February 25, 2011

Salmon Fishing In Washington

This was an awesome trip that my uncles invited me on a few years back. We drove the long distance from Utah to Washington. I don't remember alot of the details of what rivers we fished but I do remember the great time we had hauling in monster Chinook, Coho and Chum salmon. You could only keep two Coho per day if they were from a hatchery. The way you would tell if the fish was wild is that they would cut the small fin off the back of a hatchery fish. Everything else was catch and release. This was the first time my cousin and I had ever fished for salmon and We averaged around five fish a day. My uncles on the other hand landed five for every one that I did. They were fishing machines! They have been fishing these rivers for years and it showed. They taught me a lot about fishing in that week! It took some time getting the feel of the fly bouncing along the river bottom and the take was often very soft. Once you had one on your line, it was game on. It was amazing to me how fast these fish could rip out line as they would make there runs. I would have to rest after some of the battles I had because I could barely feel my arms. This is a treasured fishing memory for me and I look forward to the next time we make the long trip back. If you decide to go after these majestic fish by boat, a great place to get up-to-date information on boating laws and certifications is Washington State boat license.

Mt. Hood in Oregon.

My first and biggest Chum Slamon of the trip.

My first king! My cousin could net those fish like a pro!

My Unkle with a giant king.

My unkle with his first Coho Salmon of the trip.

Now those are some teeth!
School is in session. This is my favorite picture of the trip.

My biggest king of the trip.

My cousin with a nice king.

Chum Salmon

King Salmon

My biggest Coho Salmon of the trip.

To feel that small of a fish on such big tackle is amazing!

How sweet it is!

February 23, 2011

The Big Horn Craggs

Here is another blast from the past taking me back to August of 2008. It's hard to find a more remote spot in the lower 48 than the Bighorn Craggs of Idaho. You are 40 miles from the nearest paved road and it's another 7 mile hike from the trail head to get into this beautiful country. This was a 50 mile hike that took us to 28 different lakes along the way. The fish species available to catch were golden trout, westslope cutthroat and rainbow trout. We had a lot of success on almost all the lakes and we landed some really nice fish. The elevation for this hike was between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. We had all sorts of weather conditions during the week and I really thought we were going to be blown off the mountain the first night. You would hear the roar of the wind coming down the mountain and it would get louder and louder until BOOM! The tent would irrupt and shake a good 15 seconds and then it would be calm for about ten minutes before the next wave would hit. My brother and I didn't get much sleep that night but that didn't stop us from getting up early to go catch fish.

We hiked over to the next basin where we fished the day landing golden after golden trout ranging from 8-16 inches long. I put goldens number one on my list of trout to catch. They are usually really hard to catch not only because they are very selective in what they eat, but you have to work your butt off to even get the chance to get to a lake that holds them. When fishing for Goldens, my brother and I have been fortunate to have had as many fast action days as we have when going after them. We caught smaller goldens later in the week in a few other lakes but nothing like we did in that first basin. We also were able to catch some big westslope cutts and rainbows. They put up a really good fight and would leap high out of the water in hopes of shaking loose from the hook. My brother fly fished the whole time and I mostly cast spinners since I'm not great at casting in windy conditions. The flies that worked the best were the Royal Wulff, Hopper, Elk Hair Caddis, Blue Dun, Adams & Pheasant Tail Nymph.

The photos below don't do justice to just how rugged and beautiful the craggs truely are. There were parts that the trail was litterally cut out of the cliff face and there were more switch backs than I care to remember. The mule deer we saw had no fear being around us. I was surprised at how close they would come to us. This hike is more than worth it for just the scenery let alone the great fishing experience. In my opinion, the Bighorn Craggs should be on any alpine fishermans list of destinations if it isn't already.

A view of the Sawtooth range on our way to the Craggs

Harbor and Wilson Lakes.

Fishfin Ridge.

Golden country; Gooseneck, Crater and Big Clear Lake.

Birdbill and Gentian lakes where we camped.

Fish Fin Ridge is in the background.

Big Clear Lake

My biggest golden of the trip.

Gooseneck Lake.

Golden from Gooseneck Lake.

Golden Trout.

Nice Mule deer buck.

Ship Island Lake.

Westslope cutt from Echo Lake.

That was one big tree!

Trail cut out of the mountain.

Check out the Craggs in the background!

Terrace Lakes.

Westslope Cutt from the lower Terrace lake.

Double! Jason's rainbow and my westslope cutt from the lower Terrace lake.

Buck Lake has great rainbow action.

Fish on!!!

Enjoying the spoils of Buck Lake.

Buck lake rainbow.

Deer greeted us in camp at Welcome lake.

February 17, 2011

The White Clouds Of Idaho

During the Winter months I dont get to get out as much so I decided to write about the trip that got me addicted to fishing. This takes me back to 2007 and by brother Jason had the crazy idea of starting a tradition of going on a 50 mile hike every year with the brothers. I missed the trip the previous year to the Saw Tooths and I wasn't about to miss any more. We hiked a loop that took us to some breathe taking views of the White Cloud range and to about 30 lakes where I got my first taste of fly fishing. We used nothing but dry's and had a blast catching all the alpine lake species of Idaho; Rainbow, Westslope Cutthroat, Grayling, Brook and Golden trout.
We saw every side of Castle Peak on this trip and even got to see some mountain goats walking its steep walls. We Camped at Quiet lake, Baker lake and Heart lakes. We caught the biggest fish in Heart lake with all the goldens and one grayling from Hope lake which is a steep 400 foot hike from Heart lake. I remember thinking that the white clouds went on forever. You would get to the top of a ridge and there would be 3 more in front of you. Up until this hike, I did a lot of hunting and hardly ever went fishing and I remember the one experience that changed all that. We had fished Hope lake the night before and Jason and I got up early and made the trek back up for a few more goldens and the hopes of a grayling. I got to my spot tied on an Elk hair caddis made a some casts and started slowly stripping it back to me. The water was like glass other than the small ripples my fly made. All at once there was an explosion on the water and Fish on! It made a few good runs and by the time I got it to the bank, Jason had made it over to see how big it was. It measured out to just over a foot long and we were both really excited. At that point it was the biggest golden either of us had seen! It is one of my favorite fishing memories and I'm fortunate I got to share it with my brothers. Jason snapped a few pictures and I decided when I got home I was going to catch every gamefish in Utah and I aim to complete that goal this year!

Ants Basin.

First fish of the trip out of one of the Born lakes. Devils Staircase is in the background.

Pika live at high elevations and have a loud chirp.

Some steep terrain to get to Four Lakes Basin.

Picture of a picture. Serrate ridge is in the background.

Justin's Grayling.

Quiet lake.

Boulder Chain lakes.

Lodgepole Lake.

Castle Peak.

Westslope Cutthroat

Hiking up to Castle Divide.

Westslope Cutthroat

Golden trout on the fly! My life changing fish!

Castle Peak and Chamberlain Basin.