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Another Short Fishing Trip to the Rim July 2023
Dan Martinez  

I grew up in a family of trout fishermen. When it became my turn to play Dad, I brought up my sons to be trout fishermen as well. We may have caught a bass or a crappie here or there, but our fishing has always been focused on trout.

My son Ben and I wanted to get up to the high country for some kayak trout fishing this spring, but it just didn’t come together for us this year. The best we could do was to get out the week before Independence Day weekend. Obviously we wanted to avoid the holiday crowds, and to get to the lake before it got all fished out.

We were debating whether to head all the way out to Big Lake in the White Mountains, which is probably our favorite place to go, or to do the easier thing by heading up to Woods Canyon Lake on the Rim. We decided to do the easy thing. We did well there last year.

I reserved two nights in the Aspen campground which is within walking distance of the lake. If we would have gone to Big Lake, we would have stayed longer, because of the longer drive to get there.

Having reserved a spot in a campground, we couldn’t get there too early. They have defined check-in and check-out times. Check-in was 2 pm. We left the house around 11:30 am on Monday, and arrived at our campsite right on time. We didn’t do any fishing on Monday. Instead we just set up camp, had dinner, and relaxed.

The weather conditions would be windy for the days we would be there. I got up early on Tuesday morning to be able to get out onto the lake in the calmest possible conditions. Ben wasn’t so eager for an early start. He decided to stay in bed in the camper for another hour when I drove away to the boat ramp. Another reason that I wanted to get there early, was to get good parking close to the ramp.

I pulled my boat down from the truck bed rack, but left Ben’s kayak in the truck bed. The walking distance for Ben from our camp to where I parked the truck was about .6 miles. He could simply pull his boat from the truck bed and carry it down to the water on his shoulder when he was ready.

I got out on the water, pulling away from the ramp, when I realized that I forgot to grab my fishing rod! Spun the boat around, landed it, and walked back to the truck to grab my rod. Now back to the boat, and pull away from the ramp again! Sheesh.

Last year, when we slayed the fish here in late April, I used nightcrawlers dangling about 18” beneath a bobber, so that is how I started. No luck.

At one point, I cast my rig toward a couple of boulders at the far shore at the dam side of the lake and got excited when I almost immediately felt action on the end of my line. I tried setting the hook, pulled it in, but nothing was there.

I cast toward these boulders several times with the same results. Finally, I reeled back slowly, feeling the nibbling almost all the way back, and saw what was going on. It was a tiny fish, maybe an inch-and-a-half long, could have been a shad. He let go of the worm once I had lifted my bait rig out of the water. OK. So much for my boulders “hot spot”.

Not too long after that, I landed about a 3” bluegill or green sunfish. He took the hook deep. I had to work to get him unhooked, and though I released him alive, he was pretty sick. He stayed near the surface after release, sometimes turning on his side. I lost track of him, but about 20 minutes later I saw a bird swoop down nearby and grab something from the water – I’m guessing that was my bluegill.

Limit of four rainbows on the bow of the pedal kayak

Sometime later, I finally saw Ben show up. It was probably on the way toward 9:00 am by that time. I learned later that he had first gone all the way toward the shallow end of the lake looking for me and fishing before he ended up finding me on the dam end.

I decided to switch up my presentation. I removed the bobber and added a small rubber twist-on lead weight. It seemed that the top of the water column was not populated by my target species. Since we were here later in the season this year, in warmer weather, the trout were probably deeper.

That did the trick! Not too long later I pulled in my first trout of the season. He was a decent one, about 12” long. Great! I was on the scoreboard!

Ben would score next. He was using pink Powerbait when he pulled in a very nice trout of 14½”! Right on!

The wind was picking up by now. I started to use it to my advantage. I would pedal my kayak toward the upwind shore, cast, and let the wind push me back toward the downwind shore, with my bait rig drifting along near the bottom. I had tried anchoring, but my 10 pound mushroom anchor was not enough to hold me in place.

By lunch time, I had caught three more trout. One matched Ben’s at 14½”, and the other two were 12½” and 12¾”. Since the limit is now four trout a day, I was done.

It seems that as part of the switch to a limit of four, when the limit used to be six, that Game & Fish is growing the fish bigger before stocking them. In the last couple of years, I have not caught a trout smaller than 12”. Catches of 9”, 10”, and 11” trout is what I was used to. It’s actually very nice to be catching a larger class of fish, even if the limit is lowered.

That 14½-incher would be Ben’s only catch of the morning. At least it was a nice one. I had the worms, which I shared with him a couple of times when I pulled up alongside him, but he was mostly using Powerbait on a treble hook. I’m not sure whether he was fishing from the surface with a bobber, or down on the bottom with a sinker when he caught that fish.

We went back to camp for lunch and to relax a bit. Then for the afternoon we headed down off the Rim to find a targeted geocache, then on to Star Valley to fill up the truck. It is so much easier to maneuver in the gas station when you don’t have a camping trailer on your rear bumper.

We had only one night left at the camp site, and we would need to be packed up and gone by 11:00 am. I decided not to fish Wednesday morning, but would drop Ben off at the ramp in the morning, then head back to camp to pack things up. I told Ben that I would be back at the ramp at 10:00 am to pick him up. I gave him the carton of worms.

I was disappointed that he was not able to catch any more fish on Wednesday morning, I told him to try my deep drift technique with the worms, but it didn’t work for him. Oh well. We still thoroughly enjoyed our short, but sweet fishing and camping trip to the Rim country.

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