Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cole Shoots the 20 Gauge

We went over the south end to look for ducks this afternoon. We fished Jackson Lake this morning, catching quite a few fish before the high pressure system moved in at 9:30, killing the fishing for the day. I wanted to give Cole a chance at glory since he didn't get to come along. We had a half dozen scouts bail on us this morning. If I'd known they weren't going to show up I would have taken Cole along. Anyway, we didn't find ducks, so Cole took the kick from the 20 gauge for the first time today. Then he hooked and lost a 12 inch Bonneville Cut right afterwards. Watch how he closes his eyes and flinches before the gun goes off. His first shot he didn't do that, but I think it kind of scared him. I hope I didn't ruin him by starting bad habits!

Fishing "The Hole" with Tyler

A look up and down Jone's Hole

Tuesday and Wednesday of this last week I had parent-teacher conferences. Because we are at the school for an extra 8 hours, we had Friday off. So, we headed to Vernal, Utah, to see Kim's brother Kyle and his family. We went to the Vernal Temple, did some Christmas Shopping and fished Jones Hole for the first time.

It snowed bad on us Thursday night, on the way to Vernal. The roads were pretty treacherous headed over the top from Manilla, Utah, to Flaming Gorge Reservoir. So, Saturday morning, when we went fishing, we were a little worried about the road over to fish, and rightly so, it was pure ice for a good 10 miles.

We left home around 8, but got there fairly late in the morning--I had to get a fishing license and with poor roads we had to travel really slow--and started to fish around 10 am. On a cold winter day the 10-2 part of the day is usually the best. But this is a spring creek, flowing up through the strata capped by the Navajo Sandstone. So the water is a warm/cool 57 degrees year round making for fantastic fishing any time of the day and giving the fish a few extra months of growth over the freestoners.

There is a state run fish hatchery right where the water bubbles up out of the earth. After running its course through the rearing and brood stock tanks, the fish-food-rich water dumps into the creek, which is loaded with cuts, rainbows, and cuttbows, along with nice browns. The stream is 4 miles long, emptying into the Green. John Wesley Powell, on his exploration trip through the area, camped at the mouth of Jone's Hole. In his journal entry for the day he mentioned eating fish from it. The first mile below the hatchery holds some huge, football shaped fish that gorge themselves on the abundant insect life and fish food that flows out of the hatchery ponds.

Tyler and I walked down below everyone else in our group of 5. We found a nice pool loaded with fish. I counted over 25 fish in the run; the average of 12-14 inches, and the biggest pushing the 20 inch mark. We fished it for over an hour, landing 14 fish between us. This video shows one of the "average" fish we caught.

We finally pulled ourselves away from this honey-hole and headed up river, hoping to fish the pocket water and small runs fast. The problem was we couldn't fish fast as we caught fish everywhere! There doesn't seem to be any spot in the river that doesn't hold fish. There are just some areas that hold more. It averages knee deep and moderately swift, with lots of great holding water.

We covered maybe a hundred yards of stream before finding another big pod of fish on a flat. I hooked and landed 6 fish, losing 5 others. The smallest was 8 inches, the biggest was 13, with most being around 11-12. One of the rainbows I hooked jumped 3 times, clearing the water by 2-3 feet. Most head down river fast, pulling lots of line and belying their size by how hard they fight. Two from this flat were browns--I think they were paired up to spawn because I pulled them off the same bit of structure in a little run just off the bank in good gravel. The rest were cuttbows and rainbows. Tyler fished up through there after I did and hooked two more fish after I went fishless for 5 casts and had decided to move on.

Just before we got back to where we left the others, we found another deep slot next to a huge boulder. Tyler spotted a big rainbow and hooked him on his first cast. Unfortunately I didn't get the hook-up on film. But the fight is fun to watch. It didn't jump once, but it used the current to pull Tyler 20-30 yards downstream. This is one of many fish Tyler and I caught today. It was a really fun river to fish. Our average sized fish was 12-14 inches, with a few around 17-18, and a few around 6 inches. We caught most of our fish on egg patterns and wore out a half dozen of them on fish.

Tyler with his catch. The batteries died just before he landed it, so I had to change them out really fast to get this shot of him with the story. Tyler learned to hunt fish today. He would spot and cast to specific fish, catching them. He nymphs SO MUCH better, and I can't wait to take him on the South Fork of the Snake River, below Palisades Dam, this spring to put the hurt on some whitefish and trout. I hope Corey comes next time!