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beergear

Tomorrow is the annual Beer & Gear event over at Pack & Paddle.  This is always a great event to see the latest in outdoor recreation gear.  The craft beer from across the US is a plus too.  It brings two of my favorite things together so I’m hoping I can slip away and head across the Atchafalaya Spillway.  It’s from 5-8pm so if you’re anywhere near Lafayette tomorrow evening, be sure to head over because you don’t want to miss it.  I hear the big raffle this year is Steve Lessard’s kayak from the 2016 Hobie Fishing Worlds event!

With Beer & Gear tomorrow, that also means it is the start of demo season.  On Saturday Pack & Paddle will be doing a kayak demo from 10am – 2pm over at Vermilionville.  Acadiana residents – head over there if you’re interested in trying out the latest kayaks.  Also on Saturday, if you’re around New Orleans, Massey’s will be holding their first demo day of the year at Bayou St. John, which will be from 10am – 3pm.  The location is across from Cabrini High School, 1405 Moss St.

It’s that time of year, there’s no excuse if you’re in the market for a new kayak or have been wanting to try out the new models not to head out to a demo.  They are free and are the best way to try out as many different makes and models as possible to see what will fit you best.  Whenever someone asks for some good advice in picking a new kayak, the best thing anyone can tell them is “demo, demo, demo”.  I’ve found it really important to try as many different boats as you can before making a purchase because sometimes which one is your favorite will surprise you.

Unspoken

It doesn’t look like they will let me embed on the site, but go check out the trailer for the film Unspoken from Living Waters Fly Fishing.   They’ve got some really incredible footage fly fishing for Rio Grande cutthroat.  I love seeing others as passionate about little cutthroat as I am and this video does a pretty good job of documenting that passion.  There is something about the entire process, from planning the trip to holding the fish and experiencing them in their native environment that really resonates with me.

 

On day two of our trip we set out to fish an old favorite blueline.  It is one of those rare creeks that has all three wild trout species in North Georgia, so catching a slam was a possibility.  We’d have to cover a good bit of water though to do it and to do that you’ve got to hike a good bit on the trail.

Much like the creek at the cabin, the water here was low and clear as well.  The action wasn’t as hot and heavy as at the previous small stream, but I found it fished pretty well with an oversized stimulator.  These wild trout are very opportunistic and won’t pass up a big meal.

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Tree cover on these small streams has never been a problem in the past, but it won’t be long before it will start to be.  Damage from the hemlock woolly adelgid was very telling, I saw a lot more sun shining on the water than I use to, those big hemlocks won’t last long without some help.

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As we moved up the creek we started gaining elevation, the water plunged over a series of falls and we quickly transitioned from rainbow trout water to brook trout territory.  I caught a brookie that had been washed down below the barrier, soon after that they were the dominant species.

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The big pools that normally produce multiple(or bigger) fish were mostly a bust, but I did find one pool that yielded three brookies for me and the biggest on the day.  These little natives are a fun fight on lightweight glass rods.

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We hiked out from there and headed on into town to quench our thirst and meet my parents.  No brown trout were caught on the day, so the slam was a bust.  In fact I don’t think a brown trout was caught at the cabin either, which is pretty rare these days.

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Blue Ridge is turning into quite a happening little place with three breweries now and multiple fly shops.  It’s a great town to head to if you want chase trout and drink beer in North Georgia.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve got out and waded a local creek with the fly rod, so I did just that this past Saturday.  Ever the explorer, I hit a stretch of creek I’ve never fished.  In fact I’ve never really thought much about fishing this stretch until they recently opened a park along it.  I didn’t think it would be much different than other stretches of the creek I’ve fished or some of the creeks I’ve fished in the past but I was wrong.  This one was much tougher.

Most of the creeks I wade around here have big sandy spoil banks and shallow riffles that connect them, making wading a breeze.  Quicksand is about the only thing that can slow you down.  In fact, unless you get hung up structure or a tree on the other side you rarely have to wade deeper than your knees.  This one wasn’t like that.

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The hike in was fairly muddy and full of these guys.  Most you could avoid, but some had their webs a bit too low for comfort, so careful tip-toeing was required to negotiate around them.  I know they’re harmless, but they’re still a big spider.

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Then I cut through the woods, navigated my way through briers and poison ivy (I made a poor decision that morning and chose shorts instead of pants), then amble down a 20-30 foot muddy bluff face just to access the water.

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I caught a fish and took a picture just in case it was the only one I caught on the day.  Usually the wading part is no big deal once I get to the water.  Not here though, the bottom wasn’t as hard as the others, the water clarity wasn’t as pretty as the others and it had spots that seemed deeper than the others and soon enough I stepped off a mud ledge into a hole up to my chest.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that, glad it was super hot out.

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The wading wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the multiple downed trees that forced me to go up and down the bluffs just to get around them. Eventually though the wading got easier and of course the fishing picked up.

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Then it became a longear-fest.  If it wasn’t for the early bream and the world’s smallest bass that’s all I would have caught.  They were very aggressive, in full spawning regalia.

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I probably only covered 3/4 of a mile in five hours and didn’t catch anything bigger than my palm.  Scouting trips can be like that though, you really don’t know until you go.  Well now I know and I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Still beat sitting at home though.  Fishing trips always do.

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On April 1st the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Trout Unlimited unveiled their state’s version of the Cutt Slam program made popular by the Wyoming Game & Fish Dept. for the state of Wyoming, with the launch of www.utahcutthroatslam.org.

Here’s a brief description of the program from the site and a video:

“The Utah Cutthroat Slam is a way to have an angling adventure and support our native trout legacy. For jut $20, you can register to embark on the challenge. Money raised will be used to help fund native cutthroat trout conservation projects across the state. Can you catch and release each of the four Utah cutthroat trout subspecies in their native waters?”

 

Cutthroat trout are beautiful, live in pristine environments and are the only trout native to Utah and much of the Rocky Mountain region. Help Trout Unlimited and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources protect this natural treasure.”

 

 

It is very similar to Wyoming’s cutt slam in that you just need to catch the four native cutthroat species of the state in their native waters, document it, and submit that documentation to them.  Utah goes a step further and requires you to register first and asks for $20, which is totally worth it, as $19 of that $20 go toward conservation projects.  It’s really a win-win for everyone.

To get your cutt slam started in the right direction, a map of the watershed areas where you can find each cutthroat species has been provided (embedded below) along with the attached note:

“This map shows general watershed areas where native cutthroat trout occur across Utah. Each shaded area represents the range one of the cutthroat subspecies, which you can determine by color. Use this map as a general guideline to find where cutthroat might be found. This is fishing; there are no guarantees. More research regarding access and specific fishery regulations should be done.”

 

I really enjoyed participating in the Wyoming cutt slam last year.  It was fun doing the research and even more fun putting that research to work and catching each cutthroat species in the span of five days.  I’ll definitely be throwing the Utah cutthroat slam on the short term bucket list, what great motivation to get back out West and toss dry flies to hungry trout.