Ron and I made it up to central Utah for a few days of fishing some of the fabulous stillwater opportunities and a bit of moving water as well. First stop was some no name lakes nestled in the Uintas. Getting there involved traveling through some of the most prolific open range deer country I have ever seen. We saw so many deer we quit counting. One herd alone had 16 bucks….and as you can see they weren’t little forkhorns either.
The first lake we hit was a smallish rather shallow lake with rainbows. It took us awhile to figure out how to catch them but once we figured it out….it was hold onto your rods!!! Some of these fish were actually still loaded up with eggs but still fought very hard. They were keyed into the emerging caddis and even though there were plenty of damsels and midges on the water that was the only thing I could get them to eat. Ron landed one on a fly he got from Ron Marlow but that was the only fish landed not on the emerging fly I had. I just happened to have some emerging mayfly patterns that imitated the caddis well enough that they would eat it if they saw it. Problem was the flies were commercially tied on dry fly hooks….We ended up straightening 7 of the 12 hooks we had. No clue why a few of the flies held better. It may just have been bigger fish bending the hooks out or possibly harder strikes…who knows. Here are a few more pics.
I honestly must have tried 20-25 different flies that looked very similar to the one they were eating…..and I never got touched once on any of them. If I ever make it back to that lake again in July, I promise you I will have some of that fly tied up on nymph hooks. Who know how big the fish were that we didn’t land.
We went to see my buddy, Emmett Doane at Circleville to see what was going on in his part of the world. We fished below Piute Reservoir, which we had done quite a few times before, and caught a few rainbows under the spillway. The lake is filling so the river below was lower than I had seen before. Next morning we hit some private water that Emmett had a permit on below Minersville Lake. It was a nice little spring creek like stream with rainbows and a few browns and a pond with some rainbows and smallies eager to take a fly.
This nice brown came out and grabbed a hopper. Emmett showed us a great time and I highly recommend him for a good day in and around Circleville. His fly shop is right off 89 just up the road from Panguitch. He has a nice rental unit that he can set you up with right next to his shop. If he is full up (which is often) there is a nice little motel with cafe across the road from him called Butch Cassidy’s Hideout….great food, good people, reasonably priced. Emmitt’s website address is www.circlevalleyanglers.com. If you plan to hit that area for some fishing…he’s the man to call.
Next day we hit Manning Meadows Reservoir. It’s the lake that Utah has designated for it’s brood stock program for the Bonneville cutt’s. The lake is over 10,000′ and is gorgeous, worth the drive up the mountain just to see it. We caught as many cutt’s as we wanted on top, even if they were the 13″-14″ variety. There was a Spruce moth hatch coming off and they ate just about anything that hit the water.
The drive back to Circleville took us right by Otter Creek Reservoir so Ron and I finished out our last afternoon there. Water temp’s were 69-70 degrees so we probably weren’t fishing the ideal spot on the lake but Ron ended up catching a beautiful 4 lb rainbow on a simi. We weren’t really sure what he had hooked because he fought so hard. We thought it may be a huge smallie….ended up being this nice rainbow with an attitude.
Another great, safe trip with a good friend. Utah has a lot to offer and it’s not that far up the road. I’m sure we’ll be back.
Tim and I hit Becker again this am. Got on the water about 6:45 and fished to 1:00 pm. Wind was minimal, nice chop and the cloud cover lasted til noon….perfect setup for dry flies. And for once it actually worked out that way. We must have landed 20-25 each on cream JR Hoppers and missed/lost more than that. They were on the hopper really hard all day. It would slow down for a bit and you would work around looking for noses and BAM….you’re in them again. A few ants were on the water and after the sun came out they started chasing damsel nymphs….but if you got a hopper in front of them they would almost always take it…..very few refusals. Water temps are actually cooling down some. It was 3 degrees cooler today than when I started fishing it a couple weeks ago and Monsoons are rolling in almost daily so things look good for Becker….at least into the end of July.
On another note….AZG&F received 18,500 3″-7″ Tiger Trout from Utah. They have been placed in the Tonto Creek hatchery to grow out until next Spring. They will then be planted in Willow Springs, Woods Canyon, Carnero and Becker…depending on water conditions next Spring. Looks like we’ll be catching some Tigers right here in AZ….awesome!
Hit Becker with Tim Sunday. We had a good rain the day before so we hoped to hit an ant fall…..got lucky. It wasn’t a major one like a couple days previous but plenty enough to get the fish looking up. We banged them pretty good on cream JR hoppers #12. They wouldn’t touch a tan??? Go figure…and they actually preferred them over an ant. We landed at least a couple dozen between us and missed or broke that many or more. Water temp’s were down one degree so the monsoons are helping. They have been really good so far. Let’s hope they keep on coming right into Winter.
I hit Big Lake last Saturday with Tim. Cloudy day, nice chop on the water. We landed 9 between us with Tim landing the majority of those. We were using c’mids under bobbers…found fish just couldn’t get them to go. We were still fishing to the same cutt’s we had been for the past three weeks. Quite a few were still chasing each other around but wouldn’t touch anything. We had to go deep for them.
Tuesday I fished with one of my old AZFF partners, Mike McLaughlin. We never got more than 100 yds past the boat dock and must have landed a couple dozen between us. Same fish, same flies, different day??? Mike went back the next day and the fish had moved out even further. He had to go with sinking line and leeches to get any to play. Good to see and fish with Mike. Seems like we closed down the shop 100 years ago. I miss it.
Today (Friday) I hit Becker with Mike M, Tim and Ron and a buddy of Tim’s. It was the old proverbial news when we got there. You should have been here yesterday. Evidently the lake had a monstrous ant hatch and everyone cleaned up the day before. Fishing was tough for us today. I’m sure the fish were still sated from the ant hatch. Only way we could get any action at all was with #12 JR Hoppers in tan or cream. I tried #10’s and never got bit. Never caught a monster but all but one were in the 18″ range and in great shape. They didn’t fight extremely hard as the water temp was 70 pretty much the whole time I fished it. The fish all swam away healthy though…no floaters. Monsoons are coming in pretty regularly so hopefully it will cool things down a bit.
Hit Big Lake a couple days this week. The cutt’s are still spawning in some areas and they’ll still grab a p.t. or small hares ear presented to them in the shallows. Some that have already spawned are out deeper and will eat the same stuff on a sinking line. Yesterday I had to resort back to the bobber and midges to get some to play and then I missed the first 6…..some days you have it and some days you don’t. Got chased off by the Monsoons that are coming in pretty regularly now.
I had been noticing some boats on Sunrise when I was coming back so I figured they must have fixed the ramps…and they had. The ramp at the store has been extended and because the lake has gone down even further the north ramp is now usable at a slightly different spot. Caught lots of 14″ strong rainbows on simi’s. The first three were on different bugs and then I switched to a small one with a red bead and they ate it really well. Man, I hope we have a good winter….never seen this lake so low. The reef at the eastern end is now out of water and looks like a dam going almost all the way across the lake.
Going back to Big tomorrow
This past week I have been hitting Big Lake about every other day. Thanks to a tip from an old shop customer, I was spanking the spawning cutt’s pretty good. Using a floating line and small pt’s (16-18’s) I was able to get quite a few to eat….all between 16-20″s. All fought very hard, especially for spawning fish. All swam away fine to go do their thing. Bite got tougher about the third day in. Fished smaller flies and today I switched to my version of a hares ear….which actually looks more like a Baetis nymph and landed a few more. I think the major portion of the spawn is done. Many of the cutt’s we first saw back in the coves are gone now. Bite will change again as the fish get in their normal summer feeding habits. Water still looks good, no sign of algae yet. This time last year the water was turning already. I think the late colder storms have helped the water stay in good shape and with the Monsoons soon to be here, we should see some good Summer fishing at Big…..Tons of damsels out but no fish going for them.
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I had been hitting Big Lake most every day for the past week. The bite has gotten worse every day. When I first hit it I could get them stripping simi’s. Next couple times I had to go to the bobber with a c’mid. Bite continued to be good but I could tell they were getting less aggressive as time went on. The past few days, Tues, Wed and Thursday I landed one fish. Yesterday I never got bit. I think it is because the cutt’s are actively spawning and most of the fish we were getting into were on their way to their spawning site. They are in now and chasing each other around like kids playing tag. Not sure how long the spawn will last but I think the fishing may be off for awhile until it’s over….at least for me. Maybe someone else can figure it out. So I went to Becker today to get my ego adjusted. Fish were eating c’mids and fought hard. Life is good again!
Water temp’s were 65-66 so let’s hope the rains get here soon to cool things down. Went by Sunrise and it had dropped a foot in the past couple weeks. You’d be up to your knees if you tried to launch there with a kickboat and I think it’s impossible to launch a boat. We need a good solid wet Winter!
Took Sunday off and hit Big Lake again yesterday. Got on the water about the same time, maybe a bit earlier. Forecast was to be a bit windier but optimistically fishable. I’m glad I got on the road earlier because of all the time I spent watching the 200-300 elk I saw coming in. First batch was just outside of my neighborhood. Loving being up here.
The midges were already coming off when I got there about 6:15 so I immediately went to the bobber and c’mid. Using the same midges/setup I had used the two prior days…I didn’t get bit until 4 hours later. I realized there were probably 10-12 different c’mids coming off and evidently I didn’t have the one they wanted at that time…even though I must have tried 10 different ones.
My buddy, Kevin showed up and he was getting a few on one of his concoctions. I finally switched over to one I bummed from him and got my first hit…action at last!! Didn’t actually hook up so I switched back over to the traditional black midge and a big rainbow took me for a ride and finally broke me. I managed to hook up two other fish…a nice cutt and an 18″ rainbow. That was my day ….6 hours, 3 grabs. Fishing, gotta love it. I have to say there are some good fish in there. I have had a good rainbow on every one of the three days I got to fish it. Two broke me. I am off to MT in a few days …..I almost wish I was staying.
Should mention….I got to see Paul Freeman and his buddy, Charles as I was getting off the water. The wind was doing a number on them as well. They were going to hit it again today. Hopefully they got on the water a bit earlier before that wind started howling….because it’s howling right now.
I have been hitting my local lake for smallies when the wind is blowing. Just walking the bank…mainly looking for beds. No beds yet but I am picking up a few fish on assorted simi flies. I have a goal to learn this lake as it is deep enough with constant inflow to hold holdover trout, smallies, lmb’s and walleye…not to mention some nice bluegill. 5 minutes from my house…gotta figure it out.
The past couple days the wind has been good and I have been hitting Big Lake. Yesterday I landed about a dozen with the biggest a beautiful 5.5 lb rainbow. Good cutt’s most around 17″s and some smaller rainbows in the mix. I was able to land them stripping simis early yesterday. Lots of clouds and wind and the midge hatches have been prolific. They were pretty grabby and I took advantage of it to catch some stripping. Today was pretty calm…too calm…and no clouds early. Death to a fly guy. No fish stripping at all and just a couple under the bobber with midges. Later the wind came up and things got a little more interesting. I landed maybe 6-7, missed more than that and had two break me off. One was a good one. I saw him rise before I cast to him and he just ripped me.
Sorry…no pics. One of the hassles fishing alone. I fought the 5.5 for over 5 minutes and didn’t want to fool around trying to get pics of her. She swam off just fine.
Starting to turn on. Don’t know what’s going to happen if we don’t have a Winter this year. Sunrise and Carnero are so low it is a real chore getting through the mud to launch. Crescent’s ph is so high it is unfishable. Becker seems to be hanging in there but things are getting pretty tight up here waterwise.
Hit Sunrise mid morning today. Only day coming up that NOAA didn’t call nasty. I was going to hit Big but my buddy fished it yesterday and blanked….and he knows the lake. Lake had maybe 20 bank fisherman and a few of them were catching fish….nobody on the water. Didn’t see any monsters caught but some 14″-15″ healthy fish. That was as big as I could muster….and that was the only one. I had another decent fish on but he unplugged. The Tribe must have planted some 8″ Apaches too cause they were a little more playful. As I was leaving a I talked with a bank fisherman who was calling it. He had several fish in the 3 lb range so they’re still there…just not very playful for the fly guys yet. That’s ok….I got time. Just nice to know they made it through the Winter.