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4/5/11

Thousand Lake Mountain

THOUSAND LAKE MOUNTAIN


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Thousand Lake Mountain is a flat-top giant in south-central Utah. This high plateau crests at over 11,200 feet in elevation and is just north of the famed Boulder Mountain.

Though the name boasts 1000 lakes, there are really only a few and even less that are fishable. The Solomon Basin to the north is typically considered part of TLM and there are quite a few lakes and ponds there as well.

Despite the misnomer, Thousand Lake Mountain's handful of fisheries can produce some pretty impressive fishing.







From I-70, take HWY 72 southbound. Near Forsyth Reservoir, Forest Service Road 206 travels east about 5 miles before splitting toward either the north or the south. Directly downhill (east) from this fork, a rocky road leads to Round Lake, where some nice rainbows live and possibly some cutthroat and brook trout.

The northern fork heads into the Solomon Basin, where a passenger car can make it into the mid-elevation lakes such as Morrell Pond and Meeks Lake. Floating Island Lake is a short hike from Meeks and used to hold the state record for tiger trout. It still has nice sized tigers, splake, and cutthroat.


Most of the Solomon Basin lakes have good sized fish available and there several ponds near the lakes that also contain trout for those that are willing to explore.

The southern fork of FS206 leads to the high shoulder of the plateau's eastern edge. A campground exists and a trailhead to the other side of the mountain starts from there. That trail makes its way to Neff's Reservoir and Blind Lake, as well as some marshy ponds.

Continuing south past the campground, stay to the right (or enjoy the ride down to Cathedral Valley to the left - Capitol Reef) and another trailhead shows itself and provides some parking. The trail finds Deep Creek Lake and Grass Lake in only about a quarter mile. Further south lies Snow Lake, which is very shallow and likely doesn't contain any fish.

Both Deep Creek and Grass have brookies, and Grass has had arctic grayling stocked in the past, though their presence to date is arguable.

The views of Capitol Reef National Park, the Henry Mountains, the water pocket fold, and beyond is quite spectacular at the break of day.





Actually, the views from any part of this region are amazing, no matter what time of day it is. Quaking aspen, pine, glassy lakes, and abundant wildlife are sure to captivate onlookers.

Deep Creek is a nice lake that sits around 10,500 feet. The hike in is simple and visitors will be surrounded by a visual feast.







It's a nice place to spend the day.

Grass Lake is just a short walk from Deep Creek and contains vibrantly colored, medium sized brookies. This one is very shallow throughout its length with only one real hole of deeper water. It's small enough that a float tube would be silly, but shore anglers face some danger when navigating the mushy weed-lined water's edge. Waders are recommended, as well as a buddy to help you get out when the muck grabs hold.



Thousand Lake Mountain is a marvel to witness firsthand and is sure to leave a lasting impression on its guests.







A lonely road awaits...

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Some Background...

WHY FISH?

Why not go jogging, hit the gym, start a garden or whatever it is that normal humans do? What's so fascinating about these slimy little animals that live in the water?

Fishing is a bit more to me than a hobby or a sport. It's an essential part of life that helps me connect with the Earth in ways similar to the long practiced traditions of mankind. Wherever man has had a water source, there has been fishing.

It's only natural.

THE PAST

As a fingerling, I only fished a few times with uncles or my father. We typically never went out of the valley except for a couple of trips to Deer Creek, where I remember catching my first perch.

My Dad took me to the Provo River a few times and once up to Ruth Lake in the Uintas. It was always a fun trip, no matter where we went and it got us out of the house. I wish I would have asked to go more often at that age.

At age 14, I went with the Scouts to climb King's Peak, the high point of Utah. We had to hike some 8 miles with heavy packs to get to our campsite at Dollar Lake in the High Uintas. At that lake, I caught my first trout and never got around to fishing again for several years.

When I rediscovered the joys of fishing in my early 20's, a close friend named Holdsworth and I spent a lot of our time at a handful of places within a reasonable driving distance. The first lake that gave us any trout was Currant Creek Reservoir. The fish weren't huge, but they were gorgeous and plentiful once found.



We made it a high priority to fish there every weekend for much of the summer. Every time we went, however, the monkey on our collective back grew a little bit stronger while passing the intimidating Strawberry Reservoir.

Eventually, the seduction of the Berry's fame lured us to turn onto the Soldier Creek Dam Junction. Never having fished it before, we thought we'd start at the dam and test our luck.

We didn't get a bite for over an hour and I started to doze off. I was awakened when my Ugly Stik swept over to the other side of my lap from where I had it resting. Coming to, I started reeling and fought in a feisty rainbow of around 18 inches and fat. We'd never caught anything like it up at Currant Creek, so a new weekly destination was born.



Moving forward a few years, Holdsworth had since moved to Germany, but I continued to feed my passion for fishing. I joined a wildlife forum online, sponsored and run by the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). The DWR forum had an eclectic stew of sportsmen and women from all over the state and abroad.

Participating in the forum made me realize that my fishing license was valid anywhere in the state and that taking on a few new venues couldn't hurt. Ever since I joined, my summers have been spent trying out new waters in between trips to the usual haunts and fishing has never been better for me.

Much information was shared freely between the sportsmen of this online community and it was a good place to get in some useful reading. Being active in discussions there and applying new ideas really helped me develop into a better fisherman.

In the "Fishing Reports" section, you could read about recent trips to places all over the state. Reading the reports, I was inspired to begin recording my own experiences. Why not? Writing was always something I enjoyed doing plus I had a camera and web access...

From then on, I posted detailed write ups of my exploits quite regularly. Positive feedback prompted me to continue and now I have almost as much fun putting the report together, as I do actually fishing.

The DWR forum was shut down abruptly in September of '07 due to bureaucratic red tape. A slew of new "replacement forums" popped up in hopes of gaining the now disbanded 5000+ members.

Once the dust settled a bit, a clear replacement appeared when the former moderators of the DWR forum got together with a former member named "Petersen" to start the Utah Wildlife Network.



Quite a few members donate (myself included) and that helps to keep the site running. Additionally, we're not in any danger of the gov. stepping in and pulling the plug, as this forum is privately owned and operated by Petersen.

Once the news caught wind that a true replacement was found, the pages started looking more familiar with old screen names showing up left and right. It didn't take too long and we had our spot back, essentially.

Aside from the UWN, I also check in with a few other forums, including Big Fish Tackle, (BFT). This nationwide forum is full of knowledgeable anglers from all over the world and can be a great resource.

...But really, if I burn all of my time on the internet, there won't be any left for fishing!

Due mainly to the forums, my fishing eyes have been opened. Now more than ever, I really make it a point to explore new waters and fish the spots that nobody talks about. My day trips have gotten much longer and involve many more stops than before.

Please stay tuned for trip reports and feel free to explore the links in my highlights section, where I go into more detail about specific waters and areas.

Happy Fishing, Humans.

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