September 28, 2012

Northern Pike At Yuba Reservoir


Nothing like an early fishing trip to get Friday started off right. According to some fishing reports that I read, the pike were biting at Yuba Reservoir, so I headed down to see for myself. I arrived around 7:30 am, got my pontoon set up and was on the water in no time. The morning started off really windy, and I battled waves for the first few hours. Fishing started off hot, hooking up on only my second cast! The first pike of the day was soon in the net, and it was a little one. I took a quick picture and released him for another person to catch.
About 10 minutes later, a had another pull on my line, and this time I could tell I had a bigger fish on. The pike made my drag sing a few times as I slowly wore him down. When I got him to the net, it was much bigger than the first. It measured in at 26 inches, which is a new personal best for me with this species. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of him. I didn't want to mess with my camera and try to manage a larger fish with sharp teeth at the same time.

First pike of the day.
The fishing died down after the quick start, so I headed to a different area of the reservoir. When I got there, I could hear the clucks of chuckers. It sounded like they were everywhere, and I soon found out why. When I got closer to the bank I spotted 30-40 of them right at the waters edge. Once they saw me, they made their way up the boulders and into the bushes. The chucker hunt starts tomorrow and it looks like I have a new spot to try if it turns out that this is a legal hunting area. There were also some really interesting petroglyphs on a cliff face nearby that was an added bonus to this trip.
 
A few of the Chuckers that came down to say hello.

Native American petroglyphs overlooking the reservoir.
 I ended up catching two more little pike to finish the day with a total of four. All of them were caught on 5 inch Rapalas of various colors. Wire leader is a must for anyone wanting to go and catch one. With as much fun as it was catching these smaller pike, it leaves me wanting to make another trip down here to see what it would be like to dance with one of the trophy pike that are here. You'll definitely be seeing me again Yuba!

These were just babies, but they were still fun to catch!


September 22, 2012

Kokanee Salmon Day at Strawberry Reservoir

Just like the Fall leaves turn to a crimson red, the Kokanee Salmon follow suit with their own transformation. Today was the annual Kokanee Salmon Day held at Strawberry Reservoir. It is a Day where the Department of Wildlife Resources educates the public about this special species. There were also members of Strawberry Anglers Association there talking about the programs they are involved with, and about how this blue-ribbon fishery is doing. They also had a guy showing you how to tie different fly patterns that work well on Strawberry.

The mountains are ablaze with Crimson leaves!

Prepare to be amazed.

Kokanee Salmon are typically a silvery-blue and sleek fish. When it's time to spawn, they turn to a crimson red and take on a beastly shape. After three to four years, Kokanee return to the same river where they were born to spawn. Once they spawn, they die like all other Salmon species. So what happens to let the Kokanee know it's time to start the spawning process? I asked one of the DWR officers, and she told me that it is all based on water temperature. In the Summer, water temperatures rise. In the Fall, the temperature cools, and when it hits 54 degrees fahrenheit, it triggers the Kokanee to start their journey back to the river where they started.
jockeying for position in the river.

They find the right place and create a spawning bed.
 
We took some time and watched the fish in the river before heading up to the fish trap. This is where the DWR take the kokanee and are able to collect both the sperm and eggs from the fish. They told me they have a lot higher success rate collecting the needed material and controlling the process at a hatchery. Once the kokanee reach three inches in length, The DWR returns the fish back to the river and the process is complete.  There are other rivers flowing into Strawberry where natural reproduction takes place. Fishing is closed to all rivers while the Kokanee spawn is taking place, but you can fish right up to where the river enters the reservoir. More about that later...
A few Kokanee at the fish trap. The numbers were low this year.

Nothing but net...
 
getting ready for a demonstration.
After learning more about these fish (including how to catch them), We drove around the lake to Haws Point to have a picnic. I got my portable BBQ out, and that is when I realized it wasn't a self-start. Guess who forgot to bring matches or a lighter? Luckily, another family had a lighter and let us borrow it. We ate and then explored for a bit. I fished, and other than seeing a 18-20 inch trout follow my spinner to shore, there was nothing!
We decided to go try a spot that a DWR officer mentioned. He told us that Kokanee stop eating weeks before they start to spawn. In fact, He said that once the Kokanee turn red, most don't even have a digestive system anymore! They are slowly starving to death.  He said when something comes into their area, they strike it out of aggression, so to use something shiny or a small fish imitation. I took his advise and put on a plastic swim bait.
I found an area where I could see several Kokanee and began to fish. I had lots of follows and several hits before I had one slam it! FISH ON! It gave me a good fight, but it was over pretty quick. I had just landed my first Kokanee! To  make things even better, it was a big male. Male Kokanee grow a big hump on their backs and their jaws start to curl in. They look gnarly which makes for a great picture!
On the way home we noticed a lot of kite surfers out on Deer Creek Reservoir. That sport looks like a blast and I want to give it a try in the future. We also got to take in the fall colors in Provo Canyon, and check out Bridal Veil Falls, which made for a beautiful ending to a great adventure!
Picnic at Haws Point.

My first Kokanee with rod and reel!

What a sweet release.

The kite surfers were out in force on Deer Creek Reservoir.

Provo Canyon on the way home.

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. The crowd gives perspective of the falls  grandeur.

September 21, 2012

Little Fish in American Fork Canyon

My neighbor and I made a quick trip up American Fork Canyon with the anticipation of hiking to Silver Lake. We made it to the trail head only to find out that the trail was closed. Being slightly bummed, we decided since we were up there, we would hit Silver Lake Flat Reservoir. Silver lake Flat was a puddle compared to what it is in the spring. We both through on some spinners and started casting. Roger was the first with a fish, which was a typical rainbow planter that you catch here. I soon had another on, which was also a planter. After we caught a few more we headed back down the canyon to Tibble Fork Reservoir to try our luck there.
On the way back down, we stopped and took a few pictures of the trees that were starting to change color. I think it will be another week of so before the colors really come out. We got to Tibble Fork and soon had little brown trout wanting to take our spinner. I'm glad I had an ultralight rod so it still felt like somewhat of a fight. Roger also pulled some rainbows out, and he ended the day with eight fish, which doubled me up on what I caught. Even though we didn't make it to our original destination, the trip was a lot of fun. The weather was great, which won't be around much longer. I need to make a few more trips before the colder weather sets in. That said, I'm starting to get a slight itch for the ice fishing season to get here.

A very low Silver Lake Flat Reservoir.
The changing of the season with Tibble Fork at the bottom.

A few of the little brown trout that were caught.


September 11, 2012

A Few More Wipers From Willard

I made another trip up to Willard Bay to chase the wipers one more time this year with Wiper Hunter. We fished for a few hours using the same technique as before and caught 3 small wipers. We didn't see any boils, but the fish finder screen was blacked out in places with shad. With that much feed in the water, it's a wonder anyone catches a fish here. It was fun getting out and learning more from Wiper Hunter. I always look forward to opportunites to fish and learn at the same time.
 



September 9, 2012

Labor Day Fun in Island Park

We made our annual Labor Day trip up to beautiful Island Park, ID for some relaxation and a little fishing. We typically float Henry's Fork of the Snake River with the family, but since the weather wasn't the best, only my Brother-in-law and I made the trip. Because of the weather, we basically had the river to ourselves.

Two Top Lodge was our home for the weekend.
 We got our tubes inflated, and our fishing gear and launched around 7:30am. It took us both a few minutes to get used to maneuvering our pontoons, but soon it was second nature and we were on our way. As we floated down the river, you could almost feel the quietness of the air. Along the way we saw lots of rainbows, but I was after one specific species, and that was the kokanee salmon. We only had a half day to fish because of other plans, so I was focusing on 2 deep holes that I knew of from floating the river in years past.

getting ready to launch.


The weather helped us to have the entire river to ourselves.
 We arrived to the first hole and had it to ourselves. I fished one side and my brother-in-law fished the other. It wasn't long until he had the first fish of the day on. he played it like a pro and soon had a good sized whitefish on the bank. He landed another whitefish about and hour later and those were all the fish that were landed on the trip. I saw hundreds of kokanee, and other than having one on for about 3 seconds before he got free, I couldn't do anything to make them take anything I was presenting. It was frustrating to see them and not have them take, but neat at the same time. There were several of them that put on a great aerial show by jump completely out of the water. Perhaps next year will be my year to get one. We made it to Macks Inn where we got picked up and headed back to the cabin.

First fish of the day; a good sized whitefish.


Fish number 2 is another whitefish.

There were literally 100's of kokanee salmon in this hole.


Muskrat doing it's thing.
 
We arrived to the first hole I had in mind and had it to ourselves. I fished one side and my brother-in-law fished the other. It wasn't long until he had the first fish of the day on. he played it like a pro and soon had a good sized whitefish on the bank. He landed another whitefish about and hour later and those were all the fish that were landed on the trip. I saw hundreds of kokanee, and other than having one on for about 3 seconds before he got free, I couldn't do anything to make them take anything I was presenting. It was frustrating to see them and not have them take, but neat at the same time. There were several of them that put on a great aerial show by jump completely out of the water. Perhaps next year will be my year to get one. the other hole I wanted to fish had people their already, so we continued on our way. We made it to Macks Inn where we got picked up and headed back to the cabin. 
Fisherman in training. The fish won't have a chance!
 
My wife's first time witnessing Old Faithful.