Saturday, January 19, 2013

Elusive Macks and Hungry Burbot at Flaming Gorge

Fishing Time:  Saturday – Monday
Weather:  Perfect.  No wind, clear skies, T-40s
Moon Phase:  67% Moon
Location:  Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Bait:  Lake Trout: 7-inch tube jig (rainbow color), Burbot: 3-inch glow curly tail grubs tipped with carp meat
Who Went:  John, Me
The year 2012 ended up being the warmest on record for the state of Utah and because of this, many of the lakes and reservoirs did not freeze.  I only ice fished twice last year with one trip on a half frozen Fish Lake where the search and rescue had to be called out to save a man on a snowmobile that broke through the thin ice.  Needless to say it was an odd year and I was excited that things are back to normal this year with my favorite ice fishing lake, Flaming Gorge, already froze as far south as Swim Beach.  Flaming Gorge was one of the lakes that did not freeze over last year.  This year I spent 3 days fishing Flaming Gorge in beautiful blue sky weather with no wind, rain or snow, and a solid 4 inches of safe ice.  Bobber John and I spent each day searching for trophy lake trout and each night searching for the ugly burbot.  Here is the recap…

Saturday:  Left my house at 3:00 am, picked up John at his house, and we were on our way.  We arrived to Flaming Gorge in the dark and got lost on the dirt roads leading to our parking spot at Anvil Draw.  This had us off to a late start and by the time we made it onto the ice, there were already people fishing our GPS spots.  We walked a couple hundred yards to the north to some waypoints I marked last summer from the boat and tried our luck there.  We didn't see many lake trout on our fish finders all morning and the ones that were there didn't seem happy.  John had one fish on first thing in the morning, but it came unbuttoned a few seconds later. 
By noon we gave up on mack fishing and took advantage of a few spare hours of daylight by marking my GPS unit with all the roads that take me to my favorite mack and burbot ice fishing spots.  This will help me in the future so I don’t get lost when arriving in the dark.  We ended the day at our usual burbot spot at Holmes Crossing, but we were only able to put 2 burbot on the ice that night.
Sunday:  We tried a slightly different location for macks and fished off Anvil Point.  We arrived to the lake well before sun up in order to beat the crowds.  It seemed like we had the entire lake to ourselves and coincidentally it was our best day of fishing.  Macks were showing up on our fish finders all morning and seemed very active.  Bobber John made the highlight reel when he put this 20 pound mack on the ice by mid morning.
I had one fish on for a second, but it came unbuttoned a few seconds later.  John and I both had multiple hits all morning, but just couldn’t seem to stick them.  John did land one more pup mack at around 4 pounds, but that was it for the day.

We drove around for a bit that afternoon looking for a potential burbot spot and found some rocky shoreline that looked promising.  We hiked out to the spot just before dark and chipped out a bunch of holes from 20 feet to 40 feet deep.  
This spot is now our new burbot honey hole!  We made a pile of burbot on the ice before calling it quits around 9 pm.
Monday:  We fished the same holes as Sunday off Anvil Point.  Got there early again and it was a good thing because people started showing up everywhere.  By 8 am I had a group of 10 dudes fishing 50 yards from me and drilling holes non-stop.  Apparently, more people get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off from work than I thought, and I’m pretty sure it was affecting the fishing.  All I heard were power augers running all morning.  The fish were not active at all, but John still managed to put a couple pups on the ice, to keep his spirits up.  One was pushing 7-8 pounds.  I got skunked on macks for the third day in a row! Ouch!!!
Conclusion:  It was another tough trip for me, but the more I fish that lake the more I’m getting used to it.  Problem is when you know what those big fish feel like on the other end of your line, you become just like a drug addict searching for that next high.  You will do anything to find it again!  We were probably a few days late on fishing first ice and unfortunately there were already holes everywhere.  All it takes is one week of getting pounded with pressure from other fisherman and the fishing gets tough quick.  On the flip side, we were a couple days early for fishing the Swim Beach area further to the south.  It was capped, but only had about 1.5-inches of unsafe ice.  I always seem to be a day late or a day early!  It was a depressing drive home as we headed down Parleys canyon leaving clear blue skies behind us and entering the inversion covered Salt Lake Valley where unfortunately we live.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thank you. I always enjoy reading about your trips.

Angelica said...
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