Sunday, November 30, 2008

Milestones in Fishing

I've loved the sport of fishing for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Northeastern Oregan, I was surrounded by great places to fish. Although I don't remember the names of the lakes and streams I fished, I have still remember some of the fish I caught. I even remember some of the fish Orman caught! I spent 6 weeks at my Grandparents in Georgia. I spent most of the time catching brim off the dam.
Price did not have much in the way of fishing. But when we moved to Orem, my passion turned into an obsession. I began by riding my bike with friends to the Lindon Marena at Utah Lake and catching white bass. We found other places to fish within the distance we could ride our bikes. At about 12, I learned how to tie a few flies and tried to learn how to fly fish. I caught my first fish on a fly I tied on a week hike in the Unita Mountains with my scout group. I think a bare hook could have given the same result, but it was rewarding still the same to haved tied a fly a fish saw fit to taste.
I didn't catch a single fish on a fly rod until many years later. I caught an eight inch rainbow with a flashback pheasant tail nymph while fishing a side canyon that ran into the Provo River. I began fly fishing solely with wolley buggers at the inlets of lakes and catching a fair share of fish. I loved to fish Twin Creeks at Fish Lake just before summer. I spent many days battling with the bait chuckers for the prime realstate left of the inlet and 20 feet out.
I avoided fishing streams and rivers (except the trashy section of the Provo where I caught a fair share of White Bass) because I didn't know how. That was until I began dating Katy and starting fishing with Craig. Craig and I started fishing together at Baker Res. and then Pine Valley. I think this was all in his master plan to turn me into a dry fly purist on a stream.
A trip to the Oakley cabin changed my fishing perspective forever. The water was high, but that didn't stop Craig and I from trying our hand at catching some fish. Craig had found the honey hole while I kept flogging my rod at ill attempts to catch a single fish. Craig guided me to the hole and laid out the plot to catch my first river-trout on a fly rod. I hooked a smallish trout that nearly came unbuttoned from my Royle Wulff and I was a new man. Subsequent trips to the cabin reinforced my new passion for fly fishing rivers and streams.
A summer camping trip with my dad was the catalyst for my next stage in fly fishing. I spent a few days camping, fishing and riding ATVs on Beaver Mountain with my dad. I had just purchased a 12' aluminum boat as my own celebration of obtaining my BS in Psychology. I had just received another graduation gift from Craig, a very nice Sage XP 5 wt fly rod. I was too paranoid to fish with my new fly rod in the boat on this trip. So I fished with my spinning rod the whole trip.
On the way home, I was listening to the soundtrack to "The Horse Whisper". I was overwhelmed with the desire to wave a fly rod. There was a small stream running in the middle of the valley I was passing through. It was choked with willows and couldn't possibly hold any fish. I suited up anyways and dawned my new stick. The first spot I came to was the end of a long, slow pool created by a beaver dam. I stood at the end and cast my fly to the other end of the pond. The fly landed just inches from a stand of willow branches and began drifting down towards the dam. At just that moment, my fly disappeared in a splash of water. I lifted my rod, and to my surprise, I had hooked my first small stream trout. I brought the fish in for inspection. The brown and red dots were unforgettable. I had proven myself wrong, there are fish in this stream! This was the turning point from becoming the guided to the guide.
I began exploring the Southern Utah landscape for water that held fish. I shared my findings with Craig. Our fishing trips became more frequent and my ability to catch fish increased. A trip to Jackson Hole humbled me to realize I didn't know as much as I thought. But my main goal was to catch as many fish as possible and that's what I did.
Ever since I began fly fishing, I dreamt of catching a bass in my Grandpa's pond in Georgia on a fly rod. This last summer, we planned a family trip to Georgia. I didn't have a rod that would easily travel all the way from Utah to Georgia, so I built one. I had a couple weeks between completing the build of the 4 piece 7wt fly rod and the trip to Georgia. I went to Sand Hollow to test the rod out. I caught my first Large Mouth Bass on the fly. It was a scrappy seven inches with the heart of a champ. Now I was ready for the trip to fly fish in my grandpa's pond. When we arrived at Grandpa's house, I could barely contain my excitement to go fishing. After consulting with my cousin, I was on the water casting my fly rod. I hooked and release a number of 1-2lb LMB and a couple really big brim. I later found out that I may have been the first person to ever fly fish in that pond!
As I explored new waters, I kept hearing stories of "the big ones". But as hard as I tried, I only caught the little ones. I came up with the goal of catching a 20"+ trout on a fly rod. I spent many trips pursuing this goal. A year went by and I still hadn't completed my task. It finally happened this Spring. I skipped out of work early and headed to Minersville Resivour. The ice had just receded from the edges and I was there to usher the trout into the new season.
Now that I completed this goal, I changed it a little; "catch a 20"+ trout in a river or stream". A few weeka ago, I almost completed this goal, but I was .5" short. Craig and I only had a few hours to fish and I wanted to take him to a spot on the East Fork of the Sevier I have been frequinting for the past month. We had to leave by 2:30p so Craig and I worked the pools and runs together as the day went on. about 30 minutes before the deadline, we came upon the next section of fishable water. Craig took the bottom of the pool and invited me to fish the main section. I hesitated at first, but Craig insisted. I hiked up and around the pool and after a little bush-whacking, I came out at a perfect angle to fish the pool. I cast my nymph rig with a red copper john and copper scud into the pool a couple times along the edges of the current. My first cast into the main current produced a strike. I didn't see my indicater, because I could see the fish take my fly. And it was big! I yelled to Craig I had a good one, but he didn't realize how good until it jumped out of the water. Craig coached me as I faught the beast for what seemed an eternity. The fish went up and down the pool without any sign of tiring. The worst thing that could happen now was for it to become unbuttoned. It began to show signs of defeat and I pulled it into the bank. I was beaming with excitment as I picked the fish out of the water and Craig snapped a picture. I had forgot to repack my tape measure, so we placed the fish next to my rod and marked the spot the fish's nose came to. When I got home, the first thing I did after bragging to Katy of my accomplishment was go into my office and get out the tape and measured. No matter how I held the rod, the tape, or my hand; the fish was 19.5". Just shy of my goal.
This past week, I decided to go solo on another trip to Kingston Canyon. I had to complete my goal. I woke up early and was on my way out of town by 7:15a. I go to my turn off and began setting up my gear for the day. It was cloudy, but I figured it would warm up soon once the clouds burned off. I rigged two rods. I figured since I was going solo, I could take my time and there wasn't as much of a chance for my other rod to get stepped on. the first rod I rigged with a streamer, the second with a nymph rig that I caught the rainbow on. As I hiked down the road, I thought to myself that maybe I should have worn a jacket. But I still thought it would warm up and then I would be left packing the extra bulk of the jacket the rest of the day. I shivered to the first hole and immediatly hooked into a 14"+ rainbow on the streamer rod. A lot of frog water was ahead. I caught a few fish as I worked upstream and lost my big black streamer in some brush in an ill-attemp to backcast in a tight area. I fished an Olive version of my Black articulated leech for awhile. But decided to go back to black. I fished a run that empied into a C shaped pool. I cast my nymph rig to where the water entered the pool. My inticater went under and I felt tension in the line. At fist I thought it was a branch I snagged in the head of the pool. But the was splashing. I figured I had caught a fish and it snagged me into a branch. As I stripped the end of the line closer, I could see what it was. I had snagged a muskrat by the tail! I wasn't sure what to do next. I brought the ugly thing closer and snipped the line at the top fly. As the muskrat came free, it turn around at me and looked as if it was going to attack. I reared back and was about ready to boot the little guy when it jumped in the water and swam away.
I came up to a long, deep, slow pool and decided to desect it piece by piece. I missed a lot more then I caught. I stopped for a lunch break and warm up from the chill in the air. The pool was so large that when I finished my lunch, I continued to fish my way up to the head of the pool. I stood at the top of the pool in the shallow water just above. I cast my black streamer over the current, by a boulder. I gave the line a few quick strips and let the streamer swing accross the current. My line came tight and a large Brown Trout came to the surface. I kept my rod high as I walked around the pool to get a better spot to land the fish. All I could think was I had to get this fish in! I can't say the fish gave an extaordinary fight, but I was happy to get it in before my heart blocked the air from passing down my throat. As it came closer, it looked like a shark swimming back and forth just below my feet. I swept the fish onto the bank and let out a howl! I tried to take a picture of the fish with one hand, but I couldn't get it all in the frame. I dislodged the hook and dipped the fish into the water to catch its breath while I caught mine. I snapped another quick shot of the fish next to my rod and pulled out a measuring tape I was sure to bring this time. The fish easily passed the 20" mark. Although it wasn't very fat, it measured out to be 22"! I took the fish out to clean water and held it by the tail as I revived it from the quick fight. It flipped out of my hands and swam off into the depths of the pool.
I'm not sure what my next goal will be. But I'm happy for now. These arn't the best shots, but not much I can do solo...

Park in Washington (not the state, the town south of SG)