"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

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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 15th trip to the Knolls of Utah Lake

I've been meaning for some time to find the right chance to take my wife and kids out on a fishing trip vs just going on on my tube with others on tubes.  Jason and Scott also wanted to get in a fishing trip so all of us had been watching for a day that would work.  Friday the 15th ended up being our day and the Knolls at Utah Lake was the location.  Our goal was to get out there and see if we could get the kids and wife onto some catfish and maybe some white bass.  Anything else would be a bonus.  BTW the bugs were out in force, though they were not mosquitoes.

Well we made it to the Knolls at sun up and got the boat and tubes setup and on the water quick enough.  I motored the boat south and east a bit to put us in the water about a cast away from the brush near the fence line at the southern most point the road gives public access to.  Put down an anchor to hold us a bit in place and started to setup poles.  Figured we could put out some cat lines as well as throw some plastics for whites.  My oldest and my wife were both casting jigs tipped with worm and I then setup my daughter with a cat line baited with carp meat.  My youngest and I shared a pole casting some plastics as well.

Well not long after starting my wife lets out a sound of excitement and her pole, an ultralight, starts to imitate an upside down 'U'.  It was clearly not a white but I was not sure if it was a cat or something else.  Well both the fish and the wife worked the drag on that little pole a while and finally a nice cookie cutter cat made it's appearance for us all.  In the net it went and fish #1 was down.

I think Jason had already landed a fish at this point so I think he caught the jinx of the day again.  Though I can't make fun of him for having his cell phone and work calling this time.

Anyway we kept at it for a bit moving every so often as things would stall out but we managed to land 3 more cats.  One for each kid.

The last fish, the one my youngest lays claim to, was the biggest of the bunch.  Either things started to shut down or we were not working the right areas as I think Scott had had a few pop'n'drops on a cat setup.  Jason had managed a couple whites and a couple cats.  I guess maybe there was in fact a jinx for Jason today now that I think of it.  He hooked into a carp on his ultralight and went to set the hook and turned his 5'6" pole into a nice short ice rod.  Happily Cabela's demonstrated good customer service as he got that replaced on the ride home.  Things stayed pretty slow and none of us were getting much as we approached noon.  So we moved around a bit looking for something to keep us there but didn't find much.

So time to call it a day.  Jason had his rope with him so we carefully tied it up to the boat and offered a tow service for him and Scott as we headed back.

As we cleaned up to head out the wife and kids did some looking around and found the usual insect life in all the brush and weeds.

So it was not the most impressive 'catching' day at the Knolls but I think my load of people had fun.  Jason did as well and though Scott didn't put anything in the basket I think he still had fun trying.  Though clearly we need to get him on some better fishing soon so he can have the awful problem of a full basket of fish to drag behind his tube.

Friday, July 1, 2011

First Starvation trip of the year.

Well this marked our first trip to Starvation this year.  Jason, Scott and myself have been planning a trip for this week for a while.  We were hopeful that the weather would offer us an opportunity to hit Starvation and things worked out in our favor.  So we got up early enough to make it to Starvation today and be there near time for the sunrise.  Specifically we hit rabbit gulch.

We had Scott worried about temps as we pass Strawberry along the way with all the mist over the lake in the pre-dawn light and temps showing in the upper 30s.  Though as we made it to Starvation air temps were much better and less worrisome.  Anyway Jason ended up being both first on the water and also taking the first fish jinx....  As the day progressed it became very clear what the 'jinx' had in store for Jason... ;)  His cell phone would not stop ringing with calls from work and the bigger fish he had on his line either gave him their middle fin as they surfaced or as they flopped out of his control before he could get them in the basket.  He did end up landing a fair basket of eater perch though nothing as big as the 'one that got away' from him today.

This was Scott's first tube trip ever.  We had a nice opportunity to adopt a caddis round tube for him with the cost of a new inner tube and along with that he had a new pole and tackle bag (with goodies) to head out on his inaugural voyage.  Scott used a second set of fins I had and some other items to round out his gear and we got him on the water without incident!

I was really lazy with the pics today so I only got a few in the first bit of time out on the water...  Anyway here they are:

So as Jason took care of the jinx as mentioned above, Scott and I started to work and see what we could produce.  We worked the area between where the old highway runs into the lake and the shallow rock wall where the buoys are lined up to get things started.  Both Scott and I managed to get a few dink perch to play with us and to get our hopes up high.  As we managed to get caught up with Jason near the rock wall and buoys all of us had managed to put at least one fish in our baskets worth taking home for table fair.

I managed a nice rainbow for my basket and Scott caught his first ever small mouth.  Jason opted to head across the bay to see what he could catch as he crossed, looking for rainbows or browns, and also to see what he might find near the far side.  Scott and I continued to work the rock wall and buoys area.  Well to speed up the story we all caught a few more fish over the next couple hours.  It was not gangbusters at any time really but never too long of a dry spell between fish.  The perch were not showing up in large groups on the bottom so we found them one here and one there, the small mouth were mostly around the rocks as one might expect, and the rainbows were active deep and shallow with many jumping around us as we fished.  The rainbows also were in full acrobatic form today for all those that we had on line.  I think every one jump for us, though many were using that jump to fling our jig back at us.  In the end I think we took home about a dozen and a half eater perch, 3 very nice rainbows, 1 walleye, and a lone small mouth bass.

At one point as all 3of us were near the far side of the bay we had a fellow on his boat, apparently with his wife, decide that he needed to vocally share with the entire population in rabbit gulch his displeasure with how his wife was participating in their fishing adventure.  The whole speech was filled with colorful adjectives for all to.... endure...  Really was poor form on his part to be so loud, profane, and derogatory in my opinion.  That really proved to be the only poor part of the day, well save the few free man made tidal waves a few boats felt they needed to make for us as they sped past our tubes on the water.

I did have one catch that made me laugh...  I was working my jig line near the bottom around some rocks where I had landed a few eater perch.  I had just re applied worms to the jig tips and right as my jig hit the bottom I got an 'odd' tug.  I set the hook and reeled in the line.  Not a fish, but a crayfish was on line.  The surprise was not that it had been interested in my worm sweetened jig but that it had grabbed on so quickly as my jig hit bottom.  I guess that and that hit hung on for the ride up.  I let it ride around in my basket most of the day but chose to set it back as taking one crawdad home just seemed more work then it would justify.

Anyway, it was not the spectacular jumbo perch day that maybe we had hoped for, but it was still an amazing day out on the water.  Scott reported that he had a lot of fun and that was part of the goal for today so a fine and successful day for sure!