Uinta & Grayling on the Fly

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.

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Pretty lake though.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It was nice to get the family up there again.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The mushrooms were popping up all over the place.  Little puffballs were the most common, and then I found these:

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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.

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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.

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J even caught a couple of these little guys:

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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.

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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.

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The grayling were all over the stream too.  J made short work of them.

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I'd have my moment too, but first, a tiny brookie on that prince nymph I thought of earlier.

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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.

From this:

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To this:

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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.

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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.