Video: Incoming! or When to Get the Heck Off the Water

Written by: Spencer Higa, Falcon’s Ledge

It was a fine July evening when fellow guide Bryan Eldredge and I decided we would go and fish a local reservoir near Falcon’s Ledge. It had been a long day and we hadn’t had any rain for a couple of weeks, which was strange for this time of year. There were clouds forming all day, but nothing threatening. We hooked up the drift boat to Bryan’s truck and headed to Sandwash Reservoir to target rainbows.

We arrived at the launch point, and it looked beautiful—totally calm at about 80 degrees, and we could see rings forming in the middle of the lake. Excited to get out, we rigged our rods and backed the boat down the ramp. I asked Bryan if he thought we needed our jackets because the temperature usually drops as the sun sets in the Uinta basin. We decided that we wouldn’t be too far from the car, and if it got cold we could make it back quickly.

I began to row to an area we thought would produce for us. We had arrived at the reservoir around six o’ clock, so we didn’t have a lot of time to mess around. We both had Woolly Buggers on, which would allow us to cover as much water as possible. It took us about 10 minutes to see action. Bryan was stripping his Bugger in rather quickly when he got a strike, but no fish. The we began getting several strikes near the boat. Finally, Bryan hooked a fish and brought it to the net. It was a smallmouth bass! We knew they were there, but we were expecting to catch trout. The next hour proved to be very productive, and it seemed as though we found a pod of smallies eager to eat Buggers. I dropped my Bugger off the edge of the boat, let it sink 10-12 feet, and then I began jigging it. The smallmouth bass couldn’t resist, and we landed 20-30 between the two of us.


Spencer Higa hoists a nice smallmouth bass, as the impending darkness of the
coming apocalypse appears behind him.

photo courtesy Bryan Eldredge

With all the action, we totally disregarded what was forming in the sky behind us. It was one of the darkest clouds I have ever seen. It was a good distance away, but it sure was gnarly. We went back to fishing, and before we knew it the clouds had moved directly over the top of us, bringing lightning and thunder with it. Bryan reeled in and grabbed the oars. We were closer to the far bank than the boat dock, so we decided to oar to the beach and take cover. I began to reel in when I hooked the biggest smallie of the evening. It took me few minutes to land the fish, and when I did it got dark. As soon as the picture was taken, we reached the beach and ran to the cliffs to take cover.

No more than five minutes after we’d beached the drift boat, the wind picked up and we could feel the rain fall. The rain quickly turned into marble-size hailstones that felt like someone was taking pot shots at us with a bb gun. Huddling against the rocks, we felt we were out of danger. The plan was to wait out the storm and then continue fishing.

A minute into the storm, the temperature dropped to the upper 40s. Shivering and trying to stay out of the rain and hail, we saw lightning strike very close to us. The cliffs we were taking shelter under began flash-flooding, and the water came over the cliffs, creating a waterfall and showered us both with red clay.

As the storm passed through, we decided to get into the drift boat and head home. We were soaking wet. but was definitely a fishing trip to remember.

Spencer Hail

Spencer Higa is pummeled by hailstones, as he tries to stay under an overhang.

photo courtesy Bryan Eldredge

Spencer Higa is head guide at Falcon’s Ledge in Altamont, Utah.

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