Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fishing for a Bonneville Cut Throat, The Second of My Quest for the Cut Slam Award, 2015

At our first stop, George and Val had caught and released their Bonneville Cut Throats, (also called the Bear Lake Cut Throat). So arriving at a new stretch of water, the rest ate lunch but I chugged some water and then took off for a nice looking spot.
Making my first cast a large cuttie rose up and took my parachute dry fly. I set the hook and fought the fish for quite a while before the hook pulled free. Another cast and another cut was on. This was a smaller but still nice fish, however it also came off as I was reaching for my camera. Soon I was on a third one but it made a quick release before I could snap an image.
Disgusted I headed downstream, where Renita was patiently casting a grey mosquito. I suggested she switch to a parachute dry, and made sure she had two of them before I headed further down stream. George and Val were both at the next hole and I could see that they both were smiling.
Of course they had caught and released more Bonnieville's but it was no surprise. George is the best nymph fisherman I have ever met, and at age seventy nine can still lay out the line. Val, his wife is the best dry fisher person I know and they compliment each other while arguing endlessly over the merits of wet versus dry.
I decided to walk downstream to the next bend, and worked a couple of ripples to no avail. Going to the next set I made a couple of casts before a small Bonnieville rose and slurped the dry fly. I fought it in and took a quick picture before I gently released it back into the stream.
Wading a little further upstream I made another cast and caught another cut. Two more holes and two more cut throat's all allowing me to take their image before I safely released them into their home.
Now it seemed simple and the jinx was off. I walked back upstream and just missed George landing a fifteen incher. He caught it on a giant muddler minnow dry. It was one he had tied years ago, and to me at least it resembled a mouse. As I watched him throw it out another large cut came up and took it but he somehow missed the hook set.
Further upstream I met Val and Renita. Renita was learning the tricks of her new five weight rod and was getting the roll cast down perfectly. However the fish had quit biting and so we decided to head back upstream to a place where flooded beaver dams prevailed. There the fish were plentiful but between the still water and banks of willows fishing was almost impossible.
Deciding to call it a day, we headed back home. It had been a great day on a new stream. If you ever want to catch a Wyoming Bonnieville Cut Throat, try Smiths Fork or Salt Creek. Notice I am not telling you which one we fished. Clear skies.

The Bonnieville cut throat was originally in Lake Bonnieville, now the famous salt flat. The remnant lake is called the Great Salt lake, and the trout only survive in a few of its tributaries.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Floating the Salt River, from the Narrows to the Diversion Dam, 2015

After several weather delays the kayak group was finally able to float the Salt River. The morning was cold and cloudy but the rain held off as we unloaded the kayaks and moved vehicles to the take out point. The days float was from the Narrows to the Diversion Dam, a planned float of about two hours.
I had floated the stretch before, about two years ago in our canoe, and I was excited to see how our shorter kayaks would perform. On that float I had paddled alone but today Renita, Val, and about twenty others would join us in a day of excitement!
After launching the group quickly spread out and soon Renita and I were by ourselves. Fish were taking flies off the surface of the river and I wished I had brought my fly rod. Soon however the river entered a stretch of meanders and it became impossible for me to fish.
Meander after meander passed as the river sometimes divided into three channels. This forced us into making snap decisions as to which route we should take. It was Renitas first time floating this stretch and she did an admirable job of staying away from the strainers.
After floating under the third bridge the river became a twisted series of tight bends! Even though we were in shorter kayaks, Renita’s is ten feet and mine is twelve, we still were caught by eddies and had our yaks turned one hundred and eighty degrees. This ran us aground and necessitated us pushing off, sometimes backwards, before quickly rotating and heading the bow downstream.
Several times Renita’s kayak brushed into overhanging trees but she was able to avoid going over in the fast and cold water. Well done Renita! We stopped and rested several times, discussing our strategy, and several other members of the group caught up with us.
Some of the group had been grounded on shallow spots and one had capsized, having to swim to recover their kayak. It had warmed up to fifty four degrees and I was glad Renita and I stayed dry. We reached a high rounded hill and I knew the take out point was near.
Rounding a bend we could see Val waving us over to the take out point and we were all smiles as we had successfully floated the Salt. The river was higher than during my previous float and much faster. Some of the group had finished it in one and a half hours, but Renita and I had lazed in several stretches as we watched for birds.

All in all it was great day for the newly formed RV park kayak group. A special thank you to Cindy and Bruce for organizing the expedition! Clear skies

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Truck Repairs, Rocks, Fishing, and a Show at the Barn

We had a nice dinner with Matt and Patty and then drove back to our place at Star Valley. That evening we packed up our jewelry and prepared for the Arts and Craft Fair at the Barn! It’s the RV parks annual show and while it’s a small one it still gives us a chance to show our work to our friends.
After the show was over we drove to our friend Vickie’s house to celebrate a birthday only to discover coolant leaking onto the ground. Returning home, after eating birthday cake and ice cream of course, I parked the truck and decided to wait till the next day to hunt for the leak. Filling the radiator I saw the fluid start to run onto the ground.
Not being able to see where it was coming from, I then called our emergency towing service. They located a dealer able to work on the rig. Monday morning we provided entertainment for our neighbors as the tow truck loaded the truck onto a trailer, before delivering it to the repair shop in Afton.
Luckily the repair was just a broken hose on the EGR and a couple of hours later we were back on the road. We were so lucky the hose hadn’t ruptured up the four wheel drive road to Green River Lakes. Otherwise we would still be there!
Tuesday was a planned fishing day and we drove up the Greys River in search of cut throats. The Little Greys had dropped six inches and was devoid of large fish so we stopped and fished new water. I was about to start looking for rocks, in other words fishing was slow, when I decided to try a big hopper dry fly.
Two cast later and I was fast onto a fifteen inch cut throat! Luckily Renita was able to capture a picture of the fish, as I safely released it back into the stream. I wanted the image as its one of four cutthroat species, here in Wyoming, and catching and releasing all four earns one a Cut Slam Award from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Having a day to relax, we actually played some pickle ball and finished up some jewelry orders. The next day we got a phone call from an antique dealer in Afton, who wanted us to come over and check out her rock collection, (we had bought a nice piece of fossil stromatolite, (fossil algae), from her the week before).
While she didn’t have any rocks we needed, (do we really need rocks?), her son stopped by and asked us to look at some of his rock collection. Driving to his house we searched through two large barrels of rocks and found some nice petrified wood. Of course we just had to have it and now we have a large collection of Blue Forest/ Big Sandy, Wyoming petrified wood.
More did happen this past week but this blog is already too long and so I will save the rest for another entry. Suffice it to say that there just isn’t enough time to do everything we want to do! Don’t laugh to hard, it’s a common complaint of retired people!

Clear skies

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Day on The Green River, at Green River Lakes

We have been blessed to have visited so many beautiful places. Some are where the wild things are and some are in crowded cities, but all have one thing in common. Each place has given us, a moment of peace.
Of all these my favorite place is up the Green River, a place called the Green River Lakes. Here the Green River pours out of its source, Lower Green River Lake, starting its long and sinuous journey to the Colorado River, where their waters combine before trying to reach the sea.
Renita and I live one hundred and twenty miles from this place and so we decided to spend a night there. Unfortunately rain moved in and so our trip became a one day picnic as flash flood warnings had been posted.
The trip over was about three hours, of which the last eleven miles took an hour of that time. Rocks, bumps and even a little mud slowed us to a crawl as we followed the river upstream. Making the last turn the rain increased and hid the view of the beautiful alpine valley.
Driving downstream we found a nice pullover and stopped to eat lunch. The rain became a few scattered drops, for a little while anyway, and so I forgot about lunch as fish were feeding on top of the deep but still water. I cast a stimulator and then switched to a mosquito as the fish fed next to my fly but refused my offerings.
Finally, I tried on a fly called a parachute and the fish attacked it like me going after a plate of beignets,(Sorry but I made some this morning). Still I missed fish after fish, until I finally succeeded in setting the hook. It fought hard in the deep water, before I was finally able to reach down and gently lift it up. It wasn’t a trout at all but instead a mountain whitefish!
Now I really don’t care what I catch and soon I caught another, releasing both unharmed. They have a tiny mouth and so they are hard to hook. Meanwhile the rain stopped for a bit and gave us a partial glimpse of Square Top Mountain and the Wind Rivers.

More dark clouds threatened and so we cut our visit short. We were due to meet Matt and Patty at their house for dinner, not very far away. There we talked about our day and enjoyed a great meal of shrimp alfredo, (Patty is an excellent chef). Already we both want to return for a few days, now if the weather will only clear up!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Renita’s First Trout on a Fly Rod, Mountain Wildflowers, and Bees

I was pretty disgusted. After fishing pocket after pocket of good looking water I had not set a hook on a single fish. My setup was perfect, a gold beaded hare nymph with a copper john trailer. Starting to look for rocks, I decided it was too early to quit fishing and tied on a dry fly selecting a green bodied elk caddis.
Casting it by the large rock, it floated through the deep hole and nothing happened and so I cast again and again. On the third cast the largest cutthroat I have ever seen slurped the fly off the surface and turned sideways as I set the hook. Its color was incredible and as the current caught its deep body it swam downstream. I tried to follow it as I knew I didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell to land it where I stood.
To celebrate the Fourth of July we had floated the Salt and decided that the next day we would fish the Greys River and Little Greys River. Heading through Alpine quickly brought us to the confluence of the two streams and before long, Val, Renita and I were wearing our waders and casting into the stream. Renita had never fly fished before and so Val had volunteered to act as her mentor.
 Never having used a fly rod before she missed two fish as she tried to set the hook and then wind them in. Val explained to her that you should use the line and not reel and before the day was out I heard her yell for joy as she landed her first Fine Spotted Snake River Cutthroat, (released unharmed).
Heading downstream I encountered a field of wildflowers. Purple and red fireweed, along with white death cammis, phlox(?), Mountain blue bell, and many unnamed others shared their beauty. Stopping to take some images I felt my ear burning as a bee decided I had intruded in its territory and stung me. I stopped what I was doing and hurried back to the truck for some ice to stop the pain and swelling, (Hmm our neighbor and blogger, John, had arrived the day before and I wondered if I had acquired his streak of bad luck, Just kidding John).
I hiked back upstream to find Renita and Val and told Val she should try the rock where I had lost the big cutthroat. She finally headed up to the point and as I watched the big fish appeared and took her fly! She had as much luck as I did and we talked about the chances of actually landing such a large fish in clear fast moving water, (we were using a two pound tippet).
The promised storm clouds finally arrived and thunder and rain drove us back to the truck. What a day, Renita’s first trout on a fly rod, having a huge fish on, and the beautiful fields of mountain wildflowers.

On the way home we called our friend George to brag about the fishing. We probably shouldn’t have done that and I hope he doesn’t drive to fast, on his way up here. If you want to see the flowers now is a great time! Clear skies

ps I used our small camera so the flowers colors are pretty poor. I need to head back up there with the good camera.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Floating the Salt River, From the Creamery to the Swimming Pool, 2015

The rivers have been high and muddy, so I have been putting off a float down the Salt. When our friend Sharon mentioned that her sisters were going to raft the Salt I jumped at the chance to accompany them. Renita wanted me to test the level and check for any new strainers, (trees that fall in and pose danger to floaters), and so she volunteered to drive the truck and pick us up after the float.
After several delays, we finally pushed off and headed down from the Creamery road landing. I went first and stopped at a strainer, just in case it posed any problems to the sisters. I could easily locate their raft as their laughter reminded me of a group of girls, all having a great time!
Soon they appeared and while they brushed the strainer only one fell off but it was into the raft and so all was well. It was obvious that the raft was actually maneuverable as Sharon’s daughter, Angie was at the oars and skillfully avoided obstacles, (we only encountered one strainer and one piece of barbwire fence that posed any difficulty).
Realizing that the river was fast, meaning it would be a quick float, I decided that I would try my hand at fly fishing. The trouble was that I only had one fly on my old rod and so I was limited. Still I cast but to no avail.
The sisters disappeared from view and so I hurried to catch up, which was quite easy in my kayak. We kind of yo-yoed, down the river with me getting ahead to fish and then them catching up and passing me. At one point we passed a fledgling golden eagle, perched on a post, who sat there for quite a while before flying to the top of a nearby tree.
Horses and cattle grazed along the shore and one cow waded in the river in an attempt to escape the biting deer flies. This is definitely a river from which you don’t want to drink the water, and a recent study highlighted the problem of contamination, (from both cows and some housing subdivisions).
At one point I actually missed a nice hit, but it didn’t matter as the float was going great. I passed a yellow warbler and a flock of American Avocets. Rafting and kayaking often allows you to get close to wildlife as they usually don’t see danger coming from the water.
I called Renita after the second passed takeout point and as I neared the Swimming Pool takeout Vickie and her were already waiting to help with the landing. It’s extremely muddy at the takeout and true to form Vickie had already gotten stuck before losing her balance and falling into the river.
The sister’s raft appeared and they struggled to cross the current but Vickie was far enough out that she managed to grab their line. Again the mud nearly claimed another victim, but with a little help, and a long oar, she was able to free herself from the muddy problem.

We all had a great time and I can’t wait for our friend Val, who is bringing her own kayak from Colorado. Renita is also excited now that she knows the water has receded enough for a safe paddle. It only took a couple of hours, which was still enough for me to get a little sunburn in spots I missed with the sunscreen. Oh, and I never did catch a fish even though the water was clear, but it’s not the first time I have been skunked, nor I am sure, the last.

Clear skies

(a note to myself, the water level was at 741)