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In the south-central part of the state lies the mighty Aquarius Plateau (aka: Boulder Mountain). This huge uplift of the Colorado Plateau rises from the desert to an elevation of over 11,300 ft and boasts world class fishing in its many lakes, streams, and ponds.
Those who fish this area know that they're treading on sacred ground and typically hold a great reverence for their experiences on the mountain. It's no secret that Boulder Mountain is as good as it gets in Utah, as far as fishing is concerned, yet specific information requires either some really good contacts, or first hand experience. This is the top shelf.
Trophy sized trout of all species flourish on the mountain, but the main draw that I've noticed people targeting are the brook trout. Specimens in the 5+lb class are a reality in several of these waters and those who know which lakes they're in remain tight-lipped.
Luckily, most of the lakes on the mountain are within a relatively short distance from some sort of road and there are plenty of trails, keeping distance on foot to a maximum of about 3 miles to the most remote locations. In addition to their proximity to roads, many of the lakes are situated in groups, making it easy to fish several waters in the same outing.
Some of the roads can be traveled by a passenger car, although most are very rough and would require a 4x4 with good ground clearance. If you plan on fishing the good lakes, be prepared to crawl over some boulders. They don't just call it "Boulder Mountain" because it sounds cool.
Most of the fishable lakes on the mountain are found on what is known as the "rim", which is basically the shoulder under the steep drop-offs from the top of the plateau. These lakes are surrounded by dense forests of aspen and pine and the roads going into them are nasty.
This is where most of the trophies on the mountain reside. The rim lakes can harbor those 5lb brookies, huge tiger trout, splake, and cutthroat.
This is Miller Lake, which is a rim lake. It contains small finless rainbows and maybe a few brookies. I've never actually fished it (why come to Boulder Mountain for stocked rainbows?), but have used its campsite, which has plenty of space for parking and serves as a good base camp for exploring the top.
The top of the plateau is like another world when compared to the rim. Miles of rolling grassland, contrasted by short pine trees and volcanic boulder fields decorate the landscape on top. You might even see some pronghorn antelope.
The top tends to get overlooked by many of the visitors to the mountain, so if it's solitude in beautiful surroundings you're after, this is the place. There are still plenty of fishing options available on top and quality fish can still be had.
The top lakes are a real treat to fish. Talk about beauty and solace!
This is Big Lake. It's really pretty, but the fish aren't as impressive as the venue. The road that cuts off to this lake is very easy to miss. It's almost re-vegetated, hinting that very few people use it.
Here's Bess Lake and Ridge Lake. Both are pretty shallow. It's amazing to see how shallow some of the lakes on top are and that they're able to winter fish. Some of these lakes are between 6-10 feet deep and over 11,000 feet!
These charming lakes tend to produce well in some years and not so well in others. The brookies, not being native to the region, reproduce too well in a lot of cases and overpopulate. This causes a "crash and boom" cyclic effect on many of these waters.
This one didn't contain fish with great size when this photo was taken, but in a year or two, that could change.
Despite shallow waters and harsh winters, some of these puddles can hold surprises, like this 16 inch arctic grayling that came from over 11,000 feet.
Plenty of other grayling were willing to take my flies on that day.
That's a lake that will surely get some return visits. The brookies that live there looked promising with round bellies, so hopefully they continue to grow well.
Though most of the trophy brookies are on the rim, there are quite a few places to catch good ones on top as well. The one below wasn't "big" for the lake it was caught in.
The worst part about visiting the mountain is leaving, although the trip home is usually spent behind a smile, recalling the magic feeling that Boulder Mountain leaves in one's soul.
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