Monday, August 28, 2017

Currant Creek is still sweet

Today was our chance to fish new water (to me) with Brad & Jeff Scherck (Brad's dad).  Jeff caught his first trout on the fly ever two days ago and was game to try for more. This time high in the Uintah National Forest.

My brother Rick and Mike Dover had been here a couple of years ago so it was on my list of potential spots to fish in the future.  Well, the future is now and it was a beautiful sunny day and a great day for fishing, but what day isn't a great day for fishing?

Brad and Jeff, father and son, on the stream.  This is how it should be.
We fished within site of the dam that forms Currant Creek Reservior.  A mixture of beaver dams and running water.  In the first hole fish were actively feeding but ignored the dry dropper I was tossing as well as the hopper dropper Brad was using.  I changed to an Irresistible Caddis and Brad to a smaller hopper and green copper john dropper.  I had a fish to hand shortly thereafter.  A small brown, but somebody has to be the first.

My first Currant Creek brown.  I was pleased.

I found several more in mostly pocket water.  Brad had several fish to the fly but he is so kind and gentle I think he must not want to sink the tip of the hook into the mouth of the fish.  We need to work on hook setting so he doesn't take up "farming" like his father-in-law.  Maybe one of the other Merrill boys can give him a remedial clinic some time to undo what he's learning from me.

Jeff however, was not content to follow my lead and decided to patiently watch as the fish below came up to his elk hair caddis that was floating (drag-free) in the current as it passed close to a grassy undercut on the inside corner of a nice long run.  A sure hookset and the fight was on.  I saw it from upstream where I was fishing and came to get the photo to record the memory.  Jeff says this is the largest trout he has ever caught.  I told him it might be a little while before he caught another one like this.

Jeff's first Currant Creek brown.  He was really pleased!

It was pretty exciting for him and us!  However, as you can see from the photo, he is going to have to work a little on the "long-arm" for photos.  As beautiful a fat brown trout as one can imagine.  It came up and sipped the fly and Jeff got it right in the tip of the nose.  Well presented, patiently waited to pull the trigger, carefully fought, gently landed, and gratefully released.

Check out the teeny elk hair caddis in the nose of this fish!

We had to get to St. George so we couldn't fish until dark.  Play day ended early.  However, we can look forward to more in the future.  Will Jeff ever be the same after these last few days?  Only time can tell for sure, but he was disappointed when we got to St. George and Sportsman's Warehouse had already closed for the day . . .

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Brian's photos

I was lame and forgot to get Brian's photos from our Scherck therapy today.  They are to be found below.

Diamond Fork.  Beautiful day, but no cooperating aquatic friends.
A Nebo brown.  Nice somebody finally caught a fish today!
Ready for college now!

Sherck therapy

Brian starts his freshman year at BYU next week and so it is, of course, a good reason to go fishing.  Today Brian and I were joined by Brad and Jeff Scherck.   Brad is Rob's son in law.

First time fly fishing today for Jeff Scherck, Brad's dad.  Brad is married to Rob's youngest daughter, Natalie, and Jeff thinks this is great.  He's always wanted to try fly fishing and says Brad chose his new family well.  We started the morning at Diamond Fork which fished as if it had been hammered, which judging from the number of anglers and vehicles we saw along the road, it probably had been.  We saw not a fish in an hour with four of us thrashing the water.  

Enough of that--we headed to Thistle Creek!  Very brushy, but at least there were a few fish willing to take a swipe at a fly.  However, it is really difficult to fish with four people in this tiny creek so we continued on to Nebo Creek.  Jeff & Rob starting where we parked and Brian and Brad heading up the road a ways before dropping into the creek.

Rob missed a fish in the first hole and managed to land one in the next hole--accidents will happen.  Jeff then landed his first fish on a fly in the same hole.  A beautiful small brown trout. 

Brad's father, Jeff, with his first fish on a fly.  A nice little brown trout.

More fish were seen and enticed to the fly over the course of the next couple of hours.  We did get rained on pretty well midway through--big drops that kept coming and coming.  Hats, shirts and arms all quite wet.  It did make it cool and comfortable so that was nice.

This guy found the Irresistible simply impossible to resist

Brian and Brad managed to find some fish as well so it was a good move to head here.  We saw no other fisherman and had the quiet solitude all to ourselves.  With a good day of stream therapy behind him, Brian should now be ready for the rigors of a university education and Brad should be ready for grad school.  Both boys start school next week.

This one broke off while trying to take a photo, but Brian managed to catch it by hand downstream and retrieve his fly after a nice "thank you" kiss of the fish!

I love fishing in Utah Valley and surrounding canyons.  Hopefully we can come visit occasionally to check on the welfare of Natalie, Brad & Ben as well as Ben's "Uncle Brian" and perhaps participate in some stream therapy.

Another brown from the pocket water

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Creek Therapy for Rob

I came up to Wentachee again this weekend, but as we had help for Dad today, Rob suggested we pay a visit to The Creek. I think he really needed some Creek therapy, and I was happy to be his therapist. I introduced my Kia Sportage to rough roads for the first time, and made it easily through the one steep, rough part of the road to the Creek.

Rob introduced me to a new section I had not fished before, walking downstream on a narrow path along the canyon walls with the creek tumbling through pools below.
Some pools are inaccessible except by swimming. Or casting from the cliff above, which I did in the hole above this one, hooking and landing one from about 40 ft above the water.
Before heading downstream, he did direct me to toss my hopper into a couple little runs, just to see if they would take it this early in the morning. They did.
They loved the hopper all day long
Down in the canyon, the fishing was, as usual, stellar, if you consider large numbers of 6" to 10" native redbands just dying to attack a hopper as soon as it hits the water to be stellar. Large pools and runs bounded by cliffs carved into beautiful, rounded curves by the creek and its floods over millenia of time.
Beautiful undercut in the rock
Rob finding fish in the undercut
Another beautiful run with a small waterfall at the head of the hole
Trout will dart from 10 or 15 feet away to attack the hopper fly as soon as it hits the water. Or as soon as it touches the water when you dip it through the grass that almost covers the stream in places. In the deep holes, and in the pocket water running between those holes, if it looks like it is big enough to hold a fish, you will usually find one there. Or two. Or more.
Lots of these pretty little guys
It was a great morning with too many to hand to count. Yes, there is a reason this is one of our happy places. A great place for some Creek therapy.
Our happy place

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Great Day at Nunya

With Dad being sick, the Merrill boys have spent more time helping to take care of him and less time out on the streams, even to the point of postponing a planned visit to Nunya at the end of July. Well, Rick's employer abruptly changed his work schedule to four-tens, which provided an unexpected open day on Friday. Neither Rob nor Tom were available, so I decided to go it alone to see if I could recreate the magic from our visit last July.

Arising long before sunup, I stopped at dawn for the #8 at McD's to maximize my chances for a successful day (which at Nunya usually means more fish caught than snakes seen). Rounding the last corner of the dirt road to the stream, my muscles relaxed as the empty parking area came into view. A short time later, I slid from the grassy bank into the water, which was surprisingly cool given the heat of the summer. The high waters from spring runoff have changed the stream a little, finally erasing the little hole where I caught the first big brown here years ago.

I started with hoppers, then alternated with the black bugger in some deeper runs, but there was no sign of fish in the first few holes. It wasn't until about halfway to the first corner that I found the first fish, a nice brown about 15-inches that took the hopper in the middle of the stream. A little further up, a smaller rainbow came to hand, but that was all the action to the first corner.
15-inch brown to start the day
At the corner hole, nothing came up, which left me wondering if this was going to be just a mediocre day at Nunya (2 fish and no snakes). But that was soon to change. Above the corner hole are some long, straight runs with deep undercut banks. I always remember a visit years ago when we seemed to find large browns all along these banks, even in the slow water at the bottom of the runs. Today, though, there was no sign of fish in those areas. But as I got up to where the current began to move along the grass on the right side, I drifted the hopper right on the edge of the bank, then watched a large head slowly rise and engulf the fly. A nice one! It took me downstream, went far under the bank several times, but finally tired and came to the net. A fat, 19-inch beauty, with a solid cutthroat marking. First time I have seen that in this stream.
A rainbow that wants to be a cutthroat, beautiful 19-inches
One more to hand here, another fought and lost, both in the 15 to 16-inch range. Both were similar takes, slowly rising in plain sight to the hopper right against the grass. Maybe it was the time of day and the fish were just waking up, or maybe they are just spotty throughout, but now the day was looking much brighter. The next run up, I landed another rainbow about 15-inches, then came to the drop-off at the dirt bank. Tom always likes to run big streamers through here and usually catches a nice fish or two, so I figured I'd tie one on and catch one for him. I picked out my big, ugly Skully Bugger, which had yet to catch a fish. That would soon change!
The Skully Bugger, big and ugly
Ran the Skully through the water at the drop into the hole without any interest shown. So I picked it up and started working it farther down into the corner hole. Still nothing. I hauled it a little farther, down into the slower water near the corner. Sink. Slooooow strip. Sloooo - solid stop, set, and a fish explodes out of the water. After a couple minutes of tail-dancing mixed in with solid runs, the rainbow in the range of 18" to 20" came off as I was bringing it to the net. It was fat like the previous one. Back into the water with the Skully, a little further this time. Sink. Slooooow strip. Sloooo - solid stop, same thing! Another powerful, lively fish, that ran up into the fast water, followed by a few short runs before coming unhooked. That one was for Rob (naturally). Now one for me. With a double haul, I got the fly all the way down to the large dirt bank. Sloooow strip. Slooooo - bam! Another solid, acrobatic fish, which after several more jumps and runs, was brought to the net. A solid 20-inches, another fish that would make any day.
The third rainbow of this size on the Skully
The day had gotten noticeably better! But the best, and worst, was yet to come. It was back to the hopper for the grassy runs upstream, and I found three more (only one to hand) in one of the small runs. All slowly rising on the hopper, right against the bank. Which brought me to the big, deep hole at the rock cliff. Spooked a nice one fishing a hopper along the grass in the run above the deep water, then tied the Skully back on to see if it would work its magic in this deep hole too. A couple short casts, then down into the deeper water it went. Sink. Slooooooow strip. Slooooo - stop. Set. This thing felt like a big log. It ran towards me into the faster current, then rolled on the surface. The fish was bigger than anything I had ever seen here before! Far bigger than the 20-inch fish I had just caught downstream. Easily many inches bigger than the 23-inch rainbow I found here last year. Naknek sized. Holy cow! Now I was kind of nervous. It made a bit of a run, and my heart sank as I saw loops of my loose fly line tied in a big, ugly knot that would never go through the eyes. Luckily, the fish slowed and held, allowing me to untangle the loops, let the line out through the eyes, and get it on reel. Then the monster started a real run, the line screaming out and the reel freewheeling, making another mess of loops of line. Again, the fish slowed and held while I cleaned up that mess and got it back on reel. A third run, and the fish was heading straight downstream. My fly line was approaching the backing when suddenly, there was nothing but loose line. And me standing in stunned silence. Retrieving the line, I found the tippet had parted in the 3x an inch or so below the tippet knot. Perhaps the line wasn't wrapped evenly as it got into the lesser used parts of the spool, causing the line to catch as it rapidly spooled out. Maybe it was just a weak spot in the tippet. Either way, it is now just another haunting memory of big fish lost.

I found one more rainbow up at the next corner, LDR-ing the 16 or 17-inch fish after a short fight, then it was time for the long, hot walk back to the car, wondering about what could have been. One thing for certain. I will have more Skully Buggers the next time I come.
Thirteen fish fought, seven to hand, three deer, no snakes. A great day at Nunya!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Three New Streams, Almost Four...

It is getting harder to find streams where I haven't yet caught trout in areas that I normally pass through, but I was able to make a little bit of a diversion on the way to help with the hikes at Girls Camp this year and explore the Ahtanum watershed west of Yakima. It's been on my radar for a while, just finally making it out that way. And it is a good way west from Yakima.

Driving west from Tampico along the beautiful North Fork Ahtanum Creek with very little unposted access, I made it to the Ahtanum State Forest where both the North and Middle Forks are accessible from gravel roads that follow them. First stop was the North Fork, which appeared to still be running a bit high from the unusually heavy snows last winter, but still a small and easily wadeable stream. Starting with an EHC dry and small prince dropper, I quickly lost the dropper as the dry was all that was needed on this stream. First hole, my leader loop fell off the fly line. Quick repairs, and immediate fish by dropping the fly into the hole below.
Beautiful cutthroat
Started upstream, and found plenty of fish to keep me happy. The stream drops quite fast where I was, and most fish were found in the larger holes, though some in pocket water. All cutthroat, none of great size, but all beautiful; maybe a dozen to hand and twice that many missed. Often I could watch the slow rise up to the fly, and several times I made use of the strip set to keep from tossing the smallish fish into the brush along the bank when setting the hook. A very nice hour or so spent at this pretty little stream.
Another nice N Fork cutt
But there was still the Middle Fork to visit before continuing on to camp. I first stopped not too far above the split from the North Fork, and after spooking several approaching the stream, I found this beautiful rainbow/cutt hybrid, the largest fish of the day.
Biggest of the day from the Middle Fork
A few more smallish fish, but then lots of white water upstream as this fork was also dropping very quickly on its way down the mountain. I decided to try several miles farther upstream, above a section closed to fishing to protect bull trout, and found a few more fish in the now much smaller stream, but also lots more mosquitoes. So after a couple more to hand, it was off to camp for a few days.
Fun to fish dries!
One stop along the way back was the Ahtanum Mission, one of the earliest missions in Washington, established in 1852. In addition to a little history, I was hoping to find access to the main Ahtanum Creek from the Mission park, but barbed wire and No Trespassing signs blocked the way to the stream I could hear flowing through the nearby brush. Two new streams brought my total to 135 streams in Washington where I have caught trout.
A stop for a little history
On my way back from camp on Friday, I took another little detour to try to check Wenas Creek and the North Fork of Wenas Creek off my list. I started up the road heading to N Fork Wenas Creek, but found it to have been filled with basalt rubble (probably replaced a rutted mudhole, but after 1/4 mile driving on large, sharp rocks reminiscent of a railroad grade but rougher, and no end in sight ahead as far as I could see, I decided to turn around before I tore open a tire. Back to a public access, that might get me to the North Fork just above where it was joined by the South Fork. Access was not going to be easy. Through tall grass just screaming rattlesnake, then into a steep sided wash that ended up being blocked by a fallen tree. Just enough room to marine-crawl under the tree and continue down the wash.
First barrier, with just enough room to crawl under
I came to an abandoned channel full of water, but was turned back when it became deep, sucking mud overgrown with brush. Out of the channel, through another grassy meadow, to a wall of alder lining the creek.
Alder thicket after I had made my path through

Carefully bending down trunks to open a path, I finally found myself on the edge of a very tiny stream. Starting with a renegade, I dropped the fly into a couple likely holes with deep water, and found saw no movement at all. At the third hole, I dropped the fly into the little stream of fast water and immediately had a hit. Returning the fly to the same location, and a gentle hook set brought this little guy to hand.
Yes, that is the whole stream in the background; twenty minutes of bushwacking for three minutes of fishing and one baby fish. But it is totally worth it!
Twenty minutes or so to bushwack the last thirty yards to the stream, but I got my fish. I was hoping this would be the North Fork, but GPS data on my camera when I returned home showed my location to be 100 yards or so downstream of where the forks join. I don't think upstream was very accessible from where I dropped in, so I'll have to return someday and brave the rough road.

Next stop was a public access further downstream, where I found the stream still tiny, but with some very large, deep holes, and a few smallish fish. Several to hand in 20 minutes or so, then time to turn for home.
Further down, the holes were bigger, the fish weren't!
Three new streams, now giving me a total of 136 streams. Hoping I won't wait so long to pick up a few more.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Great start to July!

Lawn mowed, yard and garage mostly in order, so I gave the old what-to-do meter a spin, and it came up Go Fishing again! So I did, picking up the #8 on the way out of town.
Surprised me again by stopping on Go Fishing!
 On the water by 8:30, immediate action in the shallow riffles like normal, but almost all the action was slashing at my strike indicator. Caught a couple, tried a caddis and dropper, but nothing in about a dozen casts, so back to the double CGPPN. Not so many fish in the first run, but most of those to hand were 9" to 11", good for this river.
Typical early morning rainbow
Fishing was a little "slow" compared to my last couple visits - I only had 18 in the entire first run (compared to a couple dozen without moving my feet), but there were plenty to be found.
Gotta love that face
As usual, many in the shallow riffles rather than the deeper runs. Ended up with 56 in the 1/4 mile from the entry point, then dropped in to the run below my access point. Found another 23 downstream. I love this stream!

If you ever wonder why I only fish the caddis green psycho prince nymph on this stream, here is the reason why. I pulled a couple small sticks from the bottom, which were covered in caddis cases.
Caddis cases are abundant
Give one of these things a little squeeze from the bottom, and its occupant will poke its head out.
Look what's hiding inside...
Let's compare this abundant food source to the CGPPN....
Don't tie on anything else here (unless they are actively feeding on dries...)
Yup, a pretty striking resemblance. I had discovered through experience that this fly killed them here compared to even a normal prince nymph. One day I opened up one of the cases and discovered why it was so effective. Never leave home without a good supply!