Fishing day; the B-4-Reel and a really bright trout at Otter Creek

Fishing Otter Creek - STGnews.com
Fishing boat at Otter Creek Reservoir, photo for illustration. Otter Creek State Park, Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

FEATURE — As shadows lengthened and his backside numbed from the almost three-hour drive, Nate Baker bumped onto the graveled road and drove cautiously past a row of mature cottonwood trees dressed in lush greenery that stood adjacent to the water’s edge at Otter Creek Reservoir.

Beachside camping at Otter Creek, photo for illustration. Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jim Lillywhite, St. George News
Beachside camping at Otter Creek State Park, photo for illustration. Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jim Lillywhite, St. George News

The posted camping area at Otter Creek State Park in Antimony appeared to be filled.

Assorted parked vehicles with wing mirrors winked the sun back at him and Nate was sure he heard a stray voice say, “ha ha beat you here, should have left home earlier.”

He pushed the mute button in his head and proceeded to snuggle his pickup with boat trailer attached between a nice recreational vehicle and a tent. The last of the camp spaces was now filled with early weekend vacationers in tent trailers, campers and other improvised homes at the beachfront campground.

The B-4-Reel 

The advent to Nate’s trip came just two weeks earlier at his home in St. George. He tested and waterproofed his 20-foot aluminum boat with its engine coupled with a jet-drive, suited for shallow waters.

It seemed ages since he had first reviewed the drawings and had ordered the first pieces of aluminum, cut per pattern.

Though he had only installed four upholstered seats – two more waited in the garage and the vessel still wanted paint – Nate decided it was time for a maiden voyage and christened the dory: B-4-Reel.

Readying it for first launch, Nate equipped the B-4-Reel with a first aid kit, a bright LED handheld emergency light, four medium-sized life jackets and two rod and reel sets – among them, a new Cabela’s special that his grown children had given him for Christmas.

He was giddy to get on the water.

The sky had decided to wear its blues instead of grays the day Nate was set to depart. Only a mischievous breeze fluttered his fishing hat and he yearned to hit the road. He attached the boat trailer to his pickup and headed back into the garage to retrieve a small igloo cooler.

Judy, Nate’s wife of thirty-nine years, called his name from the front porch and he squinted into the sun.

“Nate, honey, did you adjust the drip system on the cantaloupes?”

He hurried to his raised vegetable beds where he had dug up a few dozen red wigglers just the night before. The soil felt wet enough.

“I took care of it, honey, thanks for reminding me,” he said, throwing her an air kiss. “You enjoy your quiet time. I’ll be back later tomorrow.”

He hoped Judy didn’t notice her missing Tupperware and climbed onto the seat of his pickup truck, adjusting the throw pillow at his back; and with that, he was off.

Settling in at Otter Creek

Nate settled into the shoreline campground at Otter Creek, where he was greeted by his friend Keith Allred, also from St. George, who appeared holding two tall drinks with ice cubes.

Campground at Otter Creek Reservoir, photo for illustration. Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News
Campground at Otter Creek State Park, photo for illustration. Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News

“Nice place,” Nate said. “Have you caught any fish yet?”

“No, I’m waiting for you, Nate,” Keith said. “The beach is full of fishermen. I heard shore fishing is good in spring and fall but now that the weather is warming I think the prizes are a bit deeper.”

Keith had only seen a fish or two reeled in, he said, and invited Nate into his camping casa for the night. Keith’s wife Marilyn had barbecued chicken in the oven.

The fishermen climbed into the RV and Keith plopped down on the padded bench at the table.

“I’ll go wash up,” Nate said. “I guess the washroom is here on the left?”

He pushed the narrow door open and said with a whistle, “Nice bathroom! Don’t let Judy see this. She hates camping but this …?”

Fishing day

A door slammed outside awakening Nate at first light. He stretched and focused his eyes on the window overhead. Yellowish streaks of sky and a brushstroke of clouds filled the pane. The sun had not yet pierced over the eastern ridge.

“Light enough for me to poke a worm onto my hook,” he thought to himself.

Nate crept out of the RV and lifted the canvas tarp off his boat and a sprinkling of condensed dew splashed his face. The morning air was fresh enough for a jacket but he hadn’t brought one.

The sun would warm him soon, Nate knew, and busied himself attaching reels and line to rods and sorting hooks and minnow-shaped Rapala lures in his tackle box. That done, he left them and closed the lid.

Next he picked up a bag of marshmallows and the Tupperware he had absconded from his wife’s kitchen. He fetched an igloo cooler out of his pickup truck, filled with a morning repast of apple, banana, bottled water and an assortment of breakfast bars.

Keith emerged from the RV with a sleepy grin and pulled his ball cap down over his forehead. “Let’s get started,” he said. “The fish are jumpin’.”

Nate backed the pickup and trailer up to the lake’s launching spot and dropped the boat onto the clear water. Keith stayed with the truck and pulled the dripping trailer up the ramp and parked the rig in the designated gravel.

Would his new engine be trustworthy? Nate wondered, sweating a little. But it started right up and he let out his breath. The noise filled him with excitement vibrating through his body as he maneuvered his craft alongside the dock.  Keith took the line Nate tossed him and secured the boat with a perfect cleat-hitch knot.

As he climbed into the B-4-Reel, Keith mumbled something about his sea legs and plunked down on the seat next to Nate.

“Your rods are still on the dock,” he said to Nate. “You want to fish don’t you?”

The men laughed and Keith reached over and grabbed Nate’s gear and let the vessel loose.

“Statewide fishing regulations include limits of four trout and six bass,” Keith said. “Let’s go catch our limit!”

“We’ll head to the dam,” Nate said. “I’ve heard that the big ones feed over there.

The eager fishermen motored past a private marina located at the south end of the lake where the words “food, boat rentals and gas” were painted on a weathered wood structure. After a few minutes on the lake, passing several other fishermen in anchored boats, Keith marked their spot.

“This looks good,” he said. “We don’t want to get too close to the others. Let’s drop anchor here, Nate.”

Trout caught at Otter Creek, Antimony, Utah, undated | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News
Trout caught on Otter Creek Reservoir, photo for illustration. Otter Creek State Park, Antimony, Utah, undated | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News

They cut the engine and the anchor splashed.

“Let’s cast both of our rods and see what happens,” Keith said.

Nate soon had his new Christmas rod fixed and turned to watch Keith cast out, setting his first line on the starboard side. They chattered with excitement as they waited for their first bite.

“Nate, your line — you’ve got something!”

Keith jumped but couldn’t get behind the engine soon enough. Before Nate could turn around and grab his reel it slipped into the water while he scrambled to dive in and retrieve it.

“No, Nate!” Keith said urgently. “The water temperature is not even 50 degrees!”

Nate stood with a lump in his throat as he watched a beautiful rainbow trout swim away, hook in mouth and his brand new Christmas rod lurching along in its wake.

“Let’s pull anchor and go get that sucker,” Keith said, reaching for his net and reeling in his line.

Nate spotted the monster fish circling the boat still dragging his pole in the crystal clear water.

“Look, there she goes!”

“I got a bite!” Keith said.

Reeling in his jolting line faster, Keith picked up his net and swooshed in a 24-inch rainbow trout … a beautiful trout with a brand new Christmas rod in tow.

“Look what I caught,” Keith said grinning.

Nate stood with mouth wide open.

“I guess he’s technically yours,” Nate said. “But give me back my pole.”

      rainbow trout-294469_1280

Author’s note: This true fish story was told to the author by both fishermen, Nathan Baker and Keith Allred of St. George who can testify that Otter Creek Reservoir has a well-deserved reputation—one of the best trout producers in Southern Utah,  143 miles northeast of St. George

Shore fishing at Otter Creek, photo for illustration. Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News
Shore fishing at Otter Creek Reservoir, photo for illustration. Otter Creek State Park, Antimony, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Kathy Lillywhite, St. George News

 

 

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