THE ENERGY LOOP
Many a wonderful day of fishing has taken place at the peaceful waters of this area. Some of my best trips involved fishing these lakes, at least part of the day, if not exclusively. The catches usually aren't trophies in terms of size, but some of the venues are known amongst the fishing community for the beauty of their fish.
Starting from Hwy 89 at the north end of the town of Fairview, Hwy 31 rapidly ascends from the floor of the Sanpete Valley to the summit of Fairview and Huntington Canyons at over 9600 feet in elevation.
On the way up, you might notice Cottonwood Creek, which flows at the bottom of Fairview Canyon. This creek receives very little pressure, due to its steep grade, rocky stream bed, and thick vegetation along the banks. Plus there aren't too many pull-offs and it's a steep hike down to the water.
The road passes some amazing land.
I've spooked more fish than I've caught on the creek, but I've spooked some pretty nice fish. The only ones I've had the pleasure of meeting were just small browns, but it's really nice to catch them in such a setting.
At the top of the canyon, the creek disappears through a tunnel that starts in the valley where Fairview Lakes lie. The fish can still be found though.
The tunnel can be fun to throw spinners into. It's somewhat tempting to wander around inside, but that entrance (or should I say exit) doesn't look too great.
Near the summit, Hwy 264 cuts off toward the north end of Electric Lake and then north to Scofield Reservoir, before linking up with Hwy 6 as it drops into Price Canyon and Castle Valley.
There's plenty of fishable water from point A to B and the scenery along the way is tough to beat. The turnoff to Hwy 264 has a large parking area for snowmobile trailers and such. Skyline Drive continues, unpaved, to the north toward Gooseberry Reservoir.
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A few minutes up the road and Gooseberry Reservoir appears to the right. It's a pretty little spot in a grassy meadow, surrounded by quaking aspens and pine.
Though many of the fish are stocked rainbows with no fins, a wild population of cutthroat also thrives in the cold clean water. I've seen proof of nice cutts and rainbows into the 18-20 inch range, but never on my line.
Staying on 264, the road crosses Gooseberry Creek and it looks rather inviting. This creek is closed every year until July to protect the spawning cutthroat. The gentle meander is always a distraction as I drive by.
The cutts are extremely beautiful in Gooseberry Creek.
Following the creek upstream, Bench Pond (aka: Beaver Dam Reservoir) acts as a catch basin for the springs at the headwaters of Gooseberry. It's the size of a community pond and fishes about the same with a heavy annual stocking routine. It is a nice place though and the water doesn't get much better.
The Bench Pond actually provided me with my first albino rainbow trout:
It's a great place to take the family for some relaxed fishing.
Just up the road and behind a hill is Boulger Reservoir. Even smaller than Bench, this is also full of easy planter trout. If the main body isn't fishing well, try the steps of the spillway if there's water running down it. A heavy lure should do the trick and there are usually a few fish waiting for something in there.
Continuing along the road (264), we come to the boat ramp at Electric Lake. A minnow trap is great here if you can keep it out of the slimy weeds. It's a nice area and the fishing can be pretty good. From shore, you may have to rub elbows with a crowd, but get out on a boat or float and you'll likely do well. More on Electric Lake, down the page.
So that basically sums up the attractions of 264, as far as fishing goes. Staying on Hwy 31 at the top of Fairview leads to other opportunities to the south and east after passing the summit.
Somehow, every time I crest the summit on my way home, the skies are doing something incredible and provide me with great closing shots for the days' reports.
There's definitely a unique energy about the top of Fairview. I have a great reverence for this area and its splendor. Several times, I've had to pull over just to gather myself before continuing to drive. It's always nice to see the world through freshly rinsed eyes anyway...
It's nice to have a sweet spot where I'm basically guaranteed a great shot every visit.
The mountains seem endless from the "Healing Grounds".
It's also the perfect spot to take in a nice sunset...
...Especially during wildfire season.
Within minutes of the summit, Huntington (Mammoth) and Cleveland Reservoirs lie beside the road as well as access to the south end and dam of Electric Lake. Miller Flat road is a great shortcut to Joe's Valley when it's open and provides some recreation opportunities of its own.
Huntington Reservoir is the first lake along the route, coming from Fairview.
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Huntington Reservoir is a fun place to fish and it's loaded with feisty tiger trout. They've been in this water nearly as long as they've been in the state. The state catch and release record (23 inches) for tigers came from here several years ago and some nice ones remain.
Personally, my largest from Huntington was only around 19 inches. The fish are healthy though and they taste great out of the clean cold water. They also tend to have pretty deep colors year round.
Here's my buddy Holdsworth with a nicer one:
There are special regulations stating that any cutthroat caught at Huntington Reservoir must be immediately released. I honestly thought the cutts were a myth for several years before finally getting one on the line.
Some more tigers:
The surrounding hilltops stay covered with snow for much of the year, but by mid summer, they're nice and green.
Needless to say, it's a gorgeous area and a pleasure to fish. The winds can be a problem from time to time, however.
My best success at Huntington has come by using bait. Minnows from the dam seem to work well and drowning a worm under a bubble is always effective too. Throwing hardware can be good and I've done well using the trusty gold Vibrax and various kastmasters.
Huntington is an enjoyable lake to fish and spend the day at. It's somewhat of a must-stop location when I'm passing by on the way to other waters.
Just a little further down the road sits Cleveland Reservoir, but we'll get to that a little further down the page. First, I have to mention the oft omitted water that flows into Cleveland.
This beautiful stream begins at a large shallow pond, just below the ridge that Skyline Drive runs along. Other nearby hills also add to the watershed.
The creek has been diverted to flow into Cleveland Reservoir before re-entering its original stream bed, just down the canyon. Huntington Reservoir also spills into the creek, on the upstream side of the small diversion.
The regulations require that all fishing on this creek be done with artificial flies and lures only and it's a perfect creek to sling the Blue Fox around.
Or any type of spinner, really.
There's a small rock dam that looks great from afar, but is mostly silted in. A few fish still hang out in it though and it's worth a few minutes of trying for them.
It's a special creek and the cutts are as pretty as can be. Other species present are rainbows, browns, and the occasional tiger trout.
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Cleveland often gets overlooked by those traveling through. Electric, Huntington, and Huntington Creek usually attract the majority of the fishing attention of the area. The water level fluctuates heavily throughout the year and the barren muddy shoreline around most of the lake keeps a lot of would-be fishermen disenchanted.
Several tributaries provide the water, but the main inlet is a channelized section of Lake Creek, which usually flows south, but with a little bit of help from human hands, much of it spills into the reservoir before rejoining it's natural path downstream.
The spill from Huntington Reservoir also joins Lake Creek before it hits Cleveland.
The rainbows tend to have big bellies and the cutthroat are nice and healthy. There are even some stray tigers that have washed down from Huntington. If you're lucky enough to find one, you'll be happy. They're usually huge. There may also be some browns lurking around somewhere.
Here are some plump rainbows:
Here I am with my first Cleveland cutthroat:
Then another on the fly rod:
The fishing can be pretty slow at times, but it's worth sticking around until you catch something. Regardless of the fishing though, it's gorgeous country and worth the drive for the scenery alone.
Always a pleasure, Cleveland.
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Electric Lake is one of my favorite cutthroat waters. Wild Yellowstone cutthroat are the main draw as they seem to thrive in this long, deep, reservoir. A wild population of rainbows also exists here and they're somewhat rare to find.
Tiger trout were first introduced in '07 and have been showing up on the end of peoples' lines quite often. Tigers tend to grow rapidly with plentiful forage, so hopefully they'll thrive in the cold water of Electric.
The redside shiner minnows also do well in the lake and school up into huge clouds along the dam and in the shallows on the north end. Taking a trap can be very worthwhile, like the hour's worth of soaking it took to harvest these:
Fishing either on or near the dam is usually a sure bet and there are ALWAYS fish hanging out around the dam. The quick drop off and rocky dam provides cover for easy fish food all year.
In 2008, the ice came off really late all over the state and it wasn't until late May or June that it started pulling away from the dam at E-Lake. On my way to another place further south, I noticed a gap of about 20 feet where there was only a thin layer of ice and made a mental note to check back if I had time later.
The day ended up being quite warm and several hours later, my mental note paid off:
Believe it or not, that was quite enough space for me to wrangle in a pile of fish. My rod stayed bent almost the entire time that I fished, minus the practice session with my fly rod (only my 2nd time attempting to use it) where I couldn't hook anything. Bites came, but each one broke my whisper thin tippet. Now I just use light mono and I've do much better.
Everything I threw that day caught fish and quickly. It was their first taste of fresh air and they gobbled up anything with a hook. They fought really hard too, which was just a bonus to their color.
Gorgeous fish EVERYWHERE! What a day. Let's take a better look at that last one:
Using redside shiners is always a safe bet as long as they don't get snagged in the rocks. Putting them under a bubble helps to avoid that, but seems to spook the fish more than just a weightless minnow. Here's one that ate a minnow:
The rainbows, so I hear, can get up to 4 lbs or more.
Kastmasters and Jake's lures can be pretty effective and can cover a lot of water. Blue Fox spinners also work well. Brass is good here, as is chrome or rainbow.
Streamers have worked well for me in several shapes and patterns in my limited experience with a fly rod here. Purple, black, olive, champagne, and bumble bee all got me quick strikes. A purple Pistol Pete's lure/fly is killer at ice-off.
Late in '08, I braved the cold to float along the dam and drag some flies around. The action was a lot slower, but I ended up with several fish that hit right away. An olive cone head sculpin pattern and a minnow worked the best. The fish were much darker than the usual catch.
Unfortunately, the DWR had an invasive species scare, suspecting a certain type of mussel present in the lake. Due to the destructive nature of these mussels, the DWR took aggressive measures and implemented mandatory boat washes and limited float tube, pontoon, and boat launching to the north end, where the wash station is located.
This means that floating the dam is a thing of the past for Electric. Unless, of course, a tuber hitches a ride with a boat all day. It's still a wonderful lake and worth the hassle.
It's uncanny how the name of the lake would be so descriptive of the fish that live there. Neon slash marks under the jaw, bright cheeks, deep golds, and bluish silvers keep me coming back for these beautiful fish.
Continuing down Hwy 31 from the dam at Electric, Huntington Creek cuts its way down the canyon along side the road. It is the one and only public water in Utah regulated exclusively for fly fishermen (for a stretch).
Once the Left Fork and the Right Fork meet, the regulations loosen up a bit. It's a really nice creek that, shamefully, I haven't really spent a lot of time on. So much other water in the area has kept me distracted.
As nice as the creek looks, the local geology is what grabs my attention with very curious erosion patterns in the surrounding rock. Finding a hollow boulder isn't too uncommon.
Whenever I have time to pull over and explore, I grab my camera and go. With so much strange looking rock around, I can get a little trigger happy with the pics.
Mini arches inside mini arches:
Canyon in a boulder:
An old tree caresses the hillside:
Hwy 31 is such a neat and wonderful drive to take. It only takes about 20 minutes or so to go from a high alpine setting to a scorching desert and witnessing the change unfold before my eyes is something special.
I consider the Energy Loop as a must-fish for anglers of all types and skill levels. It's guaranteed to cleanse your soul.
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