My furry navigators snoring loudly, I was thankful I didn’t need help finding my way to the reservoir. I drove the windy scenic road that heads through Straight Canyon to the reservoir. There were vehicles at nearly every pullout for Cottonwood Creek, either bouldering or fishing, so I decided to forego fishing the creek this time and head right to the campground.
As it was last year, the campground was empty, only a small portion of it is open during the spring with no water available. After driving the short loop, I decided to pick site 7, the same site we had set up on the previous year’s trip. A cute little ground squirrel was checking us out from the fire pit as I was getting the dog tie outs, camp chair and dog beds laid out. I was anxious to wet a line so loaded up the dogs and started driving toward the channel where Seely Creek enters the reservoir.
Our little squirrel buddy – thankfully Yukon didn’t notice it 🙂
Last year we neglected to check out any of the small creeks that dumped into the reservoir, so I pulled off near the bridge over Seely Creek to take a look. The smell of creosote and sulphur were strong as a I walked down to the water. The creek a milky white-blue color, I tossed some spinners out in a couple of likely looking places but came up empty. Back to the Jeep, I drove down to the parking lot near the boat launch to start fishing the reservoir.
It was pretty windy, so I grabbed my fly rod and spinning rod, leashed up the dogs and made my way down to the rock breakwall. With the wind blowing directly in my face, I selected the spinning rod from my arsenal and hooked a size 2 Mepp’s spinner and started working my way down the shoreline. I found an interesting stump with a root system reaching out into the deeper water so tossed the spinner out, counted to 20, then started to slowly reel in. WHAM! Something violently hit the spinner, when it surfaced the first time I could tell it was not a small Splake like we had caught a number of last year. After 4 times surfacing and the diving back down, I finally was able to, with difficulty, net the fine fish. A beautiful male Cutthroat Trout, bigger than all three of the big Yellowstone Cutts I’ve caught in the past and those were 20″, 22″ and 23″. My best guess was a thick 24-25″, unfortunately the photos don’t do its size justice. If this was the last fish of that I caught on the trip, I’d still be happy!
Gorgeous male cutthroat trout, this photo makes him look tiny, but he was a beast!
After working the shoreline for a little while longer, it was time to wear out the dogs a little more. The boat launch was gated off and the water at its base quite shallow, so I tossed out a stick for the dogs to retrieve. Up until that point, Yukon was losing his mind because I wouldn’t let him swim in the 20 foot deep water. He would swim forever if I let him, Mira waiting in the shallows so she could try to snipe his stick 🙂
On the walk back up to the car, I was keeping an eye on the ground and saw a round track, 4 toes with no claw marks about the size of my hand. It appeared as though a big cat had been prowling the area recently! My mom loves getting photos of tracks with the caption “Here kitty, kitty!”, it really sets her at ease about my solo travels.
Here kitty, kitty 🙂
Worn out again (and wet, and filthy)
We made it back to the campsite without being eaten by a mountain lion (one of my life goals-don’t get eaten) and after getting two seemingly starving dogs fed, I started making food for myself. Now, I’m not a horrible cook, just lazy, especially in camping situations. Compound my laziness with the fact that everything I seem to cook in the desert ends up having an appreciable amount of sand in it, I usually just end up eating sandwiches. I could happily survive on PB&J tortillas (tortillas survive road trips with dogs better than bread). For this trip however, I’d put my trusty old Jetboil to work. I found some Mountain House meals on sale and bought enough for a week; just add boiling water and wait sounded about my pace. The dinner selection for my evening at Joe’s Valley would be beef stroganoff. Considering that it came from a pouch, it was pretty fantastic!
The wind had picked up after I finished my food and I seriously considered scrapping a second round of fishing for the evening. Thankfully, I fought my urge to sit around the campfire and went back down to the reservoir. I worked down the same piece of shoreline I had earlier, quickly catching a bright 14″ cutthroat. Before leaving on this trip, I looked at the contour map of the reservoir and noticed that the depth dropped quickly from 20 feet near shore to 60 just a little bit offshore. Again, I cast a spinner out (copper this time), let it sink for about 30 seconds. As I started to reel in, it was like a hammer hit. I started fighting whatever was on the other end of the line and was thinking to myself “If this is a trout, it’s huge!” When I finally got it to the surface I realized it wasn’t a trout but a tiger musky. A totally unexpected catch that made my night!
Joe’s Valley Reservoir Pano – the stump where this musky was caught is visible
TIGER MUSKY – such a beautiful fish!!
Figuring my fishing luck had all been used up for the evening, I loaded up the dogs again and headed back to camp. A nice campfire and a beer, one dog in my lap and another at my side, the evening finished as wonderfully as it started.
Mira, the 40 pound lap dog (really, she’s just a little scared of popping embers from the fire)
Fancy beds a few feet away, these two weirdos curl up on on the hard ground 🙂
Upslope IPA and the first campfire of the trip