Most people will never understand why I get up before dawn, in the rain, snow, or summer heat, to stand at water's edge. Whenever I am asked why I do it, my response is..."for the rise."

Apache Weekend

Posted in Arizona on June 20th, 2011 by kyle

A few months ago a trip was planned by www.azflyandtie.com.  We rented out an entire lake in hopes of incredible dry fly fishing for Arizona’s own, the Apache Trout.  This fish, found nowhere else on earth, looks like a cross between a Brown Trout and a Bonneville Cutthroat.  Imagine a Bonneville Cutt as far as markings and size go, but yellow/gold in color similar to a Brown.  Our destination was Hurricane Lake on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.  This lake is managed only for Apache Trout and produced the world record Apache weighing almost six pounds.  I’ve been excited about this trip for months.

Unfortunately, on May 29th, an enormous forest fire ignited in the beautiful White Mountains.  Due to high winds, hot temps, and a dry winter, this fire has burned for nearly a month.  As of three hours ago this fire had consumed over 500,000 acres of the worlds largest Ponderosa Pine forest making it the largest fire in Arizona history.
http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2262/
I’ve heard numbers like close to 80% of the Apache Trout restoration literally went up in flames with this fire.  :(

Hurricane Lake was directly effected and the forest service has closed it for at least the next 90 days.  The trip was called off… then rescheduled for Hawley Lake.  I almost canceled, knowing that Hawley is mostly a put and take with a slim chance of a big Brown.  I did some research and found Earl Park was close by, and that it held nice Apaches on occasion.  Game on!

I left work at 3:00 on Friday.  The temperature in my car read 111* as I drove to meet Jason Jones.  The mountains were calling in a big way.  After a three hour drive we arrived to beautiful Hawley Lake.  We found a good spot for the tents, set up camp and got out the camp chairs.  I was short on a few flies so broke out the vise and tied half a dozen midges for the next morning.
Photobucket
My bench for the evening.
Photobucket

At 4:15 we arose and made the short, 1/2 mile drive to Earl Park.  In the early light we could see several fish rising. We set up the toons and I snapped a quick pic of the pretty little lake.
Photobucket
Neither of us had fished it so I spent most of the early morning paddling around its 47 acres.
Photobucket
It seemed most of the fish were concentrated near the ramp.  I fished hard on the far side hoping to find some hungry fish but didnt even get a tap.  ”Never leave fish to find fish”, I kept saying to myself as I paddled back to Jason.  I was almost into position when a big yellow fish slammed my bright orange indicator. haha

I set out of surprise then cast back to the same spot hoping the fish would hit on the fall.  Nothing… I worked the area some more and five casts later my indicator tanked and I was fast to a fish.  The fish went nuts, the 3wt VXP bent deeply and the click pawl reel sang as line flew off of it.  As I got the fish closer I realized it wasn’t a Brown but a HUGE Apache Trout.  I netted the fish a minute later then lifted 20″ of Apache from the water!
Photobucket
Photobucket
Talk about being spoiled!  The world record is 24″.  Pics were hard by myself but I got a few.
Photobucket

This was my only fish of the morning.  We called it and headed in after that.  As we were pulling the boats out we notice a few nice fish cruising near shore.  Jason made a good cast and the fish took!  He fought it to the net which measured the fish at 18″ but when he took it out of the net it squirmed free and swam off.  I was next and put a blood worm in front of one of the cruisers.  The fish tipped up and sucked the fly in not 10 feet from me.  Oh yeah!!
Photobucket
It was a clone of Jasons and much more colored up than my first.
Photobucket

I was in heaven and more than satisfied with the trip already.  We headed back to camp to eat and get ready for the afternoon.  Our afternoon target was a nearby stream with more Apache’s.  The stream did not disappoint. Perfect pocket water everywhere.
Photobucket

On the first drift an Apache came up and hit the size 10 Stimulator!  I missed the take but put it right back where I had cast.  The fish came back from under the rock and hit it again.  I missed again, threw it back and it came back again! haha  I finally connected and brought the little gem to hand.
Photobucket
The next two hours were fish after fish.  Most of the fish came on the SOS nymph but several smashed the dry as well.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Jason scored the best looking fish of the day.  I was floored by the color.  I’ll be back to this stream.
Photobucket
Photobucket

We ran back to the Earl hoping the night bite was on.  I broke off another big Apache on a sulfur dunn then caught
Photobucket
Photobucket
I actually yelled, “they do exist!”.  Meaning Brookies in AZ.  There are not too many Brookies South of where I was until WAY past the equator.

Dinner last night was a pot luck.  I ate entirely too much of all of this and lots more I didnt take pics of.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

After all that food I two Aleve and crashed after one incredible day.  I never imagined i’d have a day like that my first time in the White Mountains.  I’m so glad I didnt bail out and look forward to many more adventures in Arizonas high country.

Quest for a King

Posted in Alaska on June 5th, 2011 by kyle

Alaska’s costal waters play host to millions of Pacific Salmon every year. Over the years i’ve been very fortunate, taking several trips to Southeast Alaska and landing four of the five species. Silver, Pink, Chum, and Sockeye are all great and special. The Kings are the largest and have avoided my lines on all previous trips.

Last year my dad called and invited me to join him on a trip in late May.  I jumped at the chance to head back up to Alaska, even more excited knowing that this time of the year means lots of kings out on the coast. Last Saturday I left the valley of the sun and headed to the last frontier. All of this fit in a medium checked bag and a carry on.
Photobucket

We always spend a day in Juneau and check out the local attractions. Juneau is the only capital city in the US with a glacier in the city.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Icebergs from the glacier slowly melt in Mendenhall Lake.
Photobucket

Local wildlife.
Photobucket
Photobucket

And good food at “The Hanger” bar and grill.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

After a day of sight seeing we took a ’64 Cesna from Juneau to Gustavus. Its a short 20 minute ride over snow capped coastal mountains.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

We arose early on the first day, dressed quickly and drove the short distance to the dock. Our guide/captain was Greg Taylor. He is originally from Orem and has been up in Gustavus for the summers for the last 10 years. Greg has become a close friend over the years and we spent a good amount of time this trip talking about fishing in Utah and Idaho.
Photobucket

We ran out to the open ocean, about 30 miles from the inside passage that shelters the glacier bay area. We put the riggers down to 109 feet. Right off the bat my dad hit a nice King. Then my uncle Jay got one. Then my little Brother. Then my uncle Ryan.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Finally the line popped off the rigger I was watching and the fight was on! My first King salmon was fighting well, I got him close to the surface and then this happened.
Photobucket

What I got back…
Photobucket

Pretty disappointing but it happens. We ended up loosing two halibut later in the trip to the buzzards of the sea. Shortly after the Sea Lion encounter the wind came up and  the Gulf of Alaska went from lumpy to down right dangerous. We battled waves for a half hour and got back a little ways inside to more calm water.

Fishing for rock fish off of the humps that come up out in the open ocean is pretty exciting. We jig for them with 16 ounce jig heads and 14 inch plasic skirts.
Photobucket
The catch varies from Chinese Rockfish,
Photobucket
to Sea Trout,
Photobucket
to Yellow Eyed Rockfish,
Photobucket
Photobucket
to my favorite, the Ling Cod.
Photobucket

It was a great first day. We were tired and my Bro was pretty sea sick so we ran back in to the dock.

Day two called for a pretty big tide with some wind. We decided not to risk the ocean and stayed in the protected water of the inside passage. More rock fishing was in order to fill our limits.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Quite a workout for the Loomis rods.
Photobucket

On the way back we stopped at the sleepy harbor called Elfin Cove.
Photobucket
Its a quirky place and the people there think they are pretty funny… haha I laughed.
Photobucket

Day three we went after some halibut. We picked up a few but the bite was really slow.
Photobucket
PhotobucketPhotobucket

It was too nice of a day for the fish to bite well so we went around to see wildlife.
Photobucket
Photobucket

As we passed a shoreline Greg noticed a pair of Bald Eagles and we stopped to have some fun with them. We tossed some bait in the water we had for the Halibut and watched the show. I’m sure glad Ben Franklin didnt get his way with our national bird.
Photobucket


Day 4 we fished the beautiful Bartlett River. The eight mile hike wasnt too bad. It was however a barren waste-land compared to what it looks like in early August when thousands of salmon fill the river and Dolly Varden follow close behind. We still managed some pretty little Coastal Cutthroat and I dutifully snapped the tip off my Winston.
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Some bear sign.. we were carrying spray.
Photobucket

The last day the weather was right and the tide was perfect. We cruised at full speed out to the Salmon grounds. I was ready to get that Kind and complete the slam! The water and conditions were perfect and as soon as we were down the line popped off the rigger. I was fast on the rod and caught up to the piggy Salmon. After a few runs I got it to the net and was pleased beyond words with the fat King.
Photobucket
Then later an even longer fish came to the boat at the hands of my Dad.
Photobucket
We finished the morning with five Kings for the five anglers and rushed back to make our flight. After some quick packing we were off. A little heavier than on the way in.
PhotobucketPhotobucket
Photobucket

The week flew by way too fast but all good trips do. My quest for a King was fulfilled. A huge thanks to my Dad for making the trip happen. It was so great to spend time with family again. Now its time for an Apache Trout.