Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fish Lake and Boulder Mountain Fisheries Management Surveys

Braden's first tiger trout!
Happy Memorial Day!

I want to start out by thanking all of our Veterans for their service to our country!  I know of a few folks that view our blog that have served in our nation's armed forces, and we thank you for that service!  We owe our rights and privileges to you!  I know Memorial Weekend has become largely about spending time with family and friends, and many of us head to the outdoors over this period of time to make that happen.  As you do so, or as you reflect upon the weekend's fun, I ask you to take a second and think about those sacrifices made that allow you to enjoy your way of life!  We are fortunate to have public lands, have the rights to take fish and game from those lands, and to wield firearms and gear to make our outings possible.  We are indeed greatful to you for keeping our nation strong and free.  We continue to thank those that are in service now to keep those privileges ours.

We've had a couple of great weekends ourselves!  Last weekend we traveled north to the Roosevelt/Vernal Utah area for a wedding.  While there we were able to take in Dinosaur National Monument for a bit.  I wish we would have had more time!  This is a huge monument that we were only able to see a fraction of.  We took in the Dinosaur visitor center and quarry site, but this immense monument stretches into vast canyon country and mountain areas of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, following the Green and Yampa rivers for miles and miles.  Maybe when we have more time, and our fishing poles of course!

We didn't really have major plans this weekend, due to a few problems and tasks needing attention at home, and illness in the family.  However we were about to slip up to a nearby Boulder Mountain lake to get in a few hours of fishing!  We were rewarded by seeing my oldest son Braden catching his very first tiger trout!  It wasn't a huge fish like tiger trout often grow to be, but the main point is the boy was able to catch this beautiful fish all by himself!  He found the spot and the tactic that was working for the day, when we watched others on the lake get not even a bite!  That fact may have got to his head just a bit, but it's amazing to see his confidence grow along with his joy for fishing as things are looking up for him this year.  I'm glad I took him on that spring Lake Powell trip that has dramatically turned his thoughts of fishing completely around!

Speaking of fishing and the Boulder Mountain, here's some important news I want to share.  This goes right along with the idea of public lands being ours, and living in a great country where we can enjoy these rights.  The Utah DWR is seeking YOUR opinion regarding how the management of Boulder Mountain, Fish Lake, and Redmond Reservoir fisheries!  Here's your chance to complete a short survey where you not only are able to select from choices, but to also leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas on the management of lakes in those waters and areas.  Please do your part while you have time, follow this link and fill out the survey  Please share it with your friends as well!  You will also find a general 2014 fishing management survey as well.

That's all for today, but I'm excited to say we are compiling a great list of posts to share in coming days, as well as some news that is big for the staff of SUH&F this year!  As a good friend of mine often says, "Big changes are coming!".  

If you have photos of your spring turkey hunts, fishing trips, or family outings over the Easter/Memorial weekend period, we would love to see them!  Please feel free to share them on our Facebook page, or email them to us at

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013 Shed Photo Contest Results!

Back in March we started this exciting journey, collecting your shed photos about as soon as they started to drop and displaying them on our Facebook page and here on the blog.The comments and participation by everyone has been exciting to follow as well.  Speaking of comments and "likes", Spenser Owens of Panguitch, Utah picked up the first prize of our contest a couple of weeks ago, the $50 credit to the Phone Skope store!  He gathered the most likes in the album for the first photo submitted to the contest.  Way to go!

 It has been great to watch these photos come in, and to be honest, it has made me quite jealous as I have not been able to get out much myself this spring with work, school, and coaching baseball!  I know there's still some out there though, and I'll be getting some time back soon!

I know the wait has been long awaited, but once again it took our judges a little time to go through the photos and come up with their overall favorites that will be awarded prizes!  Just like our "Bucks, Bulls, and Fins" contest back in December, our judges once again had their work cut out for them with so many great photos submitted!  I want to thank our judges once again for their time, and offer up a HUGE thanks to all those that participated in our contest!  And where would we be without our amazing sponsors?  Thanks to Vortex Optics for donating the grand prize, the 8x42 Diamondback binoculars, Phone Skope for the $50 store credit, and Dixie Gunworx for the Magpul sling.

Now, here's our top 10 entries!  Keep in mind all of these photos came out very close in the judging.

Number 10:  Derrick Barnson

 Number 9:  Tyler Gower

Number 8:  Carson Gubler

Number 7:  Spenser and Zach Owens

Number 6:  Canyon Owens

Number 5:  Spenser Owens (again).

Number 4:  Shane Shakespear

Now on to our top 3, the prize winners!

Number 3:  Kayden Behling

Our judges loved this picture for the size of this set, the amazing backdrop, and the excitement on Kayden's face as he poses with this nice set of elk sheds.  For third place, Kayden picks up the Magpul gun sling from Dixie Gunworx!

Number 2:  Derrick and Jared Woolsey

This find is about as unique as they come by!  Jared sends us this twisted set found by his brother Derrick Woolsey.  This one is a one of a kind find, and leaves a lot to the imagination.  The judges were really taken by this one, something you may never see again!  Second place nets the Garmin Rhino GPS unit, sponsored by us here at SUH&F!

Number 1:  Our grand prize winner is...Phil Nielson!

This photo was an instant favorite of our judges!  This is what shed hunting is all about here, early season, some snow still on the ground, getting boot tracks out in the hills early on!  Of course, one major draw to this photo for our judges was the seriousness of this young man as he hauls in this big elk antler.  He's all business, isn't he?  We sure enjoy seeing photos of the next generation of outdoors men and women out and about it!  We had a lot of photos that highlighted this idea throughout the contest, and we admire our viewers that are starting 'em young! 

Phil is the winner of the Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars!

Congrats to all of our winners, and to those that were almost there we want to thank you for making this contest a close one!  For those that didn't make the final cut, please know all of your photos were great!  I wish we had a prize for everyone.  We greatly appreciate everyone that participated in the contest.

Winners, please send us a Facebook message, or shoot us an email to with you contact information (addresses) and we will get the information to the sponsors so you can collect your prizes!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Springtime Success!

Hello everyone, man, I have to tell you May is off to a great start for many of our viewers!  I've been excited to open email and to log on to Facebook this week to be greeted by quite a few amazing photos submitted by our viewers.  Now I'm just hoping that I can get out there and get in on some of the action myself!  This fits right in with our recent posts on how good of a year it should be at Panguitch Lake and the recent success at Navajo Lake!

So enough with my rambling on, check out these photos recently submitted by viewers!

Ryan Dastrup bagged this beautiful tom this weekend, in fact on Mother's Day.  Helped by hunting partner Spenser Owens, they called this tom in and brought him down.  In Ryan's own words, "I didn't screw up this morning!".  Great job bud, what a great bird!

Turkey hunting can be very tough, but success has been high this year.  I don't know if anyone has made it look easier than Zach Owens did, however.  Zach tells us that this bird gobbled right outside of their camp while they were cooking dinner, and he was able to slip out and call the tom right in!  What a great bird, and it doesn't get any better than having the family there to be a part of it!

The Owen's boys have had a good deal of success this year!  Check out these brown trout that Zach and his family got into a couple of weeks ago!

We aren't through with that Owens success yet!  Check out this set of sheds that Zach shares for us, found by his brother Spenser Owens.  What a set!

Now back to fishing!  Toby Gutierrez tells us that Wide Hollow fishing is still great this spring!  Check out this nice catch that just took a few hours!

Zachary Christensen also sends us a couple of photos of beautiful fish caught recently in a southern Utah stream by he and his girlfriend.  Man, a girl that catches fish like that has got to be a keeper bud!

Finally, we will end things with sheds.  As we do so, for those that are anxious we are nearly finished judging those photos submitted in our shed photo contest.  Hang in there, we should have an announcement soon! 

One look at this picture makes me wonder how did this bull end up in this situation?  I sure would have liked to see him when he was still packing, lucky for him he was able to drop the tangled mess of wire with his antlers! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Panguitch Lake Survey: Great Fishing Awaits!

Panguitch Lake has been a hot spot for anglers from all over the state and region over the past 5 years or so, receiving a lot of attention from the new bounty of large fish with the removal of Utah chubs a few years ago.  The introduction of cutthroat and tiger trout has helped boost that popularity, along with excellent opportunities to catch larger rainbows!

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technician 
Josh Verde holds a 25-inch, 5.6-pound cutthroat trout caught 
and released during the trend net survey 
at Panguitch Lake on May 7, 2013.
The first few years after the lake was treated to eliminate the Utah cubs, a slot limit was enforced in order to help grow and retain larger fish in the lake.  At the time, all fish between 14" and 22" had to be released.  Today, that slot limit is still enforced for cutthroat and tiger trout, but the slot has been removed on rainbow trout to allow more opportunity for anglers to keep fish.  The slot limit did the job; now it is very common to catch several fish over 18" during an outing!

Mike Hadley with the Utah DWR shares with us his report of the recent gill net survey of Panguitch Lake.  The report is good news to anglers, and looks like good news for years to come!  Here's Mike's report:

During the annual trend net survey at Panguitch Lake on May 7, 2013, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources found good numbers of rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as a few tiger trout. 13- to 18-inch trout were abundant in the catch, while a number of larger fish were also observed. Big fish for the day included a 25-inch, 5.6-pound cutthroat trout and a 28-inch, 7.7-pound tiger trout. This whopper was the largest fish seen in the netting surveys since the fishery restoration project of 2006. The other good news from the survey was that no Utah chubs were caught. Fishing from shore and boats is fair to good right now and this should continue through Memorial Day. 

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources hatchery technician Ryan Josie (left) and aquatic invasive species technician Breann Clark (right) show off a couple of fish caught and released during the trend net survey at Panguitch Lake on May 7, 2013: a 28-inch, 7.7-pound tiger trout and a 20-inch, 3.4-pound rainbow trout.
I know many have been eager to see this report this year, and your wait will not disappoint you!  It looks like another great year to catch a lot of fish, with the possibility of catching some very large fish!  When you do, send those photos into us, let's see how you did!
Thanks again Mike for sharing your report with us all here at SUH&F!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Navajo Lake Spring Fishing

Spring is an amazing season in Southern Utah!  OK, maybe apart from the weather that will change daily as Mother Nature just can't seem to make up her mind.  While shed gathering and turkey hunting are popular draws to the area, ice-off fishing reigns as king when it comes to spring time outdoor activities in Utah's mountains. 

While we often hear of the early success on lakes such as Fish Lake, Otter Creek, Minersville, and Panguitch Lake, Navajo Lake is rarely if ever included on that list.  This year is one of those years when it is easy to get written off.  A rupture of the dike that crosses the basin drained a large amount of water off a couple of years ago, which was followed by drought years that left little water in the lake over the winter.  With the introduction of splake however, fish have been able to hold over through the low water years providing excellent spring fishing opportunities.  Check out this report from DWR fisheries biologist Mike Hadley:
Dale Hepworth of Cedar City holds a 
24-inch splake that he recently caught from
 shore at Navajo Lake.

The ice has come off Navajo Lake east of Cedar City in southern Utah. Access is good and, yes, there is some water left. In fact, the water level is rising about two inches per day thanks to snow melt. Over the weekend Richard Hepworth, Stan Beckstrom, and others reported fast fishing for splake. Lots of fish in the 16- to 20-inch range are being caught, as well as a few exceeding five pounds. This is the simplest form of fishing you can do. All you need is a rod, a hook, and a few night crawlers. First, use the night crawlers to catch a couple of Utah chubs. Then, cut the chubs into golf ball-size pieces and use those for bait. When fishing for splake in the spring look for deep areas in the lake that transition into warm, shallow areas (this is where the chubs are hanging out). Hook the pieces of chub meat (called “cut bait”) on a large hook (size 4 or bigger), making sure to pierce the skin so that the bait stays on the hook. The bait should provide enough weight to cast with; if you feel like you need to cast further, add a sliding weight so the fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the bait. Throw out your bait and wait. Move your bait a little occasionally as splake will frequently bite after they see movement. If you don’t get any bites, move to another spot. This technique can work well at any lake that contains predatory trout, including splake, tiger, brown, or Bear Lake cutthroat trout. The best fishing at Navajo Lake is right now: you only have a few weeks before splake will get tough to catch. Look for the rainbow trout fishing to pick up around Memorial Day.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Stan Beckstrom shows off a big splake, estimated at over five pounds, that he recently caught from shore at Navajo Lake
 With fish like that I hope I can make it up to Navajo Lake very soon!  If you happen to make it there be sure to send us some pics!

With our shed photo contest coming to a close, stay tuned as we will soon be posting the winners of our amazing prizes!  The photos are just going into the judging phase now, I can't wait to see our winners.  Thanks to all that entered.