By K. R. Stevenson
I have a lot of fond memories of fishing with my father. I remember times like when my dad and I went trolling on Strawberry Reservoir when I was a small boy. I recall enjoying things that are generally taken for granted, like watching the sun come up in the morning, the crisp cool air, and the waterfowl. I remember the thrill of catching a big Strawberry Reservoir rainbow.
Nowadays, many things here in Utah and in our environment have changed over the last few decades. In our busy lives it is quite a sobering thought how short life is, and how quickly our children grow up. When I observe my children's enthusiasm and excitement during our outdoor recreational activities, I realize the overall enjoyment that kids derive from activities like fishing has not changed.
This Father's Day was an incredible one. The weather forecast for the weekend this year was for bad weather. We decided to go anyway and I'm sure glad we did.
As soon as we arrived at the lake my six-year-old daughter, Dayna, was extremely excited to go on her first boat ride at Fish Lake. Every time she asked to go for a ride in the boat I told her the weather was bad and maybe we would go tomorrow. The next day it was the same thing. Dayna said, "Dad, let's go for a boat ride!" I told her, "Maybe tomorrow." You should have seen the look on her face as Dayna said, "Hey, you said tomorrow yesterday and today is yesterday's tomorrow." Well, she did have a good point. We went on out for a short boat ride and, of course, we did take the fishing poles. I could hardly believe it when we caught a mackinaw, splake, brown, rainbow and a perch in the first hour of fishing!
It seems pretty strange. Sometimes you don't catch any and another time you catch five different species in an hour. That's part of the fun of fishing. The perch, rainbow and brown were caught in the moss. The mackinaw and splake were taken in 40 feet of water.
I learned a special technique for catching several different kinds of fish using the same lure from an outstanding fisherman named Jay Carlisle. Jay and I were fishing a tournament at Flaming Gorge. On the first morning Jay had a funny green thing hanging from his line. I told Jay, "Take that silly thing off your line and let's get serious about catching some fish." Jay politely said, "I just want to try it for a few minutes." Jay immediately caught a nice brown trout by the Pipeline on the Wyoming side of the Gorge. I said it was just a fluke and he was mightily lucky. Well, as luck would have it, Jay proceeded to catch several rainbows and another brown on that green octopus-looking outfit.
The icing on the cake was when Jay hauled in a huge cutthroat trout on the same silly lure. While I sat there spellbound, admiring the big native, Jay quietly said, "I've got another green gitzit in my tackle box if you'd like to try one."
The fishing technique Jay used with this lure was to retrieve it slowly on the bottom, occasionally lifting it off the bottom. It was quite an art knowing when to set the hook. This is the same technique Dick Eisenmann uses to catch cutthroat trout at Strawberry using small white jigs. I've found it to be very effective at Fish Lake.
In all my years of fishing at Fish Lake, the brown we caught Father's Day weekend was my first from the lake. I know of a 26-pound brown that was taken from the lake many years ago, and there is an 18-pounder displayed in the Lakeside Resort. It was caught in 1987.
German brown fry have a slower growth rate and a higher mortality rate - compared to rainbows - when raised in hatcheries. These are the main reasons Utah hatcheries have planted mostly rainbows in the past. On the other side of the coin, browns live longer, require less oxygen content in the water, grown larger and self propagate. Browns are fall spawners. Nowadays, browns could possibly be the best fish type to plant at Fish Lake. Unlike mackinaw that like the deep open water, browns will stay in the shallow moss at Fish Lake where the perch live. They would be perch eating machines and are a great sport fish. In addition, browns are resistant to whirling disease.
The brown trout we caught from Fish Lake had deep orange meat and was the best eating of all the fish we caught. I encourage the DWR to stock browns into Twin Creek that runs into Fish Lake.