Category Archives: Utah

The Sporting Lifestyle

Turning 30

Last week, I turned 30; it is a point in life that I never believed would occur, especially looking back to the college years when I was eagerly awaiting my 21st birthday. These days, 30 years is indicative of actual adulthood. Much like boiling a frog, the number creeps up slowly and all of the sudden its there.

Taking it all in and surveying the water.
Taking it all in and surveying the water.

Be that as it may, up to this point I have had a great run and I am going to hammer down for an even better decade to follow it up. In the last ten years, I learned to fly fish, went pheasant hunting for the first time, bought a piece of land, graduated from Business School, landed a job I enjoy, won my first municipal election, travelled around the USA, met countless new friends and shared quality time with my family.

Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.
Family ski pic, Brenton, father and myself.

Anyway, my brother, father and the crew assembled in Park City, Utah to celebrate this milestone with me. Park City is one of my favorite places in the world: great skiing, fly-fishing, good bars and friendly people. There is no better way to spend your birthday than with family, friends and doing the sports you love.

Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.
Last night group pic, Mark, Tawnie, me, Jourdan, Brandon, Brenton and father.

30th Birthday Party

The actual date was Thursday, January 23rd. Like the adult that I now am, I worked and attended a township budget meeting. Another indicator of turning 30 is that you don’t need to go out on your birthday. We saved all the energy for the Friday evening plane ride out to Salt Lake and the bars in Park City. Adding fuel to the fire, we arrived just prior to the last night of the Sundance Film Festival. This was to be a multi-night event of whiskey-fueled entertainment.

Its like Luke Bryan says, "Drink a beer."
Its like Luke Bryan says, “Drink a beer.”

Skiing/ Snowboarding

Saturday we skied the Canyons. It was Nicole’s official first time skiing. Due to the previous evening’s festivities, it took the crew a while to get moving. Once up and about, I gave skiing a whirl, something I have not done since my college days. To my excitement, skiing is much like riding a bike; it is not something that is easily forgotten. After ten runs, Nicole and Mark had had enough and Brandon had a pitcher of hoppy goodness waiting at the warming station. I would have preferred to ski more but I was out voted. We went home, made delicious baked Ziti and headed out to Main Street for the last day of the film festival.

Nicole contemplates the mountain.
Nicole contemplates the mountain.

Sunday we switched up and skied Park City Mountain Resort. It was another clear, warm January day. I set Nicole up on some nice groomers off of King Con lift and gave some quick pointers. As Brenton said, “What’s the difference between a ski instructor and a student; one day.” After finishing up at Park City, Brenton drove us out to Dutch John for the second part of the festivities.

Carving some turns at the Canyons.
Carving some turns at the Canyons.

 Green River Float

The cold scenery
The cold scenery

Brenton presented me with a guided fishing trip with Doug Robert’s Old Moe Guide Service as a gift for the big three zero. On Sunday evening, we packed up the Yukon XLT, hitched up to the Clacka, and proceeded to drive the three plus hours out to Dutch John. Due to the change of management at Spring Creek Guest Ranch, we were unable to stay at our normal location. Instead we camped out at the Shire Lite Units at Flaming Gorge Recreation Services (The old Conoco at the corner of UT 191 and South Boulevard).

Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.
Drift boat packed and ready to go for next time.

For breakfast we met up with Rachel, AJ and their family at the breakfast counter.  You may recall Rachel, AJ and family from our summer adventures at Spring Creek Guest Ranch. We have been out to Dutch John so many times now, you develop a core group of people you drop in and say hello to.

German Brown fish mouth
German Brown fish mouth

Doug arrived at the agreed time, 9AM, to get out on the water, however, we were not yet finished with breakfast. A “large” crowd during the offseason is unexpected in this remote part of the USA, so we weren’t too worried about a later start time. We finally finished eating around 10AM and drove over to the Flaming Gorge Dam boat launch. Father and I hopped in the boat with Doug; Brenton piloted the Clacka for Mark and Tall Boy (Matt). Doug’s boat launched first, followed by Brenton and AJ’s Hyde boat pulled up the rear.

Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark
Drifting, Brenton, Matt and Mark

Tale of Two Boats

Father and son with the Old Moe boat.
Father and son with the Old Moe boat.

Immediately upon getting the boat in the water, I cast out the egg pattern with thingamabobber rigged up. Doug was readying a nymph rig for father; suddenly my indicator was sucked under the water. I pulled back and set the hook, line tore off of the reel until I regained control. The fight was on! The fish flashed its broad side to us; a crisp red line crossed it laterally, indicating it was a Rainbow. As I coerced the bow to come toward the boat, its size became apparent. As all things in life, the moment was ephemeral. As fast as this fish hit, as hard as it fought, it unbuttoned from the hook as Doug was reaching for the net. I remain unable to break the 20-inch Trout mark on Utah’s Green River.

The Rainbow that did not get away.
The Rainbow that did not get away.

After this boat ramp excitement, we pushed off, amped for a day of fishing, notwithstanding the cold and slight snowfall. The takes were subtle and required an eagle eye on the indicator even going as far as to follow your egg pattern in the water by eye. The hungry Trout rose slowly to the egg pattern if you placed the indicator a tad out of the fast water. Becoming familiar with the slow takes and action required to set the hook resulted in consistent Trout to the boat.

German Brown hanging out in my hands.
German Brown hanging out in my hands.

The fishing tapered off around the lunch hour and we pulled aside for some delicious chicken sandwiches. A thing to keep in mind while winter drift boat fishing, there is no such thing as too many clothes. The wind kicks up hard, especially in the bottom of the A section.

Dark Rainbow
Dark Rainbow

The Others

Pushing down the Green about half an hour behind us was the second part of the group. Every now and again we glanced back and viewed the Clacka about a hole behind us. This was Mark’s maiden voyage on a drift boat; he has been regaled with tales of Utah’s Green river but never fished it himself.  Reports of moderate success flowed from the boat though not fishing the egg pattern worked as a handicap.

Colorful Rainbow
Colorful Rainbow

Final Fish

Father's final Bow Monster.
Father’s final Bow Monster.

As anticipated, while the day wound down, the wind intensity picked up. Even so, at the bottom of the A section, it always pays to keep your hook in the water. Big fish reside in these parts and as they say, “Can’t catch a fish if your hook is not in the water.” Sure enough, as we drifted Catwalk Shoals, the action heated up. Father put his largest German Brown and Rainbow on the board for the day!

Father's Final German
The Last German
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.
Packing up the boat, me, father, Brenton and Mark.

Bluebird Final Day

The last full day is always the most fun, after getting all the rust off my winter sports skill set; I only had one day left! The team had partied, skied, fished, partied some more and now the epic time was drawing to a close. Mark, Brandon and Nicole opted to take the Yukon out to Antelope Island. This freed Brenton, father and myself to spend the whole day snowboarding on the mountain!

View from the chairlift.
View from the chairlift.

We hit most of the groomers at Park City that I like and even got into some trees. The snow conditions remained the same as previous week so the only available coverage was a bit icy in the shade and all right in the sun. Dad was able to do a few mogul runs. Thus far this year Utah’s snow cover was at 60% +/- of normal (they have since received snow). Anyway, for the sake of better fishing this summer, I hope they get some substantial snowfall in February.

Father got tight with the tree.
Father got tight with the tree.

We concluded the sporting lifestyle birthday with dinner and beers at Red Rocks Brewery in New Park by our condo. The next day we boarded the plane and flew uneventfully, and unwillingly, back to New Jersey.

Rod bending action.
Rod bending action.

Coming Up: More Ice Fishing

Green River Summers

This Trout is happy to be back in his environment.
This Trout is happy to be back in his environment.

As you travel this great big country of ours, you start to locate noteworthy places with the power to draw you back. Eventually, as you have visited enough destinations, you will return to the awesome places you have been to before. Utah’s Green River and the surrounding area is one such location. The Trout fishing is great, the people are amazing and the scenery is unparalleled.

Brown Trout Jaw
Brown Trout Jaw
This Bow removed the Skunk smell from our boat.
This Bow removed the Skunk smell from our boat.

Dry Fly Fishing

Brenton holding is 19+ Rainbow Trout slab.
Brenton holding is 19+ Rainbow Trout slab.

The Green River is the only drift boat floatable river in the state of Utah; it is also one of the best dry fly fishing rivers in America. Catching a Trout on the dry fly an exhilarating experience. The best analogy I can give for rippin’ lips on the dry from a boat is, “video game fishing.” There is great pressure and excitement as the oarsman guides the angler into a fine drift. At that point the stress is on the angler, throw the presentation out with enough force to defy the wind but lay it down gently enough to prevent the fly from drowning. Add in a proper mend and you will have a serviceable drift. This drift it is likely to trigger a hungry Trout’s instincts, s/he will emerge from the deep to inspect the tempting offer. The angler will retain a vivid memory of every strike. The wide-open mouth emerging from the deep as you wait to set the hook just right.

Chunky Brown
Chunky Brown

On the Green River, certain terrestrial patterns just work. For example, the hopper, an ant, a cicada or the Mormon Cricket are all tried and true, success is always dependent on the time of the year. In addition to these patterns, we were finding strong Midge and Caddis hatches during our five wonderful days.

Chris, George and Brenton after a long day of catching fish.
Chris, George and Brenton after a long day of catching fish.

The Guides

Brenton recently became the proud owner of the Clacka Eddy, and amazing, light and comfortable drift boat. He was kind enough to let Matt and I take the boat down the A section, when mom/ dad and Brenton/ Jourdan were with their guides.

Mom, Dad and Gene on the boat.
Mom, Dad and Gene on the boat.

The first time the family headed out to the Green River, four years ago, we made the mistake of not using a guide and attempting to walk the river. Floating the Green is the best way to fish and explore the river. You will catch fish from the shore though it is nowhere near as effectively as from the drift boat.

Gene rows Chris and Brenton into some fish.
Gene rows Chris and Brenton into some fish.

Three years ago, through Trout Creek Flies, we stumbled upon Gene Gautieri, we have used him every year since. The next year he introduced us to Nick Jackson a new guide who has worked in both Alaska and Argentina. Nick and Gene both are infinitely patient with the less gifted of us Fly Fishing enthusiasts, while willing and able to set you up for difficult drifts and challenging casts when you get your rhythm together.

Father and Nick posing with a birthday fish.
Father and Nick posing with a birthday fish.

The River

I forgot to take my flippers off at lunch, walking like a duck.
I forgot to take my flippers off at lunch, walking like a duck.

In the past year, Utah received a relatively normal snowfall as opposed to the previous year that witnessed a drought. When we first started Fly Fishing the Green River we lived through some high water years that even did damage to the walking trail along the river. During the summer the flow and temperature of the Green River are tightly controlled through the Flaming Gorge Dam. This regulation is what makes the Green a superb tail water fishery.

The family after a tasty lunch provided by Nick and Gene.
The family after a tasty lunch provided by Nick and Gene.

The floatable sections are broken into the A, B and C. Here at MKFF we have cataloged several float trips down the river. This trip we concentrated on the A section due to sporadic evening thunderstorms that washed out Red Creek. The B below Red Creek and the entire C section was cloudy throughout the entire trip.

Rainbow in the Hawg Trough
Rainbow in the Hawg Trough

I had always associated the A section with fishing weighted nymph rigs using an indicator.  Nick worked with Brenton and I to transfer some serious knowledge about fishing the A section with a dry fly. In the four days of guided Fly Fishing adventure Gene was able to impart some of his vast knowledge of the Green River on us!

19.25 inch Brown in the Hawg Trough.
19.25 inch Brown in the Hawg Trough.

It’s in the hole!

The fourth Green River Expedition coincided with father’s 57th birthday and as anticipated there were some good family moments. This includes, though not limited to, the finishing of a bottle of Patron with our friends at Spring Creek Guest Ranch, the entire family having a fish on in two separate drift boats and father shouting, “Its in the hole!” for every fish he hooked.

Mom posing with a Rainbow.
Mom posing with a Rainbow.

Spring Creek Ranch

There are both places and people that stay familiar even when you leave for a time; one of those unique destinations is the Spring Creek Ranch. Rachael and AJ manage the place with Grandmother Pat and their three children. We have come back for the fourth year in a row, each time we depart it is sad but when we return, it is as if we never left.

The Kuhns, Nick, Gene and the family at Spring Creek.
The Kuhns, Nick, Tall Boy, Gene and the family at Spring Creek.

Go West Young Man

The call of the American West is strong, every time I go out there it becomes more difficult to leave. I catch more fish and meet more great people, living and loving life in a way that has been lost to mainstream America. The Trout are large, the land is vast and the rivers are clean and cool.

Stop here in Laramie for Prime Rib or Chicken Fried Steak.
Stop here in Laramie for Prime Rib or Chicken Fried Steak.

Until November…

Jourdan When is your tee Time?
Jourdan When is your tee Time?

Spring Travels

Down by da beach boiiiiiii
Down by da beach boiiiiiii

This spring I’ve been incredibly fortunate to do quite a bit of traveling in a short time.  It all started towards the end of April when my girlfriend I met up with my brother and some of his friends for a double birthday and fishing extravaganza in Florida.  See my brothers blog for his tales of the trip to Sanibel Island.  I had never done any Saltwater fly fishing prior to this journey so I didn’t really know what to expect…it was unbelievable.  Every fish we pulled out, I had no idea what it was, but they put up a hell of a fight.

Dave feeding a bird some bait fish
Dave feeding a bird some bait fish

The flies we used were way less intricate then some of the trout flies that I normally tie, but all you really needed down there was the schwminnow and a glass fish.  Our first day Jourdan ripped the most fish out of the Gulf and I struggled a bit to read the water.  What I learned was there is a lot of waiting for the birds and tides during the day time or just hire a guide and they will take you to where the fishing is on fire.

Celebrating Jourdan's BDAY
Celebrating Jourdan’s BDAY
Jourdan with a Sea Trout
Jourdan with a Sea Trout
Sunset on a boat
Sunset on a boat
Ripping snook up after dark
Ripping snook up after dark

 

Flying back to SLC
Flying back to SLC

Once Jourdan and I arrived back in Salt Lake I had the opportunity to drive the delivery van for the ski shop back to Colorado for the summer.  I brought my fishing and snowboard gear along for the ride.  The snowboarding did not work out, but the fishing did.

Sometimes when you have to drive 500 miles in a day you have to set out at 4 AM to get a half a day of fishing in
Sometimes when you have to drive 500 miles in a day you have to set out at 4 AM to get a half a day of fishing in
Traffic jam in route to the fishing
Traffic jam in route to the fishing

 

The "Gold Ribbon" stretch of the Frying Pan
The “Gold Ribbon” stretch of the Frying Pan

Fishing in Colorado is way different than fishing in Utah.  Stream access is not nearly as good.  There are some assholes in Utah trying to ruin our stream access, but that’s a whole different story.  I stopped by Taylor Creek Flies for some advice before hitting the stream.

There knowledge worked.  There are a ton of fish in that river, but also a ton of people.
Their knowledge worked. There are a ton of fish in that river, but also a ton of people.

After some nymphing and some midge dry fly action I had to pack up and continue on Frisco.

The road to A Basin
The road to A Basin

The next morning I woke up and dressed to go snowboarding up at Arapahoe Basin.  However, my pass that was lined up for me fell through so I had to fall back on my back up play to do some more fishing before catching my ride to Denver International to get back to Salt Lake.

Another small stream with a shit ton of people
Another small Colorado stream with some snow still lingering
However, there were some nice fish to be caught.
However, there were some nice fish to be caught.

Once home, Ted and I went to some more familiar territory for me.

A moose spying on me
A moose spy
Ted with a fat Rainbow
Ted with a healthy Rainbow
Tala and Jefe
Tala and Jefe enjoying the beautiful weather
Healthy Trout
Healthy Trout
This adventure comes to a close, but there will be more.  Fishing and the sites you see is awesome
This adventure comes to a close, but there will be more. Fishing and the sites you see is awesome

Forever West

As winter turns to spring and the weather begins to warm, I again find myself reminiscing of the days, months, and years that have gone by since I originally made the move west.  I could have never done any of this without the never-ending support and comfort from my family back in Jersey and the constant love and affection from my wonderful girlfriend who allows me to pursue my dreams and passions even if they aren’t always hers.

This is what I have been up to lately.

The resorts are seeing less and less visitors.
The resorts are seeing less and less visitors.
The backcountry comes to life again after some fresh snow.
The backcountry comes to life again after some fresh snow.
Jake getting waste deep.
Jake getting waste deep.
LeMatty in the white room.
LeMatty in the white room.
The end of a great run
The end of a great run
Spring is coming to the Snyderville Basin
Spring is coming to the Snyderville Basin
The road less traveled
The road less traveled
The river less fished
The river less fished
Bottom dweller seeing the light
Bottom dweller seeing the light
Lower Provo Rainbow
A nice rainbow
These rainbows put up a great fight
This rainbow put up a great fight

Thank you to all that have helped me out along the way and everyone that took part in the fishing and boarding with me.  It’s been fun living this dream so far.

 

 

Midge magic with the “Bob”

In the early spring, little bugs are king in the diet of trout in Utah.  When you fish a river as heavily fished as the Provo it pays to be different from the crowds.  Not only do you catch more fish than the masses, you also catch more fish. I’ve mainly been nymphing small midge patterns, beatis patterns, and other bugs in the 18 through 24 range even while fish are rising all around, but sometimes it’s fun to join the masses and be a dry fly enthusiast.  However, I still like catching and not aimlessly waiving a stick in the air, untying knots, and looking through my fly box pretending to “match the hatch”, looking for a mother shucker even though I have no idea what that fly is supposed to represent.

The Bob
The Bob

This fly is super easy to tie, you might already have the materials to make it, and fish will take this fly down when they are eating off the surface or when they are tailing and eating in the film.  What you will need to mimic this fly is;

image

 

I've been using this thread lately, because I think it is stronger, but you can use any gray 8/0 thread
I’ve been using this thread lately, because I think it is stronger, but you can use any gray 8/0 thread
Super Hair in black and white. This is a lot easier to work with then making an actual biot body
Super Hair in black and white. This is a lot easier to work with then making an actual biot body
Foam to make the fly sit perpendicular to the water
Foam to make the fly sit perpendicular to the water
For the thorax. Any dubbing you have will work, I am just a fan of extra flash
For the thorax. Any dubbing you have will work, I am just a fan of extra flash
I just bought a uv lamp so I'm stoked on it, but you don't have to add this to the fly. It will work just fine without this addition
I just bought a uv lamp so I’m stoked on it, but you don’t have to add this to the fly. It will work just fine without this addition

Now comes the actual tying.

image

Wrap in a strand of black and white super hair
Wrap in a strand of black and white super hair

Wrap the white strand around first, then trim
Wrap the white strand around first, then trim

Next wrap in the black
Next wrap in the black

You can skip these steps if you don't have a UV lamp
You can skip these steps if you don’t have a UV lamp

If you do, coat the fly with a little bit of the goo
If you do, coat the fly with a little bit of the goo

Cure it for 5 to 10 seconds
Cure it for 5 to 10 seconds

Cut out a small piece of the foam
Cut out a small piece of the foam

Twist it onto the fly
Twist it onto the fly

Take your dubbing
Take your dubbing

Twist a little bit onto your thread
Twist a little bit onto your thread

Wrap it up
Wrap it up

Pull foam over thorax, whip finish, and enjoy catching those picky eaters.
Pull foam over thorax, whip finish, and enjoy catching those picky eaters.

Exploring the Wasatch

The Salt Lake Valley pictured from Big Cottonwood Canyon
The Salt Lake Valley pictured from Big Cottonwood Canyon

As I return home from my first couple of days fishing since early December, I begin to reflect on the months gone by.  The Wasatch front was hit hard with some early season storms this year and a few others kept the powder pretty good in the backcountry.  The following pictures document some of our journeys in search of that untouched snow.

Chris LeMatty testing to see if it really is "the greatest snow on Earth"
Chris LeMatty testing to see if it really is “the greatest snow on earth”
Pow slash
Pow turns
Sam Barco with that pillow pow
Sam Barco with that pillow pow
Jake taking a gander at his options
Jake taking a gander at his options
It was deep
It was deep
Looking back at our route
Looking back at our route
Sunset
Sunset on a great day
Feelin' that tug again
Feelin’ that tug against

Depending on the weather, there will be more fishing or boarding to come. Hopefully, bit it of both.