Archive for the 'Fishing' Category

04
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – On to Warmer Climes

A ferocious barking woke me up from a dead sleep, momentarily confused, I got my wits about me and realized it was Yukon.  Now, anyone who has dogs knows they have different barks for different reasons.  Well, this was  Yukon’s serious “I mean business!” bark, Mira joined in, though I’m pretty sure she was just barking to bark (she loves barking).  I had talked to a couple people that mentioned seeing bears around the campground so while I couldn’t see anything outside the Jeep, I’m assuming a wandering bear made its way through the campground.  There was no sleeping after that rude awakening, I tossed and turned until dawn when I decided to head down to see if fishing had improved.

Unfortunately, the slow fishing streak continued on into the morning.  Fish were still rising after some invisible bugs and I did manage a few small rainbows (one of which would become dinner) on the fly rod.  As I was cleaning the sole fish I kept, a couple drove up and started unloading some fishing gear.  They introduced themselves as Keith and Tina from Arizona.  After chatting a bit, I showed them the places I usually caught fish off the dock, and then left them to their fishing.

Small rainbowsimage

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I’ve always driven past the turnoff for Blue Spruce Campground, a rustic campground northeast of Posey Lake a short drive off of Hell’s Backbone Road, this time I made it a point to turn in and check it out.  It’s a small but pretty campground, only a handful of campsites and butted up against Pine Creek.  I let the dogs out to play in the water and considered grabbing a fly rod.  Pine Creek supposedly has small wild trout in it, and what better scenery to catch them in.  After realizing my Jetboil stove, that’s traveled with me since my first long motorcycle trip in 2010, was missing, I got the dogs back in the car and headed back to Posey Lake.  Unfortunately, my stove was nowhere to be found so I headed into town stopped at Utah Canyon Outdoors and picked up a Jetboil Flash so I could eat warm food for the rest of the trip!

Mira enjoying Pine Creekimage

The weather was still quite cold and I was ready to wear shorts, so after a stop at Nemo’s for a burger and fries, I decided I’d head to Stanton Creek Campground on Lake Powell for the night.  Last year we had a pretty miserable, windy, stormy experience there and ended up spending the night holding our tent up with out feet against 6o mph gusts and multiple thunderstorms.  Hopefully my 2016 experience would be more pleasant.

Burger and fries at Nemo’s – Michigan, you need to get on this Fry Sauce, it’s tasty!image

The lovely red rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park, made way for the barren bentonite hills on the park’s eastern end and soon Hanksville.  Southbound on UT-95 toward the lake, the scenery changed and the temperature rose.  I soon reached the Glen Canyon NRA entrance gate and Stanton Creek campground shortly thereafter.  I drove around the lake for a bit, looking for a shallow spot to let the dogs swim (Yukon was whining since the second he set eyes on the water).  They were in heaven, chasing a tennis ball out into the crystal clear water endlessly.  Attempting to herd them back to the car was like trying to drag a 4-year old away from Chuck E. Cheese – grumbling and whining (with a couple dashes back to the water) I finally got them loaded up so we could find the perfect spot to camp.

Happy dogs at Lake Powellimage

Typical photo of my two – Mira being photogenic, Yukon barking “THROW THE BALL!!”image


I eventually found a site right on the water with some decent looking structure for fishing. If you plan on camping down near the lake, it’s mandatory to have a WAG bag or some sort of toilet system, I just keep a box of WAG bags in my Jeep.  There are out houses further up in the campground.  I staked the dogs out, got them fed, donned shorts and sandals and started working the shoreline with fly and gear.

I caught a small sunfish that looked like something had recently chomped on it.  It was fairly slow going after that, with some sort of large fish following my fly or spinner in on each cast, but never committing (I’d later find out they were Striped Bass).  Finally, something bit and while it didn’t fight too well, I was excited, it was my very first walleye (very amusing considering I grew up on Lake Huron-currently a walleye hotspot).  Lake Powell has no limits on either Walleye or Striped Bass due to their predatory effect on bait fish and their rapid proliferation, so I bonked this one on the head and proceeded to less-than-expertly fillet it.  Trout and walleye for dinner!  With the sun going down, I enjoyed a small fire, watching the stars blanketing the darkening sky and the lights in the million dollar houseboats at Bullfrog twinkling in the distance.  Lake Powell had redeemed itself.

Stanton Creek Campsiteimage

Evening’s fishing funimage

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My first walleye – named “Dinner”image

Fresh fish on the shores of Lake Powellimage

Filthy Mira – who wants to sleep with this swamp thing?image

 

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02
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Snowed Out

Up early, the surface of the water was like glass, I unloaded the fly rod and headed back to the water with the dogs.  Knowing that the prolific Utah Chub was a major food source in the reservoir, I tied a bunch of white and gold streamers in the weeks leading up to departure.  I tied one on and made a couple casts, still targeting stumps and their roots.  Just as the fly neared shore, a cutthroat shot out from under the stump and grabbed my fly.  Unfortunately, it was a short lived fight as the fish shook its head and gained its freedom.

The reservoir’s water was so clear, anything cruising near shore is visible.  I saw a couple cutthroat swimming back and forth and shortly thereafter a musky, about the size of the one I caught the night before, was on the prowl along the shoreline looking for a meal.  Very neat to see!  Another of the reservoir’s resident aquatic life was slowly crawling from the shore looking for deeper water, a large crayfish I named Pinchy.  No wonder the fish get big in this reservoir, the food sources are large and plentiful!

Pinchy, my new crayfish friend.  WARNING:  Doesn’t like hugs!!13151555_10103133460207635_4257204435007531465_n

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With the dogs again wet and muddy, it was time to make our way to the day’s intended final destination, the Escalante area.  Thankfully, since we were sleeping in the Jeep, it didn’t take much time to break down camp and be on our way.  Driving south on UT-72, the winding road and scenery were beautiful, eventually opening to the alfalfa fields and pastures of Loa.

Panorama of the view to the east of UT-72image

Our first stop of the day would be to a panel I had recently read about, the Fish Creek Cove Panel.  While the panel has some visible vandalism, it’s still very nice with large headless elk in a procession, dual color shields, hunters bearing bows.  Nobody was in the parking lot when we arrived, so the dogs and I wandered the area, looking at the amazing images.

The road in to the panelimage

Mira relaxing in the cool sand under the elk procession on the panel13100748_10103133442463195_7935185213939966467_n

Procession of headless elkimage

Hunterimage

Additional images on the panelimage

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There were a couple of geocaches near the panel, so we hiked the surrounding terrain, looking for them.  We found the first, after a bit of searching, I chuckled when I finally noticed it.  As we were heading to where I thought the other cache was, a group of people arrived at the panel.  The dogs were wound up at the surprise appearance of strangers, so I decided to save the second cache for another time and hightailed it back to the Jeep.

Found it!13094249_10103133698959175_8296038805328287261_n

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I’ve hit all kinds of weather traveling over Boulder Mountain:  fog, bright sunshine, hail (on a motorcycle) and this time heavy snow.  I hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the day would end up.  Part way across the mountain, I drove down into Lower Bowns Reservoir to take a look, the snow stopping as I left UT-12.  Last year, we didn’t have any luck at this reservoir so I didn’t break out the rods, just driving through the campground and heading back up.

The road into Lower Bowns with the Henry Mountains in the distanceimage

Took Lower Bowns road rather than end up in Tartarus eternally chasing fruit I could never eat 🙂image

Back up on UT-12 over Boulder Mountain heading west toward Boulderimage

 Once down off the mountain and into Boulder, the heavy snow turned into rain and continued on and off, all the way to Escalante.  I stopped at Head of the Rocks, as I always do, because I love the different colors of rock layers segmented by the winding road below.  Over the Hogback and past Calf Creek campground we pulled into Escalante.  I hoped to head up to Posey Lake for a couple of days to fish brookies and rainbows and enjoy the solitude of the mountain.  Unfortunately, weather wasn’t our friend and the mountain was shrouded in snow clouds.  After a bit of thinking, I decided I’d make a quick trip over to Beaver for the night and come back the next day for a night at Posey Lake.  I made a quick stop out on the outskirts of Escalante to fish North Creek Reservoir for a few minutes, but after one hookup, heavy rains and stormy clouds again pushed me back into the safety of the Jeep.  The nasty weather would follow be all the way to the night’s motel where a rainbow awaited.

Head of the Rocks panoramaimage

North Creek Reservoir panoramaimage

Bad weather all the way to Beaver, UTimage

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The rainbow at the end of the dayimage

01
May
16

Pups Go West 2016 – Joe’s Valley Reservoir

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 🙂image 

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!image

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.

Swimming!!image

Here kitty, kitty 🙂image

Worn out again (and wet, and filthy)image

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!

Dinner Time!!image

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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 visibleimage

TIGER MUSKY – such a beautiful fish!!image

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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)image

Fancy beds a few feet away, these two weirdos curl up on on the hard ground 🙂image

Upslope IPA and the first campfire of the tripimage

 




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I’ve come to terms with spiders in my environment and while I don’t want to cuddle them, I do find them fascinating and I tolerate them in the house (provided they don’t invade my space). I think this one may have been slightly squashed by the dogs but it was still alive.  I’ve never seen one like it and can’t figure it out.  Anyone have any ideas?  The pictures aren’t great because while it didn’t look like it was in any shape to attack me, it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take 😂 #spider #michigan #spidersofmichigan #spideridentification Anyone ever push themselves to the brink of madness taking part in an activity?  I’m on my third season of trying to have some success while out rabbit hunting and still nada!  Ive dug briars out of knuckles and today out of my face (lip and chin). I’ve walked miles and miles through swamps, briars, cattails and brush with an air rifle, a .22 and most recently my grandpa’s shotgun.  I drive by stands of autumn olives, low pines and grassy fencerows and think about how many rabbits I’d be able kick up if given an opportunity.  I know someday I’ll make things happen and bring my first cottontail home for dinner but until then, I’ll relish in the blood, sore legs and constant frustration.
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#hunting #rabbithunting #cottontail #michigan #publiclandowner #publiclandhunting So, I’m as bad at rabbit hunting as I am at duck hunting!  It was scary windy out today but I had the day off and I needed to get out in the woods and clear my head!  One rabbit bolted from the same spot as the other day, I almost stepped on the other one. Does anyone else hate hearing themselves on video 😂😂😂 #rabbithunting #publiclandowner #publiclandhunting #michigan Still getting some flyers and still tend to hit right of where I’m aiming but getting better.  I went to the archery store today and asked a million questions, I was handed a free range pass and told to come back on Monday to have their traditional guy help me get things more squared away. #recurvearchery #recurve #archery #tradbow #traditionalarchery
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