Have you ever wanted to fish a fantastic reservoir like Strawberry and have it all to yourself? Well, last Wednesday, it finally happened for me and a couple of good friends. Let’s take a look at how to still have a great day on the water even though the weather does anything but cooperate.
Kimball Anderson and his son-in-law Jason Christensen from Utah and Salt Lake counties respectively, had been trying to join me for a fall trip to Strawberry Reservoir since mid-October. My wife, Jeri, serves on the Timpanogos Hospital Board of Directors with Kimball, the CEO of the hospital.
A reader and follower of my column, Kimball and I have spoken over the years about Strawberry and how fun would be to fish in the fall.
We launched my boat just after 7 a.m. to a brisk east wind that temporarily stopped us from heading across the reservoir to some of my favorite areas to fish. Both Jason and Kimball are no strangers to casting and retrieving jerkbaits, so within five minutes of beginning our day both of them had either hooked a fish or at least had felt the tentative nudge of a large cutthroat.
We hid from the morning wind, amid a constant, light snow shower, in a protected cove close to the launch ramp. Our jerkbaits were Lucky Craft Pointer 128 minnows in ghost minnow colors. And, as previously mentioned, due to their experience, all I had to do was get us around fish (by watching my fish finders) and we all caught fish.
Each day you fish, it is crucial (early on) to figure out what the fish want at that exact time. We experimented with several retrieves, slow, erratic, start-stop, and a literal dead stick, which simply meant that after you jerked your rod tip down toward the water while reeling, you stopped and allowed your suspending jerkbait to rest.
There were times in the next couple of hours that it took multiple casts all around the boat to coax the fish to hit our lures. Kimball, quietly from the back of the boat, boated the first of several fish in the 22- to 25-inch class that weighed between 6 and 7 pounds. Jason, followed suit by using his vast angling experience to note how the fish wanted the lures and offered them to the cutthroats exactly how they wanted them.
As the day progressed, we found ourselves hiding from the relentless wind in The Narrows, with Kimball and Jason throwing jerkbaits while I threw tubes, both white- and brown-tipped with pieces of red worms. Though the bite wasn’t what I consider fast, we consistently caught fish wherever we went.
The day was mostly overcast and snow squalls moved through about every 30 minutes or so. Realizing this, I eventually switched from throwing a white tube to a dark brown version, which turned out to be the best color of the day.
My method of catching larger cutthroats was very simple: After making a long cast, I would jiggle my rod tip while the 1/4-ounce brown tube fell through the water column. The boat stayed in 20 feet of water, so a cast might last a good two to three minutes depending on the depth.
At times, the fish would hit the tube just as it entered the water, but most of the times the fish wanted it to drop to the 10- to 15-foot range, at which point they would strike.
I can’t remember a time when no other boats were on the reservoir, at least on the Strawberry side. We were literally able to fish wherever the wind allowed us to fish without worries about other anglers fishing the same areas.
We fished until after 4 p.m. and had consistent results for the entire day.
Watch the weather over the next few days, and if possible don’t hesitate to give Strawberry at least one more try before winter truly arrives. As long as the launch ramp is clear, there is nothing wrong with a snow day on Strawberry.