Monday, June 11, 2012

Free Fishing Day

This last weekend I went up to Idaho for free fishing day with my dad, my brother, Nathan, and my brothers-in-law, Mike and Luke. In years past we've gone up for Wyoming's free fishing day or stayed here for Utah's free fishing day. This year Utah and Wyoming had their free fishing days on June 3rd, but several of us were busy.[1] So we went to Idaho's instead, which was on the 10th. We went up Friday evening and stayed with my aunt in Star Valley, Wyoming. The next morning, after helping her out with a few things, we headed over to Tin Cup Creek in Idaho. I forgot to bring a camera, so I had to use the dinky camera in my phone—which means all the photos are really tiny.

I went up planning on warm, sunny weather. When we got up there, my aunt informed us that there'd been frost on the ground almost every day last week. The next morning we woke up to find it overcast and that there was a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains. Fortunately it wasn't actually cold enough that I needed a jacket (which I didn't have). It sprinkled a couple times while we were fishing and even began to sleet once while we were driving home. There were also a few bouts of sunshine so I picked up a moderate sunburn.

The area was beautiful, with lush foliage, rushing water, and interesting rock formations.

Even though Leann wasn't along for the fun, I kept an eye out for birds. Here we have a hummingbird nest (on the far left) and a robin nest (middle left). I also saw red-tail hawks, ospreys, a brown-headed cowbird, a kingfisher, pelicans, swallows, magpies, crows, and sparrows. Though let's be honest, if Leann had been there, that list would be at least twice as long. Besides the birds, I saw a tent being made by a bunch of Western tent caterpillars (Malacosoma californicum; middle left). I don't usually see these in Utah but I often come across them in Star Valley. There were also lots of plants I didn't recognize.[2] One of the more interesting ones was this bush that had what looked like red flowers each with two yellow flowers popping out of the middle (far right).

As far as the fish go, all we were able to pull in were Utah suckers (Catostomous ardens) [3] and cutthroat trout, but we did land two varieties of the latter: the Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki ssp. utah) and the Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki ssp. behnkei). Between the five of us we kept eight fish [4], one of which we gave to my aunt for her hospitality. Alas, I didn't take a picture of any of them, so you'll just have to imagine them. Trust me, they were all enormous…


[1] For my part, I was watching Lillian while Leann ran in the Dirty Dash (see here).

[2] One, which had long, ugly thorns, gave me a couple itchy red spots on my right leg where I unintentionally impaled myself.

[3] Back in the days of the pioneers, when people were colonizing what are now Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, they would eat these. But now they're considered trash fish and fishermen just kill them and keep trying for something better.

[4] At the penultimate hole, my brother-in-law, Mike, was fishing with a worm and no bobber. He suddenly got very animated and announced that there was an enormous fish considering his worm. It went for it and he tried to set the hook, but it got away. Chagrined, he informed us that it was nearly 2 feet long! He tossed the worm back in and then, much to his excitement, it came back. As before, it tried to take the worm, Mike tried to set the hook, and it got away. He tried a third time. This time he set the hook! The fish immediately bolted and fought so hard that Mike was afraid it was going to break his line. But he slowly reeled it in. Just before it came out of the water I got my first look at it and announced, much to his consternation, that it was a (worthless) Utah sucker.

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