Welcome to the Utah Water Log. Join me as I travel across the picturesque state of Utah in search of great fishing and a chance to take in the beauty that can be found along the way.
With the recent news of some open water at Strawberry, my family and I set off to test our luck. The latest reports had me worried that there would be a lot of competition for the slim openings, but luckily, the holiday had most people occupied enough to stay away.
Our first stop was at an inlet where quite a bit of open water glistened. The bay was really shallow, but we found a spot worth fishing from and almost instantly, I had the first catch of the day on my crankbait.
No reason to measure that one. Back it went. Casting right where the inlet flowed into the lake, I got two really good fish to hang on long enough to tease me into thinking I’d get to pet them. Nice colors on those, but alas, they escaped me.
A short while later, my wife got a pretty good one, right in the lip using a minnow.
We didn’t measure that one either, but it was pretty close.
The wind picked up and more people came to invade, so we decided to try another spot. Driving around to the Soldier Creek side, there was hardly any open water visible and I wondered if my desired spot would still be locked up.
Luckily, my spot had just enough open water to do some casting. Unfortunately, the fishing was dismally slow and we couldn’t get anything to even follow our offerings. Having hiked into the spot with all of our gear and a couple of kids, we decided to wait it out for the possibility of catching a lonely straggler or two. I was sure the spot was good enough to warrant the wait, as it’s becoming my go-to at Strawberry.
After a couple of empty hours and plenty of boredom complaints from the kids, Sonia hopped up and started cranking on something nice. Her favorite worm/bubble rig enticed her very first slot buster!
Way to go, chica!
*Strawberry Reservoir has a slot limit for cutthroat between 15 and 22 inches. All cutts in the slot must be immediately released.*
Weighing just under 4lbs, it stretched out a little over 23” and made our day. Once again, Sonia out-fished me in size and numbers. This must be her year. That’s fine with me. It’s nice to see her light up when she’s got a big one in her hands.
She caught a scrawny little hatchery bow awhile later while I continued to try for my hog. The best I could do was to get a take on a minnow and have my line break at the knot. Win some, lose some.
I’d already told myself it was a good day and it was time to go when I finally got something to stay on a hook. It was a runt planter, so I called James over to reel in for me before we released it. He needed some action by then anyway.
It was great to see some open water at the Berry again and I’m super proud of Sonia for staying persistent and catching her first slot buster. Good times are here.
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.
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.
This is a photo of my kitchen blinds, through the bottom of a drinking glass.
Collect Neat Stuff?
Relic Mercantile might have just what you're looking for.
Travis Sylvester, of Travzart.com
Travis Sylvester is a local Utah artist, whom I've known for a few years. His artwork is sensational and he seems to improve with every new piece. He reproduced one of my cutthroat photos in colored pencil and it turned out great. Check out his website and click this pic.
While Googling trout images one day, I stumbled upon some art by A.D. Maddox and became a fan right away. Photos link to her site.