Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Ice at Flaming Gorge... Wheres My Boat?

Fishing Time:  January 16 to 18
Weather:  Partly cloudy, breezy cold mornings, calm warm afternoons, T-40s
Moon Phase: 11% Moon
Location:  Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Best Baits:  Rainbow pattern tube jigs
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick, Dunc
Typically this time of year we are planning an ice fishing trip to Flaming Gorge, but this year there was no ice to be found, so the plans had to change.  We thought about going somewhere else and ice fishing some different lakes, but the allure of the almighty lake trout was too strong to resist.  Not a big deal, I loaded up my boat and away we went.  Bobber John and I arrived Thursday night to the luxurious (kidding) Flaming Gorge Inn Motel and set up home base for the next three days.  It’s not the Ritz Carlton, but it worked out fine for a couple hardcore mack fishermen. 
FRIDAY:  The alarm went off early and we were on the lake before the sun came up.  The temperature was 25 degrees, which is actually warm for this time of year, but driving the boat across the big lake was a bit cold to say the least.  
We ran through a few of our best areas before making a decision on where to fish.  We found a good area showing quite a few fish on the bottom and went to work. 
It was Bobber John's day to shine, which seems to happen a lot for the “lake trout whisperer” as he put on a clinic landing four nice lake trout with one going over 20 pounds.  I struggled, which also seems to happen a lot, as I couldn’t seem to stick a hook set to save my life.  We both had many bites that ended with a swing and a miss and a few that made it half way to the boat.  Despite my hook up struggles I was encouraged at how active the fish were and it fueled my excitement for the next day.
SATURDAY:  Same story different day, only this time I got in on a little of the action.  The fish were extremely active and interested in our jigs (not usually the case).  John hooked up on the first drop of the day, but was so cold that he could barely reel the fish in.  After handling the fish to get it out of the net my hands were frozen solid as well.  I snapped a few quick photos then threw my phone on the floor and winced in pain.  This is what a frozen Bobber John looks like holding a 20 pound lake trout...  I think his mouth stayed that way for another 20 minutes.  
We enjoyed the early success, but tried not to take it for granted.  We both know how difficult these fish are to catch and when you find a day that they actually bite, you bow to the fishing gods and give thanks immediately!  We tried a few different areas and it felt like if you found fish you could usually coax a few bites.  
It was a good day to be lake trout fishing.  We ended the day with two fish over 20 pounds and some smaller fish between 5 to 10 pounds to fill the gaps.  Again we missed quite a few hook sets, but overall it was a very successful day.
SUNDAY:  After seeing all the photos of our success, Rick decided to make the long journey up from SLC and met us at our motel Sunday morning.  Rick has struggled to land big lake trout (join the club) and was anxious to get in on the recent success.  We hit the water in the dark ensuring we made it to our best spot before the sun was up.  After the first few drops with our jigs, Bobber John and I both looked at each other with the “ah oh” look.  The fish were not being active like the previous two days of fishing.  We tried to keep it together for Rick, but we both knew it wasn’t looking good. 
Rick managed a couple bites, but no big fish were landed.  It seemed it was the fishing god’s way of letting us all know that as soon as you think you have lake trout figured out, he lowers the hammer and puts you back in your place!  The last day ended with the two smallest lake trout of the trip in the boat, and I felt really bad Rick went to all the trouble of driving up, but hey, that’s lake trout fishing.  
To make matters worse, we went to the local bar in town after fishing to watch the Green Bay Packers play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC championship and a shot to play in the Super Bowl.  Rick is a diehard Packers fan.  The Packers blew a 16 to 0 half time lead in one of the most crazy comeback games I have ever seen.  Needless to say… between the snub from lake trout, and the turnout of the game, it must have been a long 3 hour drive home alone for Rick.  

You can check out all the action from the trip on my YouTube channel... 

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