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Fishing The Solar Eclipse

The whole of the United States is talking about the solar eclipse. People are flocking by the thousands to get a glimpse of this rare event. A total solar eclipse happens somewhere on earth every two years. The last solar eclipse to grace our country was back in 1979. It is possible this is a once in a lifetime chance for some. Others may be lucky enough to see a couple of them through the years. As awesome of as spectacle as this is…it begs the question, how will it affect the fishing.

Scientists and anglers have relied on the phases of the sun and moon for centuries, determining when the best times to are. The legendary Old Farmers Almanac, founded in 1792, has been a record of the patterns of nature from those that depends on it the most. To assume that they have a pretty good idea of predicting patterns goes without saying. This is where it gets interesting.

According to the moon phase, August 21st begins the good fishing period. Meaning in the past, when the moon is in a certain phase, the fish tend to be more actively feeding. Will the eclipse change anything? According to some biologists the total eclipse of the sun will trick the fish into biting during that period, given that many species of fish feed heavily in low light periods.

Unfortunately for yours truly, we Utah’ns aren’t in a direct path so it may be a crap shoot for us. But why not give it a go anyway? It’s fishing…how bad could it be? And maybe, just maybe, you might get the fishing period of a life time. If any of you do make it out, I would love to hear about it. Fish On! 

Utah Small Streams

This is the first of several posts to come that feature small streams. Southern Utah Streams are a goldmine for any angler. They are abundant, easy to access, and not heavily fished. For the fly angler these waters offer an all day barrage of top water action. For the bait angler there are opportunities for fast strikes, with the fish many times taking the bait just as it hits the water. Whatever style you fish, there is a Southern Utah stream with your name on it. 20170816_192719.jpg

Utah has a dry, arid climate that many do not associate with good fishing. We may live in a desert, but don’t let that fool you. As part of the Rocky Mountains, streams are plenty as they cut through the canyons carrying the winters snow melt. This particular stream is part of the Manti-La Sal national forest. With an hour to fish, I made a quick stop to see if this particular stream had fish. I was not disappointed. This baron river had a lot to offer. Small, but stocky, Bonneville Cutthroat Trout were abundant

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as well as a few bigger Rainbow Trout. 20170816_191332.jpg

The light colors of the fish made them tough to see in the shallow clear water. Most of the fish held in the deeper pocket water, however, even the small riffles had something to give. A dozen or so fish later and my hour was spent. I look forward to returning to fish it once more.  If you enjoy this articel, please like and share. Comments are always welcome.

 

Take Your Family Fishing

Now that summer is starting to swing towards autumn, it is a great time to get out with the family to fish. The high water is subsiding and bugs are out more than ever. Many years ago, I went on a trip with my family. It would have been in my teen years. I had yet to have a fly rod grace my hands. Little did I know that I was laying the ground work for what would one day become a life long obsession.

In the beautiful Boulder Mountains of Southern Utah, my grandpa and I fished a little stream no more than three feet wide. The bank grass was tall and the banks had deep undercuts, allowing the fish to hold as to avoid danger. My grandpa being a worm fisher for most his life naturally had a styrofoam container tucked in his tackle box. I had a jar of red salmon eggs. The thing was, the grasshoppers were out by the thousands. Walking to the tall grass they would criss cross in front of us, many times landing on us.

My grandpa was the first to show me. He took off his hat and swatted one off a nearby stock of grass to stun it. Soon it was run through with a hook and plopped into the water and to the unsuspecting fish. The bite was instantaneous. Out came a small Brook Trout that had just been lying in wait for lunch to arrive. Like all impressionable kids, I thought my grandpa was a fishing god. He never ceased to find the right bait, for the right situation to catch the most fish. I had soon caught my own grasshopper and he showed me how to hook it so it wouldn’t come loose. This was also where I learned that grasshoppers were tobacco chewers as it  spat a gob on my fingers when I held it. Filthy habit. But my grandpa simply laughed, proceeded to swipe the back of his hand across his face saying, “I can’t help it!”, in reference to an old friend of his that was known for his spit and chew routine. I soon learned that filthy habits or not, grasshoppers caught fish. That was probably my first real attempt at fly fishing. We spent the day fishing, my grandpa reeling them in as fast as he could, and me, I just tried my best to keep up. It didn’t work. As I said…fishing god.

Had i not gone fishing that day I may never have learned to use a live grasshopper for many years to come. My point is, take your kids out, your family, your friends. Share with them what your passionate about. It doesn’t have to be fishing, but it couldn’t hurt. Sometimes a little thing, like fishing with a grasshopper on a small Boulder Mountain stream, can have a much larger effect thatn you could ever imagine.

Top 5 Summer Flies

Utah has a good number of small streams that are a fly fisher’s paradise during the warm months. The fish average on the small size for what most consider a trophy. But the wild populations are hungry and put up a good fight. Every fly angler has different flies for different types of fishing. Different months, means different bugs. Lake vs. streams and so on. Because of this I decided to put together a list of my top 5 for August. I’m not normally a “list” type of guy. However, when I was getting geared up for the weekend, I did a check to make sure I had my arsenal well stocked. It made me think about what flies I really wanted. Which were the ones that would guarantee a successful day on the water? Without meaning too, I came up a list of flies. Here are my top five summer flies.

The Elk Hair Caddis. The versatility of this fly makes it a no brainer in my book. Over the years, I have tied different varieties ranging from light cream hair to dark browns and black. 20170801_1438321.jpgAs a general rule, I matched the dubbing and hackle to match the hair. A lot of trial and error later and I have come to tie a standard pattern that may seemingly make no sense to some tyers and anglers, but it works. Medium brown hair, olive dub, and a brown hackle. Good fly all around most times of the day.

The Mosquito. Love this fly for small streams in the summer. As the sun ducks behind the mountain and cools the air, there is no shortage of insects that begin to swarm including the mosquito. 20170801_135833.jpgIt is also a simple fly to tie. I use moose mane for tail and body, then grizzly hackle for wings. I do not often I fish a mosquito in direct sunlight and have much success. Morning and evening seems to be the best. 4. Hoppers. Just like the Elk Hair Caddis, I have over time developed my own style of hopper that I find works well on any moving water. 20170801_140034A simple foam body, with a brown matching hackle depending on color, and elk or deer hair wing finished with a few wraps of grizzly and brown hackle on the front. May sound complicated, but it’s not. Although I have had some success on still water, fish find them irresistible in a current. Much like a stimulator, they are also a good searching pattern. Even used them in a Stonefly hatch and got the bite.

The Beadhead Prince Nymph. Love the fly, but hate to tie. I admit that these are one of my favorite flies for any occasion and location. I have fished with and without a bead on the same stretch of water on the same day. I found no difference in the bite, only in the differing depths.20170801_140312.jpg This pattern I tie by the book. A brown biot tail, peacock body with a gold or copper rib, white biot wing and a brown hackle wrap up front. Really awesome all around fly.

Pheasant Tail Nymph. The last one was a toss-up. Summer is the time for dry flies. However, during August where Utah temperatures are hanging in the high 90’s, sometimes you have to go deep to find the fish. 20170801_1448381.jpgIn general, if I am using a dropper, it’s a Pheasant Tail. I rarely fish it on its own. Pheasant tail, for the tail, body, and wing case. A copper rib, and I use brown hackle up front instead of pheasant. I also use beads often when fishing these, and at times there has been a significant difference in the bite so I carry both.

 

Full’er Circle

So maybe the title of the first blog was jumping the gun a little. As promised, I went home after my last trip to Duck Fork and tied up some of my damsel fly imitators. Yesterday, my family and I took a trip back up there to test the flies. It ended up being a beautiful day. There was a threat of rain for the afternoon. The heavy dark clouds told me this was a promise, not a threat. But we went anyway. It was good to get out of the scorching desert valley. Knowing my time was short I got right to it. My daughter followed along with me, keeping a running dialogue about the goods and bads of teenage life. We rounded a corner to one of my coveted spots on the lake. An inlet with under water tree stumps and laydown logs that provide ample cover for feeding fish.

The fish and the flies did not disappoint. It took some time and patience but I would not be denied. Before long a monster from the depths breached the surface, killing my fly. This is where the fun begins. The immediate reaction from the fish was to head straight towards the stumps and branches seeking safety. My immediate reaction was screaming with adrenaline for my daughter to get out the camera. This was going to be a “Kodak” moment. In the end, I was victorious and the fish rewarded me with a couple of pictures before turning him loose to battle another day.20170724_141622

Fish two was just as exciting for my daughter as it was for me. The fish were still exploding out of the water catching Damselfly’s, so much of my casting was aimed at the rings of a feeding fish. I targeted a fish in the shallows and looped a cast in his direction. Slowly and methodically the fish tailed over to inspect it. Just a slow nose out of the water and I had him. Of course, I was elated. The take, and the fish were beautiful, but not as much as my daughter in the back ground who had witnessed the entire thing. She was just as excited as I was. As before, we snapped some pictures and turned it back to the water. On that note we ended our time at Duck Fork. It’s hard to leave any water when the fish are still feeding, but the thunder and the wind said it was time to go. We didn’t get far when mother nature turned on the showers. It rained all the way up and over the mountain pass before letting up. Sure that we were out of the soak zone, we made one final stop. At a beaver pond that rests against the mountain, we roasted some hot dogs and enjoyed each other’s company in the cool mountain air.

As I sit writing today, I am replaying all of yesterday’s events through my head. I am truly blessed with a family that is willing to go up on the mountain with me so I can fish. My wife spent her day reading on the bank, my daughter by my side, both preferring to do other things. But they were willing to take one for the team and give me a great day on the water. Fishing with family, it’s how I started, and it’s still my favorite way to go.

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Rain Rain Go Away

Rainy days, who needs them? Okay, that’s a dumb question from a fisherman. Staring through the rain streaked windows, my house looks like it is sharing my emotion. We are both crying because I can’t be out fishing today. Nope, instead I’m stuck indoors worrying about how bad this storm is going to muddy up my favorite fishing hole. Priorities. I have fished in a down poor, I’ve fished when there was nary a sprinkle. Seriously, let’s face it folks. Deep down, we are all fair-weather fishers. You have your exceptions, the diehard who claims he would fish in the middle of the nuclear test at the Bikini Atoll site. “But George, your skin is on fire!” “Yeah, cool, right? Now watch this cast!” We all know “that guy”. I know several of them in fact. My point is, when weather does not permit me to go out and play, I use the time I have wisely. Bill Dance bloopers, tying flies, trying to figure out if 2x or 6x tippet is bigger. You know, the important stuff.

Today before the storm blew in I had a chance to get out and chase some Brown trout with some hoppers. The hoppers I tie are a mash up of a couple different versions I have messed with until finding the right combination of buoyancy, color, and silhouette. In my mind, they really look nothing like a grasshopper, but that fact doesn’t seem to deter the fish. A local water about ten minutes’ drive from me holds a number of sizable Browns. The stream runs through a dusty canyon of sage and scrub oak.20170711_130330 To the majority of the locals, little stream serves a couple of purposes. Number one, it is for irrigation. And B, this canyon is a watering hole for the stock that is left to graze here several months of the year. And three, as evident my the old vehicle, i suppose it has been used as a dump site. For a select few, the water is something of a secret spot. We only talk to those who already know about. Similar to the rules of “Fightclub”, only a tad less violent.

In the hour that I was out to play, I had nine fish on, and numerous near misses or long distance releases. All of them caught on the hopper save one. As per habit, I love fishing a hopper dropper combo. The biggest, ere go, smartest fish, was pulled from an undercut bank where he was hiding from the hot summer sun. I believe I earned every fish I caught as I beat my way through the eight-foot-tall brush to get from hole to hole. At one point my ninja skills came out as I ran face first into a spider web as I ducked under a branch. All hope of grace was gone as a chopped, swung and swiped at everything on my or around me. I even had the thought to glance around and see if anyone had been witness to my precious moment. Alas, no one there but the cows. If cows can laugh, I’m betting they were.20170711_133321.jpg

The echoing thunder told me when it was time to go. Even though one should never leave when the fishing is good, I am not “that guy”. So, tail between my legs I headed for dry ground. I hadn’t quite made it home when the rain began to fall. Today’s moral of the story, fish when you can, and sometimes when you can’t. And if you’re with me and I find a spider web, you better clear on out in case my super power gets the best of me again. Meanwhile, I will sit by the window and make ready for my next foray into the wild.

Tight lines everyone.

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