Saturday, May 26, 2012

Early Fishing is Off to a Great Start!

Memorial Day Weekend is here, one of the most popular fishing weekends of the year!  It is no surprise to hear of very impressive fish being hauled in during this time...if we could just get the wind to let up to allow for more enjoyable conditions!  Whatever your destination, we hope you will share your pics with us here at Southern Utah Hunt and Fish (and it is totally fine to keep those locations a secret).  As for me, well, with record high fire danger conditions I find myself working all weekend.  However I did manage to get trail cams set up, so I still have something to get excited about!  Do you have your cameras set out?  Please feel free to share your finds with us here as well.

The great news is other lucky anglers have hit the water over the last couple of weeks, and we are very fortunate that these kind anglers have sent in pictures to share with us of some amazing catches!  I hope these photos get you just as excited as I am to get out to try our hand at the great fishing that is available in Southern Utah this year!  So, enough of my rambling, here's what you all came here to see!

Bransen Jackson of Kanab, Utah was one lucky guy, having been able to get out and spend nearly a full week fishing the Boulder mountain area, and a few other waters of south central Utah.  Displaying us 3 different species that he was able to bring to shore, check out these beauties that made one memorable trip for Bransen!

A sweet catch, Bransen pulled this 36" Tiger Muskie from a stream!  What a catch!

Those are some amazing fish Bransen!  Thanks for sending them in!  Bransen also tells me that he had a huge tiger trout snap his line, and saw some other huge tigers swimming around in one of the lakes they visited.  Fishing is good, someone better get out there and catch them! 

Zach Owens of Panguitch, Utah also sent us in a couple of shots of some nice brown trout that he and his group pulled in last week.  Zach reports that there are plenty more in that particular lake, and in fact he is out there again this weekend.  Let's hope he has some more photos to share next week!  Thanks Zach!

Mike Marshall of Panguitch poses with his 4.6 pound brown trout!  Great catch buddy!

Congrats on some fine fish guys!  We look forward to seeing more great catches as the summer goes on.  Be sure to check out our "Fishing Reports" tab for more information on area waters.  Also, stay tuned as Southern Utah Hunt and Fish travels to Lake Powell next weekend in search of great warm water fishing (if the weather cooperates!).  We are excited to visit this amazing lake, and we will be taking along some new additions to the tackle box courtesy of our newest sponsor, Rusty Lures.  Be sure to check them out for a huge selection of lures, baits, and fishing gear from several major brands!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fish Lake Gill Net Survey

I'm having a dilemma on what to post tonight!  I have received some awesome photos of fish from a couple of our viewers that are quite shocking!  You really need to check back later in the week when I post these awesome fish!  I had to squeeze this post in first however, as this is fresh news that I know many of our viewers will be very interested in seeing.  Mike Hadley of the Utah DWR has again provided us with the results of another gill net survey, this time from Fish Lake, Utah.  Before we begin, please keep in mind that this is not the survey that they perform to check up on the Lake Trout population, this is more for the splake and rainbows.  Either way, this is a great report!

DWR walk-in access biologist Heather Grossman (left) and office specialist Stephanie Rainey (right) show off a 40-inch, 19-pound tiger musky caught and released during the annual Fish Lake gill net survey on May 17, 2012.
"The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted a gill net survey at Fish Lake on May 17, 2012. This annual survey is designed to monitor the lake’s rainbow and splake trout populations but, at Fish Lake, we’re always prepared to see something exciting. On this beautiful spring morning we caught a couple mid-sized lake trout (12 and 15 lbs) as well as two large tiger muskies measuring 40 and 44 inches. Tiger muskies are not stocked in Fish Lake, but a few make their way upstream from Johnson Reservoir. We were also pleased to find abundant rainbow and splake trout in great condition, measuring up to 18 inches. The largest splake that we caught weighed 6 lbs – a rare find in Fish Lake.
DWR fish biologist Mike Hadley holds a 44-inch, 22-pound tiger musky caught and released during the annual Fish Lake gill net survey on May 17, 2012.
Anglers can expect a variety of quality fishing opportunities this summer at Fish Lake. Jigging for splake outside the weed line should be good to excellent until mid June. Jigging for perch and trolling for rainbows will provide steady fishing throughout the summer. During the last few years, some anglers have found success cruising the weeds and sight-casting to tiger muskies. Lake trout fishing is somewhat specialized and requires a lot of patience. Most lake trout anglers troll large plugs in deep water using down riggers. In addition, the Fish Lake area provides a number of other great fishing and wildlife watching opportunities."
DWR office specialist Stephanie Rainey (left) and fish technician Tyson Barrow (right) show off a couple 12- to 15-pound lake trout caught and released during the annual Fish Lake gill net survey on May 17, 2012.

 Now I just need to find the time to get to Fish Lake!  Check out this past post for more info on the area!
 Thanks Mike for another great report!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pine Lake: ATV and Fishing Fun!

This past weekend our family visited Pine Lake, Utah for the weekend.  Let me tell you, if you are trying to find a spot to take your family for the upcoming Memorial Weekend, Pine Lake is a great place that offers something for everyone!

The lake is located just a little over 15 miles north of the Bryce Canyon Junction, this lake sits at the base of the Table Cliff Plateau with it's stunning pink cliffs.  At just over 10,000 feet, the plateau and the Barny Top tower over the lake creating a spectacular setting.  The lake is a man-made reservoir, once used for irrigating the John's Valley area, and now is owned by the Utah DWR and is managed as a fishery.  Pine Lake is a base from which to visit many attractions of the Dixie National Forest, Bryce Canyon National Park, or maybe just to spend a weekend fishing, or to stay during a hunt.  Here's a few of the activities we did this weekend on our stay:

Fishing:  Pine Lake fishing is hot right now!  Powerbait, spinners, or flies, it is hard to keep the fish off of your line right now.  The only down side is that the lake was recently stocked with fish, meaning most fish are small right now.  We did manage to catch a few that held over from last year that were decent sized fish (around 18") and put up a good fight!  Pine Lake holds mainly rainbow trout, but has also been stocked with cutthroat trout in the past.  This is an excellent lake for shore fishing, small motor boats, and float tubes.  The clear waters make it a great lake for fishing!

ATVs:  The Pine Lake area holds several ATV trails that we enjoyed very much.  Our longest ride took us up the Clay Creek drainage above Pine Lake to the top of the Escalante Mountain (Table Cliff Plateau).  At the top, we traveled out the road to the south that leads to the stunning Powell Point.  This 10,000 foot plateau abruptly ends as 1,000 foot plus cliffs break off giving you an amazing view of the Grand Staircase country below, as well as the cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park.  This day it was a little hazy, and we had trouble seeing into Arizona as you usually can, and our view of Bryce Canyon was also not the best.  That however did not take away from the beauty of Powell Point itself, and the pine covered lands of the Dixie National Forest below the point.  Our afternoon ATV ride took us to a dead end, where a short 3/4 of a mile hike will lead you right to the top of Powell Point.  The trail is fairly easy to hike, and is well worth the time.  As far as the ATV ride, it is a very easy ride.  Beware, there is no railing on the point, so watch your footing, and keep a close eye on the young ones!

Hiking:  Though we did not hike, the Henderson Canyon Trail just southeast of the lake offers a great hike that will lead you under Powell Point, and allows you to connect to the Under the Point trail, that leads out to the Stump Springs Trailhead (about 15 miles from Escalante, Utah).  The trail is a moderate hike, and offers great views of the point.  There are also short hiking trails from the Pine Lake Campground to the lake.

Camping:  The Dixie National Forest has a fairly large campground located 1/4 of a mile north of the lake, with trails connecting to the lake.  The road to the campground is a well maintained graveled road, and access around the campground is easy for trailers on the campground's paved roads.  Water, toilets, and a campground host are available to campers, as well as a day use site, and group sites.  Be sure to plan your trip by reserving your campsite in advance!

These are just some of the activities available to you around Pine Lake.  Other ATV trails and roads offer access to the Barney Top, Boulder Mountain, and Mt. Dutton ranges.  So, if you find yourself hunting the Dutton, Boulder, or Paunsagaunt units, stop by Pine Lake, or maybe base your operations from there.  There are also several dispersed camping sites up Clay Creek and the Henderson Canyon trail head road.

Please check out this short video I put together from a few clips from out trip! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tiger Trout, and a Couple of Fishing Tips

This past weekend I was able to make my way into one of my favorite fishing waters on the Boulder Mountain, to take a shot at early season fishing for one of my favorite species, tiger trout.  While this is one of those lakes that I won't disclose the location of, I will point out that though tiger trout used to be somewhat rare in Utah, you will now find the species in several southern Utah waters including: Otter Creek Reservoir, Lower Bowns Reservoir, Piute Reservoir, Panguitch Lake, and several waters on the Boulder Mountain.  Tiger trout were just introduced a year ago to several of these lakes, so give it another year and you will see some great fish come from some of these waters.

3 1/2 pound tiger trout caught saturday.

So, what is a tiger trout?  It is a hybrid cross between a make brown trout and a female brook trout.  The fish has a dark maze-like pattern all over a brownish, gray body. The belly is yellowish orange as are the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. The tail fin is square.  These fish have an appetite for other fish at a young age, and because of this appetite they tend to grow very rapidly.  You will find this predatory fish cruising shallow waters where a lot of other species will not as they prey on smaller species.  Because they feed so well on smaller species, wildlife managers stock these fish into lakes where it is necessary to control populations of problem fish species, such as the Utah chub, and areas where lighter fishing pressure allows some trout species to populate rapidly.  Being a hybrid species, these fish do not spawn (or very rarely do by chance), being sterile do to the hybridization of the species.

If you have never hooked a tiger trout, you are missing out!  I have never caught a tiger trout that hasn't given me a really good fight!  Through the ice, on a fly, or caught on a nightcrawler, these fish will give you one great fishing experience! 
The fight is on!

On Saturday I was lucky to hook a big tiger in very shallow water.  This fish was amazing!  The second I set the hook he took off and I realized quickly that I needed to adjust my drag to avoid him breaking my line.  The reel was singing for sure, and as I fought this fish it reminded me of watching bass fishing on TV!  This guy was jumping, rolling, and pulling line like crazy!  As he wore down I attempted to land him in the best spot that I could in a weedy area.  I could not reach far enough to get a thumb in his mouth, and for fault on my part, I left the net home!  So, what could I do?  I had to grab the line to pull him onto shore.  I pulled him from the water, a beauty for sure!  No doubt over 25" long, and weighing 5-6 pounds!  Then fate took over!  The line snapped, the fish hit the ground, and before I could scoop him up he flopped back into the lake.  So, fishing tip #1 for the day: be sure to check you line before you go fishing!  This was the first fish I hooked that morning and that line snapped so easy!  Upon further inspection I found that I could break my line by hand fairly easy.  I'm not sure how he stayed on as long as he did.  So, I pulled off about 30 feet and got back down to good, strong line.  Now problems the rest of the day, even with the 3 1/2 pounder I caught later on.

Panguitch Lake tiger caught through the ice
I'm not a fan of replacing line every year, but some people are.  I find if I strip several feet off (the line exposed to the elements) line buried deeper in the reel is fine for another year.  So, I replace every 2-3 years this way.  Anyway, it's up to you how often, just make it a point to inspect before you go, and loose the lunker as I did!  I'm now going to set up a day before I go every spring (and winter for ice fishing) to inspect all of my fishing gear.  Remember to grease those reels to!  Take care of that investment for sure!

Tip #2: don't be afraid to switch up your technique!  Everyone may be telling you what is working on a lake, but fish are funny, and when I get there it usually doesn't work.  That doesn't mean I don't stop using that bait or lure, I just find another way to fish it.  With spinners, speed can be the difference between skunked and a good catch.  Change up your reeling speed, and directions until you find what works.  Presentation can be the difference between success and skunked.  With bait, try different approaches, is it better to still fish it, reel now and then, troll it along (steady reeling), or fish the top, or the bottom.  Saturday I was using the same concept (bait/lures) as those fishing around me, but I was the only one having success.  Why?  Because I found the technique the fish liked.  Also, remember your species!  Brown, brook, and tiger trout tend to feed a little more off of the bottom, but at the right time and under great conditions, they love to jump on the right fly. 

The bad part is that most of the day can be spent trying to find what works.  What worked for me was seeing that nobody around me was catching a thing, so I wasn't going to fish the same way for the same results.  Don't be afraid to try something new, just because you always catch fish doing what you have done for years.  I hope these tips were helpful, and do yourself a favor; get out and catch this amazing fish species, the tiger trout!