Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Volunteering at Yuba

Three months ago I was approached by a fishing buddy who wanted me to join the Rocky Mountain Anglers Group (RMA). The RMA started about 30 years ago when a bunch of guys that didn't know how to catch walleye, got together and formed a group to help each other learn how to fish for this elusive species. Well, it worked! The RMA is known to have some of the most knowledgeable walleye fisherman in the Western United States. This being said, the fish that I have always had a very tough time consistently catching is walleye, and after only attending four meetings now, I already feel that I may be able to go out and target and catch this difficult yet rewarding species. Another great thing about the RMA is that they are very closely involved with most fishing events in the state of Utah, and also work together with the Division of Natural Resources (DNR) to help keep our fisheries as some of the best in the nation. All this being said, I had an unbelievable opportunity to volunteer and help the DNR do their annual gill netting and creel surveys on the walleye down at Yuba Reservoir. All I can say is, I missed my calling in life! Forget Geology, I should have studied Biology! I couldn't believe that these biologists could even consider this work. Seriously, I wish my boss would say to me one day, hey Chris what I want you to do is take these nets and hook the truck up to that boat and run down to Yuba Reservoir and catch as many walleye as you can in one day! Are you kidding me? Can you say dream job?!
I met the DNR at the docks at 9:00 a.m. and the weather was absolutely gorgeous! The lake was glass and the sun was shining. I met a great group of biologists that were all good guys, and I really lucked out to have Drew Cushing show up to gill net with us for the day. Drew is the Program Coordinator for all of the warmwater fish in Utah. Basically he is one of the head biologists in the state . I ended up shooting the breeze all day with Drew about my swimbait tactics and techniques I use to fish for pike at Yuba, and by the time we got to our vehicles to head for home, Drew and I stayed and talked fishing for another half hour. What a cool guy and a rarity as a biologist to be such an avid fisherman. Believe it or not, most fish biologists do not fish! Sounds crazy I know, but they truly are only biologists for the most part, and not fisherman. Anyway, after talking fishing all day and getting to know Drew, he asked me if he could go fishing with me in the near future. I was in awe that one of the top fish biologists in the state wants to ride on my boat and fish with me, so of course I told him I would love to. He gave me his contact info and said to call him in May and that we could head up to Willard Bay and fish, which is one of the reservoirs that he manages. How cool is this? Man am I excited.
As far as the netting at Yuba goes, it was a blast, but about all I learned is that I would never go to Yuba to target walleye. We caught fifteen walleye while dunking six nets and checking them each five times with an hour and a half inbetween sets. We also caught four pike, but no state record monsters like I was hoping. I took the picture above to prove there are actually walleye in Yuba, and the ones below are of the pike just because they are awesome!
On the way home from Yuba, I couldn't resist the nice weather and the fact that I already had my waders and fishing pole in the truck. I stopped by Lincoln Beach down by the "L", to see if I could land me a walleye on rod and reel instead of a 50 foot gill net. When I got there the lake was glass and I texted my buddy to tell him how nice the conditions were. Needless to say he did not believe me, so John this picture is for you. Told you, pure glass! I ended up combat fishing with all the walleye diehards, but it only took an hour of no bites and not seeing one boat or person land a fish, before my worn out body from a long day decided enough was enough. I hit the road for home dreaming about my next life as a fisheries biologist.

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