Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Grand Mesa Pay-Off

If you’ve been following Troutings for any amount of time, you’ve realized I like to spend a lot of time on the Grand Mesa.  The mountain holds a special place in my heart, especially this time of year.  It’s phenomenal to watch the earth transform. 

I spent a couple of days kicking around to various lakes on the Mesa.  Some lakes were familiar and some were brand new.  A couple lakes were given their last chance at redemption.  Some were a nameless hunch that paid off.  Another was a former producer that has since dried up almost completely.  The high country is always changing, and not just with the seasons.

Learning the Mesa has been a lot of work, but it’s starting to pay-off.

Day 1
My first lake was an old friend full of spunky brook trout and a few other surprises.  However, the fishing was the slowest I had ever seen it.  I was limited to one lonely brookie. 

The weeds were out of control.  I don’t know all the ins and outs of aquatic plants, but there was a lot of stuff in the water.  The visibility was rough and it was hard to find holes in the weeds.  This quickly convinced me to move on to another lake.

This lake has some big fish in it, but not a lot of people know about it.  I prefer to keep it that way.  I was completely alone in a serene place away from any road.  I don’t believe this lake has ever been truly stocked, but it’s connected to streams that are connected to stocked lakes.  There aren’t a lot of fish in it.  In fact I thought it was a dead pond until the rise of something one afternoon last year.  The fishing wasn’t quick, but it was worthwhile. 


Don’t ask me where that guy came from.  There is no record of grayling being stocked anywhere near this lake.  What a treat!

I was tickled and felt completely content with how the day was going, but the Almighty smiled on me once again.

I have been searching for a chunky brookie for the majority of the summer.  I was beginning to lose hope that the Mesa had any of the jumbos.  I was ecstatic to find such a treasure in a place that many would never even think to look. 

The few tiny guys came to hand, but the fishing eventually slowed.  I shouldered my tube and decided to bushwhack my way to another lake near my car.  The stream along the way provided a little entertainment.

I have a love/hate relationship with this next pond.  Sometimes it is absolutely on fire, while other times it is like fishing the Dead Sea.  The sun was setting and I wasn’t planning to give it much of a chance, but some of the cutts decided to play.

Day 2
Another day of fishing was granted to me so I quickly took the opportunity to check in on some hunches of mine.  The first pond was actually a lake that produced a few cutthroat last year.  However, it has since all but dried up.  There is only about a foot of stagnant looking water and a mud bog left.  Sad...but change happens.  I didn't want to let it ruin my day, so off I went to check out a few unknowns.

I’d heard good things about this lake in the past, but also heard it had died off due to drought.  I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find it full of brook trout

Some colorful guys in there too.

I actually started to get tired of catching them, so off I went yet again to search out a nameless pond that looked good from Google Earth.  It was a further hike than I anticipated…about 3 miles, accompanied with a lot of boulder hopping.  I was tired when I arrived, but saw plenty of fish.

I was content to find another decent cutthroat lake.  I couldn't believe what I saw next.

Another grayling!  Wow, the nearest grayling spot I knew of was a few miles away.  Not only was that neat, but I soon caught another.

I love when a hunch pays off. 

I have put a lot of time in on the Grand Mesa.  As soon as I think I have her figured out, she tends to throw me a left hook, but I'm learning to roll with the punches.  

It's a great feeling when a hunch pays off.  It's an even better feeling catching fish where most think they don't exist.

I was asked recently by a reader to talk about what I use up on the Mesa.  I'm really not a complicated man.  I usually carry two rods with me.  One is 5'6" the other is 6'6".  Both are light actions.  I prefer a quality rod when jigging.  Both are rigged with 4lb test monofilament.  I like light stuff for finesse.

Up here around 10,000 feet I usually stick to jigs.  Marabou is king.  I prefer a 1/16oz jig head, but have used 1/8oz as well.  Best colors are black and olive...sometime a brown.  Gulp minnows or leeches can do well at times, but sometimes are completely ignored.  I know some guys really love throwing spinners and spoons on the Mesa, but I usually don't simply because I enjoy jigging more.

If you want to fly fish a float tube will help a lot.  A float tube also increases your chances while jigging.  A lot of lakes on the Mesa tend to stunt, so if you find a lake swarming with brook trout don't be afraid to take a few home.  They're delicious fish.  

I hope that helps those that wanted to know. If you didn't care to know then I'm should of stopped reading a couple paragraphs ago haha.
Always remember life is short.  Take a risk, follow a hunch, and live life well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Energy Loop, Utah

Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to go camping with friends and some family.  We are a pretty spread out bunch and don’t get to see each other very often.  Our meeting place was somewhat in the middle of all of us and happened to be one of my favorite spots on this planet.

The Energy Loop/Joe’s Valley area is awesome.  Fishy water abounds and the scenery is top notch too.  I knew that fishing wasn’t the main reason for this trip, but I did find some time to sneak away to some of my favorite haunts.

The first morning I woke up and made my way over to Electric Lake.  This lake boasts some great fishing for cutthroat and tiger trout.  It is swarming with red-side shiner minnows.  There are some large fish roaming around, but I always wonder why there aren’t more pigs with all the forage available.

It was cold, and the fishing was about the same.  There was a storm rolling down the valley into the lake and I knew my time was going to be cut short.  As I was preparing to leave I convinced a tiger to hold on.

The weather interrupted further plans of pursuing trout.  Soggy tent camping is super fun…said no one ever.  Finally there was a break in the heavens and my brother and I decided to fish a favorite creek.  This creek is pretty small, but used to contain a ton of fairly decent fish.  There were even some jumbos thrown in the mix.

The creek has changed a lot since I’ve been there last.  Our beaver friends have been busy. There were still fish, but not like how we remembered it.  The fish we did catch seemed fairly healthy though.

More rain came.  More fun with friends was had.  Finally some of us decided to journey back down to Electric again.   Fishing wasn’t terrible.  Both cutts and tigers made an appearance.

Sambo's cuttie-

I love Colorado very much, but I miss ol’  Utah…at least both states have some great trout.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

3 Trips 4 Fish

Do you ever those days that you put in a lot of effort for fish and expect to be rewarded for it, but it never comes?

Story of my life recently…I hit up three top notch fisheries with dismal results.

I ventured up the road to the Black Canyon.  I put in a considerable amount of time at the East Portal and wound up with one fish.  Sad part is it was a nasty looking rainbow (totally not common for this river).  

Oh well at least I had some company from the locals.

I decided my Black Canyon trip had to be a fluke and after a few days set my sights a little downriver to the Gunnison Gorge.  I hiked in the gorge from Pleasure Park for several miles.  As I suspected there were hoppers everywhere.  Good thing I brought the fly gear.

I put in hours and hours…for two fish.  At least they were good looking specimens.  Plus the takes on the hoppers were really fun to watch.

I thought for sure I’d put my low fish counts to an end with a trip to the Grand Mesa.   This mountain is my bread and butter.  I had heard rumors about a remote lake filled with chunky cutts.  I put my float tube on my back and hiked uphill for a couple miles.  It was a brutal couple of miles. 

This lake is a rarity of sorts for the Mesa.  Usually if one lake isn’t doing so hot, you can drive or walk a short distance to another.  This lake however is sort of a loner.  If the fishing isn’t on…there really isn’t anything nearby to salvage your day.  Although my hopes were very high, the fish had a different set of plans.

I took the opportunity to cast a little before setting off in the tube.  A few minutes later a chubby cuttie came my way.  I thought surely this meant the fishing was going to be lights out….

I spent the next several hours without so much as a bite.

However, as I was kicking my way back to shore to make the hike back, something took my jig and ran.  My pole was bent over and drag was screaming from my reel.  I fought this thing for several minutes before catching a glance at it.  He surfaced near my tube…easily two feet long.  Upon seeing me he took another run.  The drag squealed away.  I was smiling from ear to ear.  I finally was able to bring him near again.  He was a beauty of cutt, blood red, long and thick.  Just as I was reaching for my net I watched my 1/16th oz marabou jig pop from his lip…freeing the beast. 


I know what you’re thinking; no picture, no proof.  I totally agree, but it makes for a good story.  I’m sure there will be many more hikes to this lake in the future in hopes of the one that got away.

Unless you have bad times, you can’t appreciate the good times.  These trips weren’t necessarily bad, but they did leave me longing for a bit more.  I will have a few more trips to report on here shortly.  Until then life is short…live it well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Small Packages

Good things can come in small packages.  I recently took a walk up a small stream.  There's something very therapeutic about fishing small water.   

There were some ugly finless hatchery pets.  However, the further I got into the canyon, the more wild fish I found. 

The scenery was really what stole the show.

 The pars on this guy were crazy dark.

My playground...

This doe became more and more comfortable with me.  She would stay just upstream from me for about an hour.  She actually let me get pretty close.

 Lots of beaver dam rainbows.

It was soothing to get out and walk this small creek.  Small trout bring revitalization and relaxation.

Life is it well.