Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canyon Creek - April 28, 2009

I decided to check out Canyon Creek today. I had heard some good things about this area. I left the house about 5:30 am and finally arrived there around 8:00 am. It’s way the heck back in the hills. I noticed another truck was parked where I was which I was surprised to see anyone there on a Tuesday. Anyway, I geared up and headed down to the creek and started working my way south, down stream. The creek was pretty shallow with an occasional pool here and there. After about 20 minutes of hiking I finally caught my first brown of the day. It was a typical 10 incher but it always puts you in a good mood. I continued on, stopping at a few pools but didn’t catch anything. As I was hiking I saw a guy in a blue shirt down the creek a few hundred yards. I didn’t pay much attention to him as I was interested in fishing this small run. I was seeing fish at the bottom. As I was wading and casting I could see more fish swirling around. Then I heard this, “Hey Steve!”. The dude in the blue shirt was a fellow blogger named Brennon (check out his blog at ). He and I have communicated back and forth through our blogs but have never met. What a great way to meet. Anyway, we chatted for a bit, he gave me some pointers and we went our separate ways.

One of the things Brennon was telling me about were these “sucker fish”. That’s what I was seeing in that run. Here’s a picture of one. This has to be the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen. And they were everywhere. I’m not sure what good they do but they can go in my opinion. I probably caught 4 to 6 of them throughout the day and dealing with them was more of a pain in the ass than anything.

I worked my way down this creek for probably about 3+/- miles. It was a long damn way. I was told that the fishing wouldn’t get good until about 1.5 miles in. That’s where the pools started getting bigger and deeper. I was absolutely gorgeous back there but I only caught a few small browns in that area. By this time it was in the afternoon, the wind was picking up and my back was killing me so I started heading back upstream. I fished my way back for about a mile with no luck. I finally found a small run under a downed willow tree that produced two more small browns.

I headed back another ¼ mile or so and found a small plunge pool. I dropped in a single Copper John and after just a few casts I got a strike. I set the hook strong but thought I was on a rock or something because there was no movement. Then my line moved to the right about 5 feet. I had hooked up with a huge fish that didn’t want to play my game. All it wanted to do was sit on the bottom. I was scared to death that I would loose this guy with a snapped line or lost hook so I let him just sit on the bottom while keeping constant tension on the line. Over the past few weeks I’ve lost several large fish by not playing them right. It wasn’t a very big pool so he couldn’t run very far. He would go to the bottom, raise up a little and move around but that was it. Eventually I tired him out and he started to loosen up. It took me about 12 minutes or so to get this guy to the net. I want to apologize to my friend Nate for telling him he squeals like a little girl every time he catches a big one because that’s what I did. You would have thought I was seven years old and wearing a skirt! He ended up measuring 16 ¼ inches and had some girth! After getting this brut to the net I quickly snapped some bragging photos, gave him a sincere thank you and put him back in the water. It took him a good 2 or 3 minutes to recover enough to swim back under the waterfall.

It was getting late in the afternoon now and I needed to get moving before darkness became a problem. While heading back I saw the biggest bald eagle that I have ever seen in my life. It was flying from treetop to treetop going upstream. I never could get close enough for a picture until he circled back and flew right over my head. It happened so fast I couldn’t get the camera ready but it was something to remember. Overall Canyon Creek was good. The hike was not difficult but it was very long. I’ll definitely come back to this area.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It Doesn't Get Better Than This!

So it’s Easter Sunday. Church is done and Lindie, Raegan, Ryan and myself are at the park walking the dog. The weather is absolutely beautiful and none of us are looking forward to being inside so we decide to pack up the truck and head north to the high country. Of course I maneuver this little trip into a fishing trip for the kids and direct us up to one of my favorite little fishing holes, Bear Flats on Tonto Creek.

We didn’t get there until about 1pm. Parked the truck and basically ran down to the creek. I didn’t even take a fly rod for myself, just a couple of poles for the kids. This was the first time the kids had the opportunity to really fish. We let Ryan go first and within just a few minutes he had one on the line. You should have seen the look on his face and how excited he was. Raegan was next and the same thing. In only a minute or two she was reeling one in too. These kids were so excited. We were dancing around and high-fiving each other like a bunch of hillbillies. Then Lindie got in on the action and the same thing. She had one on in no time. The kids took turns by one catching the fish and the other netting the fish. They caught about 4 or 5 rainbows each. They learned a little bit about how to handle the fish, take the hooks out and place the fish back in the water so we can catch them again. All in all we had a blast and I was exceptionally proud of both of them.
(<--Lindie's Fish!!!) And then….it happened. I could see a huge fish in the creek but was unable to do anything with it earlier. Lindie and Raegan walked back to the truck and Ryan and I stayed there because I really wanted that big fish. This may have been the same fish I hooked two days earlier but couldn’t get to the net. Anyway, Ryan and I messed around with this dude for about 15 or 20 minutes and finally he took the bait. He put up a great fight and I hurried him to the net. Just at that time Raegan was walking down the road and we yelled at her to bring the camera. She ran the camera down to us and we got a few pics for the scrapebook. It ended up being about 15.5 inches and was FAT! Absolutely beautiful rainbow. We placed him back in the water, gave him a little time and off he went. I don’t know who was more excited about this one. I think it was me.

After that we headed back up to the truck to have a late lunch, talk about our fish catchin’ and hide some Easter eggs. Yes, my thoughtful wife brought eggs for the kids to hide and find. I brought salmon eggs – she brought Easter eggs. Huh. So we ended up taking turns hiding and finding Easter eggs for a while in the forest and it was a blast. Except, Lindie and I kept forgetting where we hid some of the eggs and had a hard time finding them. It was a great day fishing with the kids, a great Easter and a great big ol’ fish I caught.

Here are some other photos from the day....

The End.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Red Zebra Midge Frenzy

I had a few appointments cancel on me for Friday so I decided to take a trip back up to Bear Flats. Since I planned the trip so late nobody was available to tag along with me but that was ok. A little peace and quiet by myself would be nice. I left my house right at 6am and by the time I arrived at Tonto Creek and geared up it was almost 8:30am. The weather was about 42 degrees with expected showers and wind in the evening. I figured I’d fish most of the day and head out when the weather turned bad.

I walked down to the creek and noticed that it looked completely different than it did just 2 weeks ago. The water level was really low, it was crystal clear and there was a layer of moss/algae that covered everything. This made a significant difference in the way I was planning to fish this creek. The long runs and larger pools were no longer there and the fishing spots were a considerable distance from one another.

I rigged up a black bead head pheasant tail with a red zebra midge (see photo) trailing about 8 or 9 inches behind it. I worked my way back to a pool with a good sized waterfall flowing into it. I hooked up two rainbows right off the bat and was feeling pretty good about my start. I then moved up creek about 100 yards and as I was walking next to the creek I saw something move in the water. It was a small rainbow and I thought, what the heck…flip a line out there see what happens. After getting myself into position I started seeing more fish. And then more… and more. With the help of my polarized sunglasses I found a pocket of fish that had probably 30 or 40 in it. So I flip my flies out there and boom! I was catching a fish on probably every other cast. They absolutely loved the red zebra midge. Most of these fish were in the 9 to 12 inch range but I did hook up on one that took me for a ride. It was probably 15 or 16 inches and put up a good fight. But don’t get too excited….I didn’t play the drag right and he got loose. Oh well. Actually I lost a lot of fish in that hole, but caught a lot too.

So after an hour or so of that I got bored reeling in fish after fish. (I know that may sound weird but it was too easy) Anyway, I started working my way up creek but there were few places to fish because of the water levels. So after about 30 or 40 minutes of walking I came to an area that Nate had caught a monster rainbow at 2 weeks ago (see photo on right). I flipped my line out to the same rock he caught his at and the same monster fish jumped at my strike indicator. He actually came out of the water about 4 inches or so. As my line drifted down stream I reloaded and shot at the same spot and boom! He was on. He put up a pretty good fight and I was squealin’ like a 10 year old school girl. But then….I got him to about 2 feet from my net and he took off again eventually coming free from the hook. It was definitely the same fish Nate landed 2 weeks ago. I think we measured it at about 16.5 inches. I was pretty bummed about that scenario as I still am due to catch a huge trout in an AZ creek.

After getting back to reality and saying every curse word I could think of (and made up some new ones!) I decided to move up stream about 20 yards to another pool. I caught 2 small rainbows there and then kept moving back and forth between the two areas in an effort to land that big rainbow that just got away. With another cast to the same area I got a hit and set the hook great. I was hoping this was it. This one put up a nice little fight but after getting him to the net it wasn’t the brut I was hoping. Nice fish though…. it was a brown trout about 13 inches or so. I stayed there for another 15 minutes or so with no luck. The wind was picking up so I decided to start heading back toward the truck just in case a storm came in fast. On the way back I fished a few small runs and ended up catching a few more. With the water being so low and so clear it really made fishing these runs tough.

I made my way back to the honey hole I started at earlier in the day but things went a little different this time. The water was pretty deep on my side of the creek so I couldn't wade and there was also a lot of tree branches and brush along the bank. So standing on the creek bank and leaning over the brush and roll casting was the ticket. Earlier in the day everything went great but for some reason in the afternoon, every time I hooked a fish I would get it almost to the net and then the hook would come off, my rod would fling the flies up in the air and my flies would end up in the tree branches. I retrieved many of them with no problem but I only had two red zebra midges on me and ended up loosing both of them. That was my secret weapon for the day and I was out. I tried many other flies and midges and did catch fish on them but nothing like the response I had with the red zebra midges. Oh well again. I ended up catching about 25 or 30 fish for the day and had another 10 or 15 that I couldn’t get in the net. That’s actually a great day on the creek for me. I just wish someone was there to enjoy it with me. How about you? Maybe next time.