Fishing Tips

Today I was thumbing through my library copy of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, and came across this list:

Fishing Tips for Parents from Matthew Louv (age 12):

  1. Fish with your kid.

  2. Let your kids go fishing, even if you don’t want to take them.

  3. Let your kids buy supplies and tackle. That’s half the fun of fishing.

  4. If your kids are young, take them to a place where fish are easy to catch and are small.

  5. Let kids fish as long as they want. Let them get obsessed.

  6. Let the kids go off and do their own thing. It can get to be incredibly annoying and/or frustrating if there’s an adult standing over them barking orders.

  7. At least pretend to act excited when your kid catches a fish. It can quickly ruin a day of fishing if the kid feels you don’t want to be there, and he’s just dragging you down.

  8. If you know how to fish, don’t give your kid too much unsolicited advice, although it can be helpful if the kid is young.

  9. Let your kid teach you how to fish; participate in the fishing. This can be quality bonding time.

  10. Remember that fishing and spending time with family is just as, or more important than, homework.

  11. Have fun; that’s the entire point of going fishing in the first place.

  12. And whatever you do, DON’T LET YOUR KID THROW ROCKS IN THE WATER!

I’m including this list for two reasons: 1) I simply think it’s great advice, and 2) I think it’s relevant information to my project with Tommy. Though, it’s going to be hard to teach Tommy that last rule. If there’s water and a single rock to found, no matter the size, he’s going to throw it in.


Little Bear River

Today I finally made it down to the Little Bear River at the very southern end of Cache Valley. I've been wanting to make it down there for some fishing for a while now, and I thought today was as good a day as any.

The Little Bear is the smallest "river" I've fished, and the fish were easily spooked. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees, crawling from hole to hole to avoid being seen by the fish. Despite all the stealthy precautions I took, I still spooked all the fish, but I still had a lot of fun sneaking my way through the water, trying to hook into the finicky fish. After about three hours of crawling, casting, and changing fly after fly, a light hatch of tiny midges broke, and the fish started rising, and I managed to hook into a feisty little brown trout. The the sun went behind a cloud and the fish and the midges were done.

After I'd had enough of the fishing, I got my camera out and photographed some of the spots that caught my eye as I made my way up the river.

This Bear is Coming Out of Hibernation

Spring is well on its way here in Logan, and Logan Canyon is following closely behind. The Logan River is flowing about a foot higher than it normally is, and the water is getting pretty murky from all the sediment and debris being stirred up by the faster and more turbulent water. I got out yesterday after work and spent about an hour fishing. I didn't catch (or see) any fish, but it was still good to get out and get my line wet. After all, I don't need to catch a fish to have fun fishing.

After I was done, I walked through a grove of trees and thought I should make a few photographs. Here are a few that I came away with:

Adventures in Rod Building

The first fly rod I ever had was one that I built myself about 14 years ago. It was pretty fun and rewarding fishing with a rod I'd built. So, I decided to build another rod this month. I either wanted to go with a heavier, longer rod, such as a 7 or an 8 weight rod to go after bigger fish like steelhead and carp, or a lighter, shorter rod such as a 2 or a 3 weight for better access on the Logan and the Blacksmith Fork Rivers. Since I spend most of my time on the smaller streams, I decided the better choice right now would be to build a lighter rod, and I had my eye on the Sage VT 2, 3 weight, and 7'9" long. I got the blank and all the components at the beginning of this month, and got to work.

In a nutshell, building a rod goes like so:
One of the first steps in building a rod is to find the spine. Then the placement of the line guides are measured and marked on the blank. Another step in the process is to epoxy the reel seat and the cork grip to the butt section of the rod. Then the guides can be placed on their marks along the blank, and taped to the rod, after which thread can be wrapped around each side of the guide. After all the thread is wrapped, thread finish (a flexible epoxy) is applied to the thread wraps and let to cure. After about 10 days, the rod is ready to fish with.
I photographed some of the steps along the way throughout the process:

The cork grip can either be bought pre-shaped, or you can get cork rings, and epoxy and shape them yourself for a complete custom grip, and that's what I chose to do (and this was the most fun part of the whole project; if you think you want a custom grip, let me know, I'd be glad to make it for you).
Here is what mine looked like right after I'd epoxied each individual cork ring together that would make up the grip:

The rings are put on a piece of all-thread, with a few wing nuts on either side, then spun in a lathe, or, if you go the cheap route like me, it's spun with a drill, using sandpaper of varying grits to shap it. Here's my grip beginning to take shape:

And here it is finished:

Before the reel seat is put on the rod, two arbors need to be made (using either tape or graphite arbors that can be bought) that the reel seat will sit on.

Here's the butt section with the reel seat and grip epoxied:

The first guide that gets epoxied to the rod is the tip top guide:

Here's the blank all marked out for the guides and spine:

And here are all the guides taped in place, and ready for thread:

Wrapping thread is probably the most tedious and probably the most critical step. Wrap it too loose, and the guides will be easier to break off and out of alignment; too tight, and they change the flex of the rod, and risk breaking the rod.

Here's the finished product:

I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and it casts like a dream, though it took a little while to get used to casting such a light and short rod. Despite the crummy weather today I couldn't stay off the river, and went up to my favorite stretch of the Logan for the rod's inaugural trip. After trying a few nymphs with a few yarn strike indicators that I'd made myself, which failed miserably, I switched to Royal Wulff. A few casts later, a good size Brown Trout rose. I missed the hook set, and I whipped the fly off on my next forward cast. I decided to put on a chartreuse Humpy, and two casts later I'd hooked into the fish:

I was just happy to be casting on my creation, but to catch a 14" brown on it's first outing really made my day.

Falls River

This weekend I got to go up to Idaho and see the family, and do some fishing on the Falls River. When my dad, brothers and I all got into fly fishing, the Falls River was the first place I remember going after we'd all gotten our rods and reels, so it was good to return after having not fished that river in I don't know how many years. And it was all made better by the fact that my dad, and two of my brothers, Casey, and Riley came along as well.
On the way to the river, we drove past this burned and collapsed potato cellar, and I had to photograph it:

The stretch we always went to along the river was under an old rail road bridge. In the years we've not gone there, the bridge has been made far safer than it ever was. There are now cable hand rails, and an even deck on the ties, so there's no more danger in falling. I kind of liked the idea of risking life and limb crossing the bridge back in the day. It kept you on your toes.

After fishing the Logan River and Blacksmith Fork all year, it was a bit of a new experience fishing such a wide river again, and it really wore my arms out having to cast so far. After a few casts and a few fly changes, I finally caught a whitefish on an X Caddis. Then a little while later, after tying an Olive Serendipity to the bend of the hook of the X Caddis, I hooked into a nice Rainbow Trout. He was in the 14-ish inch range (I really need to get a tape measure), and fought like a mule. I finally landed him, and my dad got this photo:

After we'd finished fishing, we hiked back to the car, and I grabbed my camera and returned to the river to make this photograph:

Saturday, the whole gang got together at McCowin Park in Ammon for an awesome lasagna lunch, and to take some family photographs. If any of you saw pigs flying this weekend, or saw the weather report from Hell and saw it had frozen over, the reason is because I finally made "people" photographs. This is what the Duncan Clan looks like as of October 16, 2010:

A Very Successful Weekend

Lately I've been suffering from cabin fever. With decent camping and fishing weather fading, I've been trying to get out as much as possible. Friday, I headed up Logan Canyon after work and pitched my tent along Right Hand Fork, a tributary to Logan River. I spent the evening photographing, and came away with these:

Saturday morning, I got up early, broke camp and was on the river with my fly rod at 7:30. I only saw two fish the whole morning, one of which shook itself off of my fly. After I'd had enough of not seeing any fish, fighting snags in trees, and wind knots, I put the rod away, and got my camera out and came back to this little riffle:

Afterwards, I drove further up the canyon to Red Banks, cooked lunch, and then started fishing again. Two casts after getting in the water, I had a 14-ish inch Cutthroat trout on; my first Cutthroat ever. A few casts after that I hooked into another 14-ish inch Cutthroat. A little further upstream, I saw a nice pocket that looked to maybe be holding a fish, and sure enough, the second I placed my Red Humpy on the water, a fish struck, I set the hook and the fight was on. After a short fight, I finally had the beautiful Cutthroat in my net. It was the biggest fish I'd ever caught, and measured about 16 inches. After not seeing any success at all in the morning, I was feeling pretty good about the afternoon. I continued upstream, catching a few small 6-8 inch fish, and a few others 10-14 inches. After a tippet change, I put the Humpy back on, and started heading to a hole I knew holds plenty of fish. Just a few yards downstream, I cast my fly to a small pocket, which sucked the fly under the surface a few inches. I saw the flash of a green back, and a white mouth, and set the hook. It didn't take long to know I had another big fish on. He swam upstream to hole after hole, and when he jumped out of the water, I had a good idea of just how big the fish was. He finally swam to the hole I was headed to, where I finally landed him. He didn't even fit in my net. Without a real tape measure, I couldn't get an exact measurement, but he was about 2 inches longer than the longest measurement of my net, which is (according to the specifications) 17.25", so I figure he was in the 20 inch range. I really wish someone was there to photograph this gorgeous fish, or somehow find a way for me to photograph them myself without stressing them more than necessary. After I'd landed that one, I figured it was a good way to end the day, so I packed up and headed home. All in all, it was, as the title of this post suggests, a very successful weekend.

Island Park

This weekend my ward went up to Island Park, and not willing to let the opportunity to go Home again pass by, I had to go up as well. So on Thursday right after work I pointed my car north to best place on earth. After a few hours of sleep, I got up early Friday morning and went to Big Springs to make and remake a few photographs that I made about eight years ago when I was first getting in to large format. These new ones are digital.

We all stayed at Buttermilk Campground on Island Park Reservoir, and when I wasn't casting flies on Henry's Lake Outlet or there at the reservoir, I was busy with my camera making photographs.

Blacksmith Fork Reservoir

This week I heard through the grapevine that salmon flies were starting to come out up Blacksmith Fork Canyon, so I decided to head up there this evening after work to get in on the action. It turned out that I didn't see a single salmon fly, but there were tons of midges and mayflies hatching everywhere, so I tied a pale yellow size 18 F-Fly on, and started casting. It wasn't long until I had an 8" brown on, which I landed and released. A little ways further up the river I missed two strikes on the same fly. Then even further up I hooked into what felt like a pretty big fish, but he got away. Two casts later, same thing. I hooked into it, but he still managed to shake loose.

Overall, I'm pretty proud of myself, even if I only landed a small fry.

Afterwards, I went back down to the reservoir to make a few photographs that I'm pretty pleased with:

Blacksmith Fork

Today I went up fishing in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. I've only been up that canyon once, and it was a year ago, and I really had no idea what the fishing was going to be like. It turns out it was pretty good. I stopped at a few places near the mouth of the canyon to see what the water level looked like and if there were any fish holding anywhere. Eventually I found a nice looking stretch of water. I couldn't see any fish in the water nor did I see any fish rising to any of the small midge flies flying around, and there were some Blue Wing Olive Mayflies starting to come off. So I tied on an F-Fly, and headed upstream. I saw a few fish making their way past me upstream, so I knew there were plenty of fish about, but they didn't want anything to do with whatever I tried casting to them.

After walking and casting about 500 yards upstream I came to a nice bend with a deep undercut bank, and decided to change tactics. I put on a more or less original pattern I tied up this week. It's essentially a stimulator, or stonefly pattern, but instead of peacock herl for the body with a segment of floss, I used peacock ice dubbing for the whole body, with the usually elk hair tail and wing, and brown hackle. I also tied a Copper John to the stimulator to try to get to the fish that I was sure were under the bank.

After a few casts, I missed a hard strike at the stimulator. I made a few more casts without any more rises to the stimulator, and if there were any strikes at the Copper John, I totally missed them. I then took the Copper John off, and replaced it with a CDC Caddis I got at the Snake River Fly Tying Expo a few weeks ago. Two casts later I had a fish on the stimulator. I was surprised at how hard he fought, but I finally landed this nice Brown Trout:

On my way up the canyon, I passed this section of the river just above a dam, and had to make this photograph:

I Fish Because I love To

"I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful, and hate the environs where crowds of people are found, which are invariably ugly; because of all the television commercials, cocktail parties, and assorted social posturing I thus escape; because in a world where most men seem to spend their lives doing things they hate, my fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience; because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip; because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness; because bourbon out of an old tin cup always tastes better out there; because maybe one day I will catch a mermaid; and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I supspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant--and not nearly so much fun.

--Robert Traver (a.k.a. Judge John Voelker), Trout Madness


Yesterday I went fishing up Logan Canyon again. Before I hit the river, I went to the local fly shop to get a few flies I was lacking material for to tie myself. Turns out the reason I've been having such bad luck is because I've been going too far up the canyon, and into Brook Trout territory, who, evidently, become quite lethargic and don't like to feed much this time of year. So, I took the advice of the guys at the fly shop and stayed much lower in the canyon where the Browns like to hang out. I went a little past Second Dam, and fished a while with no success, even though I could see the fish in the water. I tried a few different fly patterns, both dry and nymphs, but they still didn't want to bite. After fishing about 200 yards upstream, I went back to where I entered the river, and started fishing downstream. About 60 yards down, I a few hard rises, and after one bad cast, and then one well placed cast, I saw the fish rise. I set the hook, and I knew I had him. He (or she; I don't know how to tell the sex of the fish yet) turned out to be just a young 8 inch Brown, but after 2 weeks of no fish, I finally felt better. And I was even more happy since I'd caught it on one of my own flies. I haven't figured out how to photograph the fish I catch myself—at least the ones I don't keep—so I don't have any pictures of the fish, but at least here's a photograph of the fly I caught it on (size 18 Henry's Fork Hackle Midge):

And since I was already set up for that photograph, I decided to make another (this fly I didn't tie—it was one of the ones I bought yesterday):


Logan River

Lately I've been getting out fishing up on the Logan River after work and on the weekends, and with the change in daylight savings time, it's made fishing after work a lot more fun. Although I haven't been able to convince any of the fish to bite on the fur, feathers, and thread tied on a hook quite yet, it's still really enjoyable to be out on the river after not having fly fished in several years.

After I got done fishing this stretch of the river, I had to come back to photograph it.