Multi-Generational Camping

Uncle Brian and Pops taking Tom’s son on a short hike into the small aspen forest along Cave Creek, upstream from Cave Lake. It was breezy and the aspen leaves were performing their ceremonial twisting in the wind, which resulted in a rustling sound. My grandson asked, “Pops, what’s that sound?” I explained that aspen trees were referred to as “quaking” aspens because their flat, broad leaves are attached to long, narrow stems such that they twist in the wind making a quaking or cracking sound. Did you know that aspen stands like these are often created by stems arising from long lateral roots? The result is many genetically identical trees, which in aggregate are called a “clone.” There appears to be some disagreement over which state has the largest clone aspen stand, but one such clone in Utah’s Fishlake National Forrest covers 106 acres and contains an estimated 47,000 stems (see The Gazette article on Utah’s claim).

I know several grandparents who have experienced camping with their children and grandchildren. All of them expressed the joy of passing on the liberating experience of camping to their descendants, whose opportunities for learning appreciation and reverence for nature continue to diminish over time. Getting out of our urban cities to dwell in nature for a few days seems to free our souls. We leave behind our to-do lists and the technology that drives so much or our waking hours, replacing it with the freedom to soak in a deep, satisfying peace. We are released from our daily routines, free to explore and discover without restrictive agendas governing our daily lives.

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Brotherly Assault on Comins Reservoir & Ruby Marshes

Looking across the lower Ruby Valley from White Pine County Road #3, about 6 or 7 miles north of the 7,070 foot Hobson Pass. The pass abuts the Bald Mountain Gold Mine, an open-pit, run-of-mine, heap leach gold mine, owned and operated by Kinross Gold Corporation. I did not include any photos of the mine, but it is an eyesore which threatens to encroach upon Bureau of Land Management land even closer to the Ruby Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. It obviously provides good jobs and tax revenue for White Pine County. Still, we might ask when is enough, enough? The snowcapped mountains in this photo are the central Ruby Mountains, with the East Humboldt Mountains peaking over the ridge on the far right.

When is enough, enough? How many fish does it take before you lose interest in fishing? Okay, I admit that saturation is unlikely for die hard anglers, but can your most successful day fishing (measured by count, and perhaps quality) wipe the memory of fishless trips off the board? As a long-time trout angler, I can say for me the successful trips are long remembered, and the “skunkings” are quickly forgotten. And I am grateful for that.

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Kingston Canyon, Circleville, UT

This is the middle section of Kingston Canyon on the East Fork of the Sevier River, about halfway between the towns of Kingston and Antimony on Utah Highway 62. It is a handsome canyon, worthy of exploration. The water seemed a little high relative to what I believed was the summer-to-fall level (being this was my first trip I really had nothing to compare it to). Regardless of depth, its opacity was very much like creamed coffee.

The Sevier River has always intrigued me as a brown trout fishery, although I have never made any serious attempts to fish it. I recently decided to take the initial step towards changing that.

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An Easter Trip to Wayne Kirch WMA

A view of the Grant Range driving into Kirch from the Sunnyside turn off. On the left, in front of the range, is Hot Creek Butte.

Anglers who live in the southwest desert, like me, understand that fishing adventures take some planning and a lot of driving. While it is true that warmwater fisheries (home to bass, crappie, perch, and other “spiny-ray” fish) can be found closer to our southwest urban cities than coldwater fisheries (home to salmon, trout, and char), it is also true that water in general is very scarce in the arid southwest. We southwest trout anglers will drive hundreds of miles to reach our trout streams and reservoirs. Many of the reservoirs that straddle the 5,000-to-6,000-foot elevation can support both warm and coldwater species, which can be convenient. The reservoirs of Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) are such reservoirs. Spring and fall are great times to pursue rainbow trout, while the summer is best for the black bass. If you would like to know more about Kirch you might select my “Wayne Kirch” blog category, or just take a look at my Dacey Reservoir, Sunnyside (Wayne Kirch WMA).

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Chasing Delta Stripers in the Heat

Although the stripers we hooked were all small by Delta standards, they fight so hard from the outset it is difficult to assess their size until they give up after burrowing hard and deep. Maybe they were small, but they were lots of fun!

Although I prefer to angle for the Salmonidae fish family, there is no denying the Morone Saxatilis (a.k.a., Striped Bass, Rockfish, and Linesider of the family Moronidae) is a far stronger fighter, who when he strikes the fly makes an unforgettable impression followed by a deep and sullen tugging. Even stripers as small as twelve inches confuse my “trout” memory into believing the fish might be 20 inches or longer. It is a remarkable gamefish, and anglers are easily hooked by the “tug drug.”

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Beaver Dam Creek – Revisited

Looking upstream, this location is about a quarter-mile from the day-use parking area. There is a trail head marker where I parked, but about 20 yards in the trail disappears, a victim of the viscous flash floods that plow through this narrow canyon. What is ankle deep water routinely swells to three feet, occasionally much more. I have personally witnessed this twice.   

Beaver Dam Creek

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know Beaver Dam Creek is where I learned to fly fish a trout stream. I started angling Beaver Dam State Park’s namesake creek in 1977, and I continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Schroeder Reservoir created an interesting tailwater fishery (although by virtue of a spillway as opposed to a tunnel outlet at the bottom of the reservoir) that created wild trout habitat that was accessible only by foot or four-wheel drive. Most anglers fished the reservoir, but exploration of the creek below proved fruitful in many ways. And yes, an occasional larger trout found its way over the dam into the spillway pool where it set up shop. My last visit before the dam was breached and removed was in August 2002, and you can read about those early experiences in that blog post.

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Southern Utah’s Pine Valley Recreation Area

The Pine Valley Recreation Area was not yet open, likely due to CV19, but you could hike through the area. Dave was ready to stretch his legs for the walk. The reservoir is not quite a mile up the road from the gate. 

I enjoyed developing my angling skills on the waters around Pine Valley in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. A youthful mid-twenties body stimulated my rustic romanticism for pursuing trout in streams and creeks. Now, as a sexagenarian, I no longer bushwhack and boulder-hop up and down streambeds alone, or at least not for far. Nonetheless, I am still nostalgic about fly angling small streams. There likely were several factors driving my interest in stream fishing. I was certainly influenced by the trout angling literature of the day that was predominantly focused on moving water. That was compounded by the first books I read on the subject that I borrowed from my brother Neal’s outdoorsman library. His books had an old-school New England approach to fishing for trout with a fly (think classic dry fly angling). That was a conundrum for me because Neal favored wet flies, nymphs, and streamers.

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Running from COVID-19

I post this scene often. The snow-capped Grant Range is a dramatic backdrop for Dacey Reservoir. Grant’s tallest peaks, Stairstep, Troy, and Timber, range from 10,000 to 11,000 feet. Hot Creek Butte, on far left of the photo, conceals hot springs that attract visitors on its other side.

I must confess to selfishly abandoning my family for a short day-trip to Dacey reservoir in the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch). It was actually a mission of mercy for them as I was getting stir crazy over the shutdown, and who knows what damage I could bring upon my familial relationships had I not taken a dose of this medicine.

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Life Within a Pandemic

The view of Red Rock’s bluffs from the trail to the Ash Grove in  Spring Mountain State Park.

Hopefully I got your attention with some scenic photos of places visited during this awful time of pandemic horror. For my daughter and I, these were necessary diversions designed to help us remember that life, given to us by the Lord, is meant to be lived. Lived in joyful hope, not in fear and worry. By design, our lives are to be relational, both with the Lord and with each other. It is unnatural for us to be shut away from our loved ones, regulated to phone calls and FaceTime. I can tell you that my wife and I long to touch, smell, and cuddle with our grandchildren. While the separation is said to be temporary, it is not what any parent or grandparent would want.  

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Baker Reservoir – Baker Dam Recreation Area

The view of snow-dusted Pine Valley Mountains from the access road to the Baker Dam Recreation Area. If you could peek over their crest you would see the unincorporated town of Pine Valley. 

Over the course of three decades I would pass by Baker Reservoir on my way to Pine Valley Reservoir. I had never read anything about the reservoir, but its existence eventually caused me to research it on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) website. This blog’s March 2007 post describes my first Baker fishing experience as a revelation of sorts. Including the 15 mph wind chill, the temperature was in the low thirties that early spring day. Landing a couple rainbow trout in the sixteen to eighteen inch range made the cold seem like a worthy sacrifice (check out that blog post here: Baker Reservoir – Veyo, UT).

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