A few fishing buddies and I have wondered about a little lake that we attempted to find last year. Our attempt wasn't very serious, just a stop between destinations, and we weren't exactly sure which bumpy road to take.
In summary, we didn't find it and didn't want to spend too much time or energy looking for a question mark. Our other spot was a confirmed winner, so we abandoned our search.
Since then, I've burned the route into my memory a thousand times and have wanted to give it another try. This weekend seemed perfect for that, so off to the Uintas I went for the third straight week.
You just can't get enough of a good thing sometimes.
The drive was relatively short, but very bumpy and it took awhile to get into the area. The road my buddies and I had taken last year turned out to be the right one, although the extra side road we wanted to find was actually closed.
The hike still wasn't very far and I even threw my tube on my back for my first float of the year. Overlooking a great canyon at its rim, I knew the scenery would be incredible.
I was right!
What a beautiful lake!
It didn't appear to be as deep as it looked on the map, but it still looked as though it could support some fish. After watching the water for signs of life that I never saw, I decided to give it a shot anyway.
It turns out, the water was crystal clear and I could see the bottom all over the lake. My synopsis is that it doesn't hold any fish.
To me, it seemed more like a snow melt lake than something spring fed. There was no noticeable inflow or outflow. There weren't very many bugs in the water or under the rocks, and not even salamanders.
It was still a really neat experience and totally worth the short hike though. Getting out on the tube in such a setting was quite nice anyway.
Its location also required a few shots from the rim of the canyon.
The wildflowers are out in force.
It was really too bad that the lake wasn't fishy because there was a perfect potential campsite close by.
With that curiosity finally satisfied, I could spend the rest of the day in another spot, catching some fat little brookies.
I caught about a dozen of them, all about that size.
They weren't huge, but they really packed a punch! Each time I got a hit, I was tricked into thinking I had something much bigger on the line. There were actually two pretty nice ones that somehow shook off my fly rod.
Not usually a place I've seen many people, it was a bit surprising to watch several groups come and go throughout my stay at that lake. The only people fishing were trying from shore and they all got skunked.
That lake has a particular method of attack and it's pretty hard to fish from shore.
Once the sun started tickling the treetops, it occurred to me that the day was coming to an end and it was time to take the nasty road back, this time with the sun shining right in my face for a good amount of it.
As usual, passing through such country is full of spectacle. Here's a great little log jam on a gentle stream that begged me to stop and snap some shots of.
The day was very refreshing and it was great to both get the Rodeo back into 4L and to get my tube wet again. Checking out the first lake was actually the highlight of my day, despite it not having any fish.
For the last couple of weeks, the Uintas have been calling and I couldn't resist a couple of day trips.
Last week, my family and I went up to Trial and the Crystal Lake Trail Head to get some fishing and hiking in. Having never bothered to fish Trial in the past, it seemed like a good spot to try.
Rather than fish the dam, we walked around to the far side and fished away from the crowds. The fish were actually pretty finicky, but a few still came in.
Pretty lake though.
We mostly caught small tigers, but I had a larger holdover rainbow on for a few seconds. Once we got back toward the spill dam, the fishing picked up for slightly larger tigers.
That was fun, but we used the rest of the day to get a little more hiking in and catch some brookies in a small pond where I'd found some decent fish in the past.
The fish were much smaller on average than my last visit, but it was still good to get out. There's a reason so many people visit the Uintas.
It was nice to get the family up there again.
This week, my buddy J and I thought it would be fun to test our mojo at a hike-in Uinta lake that can be pretty technical at times.
We made a quick stop at a fun little pond first, where I picked on some easy rainbows to get a bend in my fly rod. Though they were pellet eaters, they fought well and catching a few had been on my mind for a little while.
Diversion aside, it was time to put boots on the ground. The hike was refreshing and enjoyable, crossing the beautiful trademark terrain of the high Uintas. Arriving at our lake, we took in the vista.
As pretty as it was, the lake wasn't in the mood to give up its treasures. Not for the first couple of hours at least. It wasn't until I had worked my way around to the farthest shore from where we started that I got a bite that I didn't miss.
Not bad for the Uintas. Worth the wait! It would be my only catch from the lake, despite going all the way around it. The views were nice though.
The mushrooms were popping up all over the place. Little puffballs were the most common, and then I found these:
I didn't keep them, but wondered if they were edible.
J ended up scoring a decent brookie and a small cutthroat, but that was it for him.
We'd spent a good amount of time at the lake and very few fish had been caught thus far. It was time to find other water with faster action and it wasn't long until we were at a shallow marshy pond with better fishing.
J and I worked some tigers and brookies for awhile to make up for lost time. It wasn't heavily populated, but it was pretty productive when the fish could be located.
J even caught a couple of these little guys:
We actually weren't planning on staying at the pond for very long, but the fish convinced us to stay, especially when J noticed a different species swimming around that wouldn't take anything we threw with our spinning rods.
We rigged up our fly rods to see if these picky little fish would take some smaller offerings. While I was doing my best to tie a nail knot with my forceps (lost my tool), a little voice in my head whispered a thought to me. I shrugged off the idea while I finished the knot.
While scanning the contents of my fly box for the perfect nymph to use, the little voice came back, only stronger this time. Really? Would this be that day? Well, okay then.
Instead of tying on the beaded prince nymph I was eyeing, I gave into the whim and grabbed a small black ant pattern. That's right, keep it on top. After all, these fish were gently slurping the surface and the periodic breeze could plausibly blow a few ants into the drink...
Well, it took a few tries and some good timing, but soon enough, the perfect cast unfurled and placed the ant right where it needed to be.
After several years, I finally caught a fish on a dry fly! What's more, my first was a grayling.
Really, I'd caught fish in the past on dries, but only while dragging them behind a bubble on a spinning rig. On an actual fly rod, I had only gotten a few strikes that eventually came unbuttoned before getting anything to hand.
Until this weekend, dry flies were merely indicators for my nymphs. It feels great to finally scratch that one off the list. In all fairness, throwing dries had never really been something I spent a lot of time trying, but now I think I'll dabble a bit more in that!
A few more came in for me and J was getting some across the pond, with a few brookies and tigers in the mix. They kept us busy for a bit longer until we had enough and placed our aim on some moving water to finish off our day.
The grayling were all over the stream too. J made short work of them.
I'd have my moment too, but first, a tiny brookie on that prince nymph I thought of earlier.
Uinta streams are incredible! They can be steep and riddled with dead fall for one stretch, and a slow meander within 100 yards of that.
What a place! Getting back to the smell of pine needles while traversing the spongy ground was just what I needed. As is usual for our trips, J was excellent company and we spent the day laughing and having a good time in the great outdoors.
Okay folks, "epic" is a played-out word and I don't use it lightly. This was truly epic.
My buddy J accepted my invitation earlier in the week and we left his house in Spanish Fork at about 5:30 on Sunday morning. We didn't make really good time getting to the trail head, but I was confident that we would still do well, as the early bird syndrome doesn't seem to matter this time of year on that particular hillside.
Despite our somewhat late arrival, we were the only ones in the area. Along the path, I smirked and told J that he was about to see my "happy place". His excitement grew, as he had no idea what fun lay ahead of us.
As I walked to a point on the lake, I threw out a Gulp minnow for a few minutes while J tried to trick some of the cutts into biting near a small shallow pool, which only one did. My Gulp wasn't bringing any takers or followers with it, despite fish rising in the same areas where I was tossing.
*Please let them bite, please let them bite, please let them bite.*
Meanwhile, J decided to make his way around to another area. There's also a small pool that collects there, prior to flowing into the lake, and it was also stacked with smaller cutts.
While he was over there, I had started moving back toward that area and crossing a beaver dam. He mentioned that he could see some pretty nice fish under the log jam and it wasn't long before he was hollering about a good sized brookie that just ate his jig.
Not a bad brookie at all!
This convinced me to abandon the Gulp and try something a bit more jiggy. While I was tying on a black marabou, J got a hit from a really big brookie that wrapped itself around a log or two, breaking off after giving him a good look at what would have been the biggest brookie of the day.
Now it was my turn to have a crack at them. Black marabou, vertically jigged next to a log. Swipe, miss.
Wait a moment, try again.
Another swing and a miss.
Wait a moment, breathe, try again.
BOOM! My biggest brookie to date!
What a tank and what a fight! That thing refused to come in and I was ducking my rod tip into the water to stay under the logs while it finished freaking out.
Aw yeah. It's business time. He went 3lbs, 10oz.
Soon after, another one bites the jig.
J found some more brookie action too and caught a good sized male.
After that, the fish got wise to our antics and stopped playing. We thought that examining other parts of the lake would be a good idea, so off we went. We circled the entire lake (pretty hard with all the brush on the steep side) and didn't hook a thing. It was actually pretty demoralizing. Sticking it out where we were originally catching seemed like the best plan after the hour or so it had been.
Getting back to "the spot", the fish were holding to that same little area. The clouds had blocked the sun at that point and nothing seemed to bother them, not even stepping on logs that would shift all sorts of flotsam around. After a little while, both of us were standing either on a log (that bounced in the water) or a rock right next to it, fishing that same window between the logs and catching fish very quickly.
The cutthroat also seemed to suddenly awaken, which had only been taunting us until that point, churning about at our feet in plain view.
Dude was on a roll. While he was busy catching, I got stubborn with my fly rod and was determined to pick up some fish on some nymphs. I actually got a few smaller cutts on a nymph that I was drifting with my spinning rod, but every time I hooked up with the fly rod, I got a couple of seconds into the fight and they'd come undone, giving my fly back.
Eventually I gave in and also started tipping.
BOOM! Another fat brookie.
Nice and wide.
J wasn't done either.
We got into some pretty nice cutts, which was rewarding after getting blatantly snubbed earlier.
It was then that J finally nabbed the biggest cutt we'd been watching. Holy crap, what a gorgeous cutthroat!
I saw which one he'd hooked and started rolling.
The good ones just kept rolling in too.
He also hooked another beastly brook trout that I watched escape after tugging for 10 seconds or more. What a shame! It was considerably larger than the ones we had already caught.
A good consolation prize, he did hook up with another nice one though.
We were just plain spoiled by the fish gods on Sunday.
Oh yeah. About an hour after the really big cutt was released, I got my turn to catch it!
Talk about WIN/WIN!
It's such a pleasant hike to a peaceful lake in beautiful country. What could be better than catching big fish in such a venue?
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.
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.