Sunday, January 29, 2017

First Ice at Flaming Gorge

Fishing Time:  January 28-29 (Saturday to Sunday).
Weather:  Gorgeous, no wind, clear, T-30s
Moon Phase: New Moon
Location:  Flaming Gorge (Swim Beach)
Best Bait: 7-inch Tora tube jig (rainbow pattern)
Who Went:  Bobber John, Rick Everson, Jess Everson, Josh Newton, Dunc

After enjoying some good success up at Flaming Gorge a couple weeks ago fishing from the boat, we were itching to try it through the ice.  It has been frigid cold the last couple weeks and the rumor was that Swim Beach was capped with ice.  Invites were thrown out and soon we had a crew of fisherman headed to Manila, Utah. 

We arrived to a balmy temperature of -3 degrees in Manila on Friday night.  The first night it was just myself and Bobber John.  We drove down to Swim Beach for an ice check and sure enough it was frozen with a skiff of snow on top.  Perfect walking conditions for the mile journey we faced to get to our favorite hump the next day.

We woke up early and were the first ones on the ice.  However, it didn’t take long for the parking lot to fill with trucks and the 4-wheelers started flying by us as we made the journey to our spot.  A couple 4-wheelers made their way to our hump.  Lame.  Price you pay for walking I suppose.  We nestled in with the groups and set up our tent. 
We started seeing fish beneath us immediately and while they weren’t super aggressive they did show a little interest in our techniques.  We fished for about an hour before Bobber missed the first bite of the day.  Shortly after he redeemed himself by hooking up with the longest 20 pounder I’ve seen yet.  It didn’t have much of a belly, but if it ever grows one it will be a 40 pounder in no time.
The fish were active for another hour or so, but soon became grumpy and showed no interest in our offerings.  At around noon we gave up and made the long walk back.  

Bobber John and I drove up lake and found a burbot spot that has treated us very well in the past.  We set up our tent and gear and prepared for our return at dusk to hunt for some slimy eels.  Meanwhile, Rick Everson, Jess Everson, and Josh Newton were on their way towards the Gorge from SLC. 
Bobber and I returned to the burbot spot just before dark and started our meat hunt.  Bobber had big plans of filling the freezer with eel meat.  Unfortunately, the spot we picked was not as plentiful as past trips.  Rick, Jess, and Josh arrived around 8 PM and joined the effort, but only a dozen or so burbot were landed between all of us.  Filling the freezer will have to wait.

The next morning the whole group made the journey to the same spot that Bobber and I fished the day before.  Within the first half hour Rick was hooked up.  It was no monster, but a good fish in the 8-10-pound range.
The fish were a bit grumpy right from the start today, and made for some tough fishing.  Late in the day Bobber John hooked up only to lose it right at the ice hole.  We never did see it, but it came up quick, so no need to lose sleep.  Again shortly after, Bobber redeemed himself and hooked up again.  This time he was able to pull the small lake trout up through the ice hole.  
He decided to keep it, and we all started to immediately give him grief.  You see, Bobber has a track record of being gung ho to keep fish, but when we ask him later how the fish tasted, he usually responds with “uh yeah I didn’t quite get around to cleaning it”. 

When I dropped Bobber off at his house we decided to make a quick “how to” video for cleaning lake trout, Bobber John style.  After filming we quickly sent it off to Rick, Jess, and Josh for their viewing pleasure.  You can find the video on my YouTube channel here:

Another good trip to the Gorge with the same theme… me getting skunked!  It’s been a rough run for me.  I didn’t even get a bite this trip after spending two days on the ice.  Tough to swallow, but I guess you have to work through the slumps!  Maybe it’s because there's a 40 pounder in my future, and I gotta pay my dues.  A man can dream!

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