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Thread: Stomping the High Country

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    Stomping the High Country

    As the year presses on, more of the high country is opening up and I'm having a good time putting miles on my boots.

    Before the hiking adventures began, a quick trip to Currant Creek Reservoir with Holdsworth provided some diversion and a few fish.

    Here's Aaron with a decent rainbow:

    Then he got a really good tiger:

    My own luck was only good for small tigers and a mid-sized cutthroat:

    Still a fun day though. Currant Creek is a solid fishery and it's only a matter of time before I catch another lunker tiger trout there.

    The next week, we found our way south, to a small lake at the end of a bad road.

    A bit of casting was required before I was able to pull anything in, but eventually something held on. A stout brookie filled my hand after a brief battle:

    We kept after it for awhile, enduring plenty of rain and a quick snow storm before deciding to relocate. Curiosity led us on a short hike, where we investigated a small lake in a meadow.

    Turns out, it was hardly more than wet grass and there were no fish to be had.

    Ditching that spot, we thought we'd check in on a lake that I haven't seen in 5 or 6 years. The road, unfortunately, was far worse than I remembered and I chose to keep my truck alive by turning around. It wasn't worth damaging my truck or taking the time to build ramps, so we left to fish an easy spot on our way out of town.

    I'd never fished it, so it was worth checking another one off the list, even though it was all smaller fish.

    Still pretty fun, even with the clouds of gnats that were so thick, we had no choice but to breathe them.

    Our next trip was a camping to the south. We drove longer than usual and then embarked on a hike for a couple of miles before setting up camp.

    The fishing was okay. My action was pretty slow, but I still ended up with about 6 fish and as many missed bites before day one was over.

    There were no hogs to be caught that day, but we had a good time trying. It actually snowed a few times that night and we woke up to a layer of ice on the tent and a skiff of snow dusting most surfaces.

    That melted quickly, leaving us with a calm lake, topped with mist.

    The early bite looked promising, but we weren't rooting out any big fish. One guy showed up with his son and they were able to hook a monster on the third cast. Good for them, but I wished they would have kept out of my casting area, as they caught my line and messed up a good presentation I was working. Meh.

    We decided to use the rest of the day to explore a whole basin of water we'd never seen, so we hiked back down and got ready for the next leg of our adventure.

    Our first lake looked promising and I was quick to catch a small rainbow near a beaver lodge. Shortly after, Aaron caught a brookie.

    Continuing to work the beaver lodge, I found a deeper hole and fished a good brookie out of it.

    With a mix of rain and snow falling, I talked Aaron into hiking to another lake, then another, and so on, until we'd actually done the entire loop. We caught fish in all lakes except for the top lake, which was super shallow and the tiny inhabitants didn't make us want to spend any length of time trying for them with jigs.

    Had we hiked our fly rods, there may have been more desire to fish them. Here are a few pics from our hike:

    This lake was actually really fun to fish. A variety of species swam the water and some were kind of impressive.

    The next lake was mostly quite shallow and there were some dead brookies on the shoreline, suggesting some winter kill. We didn't think there would be any alive until we saw a splash, then walked around to find a better spot to cast from. Bingo.

    Looks like the kill didn't get them all. We went off trail for the next lake, following the stream. One branch of the stream led us to a steep hill, where the stream emerged from a spring. Saw some pretty stuff that most people don't get to see along the way.

    We followed it up and arrived at our next lake:

    This lake was pretty large in surface area, but very shallow and the marshy grasses around the shoreline tried to eat me. It's a scary bog to try and wade through. I was swallowed up to my waist and had a hard time getting out of the muck.

    Finally around the lake, to a rocky area where the only depth can be found, I saw some small fish and even caught one. My assessment: This lake is not worth the fishing, unless you're just checking off unseen lakes like we were.

    We noticed a trail that continued uphill, to the highest lake in this chain, where we were met with this sight:

    If the last lake was too shallow, this was just ridiculous. The tiny fish could be seen darting from the cover of one mat of algae to the next as we walked around the lake.

    As pretty as the area was, those last two lakes were not worth fishing. A few casts were made into that last lake, but without flies, all we could catch was slime. Not catching anything didn't hurt my feelings at all and we left to see one more lake along this loop.

    The trial wrapped around to one more shallow lake in a very grassy area. Luckily, the grass was suitable to walk on without being swallowed.

    We didn't want to walk around to a better casting area, as we were just passing through, but I tossed out a couple of casts anyway and actually ended up catching a 12" brookie. That wasn't expected, but welcome.

    With that, we found our way back to our starting point, a little bit tired, but the weather had improved and we took off to check out one last lake for our trip. At this last lake, I didn't expect much, but we stopped to cast for a few minutes anyway.

    Within the first couple of casts, Aaron said he felt a bite. The next cast proved him right and we were both surprised to see a pretty good sized brookie filling his hands.

    Wow! We really didn't expect that. In fact, I thought we were in hatchery rainbow territory with a possible side of tiger or brown trout. Seeing a nice brookie was beyond our expectations and really topped off our trip nicely.

    Aaron only got that one and another, but I caught several in our 20 minute stop. Quality fish in unexpected places are happily welcomed.

    So that was it for our camp out. The first day was fun and we caught some decent fish. We endured snow and other stormy weather on both days, but being equipped with the proper gear, the weather was hardly noticed.

    We visited 8 lakes on day 2, for a total of 9 different lakes on the trip. It was an excellent time.

    Memorial Weekend:

    About two months ago, I planned a day off for the last Friday of May. This was a day to get out with my friend and research partner, Keoni. Keoni is a very busy guy, juggling a family and several careers' worth of work for BYU, as a Professor of Life Sciences and one of the world's leading experts in the field of Alzheimer's Disease as it relates to genetics.

    Finding time to fish is rare, outside of his work-related travels, so planning a couple of months ahead was a good move.

    It was decided that we'd share a day at one of my all-time favorite places, during my favorite time of year to visit, trying for my two favorite species of fish. Sounds fun, right?

    We wasted no time and were quick to present our offerings to the many beautiful fish we could see in front of us. The main point was to find and catch big brookies, but the Bonneville Cutthroat are actually the biggest and most colorful fish in the lake, so getting some photos of those in their most vibrant time of year was also welcome.

    Here's the first cutthroat of note, to meet my hand:

    There were actually a lot of cutthroat present and getting our flies and jigs past them was difficult. No complaints here.

    (Pardon the squeeze. She was pretty hollow, so please trust that I wasn't wrenching her very hard; that's just the way her belly rolled over my hand.)

    Keoni was catching some fish too, including a fat brookie on his Tenkara! While "helping" to get the brookie landed, I grabbed the line at the wrong time and it snapped at the knot, freeing the fish. I felt awful and should have let him handle his fish and his 13ft rod on his own. LOL

    Plenty more fish were caught while trying for other brookies.

    Some tense moments were had, as I hooked what may be the largest brookie I've ever seen TWICE, only to have it straighten one hook and steal another. I may have screamed in emotional agony over that one. It was huge. It was either the biggest or the 2nd biggest I've ever seen. Kills me. Oh well!

    I caught it's buddy though.

    That was no small fish, so it offered a little bit of consolation. I'll see that one when it's as big as its friend, I hope.

    Wanting to poke around at other parts of the lake, I got out on my tube and got to work. Normally, I cast jigs at the lake, but for some reason, I felt as though I needed to embarrass myself on the fly rod to start things off.

    Surely I did that, casting wildly and fighting a breeze, but I eventually got a few to lay out nicely. My bug of choice was a big olive Frankenstein Sculpin from Fly Fish Food. For some reason, I was really feeling this fly and knew it would produce.

    Being a mediocre fly angler (at best), I don't tie and have always used cheap, mass-produced bugs from the local sporting goods/outdoor store. It has been a real treat to use quality flies lately, having visited Cheech and Curtis at the shop in north Orem and bought a handful of their goods from them.

    It's been a real eye-opener to see the difference in quality, and seeing the results on the end of my line as well. Be sure to give these guys a visit, either online or in person. Serious workmanship in these flies!

    So after making a bunch of awful casts, I actually laid one out that landed in a good spot, by some structure I was aiming at. I knew this was the cast that would deliver and after a series of short, hurried strips, I let my sculpin sink and saw the hit.

    Lifting my rod, I was bent on a big brookie and enjoyed a spirited battle.

    Yes! The brookies in the lake typically don't budge much for flies unless you bounce them off their snouts. Then again, that Frankenstein Sculpin was hard to pass up for this one.

    The rest of my float was rather uneventful until I went back to where Keoni was (his tube had a leak and he stayed on the shore) and attacked the other side of the mess of floating material, where a bunch of fish were congregated.

    During that spell, I caught a few cutthroat and then Keoni and I each caught one more brookie to call it a day.

    Both were solid fish and they sent us off on a really good note. It was a great day of fishing, as it always is when I can get out with Keoni. Thanks to him for all he does for me and especially for his important work.

    The best time of year is now! Get out and fish the high country before the fish go deep and hide from the summer sun. The hills are truly alive right now.

    Happy Fishing, Humans.
    Lost On A Hill

    Utah Water Log

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