Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saving Face

After a busy morning it was off to the airport and a flight to Salt Lake City.

I haven't visited Snake Creek in several weeks and I was curious to see the condition of one of my favorite fishing spots. Each time I come to Utah I notice that development continues to creep closer and closer to this area that has brought me so much pleasure and has produced so many beautiful fish. I fear that one day I'll see a "Sold for Development" sign where the "Fisherman's Rules" sign now hangs.

I met two of my co-workers at the airport and convinced them that the best way to spend the evening was to drive up and over the mountain to the Heber Valley. They didn't have any fishing equipment or licenses but were willing to go along for the ride.

We had a nice trip without too much traffic. I was surprised that the fall colors had not really begun to show but the cooler weather indicated that summer was definitely over.

When we arrived at the parking spot, the sun had already disappeared behind the mountain and we hustled down the lane to the big swirley hole. I showed the two newbies how to stay hidden from the fish and they held back as I snuck up to within casting distance.

In my haste to get to the water I had not tied on a fluorocarbon or mono leader to my Crystal (white) Berkley Fireline. I tied the 1/8 oz white roostertail directly to the fireline and cast first to the tail of the pool. The first two throws did not yield any sign of fish so I moved my cast up to the middle of the pool. The main current splits into two backwards flowing eddy currents and as the silver spinner did it's magic we all saw a huge boil just behind the wake of the lure. My skeptical observers turned into interested participants in this dance between fish and fisherman.

I had several refusals on the next few casts with not one fish able to overcome the fact that the white and silver spinning lure looked good but was tied to a white string.

I next began to try different lures in my small box. I tried a similar roostertail spinner with a red tip and a banded tail, a white grub on a chartreuse 1/16 oz jighead, a Mepps squirrel tail Ajila, and all came up empty. The closest I got was one fish that grabbed the tail of the grub but just as quickly let go.

My fans who were minutes ago cheering me on were now beginning to think that I really didn't know what I was doing. They were losing focus and their conversation began drifting away from the big fish they had seen to work issues and other mundane topics. I needed to get a hookup quickly or they would be lost forever.

I finally tied on a 1/16 oz roostertail with a silver body and a minimalist white tail. This was hard to cast to the spot where the fish had been earlier but I finally landed one near enough and got a solid strike. I set the hook and the 14" brown came up and out of the water shaking and twisting like a tarpon. As we all watched the beautiful fish reach the apex of his jump he gave a mighty lunge and the treble hook flew from his mouth and he disappeared beneath the swirling pool.

The moan that escaped from deep within my being could only be understood by a fellow fisherman. It's the same feeling as losing a big flounder right at the boat when you don't have a net....

I was in real trouble now. This had changed from a case of impressing your friends to a matter of honor. How could I ever hold my head up again if I gave in now? It was game on and the clock was running.

I stayed with the smaller RT and continued to cast to the spot. After several decent shots I began to get the idea that the fish had moved. I took a new position near the bank (on my hands and knees) and made the next cast further upstream. BINGO!

I found what I believe was the first fish that had produced the big boil. He took the lure like he meant it and I got a good solid hookset. He was a fury of glistening glory as he took drag and thrashed against the line. I kept the rod held as high as I could reach and applied every skill I had gained over the past few years pulling hefty trout up and out of the Snake Creek grass beds.

When I managed to skid the big brown up on the grassy bank, I felt a sense of relief. Not only did I have two witnesses - I had some ready made photographers to help me document the catch!

This fat 18" fish made a great picture thanks to David. Thanks also to Colin for driving and to both of them for hanging in there with me.

Once again Snake Creek of the Heber Valley has provided this fisherman with a great story worth telling. I hope, Lord willing, there are more such stories waiting to be told in the future.


Wool Winder said...

Beautiful fish!

Bawana said...

Way to hang in there Brother! You ended up with a fine fish out of all that. Congratulations on another nice visit to the "Hole".

Paul Batchelder said...

Net? Who needs a net? It is always nice to share your passion. Nice fish!