December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

2013 is almost over, and what a year it has been! Great memories were created this year, and here are some of the most memorable starting from the first of the year to now.
  1. In February, I landed the biggest Brown Trout to date. That day was filled with big fish. This trip is also where I go the phone call that led to number two.
  2. I got the call that a dear friend had passed, so I headed down to Texas to go to her funeral. It was trip with a lot of mixed emotions to say the least.
  3. The Summer months were filled with lots of night fishing for catfish. On one such night, I landed a new personal best Channel Cat that was just shy on 30 inches.
  4. The beginning of Fall, My brother Jason and I made a trip across the Magruder Road to go after Bull Trout in the Selway River. This is one trip I'm definitely making again in my life.
  5. The Fall also brings the changing of Kokanee Salmon, and I was able to fish for them a few times this year. I landed several, but none of them came close to this beast. It is one of my favorite catches ever, and so I had to get a replica mount done. 
I hope your 2013 treated you well, and here's to an even better 2014! Happy New Year!!!

December 16, 2013

The Good Kind of Hard Water

ICE FISHING TIME! A lot of the lakes iced up the past few weeks, and have hit safe-ice conditions. I made a solo trip to Mantua Reservoir this morning to try and get some Perch and Blue Gill for dinner tonight. A friend of mine fished it on Saturday with his boy and killed it, catching over 40 fish between them!
I arrived around 8 a.m. to about 10 trucks already parked along the south road. So much for no body fishing on Mondays. I was so surprised to see that many people out on the ice today. Most people were fishing out in the middle. Luckily, no one was where I wanted to fish. I made my way over to my spot, and drilled my first two holes. The second my jig hit the bottom there was action. I set the hook and had my first fish on which turned out to be a nice sized perch. I got him off the hook and immediately sent the jig to the bottom again. Same thing as before, and I soon had my second perch on the ice! It was a blazing fast start to the day, and it stayed that way for the first hour. I landed several nice perch and bluegill during this time. I even had a Rainbow Trout take my jig off the bottom.
I basic map of Mantua Reservoir.

There were a lot of people that had the same idea I had...

My first stop produced for about an hour.
Once the first stop slowed, I moved about 30 yards away and drilled two more holes. This spot is where I caught the biggest perch and gills of the day. I was really impressed with the size of the fish. They are way bigger on average than last year. I kept 25 of the 52 fish I landed today; 12 Bluegill, 12 Perch and one Rainbow. White was the color that worked today, and I fished in 10-12 feet of water the whole time. I left around 1 p.m.

I filleted the fish, and fried them up for my wife and I. I went the easy route, and just used a Cajun fish fry mix I bought at Cabelas. It was better than I expected, so I think I'll be using it from now on. it saves have to pull everything out to make a batter yourself. I love fishing the first few weeks that the ice sets up. It seems that the fish are always more willing to eat than later in the ice fishing season.

This is one chunky perch!

The Perch needed to go on a diet, so I put him on mine...

The keepers, minus one gill.
Dinner tasted great!

December 3, 2013

Maiden Voyage to Bear Lake

My quest to catch every game fish in Utah in nearing its end. There are five species left on my list, and one of them is spawning for the next few weeks. The only place Bonneville Whitefish can be found in the world is Bear Lake, and the best time to go after them is right now from both the shore or a boat. They hang out along rocky shoreline in 5-15 feet of water to spawn. While fishing for them, you may pick up a Cutthroat or even a Lake Trout that's looking to score an easy meal.
Roger and I headed out Monday morning to make the three hour drive north in pursuit of Whitefish. We arrived around noon to clouds and a lot of wind. We started out fishing the marina on the West side of the lake. The only thing we caught in the hour we were there was some great views of the clear blue water that Bear Lake is known for.
We decided to drive to the East side of the lake and try fishing Cisco Beach (Bear Lake fishing map). The wind was coming right at us on the side. We found a rocky ledge where the depth dropped quickly. We had to battle 3-4 foot waves crashing along the rocks that would splash us making us colder as we search for this elusive fish. We stayed at this spot for three hours working the shoreline. As we were ready to call it a day, I finally had a bite. The fish took some drag as I yelled to Roger I had a fish. As I got the fish closer to shore, I could see that is was a big Cutthroat. This may sound odd, but I felt both excited at have a good sized fish on, yet a little disappointed that is wasn't the Whitefish I was looking for. The disappointment quickly vanished once I netted the fish and saw how thick it was. The 23 inch tank turned out to be the only fish landed on our first day. We took a few pictures, released it, and headed back to the timeshare to game plan for the next day.
The view driving down the pass into Bear Lake valley.

A view on the East side of the lake looking North toward Cisco Beach.

A chunky 23 inch Bear Lake Cutthroat Trout.

One more picture before being released.
The next day, we woke up and were greeted by snow. It was so much colder than the day before, but on the plus side, we had no wind to deal with. Since the forecast called for snow later in the day, we decided to only fish for a few hours, and then leave early to try to beat the storm through the high mountain passes. We went back to Cisco Beach, and went back to working the shoreline. On my third cast I had a sold hit, but I missed my set. he hit again, and this time I got em! I had a solid fight on my hands, but if felt different than the cutty I caught the previous day. A rush of excitement came over me as I got my first glimpse of what was on the end of my line. It was the fish I had come for! Another minute passed before I netted my first Bonneville Whitefish. There's nothing in the sport of fishing that makes me happier than catching a new species. I felt a "mission accomplished" vibe come over me as Roger snapped a quick picture before releasing the fish back in the water. I was able to land one more before we called it quits. Roger's back was bothering him, so he didn't do a lot of fishing on this trip. He usually out fishes me when we go cat fishing, so maybe he was just trying to let me win one.
If you plan a trip to catch these fish, use 1/8-1/16 oz jigs tipped with a worm or use size 0 or 1 spinners and spoons. White was the color that worked for me on the jigs, but other colors known to work are black, orange, and chartreuse. Let your jig bounce the bottom as you reel it in slowly.

Roger trying his luck at catching a Whitefish.

A nasty snow storm making it's way down the lake to greet us.

My first ever Bonneville Whitefish.

Another species knocked off my list!
 We headed for home, and met the snow storm through the first pass between Bear Lake and Logan. It slowed us down some, but the roads weren't too bad. Along the way, I saw a sign that caught my eye, so I had to stop and see the site. It was a little spring called Rick's Spring just off the road. When we got to Logan we stopped at the prominent landmark which is the Logan LDS Temple completed in 1884. It is an awesome looking building. It's crazy to think it was built with hand tools. After that, We stopped at Bluebird Chocolates. They will be celebrating their 100 year anniversary in 2014, and it is their chocolates that help me bribe my wife into letting me fish all the time. Do yourself a favor and order the cherry cordials and english toffee. It will change your life!
The rest of the drive was a snowy mess. It took an additional two hours to finally make it home. We plan to make the trip again in another month or so when the Bear Lake Whitefish and Bonneville Cisco spawn. These fish are also only found at Bear Lake.

What a difference a day makes.

Apparently this is my spring...

A view of Rick's Spring tucked away in a shallow cave.

The Logan LDS Temple.

Bluebird Chocolates; one way I bribe my wife into letting me fish all the time.

November 21, 2013

Cooper Tires Discoverer AT3's Revisited

Well, it's been a little over two years since I partnered with Cooper Tires to test out the discoverer AT3 tires. I've traveled thousands of miles through several states looking for new areas to fish. They've taken me from from the red-rock trails in northern Arizona, through much of Utah, and all the way to the Magruder Road that cuts across the untamed wilderness of northern Idaho. Without a doubt, these tires held up to every challenge they were faced with, regardless of the conditions!

A memorable experience where great tires paid off happened when my brother and I hit the Boulder Mountains in southern Utah. We were on the hunt for trophy brook trout. If you've been there, you know how bad some of the roads can be. One such road, I had to have my brother spot while I inched my way over large rocks up steep terrain for a few hundred yards. The tires gripped, and never slipped, although I was still a little nervous.
For a comprehensive list of all the features and benefits of the Discoverer AT3 tires, click this link, or you can click the Cooper Tires logo on the right side of the page under recommendations. I am going to be switching these tires out soon, and you can bet that I’m replacing them with another set of AT3’s. If you are looking for a tire that will handle both highway and off-road adventures, give these tires a try. I doubt you’ll regret it! You can find my original review here.

November 19, 2013

A True Work of Art

As you've seen in previous posts, I targeted kokanee salmon (landlocked sockeye) pretty heavy a few months ago. My goal was to catch a big spawning male so I could get a replica mount done.  A lot of research went into finding the right person to do this mount, including craftsmanship, turn around time, and price. I found several people that fit one or two aspects of what I was looking for, but one person met all the criteria.
Skips Carving is out of North Carolina, and he hand carves and paints each piece that he does. I gave him a few pictures and measurements to go off, and he did the rest. He truly creates a work of art, not just a run-of-the-mill fish mount. I received my mount earlier this week and couldn't be happier with the results. If you are looking to get a replica mount done, check out Skip's page to see all the different species he's done. He's easy to work with, and does an incredible job. You can see the progression of my mount below.

November 18, 2013

Another Report From the Weber

The browns are still very active on the Weber. They are in full spawn mode, so be extra careful when walking the river so you don't walk on any beds. They took Jigs and Rapalas.  I was able to catch quite a few browns, but nothing too big. The weather was perfect, and all-in-all it was a fantastic day on the water.


November 5, 2013

Fishing and Friends

This past weekend, Kevin and I headed out to the Weber to catch some fish. We have been friends for several years, but this was the first time we had fished together.  It was also Kevin's first go on the Weeb. We arrived at the river early, and the fishing was a little slow starting out. As we made our way up river, the fishing seemed to pick up. By the end of the day, we were getting fish out of just about every hole.
It was amazing to see the browns jockeying for position on their spawning beds. You could see them splashing around up river, and their wake as they cut through the shallow water. At times, there were beds in such shallow water, that their backs were out of the water! It reminded me a lot of fishing for salmon in Washington.
We were extra careful of our footing as we made our way along the river, as to not step on or disturb the beds. We picked off fish from several holes, and were able to land several quality fish. The fight that a feisty brown gives will never get old! It turned out to be a great day, and I'm looking forward to fishing (or hunting) with Kevin again soon.
Almost to the net!

A nice 20 inch Weber brown.

Kevin with his first fish from the Weber!

Feed me!

A stout brown that slammed Kevin's offering.

This brown was quite acrobatic, jumping several times out of the water.

November 4, 2013

Snapshot of the Week Contest Winner

This past Saturday, I found out I won KSL Outdoors Snapshot of the Week contest. You can see the video here. Below are the pictures I submitted. A big thank you to KSL Outdoors and Camp Chef for the honor.

October 29, 2013

Road Trip

Road trips are so fun! I just got back from helping a friend move from New Jersey to Austin, Texas. We took the southern route though 12 states, 6 of which I had not visited before. Along the way, we stopped at a few historical and sports related sites. By far my favorite stop along the way was Mount Vernon; the home of George Washington. It had a reverence about it. My favorite room had the original game table where several of our founding fathers would sit and play cards. It was surreal to walk through the home our our first, and greatest President.
As we traveled, we also tried to eat at as many Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives or Man vs. Food locations we came across. Needless to say, I'm sure we ate our body weight in delicious BBQ and other tasty treats. We also visited many university sports complexes where many classic games were played. Here are a few pictures of the trip.
Mount Vernon; the home of George Washington. It's one of the neatest places I have ever visited.

A view of the Potomac River from the back patio of Washington's mansion.

Hallowed ground.

George Washington's Tomb.

Inscriptions carved into George Washington's tomb by soldiers during the Civil war.
Michael Jordan's old stomping grounds. 
Duke's historic basketball venue.

Bull Durham! Hit the bull and get a free steak!

Wahoo Tacos from Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte, NC. I must try if you drive through the area.

Role Tide!
I bought a duck call, Jack!

Cowboys stadium is unreal!

This is the hall where America's Team takes the field.

We tossed the football around for a good hour after the tour.
The Texas State Capitol Building in Austin. It's 50 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol Building while every other state is 50 feet shorter.
The Grand Canyon from 30,000 feet.

One of the best views I've seen on a flight.