Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Carp with a Bat

Utah Lake is an extremely prominent feature of Utah County.  When the pioneers came into this valley Utah Lake was a pretty, fresh water, clean lake that was filled with fish that were tapped into as a resource to help provide food for the new settlers.  There were thousands of pounds of fish taken out of Utah Lake in the yesteryears.

Over the years with the addition of mud, waste and pollution Utah Lake lost a good deal of its pristine beauty.  Somewhere along this process someone introduced carp into the lake.  They are not a native species but they thrived and grew into the millions.

I have many memories of going to Utah Lake during the spawning season and the carp would be all over in the rushes around the edges of the lake.  They would also be in the rivers feeding the lake and sometime so thick you could almost walk across on their backs.

Utah Lake is pretty consistent in the level that is maintained in the lake.  There has been a time or two, though, when the level dropped very low and also the opposite has happened and the level of the lake has risen sometimes to overflowing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moon Lake has Ground Squirrels

Last Month we spent a couple of weekends at Moon Lake in the camp ground.

We camped right next to some friends who are the campground hosts there this summer.  One of the things we noticed very quickly was the small wildlife.  The humming birds were almost like mosquitoes, they were everywhere and not just a few but all over.  The feeders that were out would have 4-5 hummingbirds on them at a time.

The ground squirrels were almost the same.  They were everywhere.  While Dan and I stood talking two of the ground squirrels climbed right up the stairs to the screen door on the trailer and were just leaning up against the door trying to see in through the screen.

One of the nights we were cooking dutch oven food and decided to ask the friends if they wanted to join us and share in the food and they accepted the invite.  

As we were sitting by the fire talking while the food cooked we could look right over into the areas where our friends trailer was parked and they had things fixed up like a little patio.  They had a cover for shade and a table and chairs.

It was only about 30 feet from where we were to the trailer and as we sat there Rachel suddenly asked what the deal was with the watermelon.  There was a watermelon sitting on the table outside the door and it was rocking back and forth.

We went over to see what was happening and found that there was a ground squirrel behind the watermelon pushing it trying to get it to roll off the table.  On the ground right below was another waiting as if he was going to catch it.

It was just like a Chip n Dale cartoon.  It was absolutely bizarre.  If that watermelon had rolled off and hit that squirrel on the ground I doubt he would forget it very soon.  The worst part is we did not have a camera.  I wish I had a video of that.  It would be priceless.

I really do think that these squirrels have spent too much time in a campground around people.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Fly Fisherman, Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff was a man who loved to fish.  He also loved to hunt and to be out of doors.  He fished with rod and tackle but he even talks about catching fish with his hands also.  It could rightly be said he was an avid fisherman.

Then in 1833 Wilford came into contact with Mormon Missionaries and found something he had been searching to find for a good number of years.  He joined the LDS Church and became a fisher of men along with fishing for fish.

It was not long after he joined the church and he received his call for his first mission.  I say first because he served many missions in spreading the Gospel.  His first mission was to the Southern States and not long after that mission he was sent to the Fox Islands and he records good success in his fishing for men and also for fish.

In the years following he served several missions to England where his success as a fisher of men was phenomenal and while in England he was introduced to fly fishing.  That was something he had not encountered before and it so fascinated him that he spent as much time as he could learning, practicing, and become proficient  as a fly fisherman.

Something I found very interesting is the length of the rods that he talks about.  Those in England he associated with were using 10-12 foot rods and sometimes longer.  I have been fly fishing since I was about 10-12 years old and I was using an 8 foot rod to begin with and then went to an 9 foot on this last one I bought and I thought that was long.

However it is much easier working and throwing the line with the 9 foot than with the shorter rods, I am not sure if that is the length or the quality of the rod.  Anyway he was using longer rods and brought several of them home to this country with him and he used them as often as he could.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Provo River

There are multitudes of stories to be told and sometimes I have a hard time focusing on one or two and trying to tell it.  One usually leads into another.  Something that has a deep meaning for me are my memories from the times when I was growing up and they keep getting in the way.


One of the things I loved to do was to go to the Provo River, sometimes, other times it was very frustrating.  That was all dependent  on how cooperative the fish were because we were generally there to fish.

The Provo River has always been a good sized river, at least the lower Provo.  It was usually a good river to fish and it produced some very good sized fish.

A number of years ago the Division of Wildlife Resources decided to make the Provo a very restricted stretch of water.  From Deer Creek dam to the diversion dam down the canyon was restricted to artificial flies and lures only and they kept the limit of fish you could take very low.  They wanted to create a premier fly fishing water and they did it.  I still fish it and enjoy it greatly but it has changed greatly also.

Back in the days we started going to the Provo the artificial flies rule was not in force and you could use bait.  We always used flies though, I started fly fishing when I was 10-12 years old and still am pretty exclusive about that and I used to do good on the Provo.  It was not always easy to fish though and could be frustrating.

Back in my young days streamers were very popular and I did quite good with them but a couple of years ago I went looking to buy some streamers and I couldn't find any even at Cabella's.  Another one I always did real well with was woolly worms or buggers and they were not to be found either.

Oh well I will have to see if I can still tie some.

The river is still very good fishing but the atmosphere has changed.  It used to be just a two lane road going up the canyon and right at the turn off for Vivian Park there was a Restaurant/Coffeeshop called the Chalet.  I used to really like to go there for breakfast and dinner also.  They served a little rib eye steak like an open faced sandwich and it was fantastic.  The best part was the atmosphere.  It was quaint and you could look right out the back to the river.

When they widened the road to four lanes they took out the Chalet and a bait shop that was there also.

I can still remember one day up there when I was about 14 and we had gone up to go fishing.  We had stopped at the Chalet for breakfast and just as we came out I noticed a fisherman walking up the river just the other side of the Vivian Park road.  He was carrying a fish and I mean a FISH!  I was a brown and he was holding it by the gills and he had to keep his arm bent to keep the tail from dragging on the ground.

It was a magnificent old brown trout that he had caught and it weighed 24 pounds 8 ounces.  That fish hit all the newspapers and really created a stir all over this area.  Over the years I've caught 6-8 pounders out of that river but nothing like that old brown was.

That was a number of years ago but there is still fish like that in that river even today.  The fishing is different now with the traffic  from cars, walkers, bikes, all those things make those big old guys very, very wary, but they are still there just waiting for the right morsel.        

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moon Lake Resort

A good number of years ago, when I was still a kid, my family used to go to Moon Lake for a vacation each year.  We would go and spend a week or sometimes two and just relax and fish, hike and just have a real good time.  That was in the 1950's which was 50-60 years ago.

Moon Lake is a lake in the Uintas and is 35 miles north of Duchesne, Utah off of highway 40.

We would usually stay in one of the cabins, that is each family would stay in one of the cabins because there were usually 3 or more families who would go, and sometimes more.  There were a few time when one of the families would stay in the campground but we were usually staying in the cabins.

We did a lot of fishing and one of my uncles had a boat he would always bring.  My dad had a 5 hp outboard motor and we would rent a boat and fish from it.  We used to do a lot of trolling in those days.

I was very much into fly fishing from a very young age and so I always wanted to do as much fly fishing as I could.  Trolling was the choice of most of the others but I found that if I got into the front of the boat I could fly fish out the front of the boat while the trolling was going.

Another favorite for me was the beaver ponds that were just four miles below the lake.  The road passed right by them when driving up to the lake.  The ponds were right off the road just after leaving the Indian's Tribal Lands.  There is a whole series of ponds that run between the road and Lake Fork River and I always did quite well on them.

Usually I would wait until later in the summer to fish them extensively, of course it was usually later in the summer when we were up there, but the ponds would get grown in with weeds and moss and to bait fish them was a constant snag.  I could use flies though and just float them above the moss on the water and it was very effective.

In fact I caught the largest Brook Trout I have ever caught out of those ponds.  He was a 3 1/2 pounder and was a real surprise when I caught him.  However I did get several good sized brooks fishing there.  I still regret to this day that I kept them.  I should have released them and left them to fight another day---but I didn't.

It has been a good number of years but I finally returned to Moon Lake.  I think the last time I was here was about 1965-66 when the Guard unit I was in was graveling the road that crossed the Reservation.  That is at least 45 years ago.

What is amazing is that nothing has changed.  The lodge is still the same and the cabins also.  The campgrounds have been improved and expanded but the lodge is still the same.  It is like walking back in time.  There is still 15 cabins and that was what there was before.

One thing I did notice though, the water was quite muddy and had a lot of debris in it.  I was told that the reason was that the Forest Service had been removing some check dams from the streams coming from the Brown Ducks.  The dams were built back in the 30's and 40's by the WPA and the CCC as check dams for flood control but were no longer needed.

I used to fly fish the lake in the evening when the sun was going down.  We would troll up the lake and I could fly fish out the front of the boat and I used to get some very nice brown trout along on that shore.  

    It proved to be a very satisfying trip and a step back into time for me and I am glad I did not wait any longer to make the trip back.  And it will not be long before my next trip back, I still need to wet a fly in those beaver ponds!  Besides August is just next month but the meantime 'Strawberry River'!