we can just put some size on those younger generations of perch!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pan'tastic Day on Utah Lake

With the few weeks of unfriendly weather we have just had it was nice to see things clear out this week.  That allowed us to start to look for and plan our next fishing trip.  Jason, Scott, Jeff and I started to look at our schedules to see what worked for us all and what weather conditions were expected to be.  Turns out that Saturday the 13th was the day that looked and worked best for us.  So we started to talk about where and it quickly narrowed to Utah Lake.  Either the Knolls, Lincoln Beach or Provo Harbor was to be the target.  As the week progressed we narrowed things down and planned for Provo Harbor with the idea that we would launch along the south side and go to work the open water out past the south west corner of the harbor jetty as well as the weed line south along the shore.

We all got to the harbor about 6:30am and headed over near the big pavilion in the area of the volley ball courts.  You could not go past there as they have most of the south side closed still due to the higher water levels.  So we parked there and found a reasonable place to launch the tubes.  Jeff and his son were first to be ready and on the water.  Jason was second, with Scott and me last.

Just as Jason launched he started to observe some bubbles coming up from under his tube in the back left portion of his tube.  He had already 'topped' off the tube once already and now understood that he had a leak.  So while he started to unpack the tube so we could try to address the leak we got Scott out on the water so he could start to fish.  It took us a bit but we did find a leak in the bladder of Jason's tube on the underside and used a urethane patch to get him back into business.  As Jason was reloading his tube to get back on the water I launched and started out to catch up to the others.  Jason shortly got onto the water but stayed near the launch point for a bit to validate the repair job before heading down to join up with the rest of us.

(Quick disclaimer that I was lazy with the camera today.  So very few pics...)

I caught up with the other 3 near the marker buoy near the inlet channel.  We continued west from there through the weeds and to the open water.  Jeff caught and took care of the first fish jinx (maybe the reason for the later "radio" oops), a nice white bass that took up residence in the basket.  That got us hopeful for some prime schools of whites.  Well, things didn't pan out for finding more whites.  There were a couple of boats in the same area and a whole line of bank tanglers on the south west bend of the jetty.  Didn't see any of them producing anything of merit.  So we started to fan out and work more area in search of something to stretch our lines.

Scott had not come out as far into the open water as the rest of us.  Instead he was south a bit near the weed lines.  I headed his way to fish near him and see if we could find anything in the shelter the weed beds offer.  Along the way to him I had one inquiry on a plastic that felt like a white.  As I got near Scott and the weeds I had another couple inquiries that felt really 'off'.  They were very hesitant in feel and made me think that we might be offering the wrong lure or presentation and that it was just not getting the aggressive response that we have come to love from the whites.  I had a few more fish hit the lure and even had a few on line.  They really felt off still though as they didn't fight much and as soon as I would set the hook I would loose them.  Really had me scratching my head for a wondering why they were not either taking the lure into their mouth enough to get a solid hook up or what the issue was.  So maybe out of dumb luck I slowed everything down a bit.  Next time I felt the lazy inquiry on the line I just waited for a little load to feel on the line and started a steady but calmer retrieval to keep pressure and tension on the line but not over do it.  Well to my pleasant surprise in comes Mr Crappie.  But due to my lack of fluent crappie know how I went back to full speed retrieval and tore the jig out of the fishes mouth right at the tube as I went for the net...  Well if nothing else this  turned out to be another "perpetual series of occasions for hope", but in a good way.  

I radioed the others that there were crappie over near me and that I figured that the lazy strikes we were getting were just crappie and not whites.  So as the others came over Scott and I continued to work around in the weeds and were getting pretty consistent action from the crappies in quite a large area of water.  Over the nest few hours we worked that area and I think everyone but Scott had put a fair number in a basket.  Most of the crappies were in the ~10" range.  Nothing huge but fine fish none the less.  It really seemed to do the trick though to slow things down, wait for the fish to lightly load up the line and then just start reeling in with a steady pace.  The bad things seemed to be trying to set the hook or letting the fish body surf on the water on their side as you brought them in.  Any thrashing they did would put you in high risk of having them come off.  I think everyone lost a fair number making mistakes in the retrieval, but it was still fun getting the chance to take the crappie 101 class.

Now the funny, well let me be careful and say it's funny from the outside perspective, story of the day was about the radios.  Jeff only brought one radio.  That mean his son did not have one to use.  Well as kids do I'm sure his son pestered Jeff until finally Jeff let him use the radio.  We were getting some reports from his son on how they were doing as they were out of sight behind a wall of weeds.  Then we heard his son, but not through the radios, calling out to his dad and saying, "Um Dad, I owe you a new radio".  There was a long pause, in which time I started to snicker a bit imaging what that meant (though Jeff I do feel your pain at the loss of a radio).  Jeff finally called back for clarification and got the usual kid like response of, "Well, I don't know where it is.  I put it in the pocket and now it's not there".

Well at about 11am Jeff called over and said he and his son had to head back as they were out of time.  We got the report that mixed in with the crappie they had managed a couple bluegill.  So they headed back with Jeff having to herd his son off the water as he was reluctant to go.

About this time Jason was starting to question his patch job or wondered if there was a second hole that we didn't find.  His tube was a touch soft, nothing that was going to go flat or sink soon, but not as firm as it should have been.  So he considered following Jeff and his son back to the launch to either fish from the shore or work on the tube.  In the end either took place as I think the catching that was going on was just too catching for Jason to handle.  Part of that could be to blame on a walleye that decided to play with Jason's lure and then politely agreed to take a ride in his basket.  I think he said it was in the ~17" range.  The crappie action kept going as the 3 of us worked further south in the weeds. We finally got to a point that we found a school of white bass.  They were in a little pocket in the weeds that we could cast down a channel between weed beds and bring a plastic back through and the whites would follow the plastics to just about when your lure would start to rise up  in the last bit before getting to your tube and then they would hit in white bass fashion.  So that made it easy to avoid the weeds but also meant the fights were short.  Somewhere in the mix of all of this we started to have the occasional bluegill latch onto our lines.  Some with very good size on them.  They sure do put up a good fight with their determination to dive down while you try your best to pull them up.

Scott was still empty in his basket so I had him come over to the channel I was working and join me there.  He proceeded to land a white bass and have a bit more action.  He now had a fish in the basket and I'm sure that put a better light on the day for him.  I moved off a bit to try to get to another access point to the same area we were fishing and while I was moving around Scott put another white in his basket as well as the solo perch for the day, a nice 10" perch (good sized for what I've seen out of Utah Lake at least). 

We kept at it for a while and then, much like a child that has been playing non stop for a long time has that look of unfortunate realization as they make their mad dash to the bathroom uncertain if they have any chance that will make it on time, Jason reported his tube was pretty soft and starting to lean in a bit much on him.  So he headed back as fast as he could to the launch.  He didn't say it was leaking faster, just more that he had overstayed his welcome.  That didn't stop him from fishing his way back and finding a school of whites back close to the end of the weed line before entering the river inlet.  Not to spoil the story but he does make it back to launch just fine... ;)

Scott and I, a bit more leisurely,  headed back as well and got to play with a few fish along the way.  As we neared the river inlet channel I changed to a larger 3" black with red glitter jig and matching plastic.  One the second or third toss I had a fish hook up that took a strong and immediate dive.  Turned out to be a bluegill that felt it could do in this larger then mouth sized permitted offering.  Well not to be thankless for the valiant effort I let him join the party in my basket.  Then turning the bend into the river inlet channel I got my next nice surprise on the same jig.  A 20" walleye decided to give me a thrill ride as I fought him on my little utralight pole.  I tried to be calm and patient but I worried that those teeth were going to do in my 4lb test but I did manage to get him in the net and then into the basket.  Frosting on the cake... :)  Well with that I put up the poles and started the final stretch to the launch spot to call it a day.

In the end  Jeff and his son put 12 crappie, 2 bluegill and 1 white bass into their basket.  Scott had 2 white bass and 1 perch in his.  Jason had 3 bluegill, 7 white bass, 7 crappie and 1 walleye.  I managed 12 crappie, 15 white bass, 4 bluegill and 1 walleye.  Thinking back on it I'm really kind of at a loss for words.  Meaning I've not been on Utah Lake and had such a diverse selection of fish come to play in any numbers, especially the crappie and bluegill.  Oh I've caught a crappie here and there before and once had a bang up day for bluegill during their spawn a few years back...  I've just never been out on the lake and had more "other" species hit the plastics then I did whites.

Before Jason headed home we did work on his tube at my house and did find the other hole and patch it.  Used enough soapy water to be sure there were not any more that we could find.  So hopefully we got him fixed up for the next trip.  We did conclude that we needed, for the both of us, to find out more about the urethane tape you can buy and use as a patch for small holes so that we can more easily handle a small repair on a trip.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tubing in the Uintah's

Late this week I got a hold of Jason to pitch an idea to him that was only partially baked.  My idea was to find a way to strap/pack all our tubing gear, finders, poles, waders, fins, tackle, etc into framed packs and go float up in the Uintah's.  I had a specific destination in mind, Shadow Lake.  This has been a family favorite destination since my childhood.  It is next to Washington Lake (and the often over looked Tail Lake) past Trial Lake.  Up till now all of my time up there has been from the shore.  We have over the years found key spots along the shore of that lake that we consider the best places to fish from.  I've always wondered what the max depth in that lake is as well as just a better understanding of what the depths of the various places around the lake are.

Well Jason was willing to go, even without knowing the full details of what the conditions of the ground were like, waters temps or much else.  We knew that waders were going to be a must to be out in the water for any period of time.  We also knew this was the weekend of the 24th so it might be a zoo up there.  I didn't expect Shadow to have heavy pressure but I figured Trial and Washington would be overflowing.

We met up in the wee hours of morning so that we could be up at the Crystal Lake Trail Head parking lot close to sun up.  Figured it would be better to have good light if we were going to be packing in all our gear and that it might also help to take some chill off things if the sun were up enough to start to do it's thing.

Well after parking we got the packs on our backs and started the trek around Washington Lake, past Tail Lake and up the stream to Shadow Lake.

First bonus of the trip turned out that the ground conditions were a lot better then we worried that things could be.  Oh in the shade of the trees there were nice snow drifts still as well as muddy swamps.  The mosquitoes were out in killer force as well.  Though they didn't really become a huge issue until we got to the lake to setup the tubes.  Anyway, along the way we had a few views of Washington/Tail Lakes that a few pictures had to be taken of....  The first one below sure put a "!" behind the idea of a mirror like reflection!

Well we arrived at our destination a bit worn, but eager for stretch some lines.  The mosquitoes were also eager too...  Too eager in fact.  Bug spray saved us while we got setup.  Jason was out first on the water, as usual, and I followed shortly.

If you peek careful in that last pic you can see my new blue cooler that is behind my seat.  This is my first trip to try out this cooler.  I've been using a semi-flexible tub back there until now.  My issues with the tub was that it baked in the sun and my bait containers I kept there, even though they were insulated and had bits of ice in them, still had issues with long days on the water.  Plus I had wanted to be able to keep a drink cold or a sandwich or snack for a mid trip quick meal...  Anyway I stumbled into this particular size and it was right in line with what would fit in my tube.  Lid is hinged so it can't fall off and has a great edge to it that makes it super easy for me to reach and open.  The results from today give the cooler top scores all around.  Did great keeping everything cool and was easy and great to access.

Well back to the fishing trip...  Jason and I worked around nearly all of Shadow Lake and did pretty well.  Pink and pearl seemed to be good colors, though we also had success with most any other color we through up too.  We really only caught Brooke Trout in Shadow Lake, which is mostly to be expected.  They were not very plump though, maybe because the longer then usual winter.  Also turns out Shadow doesn't get deeper then about 20' and there are two main areas of the lake that hit this depth.  One was the main area my family had found to be very productive over the years.  The other was in an area we had not given much attention to as the shore line there is miserable.  I had kind of gone into the trip expecting the water to maybe get as deep as 45' but not even close.  We also found a few rises in the bottom that got very shallow in a few spots of the lake that were unexpected.  Some of these transition points were where we had some of our better action too.

Near noon I had kept a limit of Brooke Trout that were all about 12" long, though they could have used some more girth, and fine enough to take home for a meal with the wife and kids.  The rest had been released unharmed.  Jason had 3 keepers at this point and had released a number as well.  We figured it was time to head back. I had the crazy idea of not breaking things down and repacking the packs.  I figured we could just carry the tubes down to Tail Lake and then take our near empty packs and tie them off on the tubes behind the seats and fish our way across Washington and Tail lakes back toward the vehicle.

This proved to be a bit harder then we first though.  The packs while not nearly as full as before were still full of a few things and having our poles strapped to them so we could carry the tubes was more then we could manage.  Holding the tube out in front of you kept you from easily seeing where you were going.  So you had to focus so much on where you were going it was hard to keep your pack/poles from getting into trouble with the trees.  So we cried uncle and put the tubes down and toke the packs down on one trip and then went back up to take the tubes down as a second trip.  Much better plan...

We got things set back up to float and fish at the head of Tail Lake.  As we set things up Jason saw a few fish in the shallows near us.  Albino, rainbow, brooke and tiger trout were present.  Was kind of cool to see each type close to where we were at.  It got the 'hopeful expectations' flowing as well as getting Jason distracted playing with them vs getting out in the tube and looking for fish of better size.  These had been maybe 8 or so inches long.  Well we got moving and pretty soon started to get into some fish.

I didn't do as well for taking pics as we fished Tail and Washington...  But we managed a fair number each.  All of mine went back for someone else to play with and Jason was able to select one from those he caught to finish up his limit.  In the mix I did manage to get one ~14" tiger trout to the tube, but it had other obligations and had to step out before I got the camera out and ready.

The wind, or really breezes, had been our friend pretty much the whole day.  It would come up once in a while and make you worry that it might start to really blow but then die down.  We learned to appreciate the anti-mosquito benefits of these breezes.  On Washington and Tail the breezes gave us nearly a free ride across the whole lake.  All we had to do was kick a bit to keep direction and to avoid rocks, trees, or the little island.  We got a good look at some of the depths of Washington and Tail lakes too, though not nearly as complete as we did in Shadow.  We found a few areas I had fished as a kid near the island were 20-24' deep (not as deep as I thought but still clearly deep points for that area of the lake.  We also found one area that hit 45' deep and that the area near the dam was ~30' deep plus or minus a few feet.  One odd find was about a hundred yards off the dam near the middle we had the bottom register up into a fast "mound" that came up to 8' depth and then went right back down.  Not sure what it was or really how wide it was but the fish were all around it.  Between the 45' and this area near the dam we had found that anytime we started to mark fish we could pretty reliably get something to bite on our lines.  Jason even had one fish come flying from now where, smack him around a bit and then danced for him in the water before swimming off... ;)

We finally realized the time and how late we were, we had told the wives we would be home in the afternoon and it was much to late to make that deadline.  So we hurried to the shore and got things loaded up to head home.  All in all it was a great day out, both got a limit of fish to share with our families and the time spent tubing on these lakes was refreshing.