Weather: Partly cloudy, no wind, warm, 40’s
Moon Phase: 80% Moon
Location: Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Bait: 7 inch tube jig, burbot green
Who went: John, Rick, Me
John and I arrived in Manila, Utah around 6:00 p.m. on Friday night and checked into the glorious Flaming Gorge Inn Motel, yeah right. It was a dump, but good enough for a few fishermen to lay their heads for a couple nights. Our buddy Rick was meeting us up there but didn’t arrive until midnight. In the meantime John filleted his bluegills from Pelican Lake on our TV table and I watched espn. Once Rick arrived we hit the sack, but I only got about one hours sleep that night after listening to all sorts of interesting noises that came out of John’s mouth! You might as well have stuck an air horn in my ear and rang it off every half second it was that loud! Rick got about the same amount of sleep, but either way we were mack fishing so we were happy as a kid on Christmas! We met up with a local mack expert that I had been talking to on-line, and he took us to his favorite spot to fish through the ice. We fished there all morning with Rick, John and I all landing lake trout from 15-25 pounds. We then ventured out onto some thin ice (2 inches) trying to be the first ones to fish one of the best areas. John was a little sketch about being the biggest guy on the ice and it got to the point where every step he took cracks would form around his feet. We laughed a little at his expense! I was the big loser at the new spot missing 3 fish in the span of one hour! After a few cuss words and finally settling down, the fishing completely shut off, which is normal for lake trout, so we gathered up our gear and prepared to move to another spot in search of the dreaded burbot. To fish for burbot your best odds are at night, so we loaded up the ice shack and heater and hit a rocky outcrop and fished in about 20 feet of water. We finally got the technique down after someone fishing the same area showed us that aggressive jigging was the key to catching these ugly things. Most of them were small, but Rick did land one decent sized one. The excitement for burbot wore off pretty quick so we called it a night. John had to work the next morning so he grabbed a rockstar and hit the road for home while Rick and I went back to the motel and got what felt like the best sleep I’ve had in years! We woke up early the next morning and were on the ice before light. The fish seemed a little more moody than they were the day before, but I did luck out and land a 17 pound fish when he hit as I was dropping my jig to the bottom (complete luck), but besides that we had a rough morning. I finally got fidgety and decided to move out to another hole close by, and man I'm glad I did! On my second drop down I could see a fish on my fish finder racing up to my jig. As soon as it hit, my pole doubled over and line started racing off my reel. I instantly knew this was not the same size fish we had been catching previously and yelled over to Rick to come over. The fish went on three long runs lasting about 15 minutes before I was able to get him up to the ice. Then we spent another 5 minutes trying to get his head out of the ice hole so that Rick could land him. Once we pulled the fish onto the ice I just sat there in awe!
We weighed him quickly and took some photos and then slid him back through the ice and off he swam to live another day. It was a trip and a fish I will never forget, and meanwhile this fish has now become famous. Rick submitted it to the local outdoor TV show Roughin it Outdoors and they will be airing it on January 29, 2011. It will also be in the Salt Lake Tribune in the "Away" section as the Hook Shot of the week on February 6, 2011. The tribune outdoor writer, Brett Prettyman, posted the fish and story on his Salt Lake Tribune Outdoor Blog site on January 28, 2011, and an editor from BoatU.S. ANGLER magazine took notice and emailed me saying they loved the picture and want to put the photo and story in there April issue. The recognition for this fish just keeps pouring in! The editor for the magazine told me she would enter the photo into a national contest and if I win they would mount the fish for free. This is by far the most famous fish I have ever caught!!!