Small Stream Cutthroat (Monsters on the Manti)

Lately, I've been daydreaming about one of my favorite creeks. It flows on the very fishy Wasatch Plateau, known locally as "The Manti", due to its close proximity to the Sanpete County hub of Manti. There are dozens of fishable lakes and reservoirs on the Manti and hundreds of ponds and streams.

This area is one of my main destinations every year for fishing and I've spent hundreds of hours of map-hounding its many obscure waters for future exploration. It's surprising to me that I hadn't even visited this year, which I would have done several times already, most other years.

The drive up Fairview Canyon to the summit is something I have always thoroughly enjoyed. Though covered in snow throughout most of the year, its summertime beauty truly cleanses the soul. I call it the Healing Grounds.

This week's creek was a "curiosity spot" of mine a few years back, where I decided to walk in and check it out while traveling between some popular reservoirs. As a result of that fateful trip, I was rewarded with some beautiful wild cutthroat in my hand. Since then, I've made plenty more stops along its banks, but never really dedicated a solid day's effort to uncover its true potential.

Not until this trip, at least.

My first stop was the spot where I'd missed a bite from a giant cutthroat, last year. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to find that bruiser again, I got the usual treatment of a couple of pretty little cutts before I'd spooked the hole.

Trophies in their own right, but not the size I was looking for. No matter, it's great fun and I could already tell the fishing would be great. (Much needed after a couple of recent skunkings, elsewhere.)

The next stretch I had in mind was where a smaller creek flows in, but it required navigation through thick brush and some rather swampy areas to get into it. I got wet, scraped, and filthy, but earning my right to fish this confluence was well worth it.

Notice on the left, the crystal clear water flows in and mixes with the slightly more turbid water of the main creek. In the middle, a nice deep hole. What could possibly be in there?

Well, my first cast across that hole was uneventful, so I let my lure sink a little bit on my next cast and immediately after cranking, the battle was on with something big and strong.

Twisting and shaking, a large cutthroat resisted arrest, but I was finally able to subdue the beast and bring it in for questioning. What a pig for such a small stream! Over 20 inches long!

Now I've caught plenty of fish over 20 inches, but doing so on the Manti is something to write home about. There are typically only a couple of places on the mountain where the 20 mark might be broken, and those are reservoirs with a lot of available forage.

Come to think of it, I don't recall ever getting anything over 19 inches from anywhere on the mountain, despite missing a few hogs that continue to haunt me to this day. Nevertheless, I was very pleased with my catch.

Not yet feeling like I had worked that honey hole enough, I continued to cast through it and along the seam between the two waters. A couple of smaller cutts and a rainbow came to hand, this one being the only one I pulled out the camera for.

Two other large fish swiped at my lure, but wouldn't come back for more. I vowed to return to the hole with a different lure tied on after some upstream exploration of the small clear creek that flowed into it.

There weren't too many spots conducive to fishing along this side stream, but I was able to drop in between some branches and pull out one fish with a bad eye.

Judging by the looks of "one eye", he can still find plenty of food in this fertile system.

After him, I could only spook fish from the other holes I found. It was time to go back for the other hogs in my honey hole.

Back at the hole, I was prepared for the larger fish with a Lucky Craft Pointer minnow tied on. Knowing the fish had already seen my Blue Fox, I felt it necessary to give them a look at something else, plus utilize their predatory nature.

Lo and behold, it worked and within a couple of casts, I was fast onto another big one!

This one was just a hair shorter in length than the first big one and every bit as aggressive. The first one had made my day and this one just broadened my smile.

What a great creek!

At that point, I'd done well enough to call it a day, but the day was still rather young and I was surrounded by other water. I left the creek and on my way out of the area, I decided to fish Cleveland Reservoir.

The reservoir is full! It felt necessary to take a picture because it's rare to see it without a huge bathtub ring of barren mud surrounding it. Thank goodness for a great water year.

The fishing was actually pretty slow and the wind was more than I cared to bother with. A lucky cast got me a bite-sized rainbow and after that, it was time to go.

The day was spectacular! I couldn't be more pleased with the fishing on the creek and it was great to get back to one of my "happy places".

Happy Fishing, Humans.

Some Background...


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 creatures 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.

Happy Fishing, Humans.