All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Daydreaming of Summer

That's right, this is a picture of one of my summer fishing trips. Notice the nice lush green grass and short sleeve shirt and shorts. I'm in the daydreaming stage. I can't wait for spring.

 I shoveled about three inches of snow off my driveway this morning, then I went and shoveled two widow's driveways. I just looked outside and it's raining. The winter storm is coming out of the west riding on just enough warm air to keep it from snowing. That could change if the evening cools down enough to produce snow. The mountains are loaded with snow. It's about 130 percent of normal for this year. That will be good for the rivers and streams. A good brisk, run-off will help keep the waters clean and fresh.

As I posted earlier, I will go after some winter whitefish to get me outside and then I will dream of summer like I always do. December 21st, the days will get longer and the sun will start its migration to the north. For now, I will look at some of my summer pictures and remember those nice hot days.

Whitefish Politics

I've made a mental commitment to go out into the winter wonderland of Utah's wild Weber river and wrangle up some whitefish. As soon as I get through the holidays, I'm going. I remember how to nymph fish. Let's see, it was a prince nymph, a split shot, and an indicator; lob this up into the head of a nice deep run, control the drag with a mend or two and when the indicator pauses, set the hook.

I promised a co-worker a few whitefish for dinner. He loves them. Back when I used to fish all winter long, I would take him a limit of whites. The arrangement is that I don't have to do anything but put a limit in a bucket and take them directly to him. He fillets them, coats them with fish Shake-N- Bake, throws them in an oven for a few minutes and then serves. It actually sounds good, although, I have only eaten whitefish smoked.

I know a few areas on the Weber to visit, but my favorite places are on private property and with the "new" law passed by the legislature last session  it will keep me off that water. I had made a deal with the landowner about ten years ago and had verbal permission to enter his property from a public bridge. A couple of inconsiderate fly fishermen ruined my access by blocking his gate with their vehicle one day. He left them a note telling them that he needed to use the gate to haul feed down to his cattle and to please not block it in the future. He told me that he found the note hooked to his gate with a note on the back telling him where he could stick his feed and his cattle using some colorful language. He decided to post his property after that. Even with the ruling to allow access from public easements, I never went back on that property. His stretch of water has some nice whitefish, the biggest I have tangled with on the Weber. It also had nice browns and a few cutthroat.

I will venture out into the waters that are public. I'll be the one with the plastic bucket. Hopefully, I can place a few whities in it for my friend. He keeps hinting about going out with me and learning how to catch them. He's approaching 80 years old, and I don't really see it happening. The smile on his face when I bring him a bucket of whitefish makes me happy. Thinking about him fixing them and eating them makes me smile.

Maybe sometime in the near future the two smiles will be between the private landowners along the rivers and the fishermen who would love to fish the public waters flowing through those properties. First, we have to learn to be civil and charitable human beings, and that goes for both fisherman and landowners.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Burning a Few Hours on the Blacksmith

Mark with little brownie.

Matt studying a section of water.

Blacksmith Fork is loaded with little brown trout.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Simple Pleasure: An Autumn Day on a River

Trying out Mark's polarized sunglasses.

Mark was catching cutts like this all day.

Boulder strewn water. Picking the pockets.

Another colorful Bonneville cutthroat.

This was the only brown of the day. I watched it take a Green Drake and then offered it a hopper. It went airborn, landed and then off to the races. Very wild!

Mark took this one with an excellent cast under overhanging willows.

This was my last cutt. Nice way to end an enjoyable afternoon.

Some fly fishermen get so good they catch them with their eyes closed!


Nice and handsome.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Working some nice water.

I loved the blue tint to the Grey's River water. I glanced at it frequently as we (my wife and me) drove up the dirt road that paralleled it. Mountainsides loaded with pine forests rose on each side of the canyon. This is my kind of place; my kind of water. A fly fisherman with some experience will know what water looks fishy. This water does. I was excited to get to a place and give it a try. I was patient and drove for about 25 or 30 miles before pulling over to fish. The water looked so pure and clean. I was sure if I looked hard I would spot fish. The first hole I fished was a deep plunge pool that ran out into a nice choppy riffle and then a glide of very smooth water. I could spot no fish in the smooth water and quickly moved up into the deeper riffle. I place the hopper right on the seam where the faster water met the slow water on the deep edge of the run. There had to be trout holding along the seam. It was a prime area. Several casts without a look moved me up to the head of the plunge. Maybe the trout were holding behind the rocks. Nothing. I stood to the side of the plunge and cast above the rocks and into the next run. Sometimes the trout will hold in front of the rocks. It's a place that creates a break from the current and a place where trout like to hold. Again, nothing. I was taught that when the fishing is slow, I should move fast, and if the fishing is fast, I should move slow. So far, the fishing was slow so I started to move fast. I cast into some very fishy looking runs and came up with nothing. As I moved, I looked for signs of spooked fish and saw none. I was beginning to be a little disappointed. I mean, this was nice looking water.

Small, beautiful Snake River cutthroat.

I loved the look and color of this water.

This looked like a Bonneville cutthroat?

After a frustrating first hour of fishing and not seeing any sign of fish, I drove upstream to another likely spot. I walked down river and fished back up to the car. I saw one fish about 10 inches that slashed at my fly behind a large rock. This was nice looking water too. In my mind, I began to think of my familiar "home" waters and how I would have had several fish by now. What is so different about this water than the water closer to home? If it wasn't for the surrounding beauty and the company of my wife, I might have gone from frustrated to angry. In my younger years I think I would have been red in the face by now, but I have learned to enjoy my fly fishing for other reasons than just nailing a bunch of fish. Still, catching fish is high on the list for having a successful adventure. Reports from other anglers had led me to this river. What was I doing different than them? Maybe I needed to fish subsurface? I really wanted to get them on a hopper. Hoppers where in the area. The cutthroat trout should be all over a hopper.

I decided to migrate back down river and hit some spots on the way out. We pulled into a vacant campground and I dropped down over a high bank and into the river. I fished about four nice holes with nothing. I was stinking the place up. One the near bank was a downed pine tree that looked like it had been in the water for a couple of years. I cast up along the edge of it and just before the hopper reached the side of the sunken pine a trout flashed out quick and took the fly. It was a decent fish, strong, and full of fight. I worked it to the river's edge and estimated it at 14 maybe 15 inches. Finally a Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout!

I never caught another trout in that area and again we drove down river and to a new area. The next area proved to be a success. I caught several trout but nothing as nice as the first fish. Most of the fish in this are measured 8 to 12 inches. Not as impressive as I had expected or wanted. I wanted to fish the Little Grey's River so we drove down to it's confluence with the main Grey's. It was small water and I was able to catch a trout or two in each hole and run. The little cutts were aggressive and catching them in the small water was easy.

We had some places we wanted to visit in Afton and Osmond, Wyoming before it got dark so we left the Grey's and headed for town. After visiting a cemetery and looking at a great grandfather's grave. We drove up a small dirt road that led out of town and stumbled upon a small creek. "That creek looks fishy," I told my wife. "Well, we are here and you have your gear, see if there are fish in it," she replied. I don't have to get permission twice. I was pulled over and casting in minutes. I stood on the road and cast into some nice pools. The third pool rewarded me with a plump cutthroat. I moved to another hole and again caught a healthy looking cutthroat. These were nice fish for the size of the water and it quickly brought a smile to my face. I watched as several  fish fed in a smooth run taking emerging caddis flies. I couldn't reach them from where I was and didn't want to get wet or put on waders so I let them be. Those two trout satisfied my curiosity and because they were fine-spotted Snake River cutts made the feeling of satisfaction even better.

A pleasant surprise!

Nice, little trout from this creek.

Yes, that is a very satisfied look on my face.

I could catch trout like this all day.

The small creek was a nice end to a good day. I thought about hitting the Salt River and Salt creek on the way out of Star Valley but decided to get back to Montpelier, Idaho for dinner and then back to the summer home at Bear Lake. Even though the fishing wasn't what I wanted or expected, the overall experience, scenery, and time spent with my wife made for good memories. My pleasures are simple.

Young, bull moose checking us out.

This was the best trout of the day. Nothing to write home about but nice for a blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

That Fishing Hat

I decided to drag out my old fishing hat. I used to wear it all the time about 20 years ago. It's a cheap felt hat, but stylish. I even had it branded on the back. "AR" is burnt into it. The brand for a Scout camp I like. It's the camp I used to take Boy Scouts to when I was a scoutmaster. The camp is known for it's horsemanship. Scouts can earn the horsemanship merit badge and spend portions of everyday on horseback. One year the whole troop earned the badge and slight bull legs and saddle soreness. It was fun and in honor and remembrance, I had one of the buckaroos brand my hat. "AR" is the brand for Aspen Ridge, a Scout camp in Idaho up Cub River Canyon. (And you thought I took the Scouts up there just for the horses.)

I've worn the hat on and off, for the past several years, but it has spent more time in the closet. I turned to a ball cap for my fishing expeditions. I don't know why I grabbed it last Saturday. It just called out, "wear me." I enjoyed wearing it. It provided some nice shade for my face and neck. My wife says it was hard to see my face in the pictures because of the shade so it was taken off for a few photographs.

I know some anglers who have "magic" or "lucky" fishing hats. These hats have some special powers that allow the angler to catch more fish. Some of these hats are kept way too long. They become encrusted with sweat and dirt. The owners never realizing that most hats can be cleaned. I have ball caps that have become marked with white streaks of dried salt. If I like the hat, I will wash the salt out and quickly dry it. On hot days, I've been known to dip my hat in the cool stream water and then place it on my head. This helps keep my brain from frying. OK, I agree, brains already fried. The wet hat keeps it from becoming a total burnt offering.

I don't think the hat made Saturday's fishing adventure more successful, but I just felt good in that hat. I caught some nice fish. I spent the afternoon with my wife, thus, the photos of me with the fish as opposed to just pictures of trout when I go solo. She even got in the water and wet-waded up through a couple of sections of stream. Seriously, how many women would do that?
I flipped an air-filled hopper most of the time. I noticed more hoppers jumping around the stream side grasses. Some of the trout would sip at it cautiously and I missed setting the hook. Others took it deliberately.

It was good to get out. I have had two great weekend trips between the thunder-bumper-micro-bust-wind- storms that have been blowing through this summer. I plan to take a week off sometime in September to fish my guts out. Maybe I'll take two weeks. That should get me real acquainted with my old fishing hat again!Oh...sorry for all the pictures of me. Concentrate on the Bonneville cutthroat trout--so handsome!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Remebered Lesson

Early last fall, I spent a day on the Logan River with Cutthroat Stalker (you can find a link to his fine site on my list of blogs) and a couple of fly fishers out of Canada. The plan was to fish Twisted Foam Hoppers and analyze catches. I have always caught trout with the pattern starting about July and on until the snow flies. This particular outing last fall seemed different. We spit up in pairs and fished different stretches of river. The stretch me and my partner fished was slow and we only moved a couple of fish.  At first I thought it was the stretch of water we were fishing. It was flat and barren of deeper holes and pockets. If there was trout, they were not interested in the hopper and we were not spooking them as we waded through likely water. I still content that it was the section of water we were in. I did learn a lesson from Scott (Cutthroat Stalker). I said the plan was to fish hoppers, but Scott was quick to change flies after no success with the Twisted Foam configuration. When we met up his fishing partner told us that Scott had switched to a caddis dry and started picking up fish. I didn't think much of it at the time and figured they fished better water (so difficult for a fly tier to admit his pattern isn't working, especially when it has been a good pattern in the past), but I did log into my mind, that it could be that the trout were looking for caddis--or a smaller fly. Besides, Scott is a local from Cache Valley so he had an edge.

When I hit the Logan a couple of weeks ago, I was trying a larger foam pattern. It's a pattern I have nailed fish with on the Ogden River in late summer and fall. I have heard that Logan Canyon has good populations of cicada. This foam pattern would imitate a cicada well. I had to give it a try.

My first few casts brought nothing and I was fishing real nice water. I moved through several holes and still nothing. Barren water? It seems that is always my first thought. Can't be the pattern, right? I moved quick. I wanted to give the fly a fighting chance. Remember, I have nailed fish with the pattern on the Ogden. Hmmm. Maybe it is the trout? The Ogden is full of brown trout. Do brown trout like a bigger meal? Are the cutthroat in the Logan little bug sippers? I have to think back--no, I've had excellent hopper fishing on the Logan. I've talked to old-timers who say they used to catch "locust" (cicada) in the trees on the Logan and use them as bait. Most of the trout in the Logan are opportunistic feeders. The growing season is short. these fish have to eat during the summer and fall to fatten up for the cold, lean winter months.
I actually caught one trout on the cicada and had a miss. This made me pay more attention and I noticed several fish move back with the pattern but not rise with it. I decide to tie on a smaller fly and see if one of the fish would rise. I tied on a size 12 Chain-stitched Green Drake and cast it over the trout I had spotted. Without hesitation the fish rose to the surface and sipped the fly. I played it to the shallows and set it free. The next few holes produced the same result. It turned out to be a great afternoon of fishing. I guess if I wanted to be real scientific, I could have tied on the cicada and fished it again to see if time of day would make a difference, but when I lost the Chain-stitched mayfly in a nice cutthroat's mouth as I tried to lift it to my hand, I reeled in my line and called it a day.

I walked out to the dirt road and down to where I parked. I have to admit I had a smile on my face. It was a great afternoon of fishing. In fact, thoughts of that trip have kept me in good spirits for a couple of weeks now. I also had a smile because I remembered the lesson Scott taught about changing to a smaller fly.

Monday, August 2, 2010


The Hopper Skipper Jumper! This zany, somewhat crazy, but very amazing pattern is a fabulous attractor pattern. To be released this fall. HOT! That's all I can say right now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


 I know that all of us have lives that cause us to ponder and search. It seems I have a propensity for it. I've always been a quiet ponderer, but recently, I have realized that life is short. Without going into too much detail, I will say that my brother, who is only a year and a half older than me, had a main artery in his heart rip open a few years back. Miracles and a dedicated and talented surgeon saved his life. This incident confirmed my feeling that life is short. It shook me up. Alix Kate Shulman quotes a friend who suffered from a heart attack and subsequent surgery in her book, Drinking the Rain: "I've learned two main things from my heart attack. The first one is, if I survive this surgery I will never rush again. The second is this, I'm going to show my love as often as I can." I like the idea of not rushing and showing love often. Those ideas go with solitary ventures into headwaters.

One of the things I have been trying to be better at, is seeing beauty in the landscape, the plants and animals, and in the feelings I have while outdoors. This is the attitude I carried with me as I searched out the wild, native cutthroat in a local headwater creek.

I walked to the bridge and dropped down to the creek. I was wet wading with shorts and light-weight hiking boots. I stepped into the water and felt the initial sensation of cold wetness. This sensation soon subsided as my feet became used to the temperature change. The rocks were slick and I had to be careful as I moved around the creek. I've tweeked my back slipping on round, slick rocks. Back pain can cut into fishing time so I've learned to be cautious as I wade.

I cast into several pockets and seams and caught a couple of lively, and brightly colored native cuthroat trout; the exact treasure I had hoped for. Each trout was handsome. I looked for the orange slash of color under the jaw and noticed the dark spotting, the bluish par marks, the rose gill covers, and the tea-stained fins and tail. Other colors jumped to my eyes as I admired and released each fish.

After catching a number of fish, my mind wandered. I noticed the green in the streamside grasses and the yellow, lavender, and orange in wildflowers. Deep dark pines along the canyon side gave hints of refreshing shade on a sun-hot day.

I made it up stream about a mile and sat down on a large rock. I ate a granola bar and drank from my water bottle. As I sat, I listened. I heard the voice of the creek: a gentle and bubbling voice with an occassional deep bump when rocks rubbed together. The sounds became soporific and I closed my eyes long enough to start a dream. I was moved to alertness by the call of a bird. I looked around. I stood and gathered my gear. One more trout, I thought, as I placed my cast along a small undercut bank. A quick rise and a lift of the rod brought another cutthrout from its lie.

I followed the road back out to my car. I glanced down to the creek from time to time. I'll be back I whispered. My life is too short to not share a portion of it with my friends.