Sunday, January 23, 2022

Utah Cutthroat Slam

 Utah Cutthroat Slam

Utah is home to four species of native cutthroat trout the Yellowstone, Bonneville, Bear River, and Colorado River.  These four species live across Utah in their native ranges.  By registering on the website and paying a registration fee you are good to go.  The website provides maps and info what drainages you can find each species.  After consulting with fellow WVAngler member Jeff Creamer and a few awesome friends along the way I put a plan of travel and fishing in order and prepared to become the second person from WV to accomplish the task of the slam.  Utah is not a state that comes to mind when a lot think of fly fishing destinations but the variety and areas to fish are phenomenal, not to mention they have one of the best fly shops in the country in Fly Fish Food.  After mapping some locations and going through the Utah Cutthroat Slam website a plan was mapped out.  I started first with the Bear River Cutthroat around Logan which has became one of my favorite Utah cities that offers some amazing food one of my favorite restaurants Sabores and their peanut butter burger.  The drive down Logan Canyon is amazing the sites are incredible.  I hit the upper section of the river and lost several little cutthroat but finally in a pool I had a Bear River Cutthroat Trout in hand and the slam was started.  Next stop was the Raft Mountains and in search of a Yellowstone Cutthroat.  These streams were some of the most challenging waters I have ever fished in my entire life.  The stream was ditch like with vegetation all around.  The thought of actually finding a trout in these conditions yet alone land one had me worried.  First few pools nothing and spirts was getting low then I found a nice pool.  There wasn't many in this creek but the next thing I knew was fish on.  No picture of this one or the next one so the slam couldn't be completed. I decided to camp out on the stream rest it and give it a shot in the morning hoping to be able to cross the Yellowstone off the list but morning brought no fish.  Deciding Arizona was still the destination I decided to keep moving.  Next stop up was the Bonneville just outside Salt Lake City.  After being in bumper to bumper traffic it was nice to hit the stream and be out of the concrete jungle but strange to fish for wild trout so close to such a major city.  I had been warned this stream was tight and bow and arrow casts and short rods were the go to which I was prepared for as I had been using my Vandallia Rodworks 6'6" 3wt bamboo rod made by Phil Smith in WV.  In no time I was into a Bonneville Trout.  This stream was a different experience bikers flying on the downhill, families cooking out, just people all over and even a $3 access fee to the area.  I decided I'd give a shot at the Colorado after a fast rain storm but knew I didn't have a ton of time cause I had to move on.  Fished a little bit with nothing so I was sitting at 2 of the 4 native cutthroat for the challenge.  After another month I got the truck packed up and headed back out to complete the challenge. First stop was the Yellowstone and looking for redemption.  I hit the same spots I had moved fish earlier but nothing in this small stream. After talking to a friend I decided to move to another stream and give it a shot there in hopes of crossing this off the check list.  The first spot I noticed several fish but it was a such a tight window and they were spooky.  Moving up I ended up crawling up to locations combat style and after drifting through very small sections I managed a few fish.  After a couple pictures I was back in the truck headed to chase some Colorado Cutthroat and listen to some WVU football on the way.  With the go to fly in hand and more time on my hand my hopes were high but glancing at the radar I need thunderstorm warning and wasn't feeling great about my chances since this location was well off the beaten path.  I decided to wait it out at the top of the mountain then give it a go.  The go to fly paid off and in no time my Colorado was in hand and the challenge was complete.  Utah offers so many different opportunities for native fish in about any type of water you can imagine was truly and awesome trip and challenge.  

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 Year In Review

 2021 was an eventual year on the waters.  Travelled over 10,000 miles with a fly rod in hand, fished in 6 states, caught 15 different species on the fly, including 3 new species to the list, and completed another native trout challenge.  West Virginia provided some great floats with good friends chasing smallmouth bass and floating for musky on the fly.  Pennsylvania as always brought some screaming steelhead trout in the Erie tributaries.  Utah brought multiple trips and lots of miles chasing 4 species of trout and some of the most challenging waters I have ever fished.  Wyoming as always is such an awesome state full of wild trout and scenic beauty you can't help fishing and traveling in and around.  Arizona was a state that caught me by surprise a state you think of as being desert and dry offers so much potential and some unique fisheries you really will not find anywhere else.  New Mexico was awesome remote and didn't offer nearly enough time to explore.  I am always reluctant to set goals for a fishing year but I always look forward to spending time on the water with as many friends and new friends as possible.  This year I fished a lot solo but if it wasn't for so many awesome people and advice it would have been a crazy struggle I couldn't have conquered the miles and fish I did if it wasn't for them.  Looking for to 2022 and visiting even more states and crossing off a few more new species I didn't get to catch this year and finishing up a few more challenges.  Looking forward to a year spent on the water hopefully with good friends and tons of fish!  Here is to a great 2021 on the waters of the US!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Wild Arizona Gila Trout

 Gila trout is one of the rarest trout in the United States.  You can find them in the wild in only two states New Mexico and Arizona and in very few streams due to habitat loss and other factors.  When you think of Arizona you do not a lot of times think of a trout fishing destination but a lot of times you think of a hot desert area or the Grand Canyon even.  Arizona offers a unique opportunity at not only Gila trout but also wild Apache Trout which you can only find in the wild in Arizona.  Arizona currently has only two streams open to fishing for wild populations of Gila Trout.  I had been trying to make a trip to Arizona for years after my cousin moved out there and the talk of Gila and Apache had me more curious than ever and the chance to catch this wild fish in native ranges made it even more exciting.  Then Mogollon Rim area is a rugged and challenging area not only for a vehicle but for a hike as well, you definitely have to be prepared before an adventure. With lots of great local advice I was off not sure what I was prepared to encounter but ready for adventure.  The drive in wash rock crawling, mud filled, and filled with awesome sights.  Pulling up to the location you are at first taken back to see this area no flowing water and wonder are there really these rare trout here.  After a nice hike in and a change in the landscape an oasis of cold water and native fish are eagerly waiting.  Throwing on a tiny dry fly I was met with several small Gila Trout that were happy to take the fly.  The image of them was even more awesome than I first imagined such a cool native fish that many do not have the opportunity to appreciate in the wild.  Another species I was blessed to able to cross off the list and another state of the list as well.  Thanks to all those who protect and restore these amazing fisheries in Arizona.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Why I Fly Fish

 "Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

Everyone’s reason for going fly fishing is different.  I once had a person tell me I fished to much and why did I do that.  For me fly fishing is part of my life.  It’s where I’ve found my best friends in life.  Its a place where it can take you to explore some of the most beautiful spots on this planet with rare and threatened fish that will humble you that your able to pursue.  For me the friends and the fish and the places are an amazing bonus.  The quote by Thoreau could mean something so different for everyone.  I remember being interviewed by a news channel on the stream in the 90s and they asked why I fly fished, I kinda got it then that many years ago,  yes I love traveling chasing native trout in places like Wyoming and Arizona and sharing the water with so many great friends and landing countless fish.  Looking back at that interview and the quote by Thoreau I can see now what I never realized at an early age when I said it helps me deal with things in life just how true that statement was for me.  Fly fishing truly for me is about so much more than the fish it’s about my mental health.  I remember my Uncle years ago giving me a talk about what surfing did for him in chasing big waves like pipeline and back door and he said then do the thing that gives you that feeling and enjoy it.  Fly fishing helps me escape the stress and worries of life, gives me a place I can have a quiet talk with God, helps me deal with the problems of the world, and truly helps me be a better person in life.  Yes it’s great to catch fish but it’s so much more,  Mental health is something we need to to take more seriously in this country.  There is a reason there is projects like Project Healing Waters for veterans, Casting For Recovery for women with breast cancer,  and The Mayfly Project for kids.  Fly fishing is therapy for so many it’s amazing what time on the water will do for a person.  So the next time you say to a person you fish to much realize for them it may be about more than the fish.  Find that thing for you that heals your mind body and soul and take time to escape to it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Fly Fishing Christmas Gift Ideas!

2021 Christmas Gift Ideas!

Lots of great Christmas Gift Ideas for the fly fisher in your life.  Always remember to check our your local fly shop or small business!

 Vedavoo Spinner Daypack 

One product I never leave home without is the Vedavoo Spinner Daypack.  Scott Hunter has created an awesome product that is completely made in the USA and perfect not only for fly fishing but all outdoor activities.   Check out some great made in America products that not only is built by hand with amazing durability but also very functional.

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Everyone likes to get that picture of a beautiful native trout.  Catch cam gives you that option with their camera mount that allows for an easy shot for the catch and release angler that allows the fish to stay in the water longer or the whole time.  Made in West Virginia.

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Scientific Anglers has partnered with artist Matthew Stockton to create a couple new awesome hats a Smallmouth and Brown Trout.  

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One of the most solid wading boots I have tried.  Designed not only for comfort but also amazing durability.  Works great for the long day on the water or the hike into the backcountry.
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Nice lightweight hoodie to wear on the stream or off.  Perfect for sun protection or the hike into the backcountry.  
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One of the best places to find your fly fishing hat needs!  Rep Your Water offers an awesome WV Brookie design that's perfect on or off the stream.
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An awesome new book by Jake Villwock from Relentless Fly Fishing.  Covers everything that those amazing bronze backs eat!
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Cliff Fly boxes done by Ty with Sharpie that looks amazing in any fly fishing room or will be the envy on the stream.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Wyoming Cutt Challenge

 Fishing challenges have caught my attention the last year or so and I have looked into several challenges in the west including the Western Native Trout Challenge.  After looking at countless maps ,several informational websites, and the help of several friends Scott Hunter for Wyoming and Jeff Creamer for the Utah challenge.  I had my goal set really high to accomplish the Wyoming and Utah Cutthroat Challenges.  After a long solo roadtrip and using great directions I pulled into the East Fork of the Wind.  The water looked in great shape and no one was around.  I had my mind made up I was going to complete this challenge using just my Blue Halo 3wt fly rod. On some streams it would be a little under gunned but my heart fully is with a 3wt I could own 20 different 3wt rods and still need another, they just have a feel when in your hand and the full flex just makes the rod come to life.  I quickly strung up a chubby and hoped for some top water action.  The wind was pretty tough and nothing was happened quickly tied on a dropper and found fish fast and often.  With the first day and the first fish the Yellowstone Cutthroat under my belt I felt pretty confident I could complete this challenge still. 

 After Scott calling in and giving me unreal directions for another spot just off the Snake River I was on the water again.  Not the biggest fan of bears and after seeing several sign my head was on just a little bit of a swivel.  Went with the hopper dropper again at first and moved nothing new water is always a challenge but you just look for the holding spots like you would in any stream.  So I finally go back to my trusty favorite fly the classic woolybugger and wham a trout hookup in no time so I am feeling good well the feel went away fast after a long distance release.  After a little longer on the stream and I am feeling this may not be possible my unicorn could be the fine spotted snake river cutthroat trout.  After sleeping on it and doing some sight seeing the morning I decided to try some headwater stream but road work didn't allow for that so the morning was in disarray.  Found another stream and again no cooperative trout.  After a few miles on some of the Wyoming back country roads I finally end up on North Cottonwood Creek and found an easy pull off.  Strung up the dropper hopper ring and had a fish on top water in no time.  A nice Colorado River Cutthroat trout so now we have 2 out of 4 challenge fish so maybe we have at least a shot to complete this part of the journey.  Fished a little longer down the stretch and several more chunky little fish took the dropper before we packed up and headed to our next destination.  

After an awesome scenic trip over the pass I end up on the upper stretch of the Greys River.  Again since it has been working and I found some nice runs I am thinking dropper hopper rig again and we are in good shape.  Moved one fish but not really a lot of action.  So tried another spot that had some good structure and a deep pool so again when all else fails went back to the old reliable black woolybugger and hoping the dream would stay alive.  After a few casts wham and this time there was no long distance release a snake river cutthroat was in the net and we are finally at 3 out of 4 so the challenge is still achievable.  After some more fishing and more snake river cutts back into the car and onto another stream to try and finish this challenge. 

 It was getting late and I considered giving Salt Creek a shot before dark but slide into the campsite and hoped for better luck in the morning.  The sun was out the hope was holding on so walked up to the little trib with a yellow humpy and a nice beaver pond and the Bonneville were more than eager to take the fly with one in hand the challenge of 4 native Wyoming Cutthroat trout was complete and another 4 new fish to add to the species list.  

With some hope still alive I decided to hop into the car and try another state and hopefully another milestone.  So packed up and went south into Utah.  The water was running good in the Logan River and I threw all I could think of at several different spots but for me this day the Bear River Cutthroat were not willing so the drive into Logan and over a Guy Fieri approved peanut butter burger decisions had to be made stay on course head through Utah and push on or head back to Wyoming and enjoy some more fish and views of the Snake River area.  I headed back north to enjoy more of the awesome state of Wyoming.  Challenges are awesome but sometimes the biggest challenge is the ones we give ourselves.  Until next time Utah will still be calling looking forward to marking another challenge off the list!

Friday, September 11, 2020

WV Trout Management Plan

 Lots of great things are being done in the Mountain State and our DNR is doing some of that with an awesome new Trout Management Plan.  I’ve had the very fortunate opportunity to represent the people of WVAngler at these discussions with a diverse group of individuals.  I’ll hit some of the highlights in discussions right now but as always I welcome your feedback as I am a voice for you.  Lots of great ideas coming from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and being sent to the Technical Advisory Committee.  This as a whole would be great for everyone lots of possibilities and opportunities in this state to improve on making things better!  

Funding, Investment, and Capacity 

-Lots of discussions on finding projects from stocking to habitat projects and land access.  Working at more ways to generate funding to be able to provide more of these options mentioned.  

-Diversifying and  Enhancing Public Fishing Access

Need for more access spots and keeping areas cleaned and enhanced.

- Habitat 

More habitat wild trout, improved water quality, reconnecting headwaters, and identifying restoration projects.  Habitat has been one of the big discussions as you clean the water and improve habitat everyone wins no just the trout and fishing but everything downstream.

-Diversification of Stocked Trout Opportunities 

One very big thing was delayed harvest discussions that would give everyone a chance to use the resource.  Increased fingerling opportunities.  And the increase in events like gold rush which has been good getting kids and others involved. More diversification to possibly extend fishing seasons.   

-Enhancing Native and Wild Fisheries 

Protecting and enhancing.  Working on habitat to enhance fisheries.  Understanding the threats they face better not only as managers but fisherman.  

-education and youth information 

Getting kids more involved in fishing.  Better communication with public on things DNR is doing or involved in.more education to the public as a whole on things like fish handling and importance of wild trout.