JOE'S VALLEY RESERVOIR
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Joe's Valley Reservoir lies in the central part of the state, within the Wasatch Plateau. This is a larger reservoir that collects water from the north, south, and the west. Lowry Water spills in from the north, Seely Creek from the west, and North Dragon Creek from the south. Below the dam, Straight Canyon Creek drains to the east into the San Rafael Swell.
Joe's is a very scenic destination with plenty of recreation opportunities nearby. A high content of dissolved minerals is responsible for the water's soft emerald hue.
Surprisingly enough, this reservoir doesn't sustain nearly as much fishing pressure as other waters of similar size. With a maximum depth of over 160 feet, there's plenty of room for nice fish to grow. Personally, my biggest fish is only around 16 inches, but I've seen photos of fish as large as 12 lbs!
Here's a 16 inch splake taken through the ice:
The species in Joe's include cutthroat, tiger trout, and splake. Perhaps a few browns and rainbows also swim the waters, as well as some possible brookies (although not likely). The first three are the only species stocked...and the only ones I've caught.
My own catches have been on the smaller side, but there has been no shortage of them. The discolored water makes for low visibility and bright colors or shiny metallics are usually best for lures. Orange has been a good color and brass or copper have been good metallics for me.
The fish are pretty here, but tend to be shinier with light, almost pastel colors at times. The cutts have yellows and bluish greens, the tigers are usually a dull gold and green, and the splake seem almost gray except for their deep green backs with spectacular vermiculation.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked some tiger muskellunge (hybrid muskellunge x northern pike) to add a sport fish and to help control the larger chubs, which out-compete with the trout for food at fingerling size. Hopefully they'll take to the habitat and grow to trophy size. I look forward to running into a few.
The winters get very cold in this tucked away valley and that seems to be when most people find the trophies. Caution should be taken on the ice since underwater springs are present (especially near the marina) and tend to form spots of open water or air pockets under thin, crunchy ice.
My right leg popped through a sensitive spot and I went up to mid thigh. Luckily, I was wearing my waders and didn't get wet in the frigid conditions (around -26* F that day).
Check out my super stiff ice cutt:
I found the Yeti's lair while on my way home, that frozen day:
Pretty neat looking.
Joe's is a great place to spend the day and there's usually no problem with crowding. Sure, most of the fish are stuck in the 12-16 inch range, but the hogs are in there.
STRAIGHT CANYON CREEK
Below the dam at Joe's Valley flows Straight Canyon Creek. This is an incredible creek to explore, fish, and photograph. The richly colored water runs between huge boulders as it carves its way to the desert, where it empties into the San Rafael Swell.
Fishing for small brown trout can be very fast paced with just about anything, although a #2 Blue Fox has treated me very well. The holes next to boulders can be very deep and harbor some nice fish, but getting anything down to them presents a real challenge.
The many obstacles can create nice pools, filled with eager fish.
Just like its neighbor to the north (Huntington Canyon), Straight Canyon also has crazy, wind-carved boulders littering the hillsides.
Just being in this canyon is a great experience and taking some time to fish it is even better. Every time I make the drive, it's hard to focus on the road.
The layout of this creek makes my internal fishing monkey crazy. It can take me a good couple of hours to make it up to the dam at Joe's. There are just too many great looking holes everywhere!
A fisherman's dream, it is.
It's an incredible place to spend some time and I'm sure to dedicate a whole day to it sometime. Perhaps I'll find the hogs.
What a great creek.
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