December 4, 2014

Thanksgiving Adventures

Turkey day is always a favorite of mine. It's a time when most of the family gets together, and good times are had by all. This year we met at my brothers house in Page, AZ. It was so much fun hiking around and seeing all the kids have a great time together. Pictures simply can't do justice to the spectacular views that are offered when hiking the trails. I can't imagine there are many places like this in the world.

On the drive home, my wife and I took a detour to check out Bryce canyon. This was the first time my wife had been. It was great seeing her reaction as we walked up on the first overlook. I literally heard her let out a small gasp as the view took her breathe away. We did a really quick trip to see some of the major overlooks, and we are planning a trip back down in the Spring to do some hikes.
Glen Canyon Dam

Yoga with a view.

Kings and Queens of the hill.

A view of the Dam from the bridge.

A view looking down on the Colorado from the bridge.

Exploring one of the many trails around Page.

The only thing brighter than the red cliffs that surrounded us.

Horseshoe Bend.

What a view!

Looking out over Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell.

Chelsea's first trip to Bryce. Made the stop on our drive home.

Bryce is one of my favorite parks. 

December 2, 2014

Silver Lake Hike

My wife and I recently made the 2 mile hike to Silver Lake up American Fork Canyon. The weather was perfect for November with sunny skies and a slight breeze to keep you cool while hiking. I have made many trips to this lake over the years. It's usually decent fishing for Brook Trout, and an occasional Grayling. This was Chelsea's first trip. 

When we made it to the lake, I was surprised to find it full. The lake is usually a puddle this time of year. We took in the views, and I fished for about a half hour, before making our way back down to the truck. This is a great little hike if you only have a few hours and need to get a nature fix.

November 9, 2014

Burbot Wrangling at Flaming Gorge

This past week I took a day off work in the hopes of catching one of the last remaining species in Utah that I haven't caught. Native to Wyoming, Burbot were illegally introduced to Flaming Gorge 15-20 years ago. There is a catch and kill policy in place for them now, and there are Burbot tournaments held yearly with the Burbot Bash being the most popular.
The first view of the Gorge heading toward Buckboard Marina.
This was my first time going after them, and I booked a trip with Ashley Bonser with Addictive Fishing to increase my chances. I had followed Ashley for a few years where he's made several appearances on TV shows like Hooked on Utah and KSL Outdoors. I was excited to learn first hand the techniques of catching these fish.

A view from the ramp at Buckboard Marina.

Ashley and I were treated to a spectacular sunset as we started fishing.
I met Ashley at Buckboard Marina which is on the Wyoming side of Flaming Gorge.  We headed out around 5 pm. The fishing started out slow, but picked up some as night fell. Ashley taught me what to do and how to rig up, and a short time later I had my first hit. They hit once, and then your rod will load, that's when you set it and forget it. They fight similar to a catfish where even the little guys are fun to catch. Burbot are on the bottom, so you want you jig 1-4 inches off the bottom at all times occasionally jigging you bait. We fished in 30-40 feet of water.

While jigging for Burbot, I got a few surprise Kokanee Salmon that were on the bottom spawning. There are two spawns at the Gorge. An early and late spawn. The early spawn koke's run up the tributaries to spawn while the late run koke's spawn in the lake. I released the two Salmon I caught after a quick picture. They were a great bonus to the trip.

My first ever Burbot! Another species down.

Hen spawning Kokanee caught while going for Burbot.

Buck Kokanee.
In all, I landed six Burbot and two Kokanee. It was an absolute blast, and Ashley taught me enough that I think I could come back up once the ice is on, and catch a few on my own. Ashley also showed me how to clean the Burbot, and taught me a lot about what their diet consists of and where the best places are to catch them. I am definitely planning another trip with him next year, but we'll target Kokanee or the famous giant Lake Trout the the Gorge is renowned for.

Five of the six burbot landed.

The two biggest of the night.
Ashley also taught me how to properly clean the Burbot.

He showed me what this Burbot had been eating the past few days.  Looked like Crawdads were on the menu.

October 30, 2014

Looking for Gold in the Sawtooth Wilderness

This years "Brother hike" took us to the Sawtooth Wilderness of Idaho. I made a pit-stop in Twin Falls to check out Shoshone Falls. It was impressive, but I'm guessing Spring is the best time to go based on water flow.
A view of low run-off at Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls Idaho.
We made it to the Queen's River Trail head Monday to rainy conditions. We took a quick nap until it stopped raining to begin our hike. Full disclosure, I was in no way in shape for this hike, and my body let me know that very quickly. I really slowed our usual pace on this trip. My brother on the other hand, could out-hike a mountain goat, but he was patient with my progress. Along the trail were several wolf tracks, one as big as my hand! We never heard or saw them though though out the trip. There was a major fire last year that ravaged the lower country of the hike. I can only imagine what it looked like before. We camped along the trail the first night. The rain and my being out of shape slowed us down.

Let the hike begin!

The aftermath of the fire they had last year.

Giant wolf track on the trail.

A few Spruce Grouse. There were 6 babies with their mother.
We finished the 11 miles to our destination at Johnson lake. This would be our home for the next week while we day hiked to other lakes to fish. Johnson lake held small Westslope cutts and some unexpected football Rainbows. They made for great dinners each night. The Rainbows put up fantastic fights, and busted me off a few times. The views from the lake were breath taking. Pictures never do justice to being there in that moment.

15 inch Rainbow. The lake was full of these footballs.

Contemplating dinner.

Trout always taste the best when you're on a hike.

Johnson Lake
The next day we hiked over the The Hole that held small Westslope cutts. Jason picked off one after the other using dry flies. We then headed to glacier lake to go after what we came for; the beautiful Golden Trout. In my opinion, there isn't a more challenging or better looking trout species out there. You almost always have to put in a good hike to even get to pristine lake that hold them, and then you have to figure out what they want. Glacier Lake was no different. It was slower fishing, but we bother managed to catch a few. Jason caught several more than I did. He figured out the fly they wanted and had several hook ups back to back casts.

Jason struck gold first.
One of only a few Golden's I landed.

Glacier Lake
 Jason took off the next day on a 14 mile hike to several other lakes around the area. He caught several fish and said there were Golden Trout in a few of the lakes. I stayed back and fished Johnson lake tangling with the rainbows, loosing another lure. Jason made it back and we decided to hike out. We made great time getting back to the truck. It was interesting see wolf tracks that covered our tracks just a few day earlier. On the drive down along the Boise river, I noticed huge piles of rock along the banks. Jason told me it was slag from strip mining decades before. It was unbelievable how much of that river was destroyed.  The river is healing though at least, and even bull trout are starting to show up in more numbers.
As much as this hike reminded me that I need to get in shape, it was still a great experience. There is nothing like being in the back country enjoying the solitude that comes with it. Now it's time to get my butt off the couch and get in shape for next years hike.
Piles of mining slag along the river. This place was simply gutted!