My 2019 Vacation
Written by Rob Mukai on Oct. 20, 2019
This year I did an almost 4 week vacation back to the US. It was a combination of wanting to see my daughter off before she headed to graduate school and doing my first fly fishing show in LA. The two conspired to make it a long vacation. I flew up to Utah on Sept. 11. Believe it or not, it is still the cheapest day to fly. Went out fishing 4 times with good friends, did a presentation to the Bonneville Fly Fishers Club, and ended the trip in LA going to the So. Cal Fly Fishing Faire before coming home to Xcalak.
In the first week, I went out fishing with one of my bestest fishing buddies from Utah, Mike Overton and his son Keaton. They took me to a secret little stream in the Utah mountains. It was great fun catching 17-18 inch cutthroat trout in a tiny stream with great big hopper patterns. Always fun to catch lots of good sized fish. This being the first time I'd fished for trout in probably 2 or 3 years, the first few casts with a 4 weight seemed really strange as I'm used to throwing really stiff 8 and 9 weights. Really needed to back off and slow down :) Also, the first couple of fish I strip set on a dry fly. (Spoiler alert, it does work but probably not the most efficient way to do it)
The next week, I was able to present "DIY Saltwater Fly Fishing" to the Bonneville Fly Fishers Club. I was a member of the club in the early days when we only had a handful of members. They have grown the club to a good size. There were over 20 people at the meeting and hopefully we will get a few of the club members to come visit us in Xcalak. That weekend Rich Lobrovich invited me to fish a private pond that had a bunch of big tiger trout in it. Had a beautiful day, unfortunately, I didn't catch a big tiger, but was able to get a bunch of rainbows and even a few large mouth bass.
I also got to go to the Holy Water with another bestest buddy and amazing photographer Douglas Barnes. This medium sized river holds some very nice brown trout. After fishing an area, and having a guide high hole us, we moved upstream and were rewarded with a couple of really nice fish. The one above was 24 inches with a giant head but a skinnier body. But it was definitely the biggest trout I caught all trip.
Another bestest buddy Wylie Thomas has some property in Star Valley, Wyoming right on the Salt River and he invited me and Mike up to go up to fish that area. His property is right on the Salt River and we were able to put in with pontoon boats a couple of miles upstream and float it right to his property. He has it set up with big canvas tent, with cots and pads. Not really roughing it but still nice. It did get really cold though. Down to the 40's Fahrenheit (4-5 degrees Celcius). For a guy who lives on the beach and a night in the 70's is cold, that was downright freezing! The next day we went to fish the Gros Ventre River, saw a big moose, but didn't do well fishing. It started raining, and we watched the snow level come further and further down the side of the mountain. The snow was turning to rain right about head level. It was getting cold. Then we moved to a tributary of the Snake just south of Jackson Hole, and started sticking some Snake River Cutthroats. The problem with that is you had to get your hands wet to land and release the fish. Dang, that water is cold! After the first one, my hands didn't get warm again until we were back in the truck for a half an hour with the heater on.
Another Buddy, Rex Huang of Rexfly fame offered to share a room with me for the Fly Fishing Faire. He also was driving down from SLC so he was able to bring a bunch of stuff down for me so I could save on extra baggage fees. Thanks Rex! We were originally going to share a booth, but we were able to work out two booths right next to each other. This was my first show. I had two presentations on DIY Saltwater Fly Fishing. They were pretty well attended and the booth worked out well. Thanks to Mike Overton for the backdrop design and thanks to Bryce Schieving for getting the backdrop printed. For a newbie, I think it turned out pretty well. Hopefully it turns into a few new guests. Being next to Rex, was an education as well. Dude has his pitch down.
After 4 weeks, I do have to admit I was ready to come home to the beach. Not just because it was getting really cold in the Utah, but also because the US has changed, or maybe I have changed, but everyone is sooooo busy, busy, busy. Everyone is anxious, stressed, working really hard. Maybe I was like that at one time. Probably. But I'm much happier on my beach, and I guess that is the draw for people to come to Xcalak. It's a place where you don't have to be going, going, going. You aren't double booked, and the projects can wait. Where you can go out and catch a fish, or not. Just hang on the beach and read a book.