Sunday, October 18, 2009

Check Off Another Species

Fishing Time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Weather: Windy, warm, sunny, clear, 50's
Moon Phase: New Moon
Location: Round Lake- Uinta's
Bait: Renegade and Mosquito flies behind a bubble
Who Went: Justin Hunt, Josh Newton, Dustin Pelligrino, Me For a long time now I've read reports about fisherman making these long hikes deep into the Uinta's to find a species known as the Arctic Grayling. I was always intrigued by this small fish that looked so different in pictures than anything else I have ever caught. Well I got my chance to go after them this weekend when my deer hunting group decided to hunt in the Uinta's. I did my research on where the best place would be to catch grayling and found that there is a reason people hike so far to catch this species. The only lakes that hold Arctic Grayling are the highest lakes in the Uinta's and all require long rugged hikes. After studying maps and talking to everyone I thought would have helpful input, I decided on three lakes that all held grayling and each sat about a half mile away from each other, Round Lake, Sand Lake and Fish Lake. All three lakes sit at 10,000 feet in elevation and require a rigorous 4 mile hike in, and that's just to the first lake which is Round Lake. Its another mile to make into the last lake which is Fish Lake. It looked tough and steep on the map, but the fishing sounded promising! We of course got a late start on the hike, getting to the trail head around 11:00 a.m. Grino had his rifle just in case a monster buck showed its face, and Newton and I were both armed with pistols on our sides for deer purposes, but more importantly, in case we ran into a hungry black bear.
The hike was absolutely gorgeous, but very difficult and when we started seeing these tracks all the way up the trail, we were glad we brought protection. We hiked through many different types of terrain on the way up and took pictures all the way. We started out in the quakies and then hit a small meadow with the Weber River running through it. The lakes we hiked into are the headwaters of the Weber River. After the meadow it was straight pines so we knew we were starting to gain in elevation.

Not to long after hiking into the deep pines we hit some steep rocky conditions along with some snow. It was like this for about 2 miles!

After trudging through the snow with wet feet, we finally made it to the first of the three lakes. We only rested for a minute before we tied on a fly and a bubble and started casting. I had two hits on my first cast but had nothing to show for it. It has been a few years since I last fished using a fly and a bubble and it is a difficult thing to master especially for a bass fisherman like myself. I have a tendency to rip lures through a fishes mouth with my hard hook sets, and fishing with a fly and a bubble requires very finesse hook sets, and even more so when your catching grayling which are a small fish to begin with and have very small mouths.Finally after about ten missed hits, I hooked and landed my first ever Arctic Grayling! It wasn't a state record by any means, but it was a beautiful fish.
After that it was Hunt's turn, but he started out with the hot hand for cutthroat. He must have landed a half dozen of these guys before finally landing his first grayling.
Then it was Newtons turn... And Grino's turn... And then there was a grayling double up by Newton and Hunt... After about two hours of fishing we all landed quite a few fish and had a lot of fun, except for when I slipped and fell shin deep into the lake! We didn't make it to the next two lakes cause we just didn't need to. We caught plenty of fish in Round Lake. We also wanted to hit the trail going down in the light and do a little evening hunting. We still ended up hiking the last mile in the dark. We hunted pretty hard on the hike down and even took a side trail for probably another half mile round trip, but didn't find anything living. We got to the truck in pitch black conditions with no moon and we were all beat! It was a full day and felt like a great accomplishment. We must have hiked close to 9 miles total. That only leaves one fish on the list of gamefish in Utah that I haven't caught, and I have a feeling there might be a story of that one being caught very soon!!!

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