There’s big fish in that there mountain

August 22, 2010

Boulder Mountains

By Tyler Skeen

Ah, where to begin…….well lets start by answering the question I have been asked over and over since I announced that I would be fishing in the Boulder Mountains. The question is, “Where are the Boulders?”
Well before I tell you where they are, I am going to give you a little history lesson on how the Boulders were formed.
Many, many, many years ago (like millions) the Boulder Mountain area was a hot spot for underground magma activity. The so called Boulder Mountain area is not a mountain at all, it is a very high plateau made from a mix of sandstone and volcanic rock.
The Boulder Mountain area is approximately 200 miles south of Salt Lake City and don’t worry, there is plenty to do down in that part of Utah other than fish (like that matters) but just in case you were bringing the family, the Grand Escalante Staircase (thanks to Bill-Clinton that is) and Capital Reef National park are literally with in 30 min of Torrey, UT.
So how did this all start? Well as with any fishing trip, you plan to go where the fish are. With the Boulders, you plan not to just go where the fish are, but where the BIG fish are. Anyone that has been down to the Boulder Mountain area will tell you there are big fish, but not too many are willing to share where and how to get there.
In this case, as with mine, I would encourage you to do some research. Talk to the locals, meaning, find a fly shop that offers a guide service to that area. You might not find out everything about where the big fish are, but you will learn something. If you have the extra money, it might not be a bad idea to book a trip. If you were to go on a guided trip, you would be the envy of those among us that are too cheap and stubborn, because you will learn things that we could not even dream. Network a little. Use social media to your advantage and make some friends in the fishing community. You never know, you may like it and get to go places that you’ve never been before. There is nothing wrong with at least asking as long as you are willing to put forth an effort to give something back in return.

Invest in a good map. There are between 70-80 fishable lakes in the Boulder Mountain area, so mapping out how to get there is going to be crucial, especially since most of the lakes are hike in only. Not to say you cannot drive to any lakes, but the ones you can drive to are either packed with the “worm killers” or they are a 4 wheel drive vehicles worst nightmare. Much of the area is closed off (because of erosion issues) to ATV’s, so make sure if you are going to take the “wheelers” that you are going to a place that allows them.

Next is to find out what to use. Again, this is where social networking has its advantages. However, many of the high mountain lakes have a high concentration of leeches, which happens to be one of the trout’s favorite food. This much I know, streamer patterns such as woolly buggers are a must have. What was interesting though, each lake was unique in the type of bugs that were effective. What was working on one lake was definitely not the case on another. Also, sunny days versus cloudy days made a big difference too. By having an arsenal of flies (streamers, dry’s, and nymphs) is a good rule of thumb.

Now on to the fishing. WOW!!! When I say WOW, I am not just talking about the fish here. These waters of some of the most beautiful waters I have seen in the state. In some lakes the water is so crystal clear that you can see 30 feet down no problem and the scenery is breathtaking. The lakes that I journeyed to had a hike involved to get there. In the hustle to get on the water, don’t forget to take a minute and just look around you. You will most likely be the only one(s) there and you will not be disappointed in the selection of eye candy you have before you. As far as gear goes, I would highly recommend bringing a backpacking pack to stuff your waders, boots, rods, and as in my case a float tube. It was quite heavy, but the hikes were not that bad and definitely worth it when we got there.

Early mornings are key to descent fishing and I would have done a lot better if I would have stuck to this rule. Fish are cruising the shore for food and it’s amazing at how unafraid they are of you. Just make sure you have what they are looking for or they will not pay you a friendly visit at all. Later in the day you can find those sporadic feeders on top, but for the most part you will have to go where the fish are and that is down. Sinking line and good strong tippet will help you find and land some of those bigens you see at the bottom.

These fish are big. For high mountain lakes you can expect to land 12 inchers and that is not a bad fish, but in the Boulders 19 inchers and above are not uncommon. There is quite a selection of fish to choose from too. Some lakes are loaded with beautiful Colorado Cutthroats, some with big Tiger Trout, some with Grayling, and some with big Boulder Mountain Brooke Trout.

My goal was to catch one of these famous Brooke Trout, but my lack of research, led to big Cutts and tigers, but no big brookes. Which leads me to my next topic……..the next trip back. I have heard someone say once you have fished in the Boulder Mountains, you cannot help but return. It is something that is longed for and personally speaking, that is all I can think about since I have been back.

Now I don’t think that this post is going to send thousands up to go and fish the Boulder Mountains and that is the last thing I would hope for. But, for those that are truly in for a great trip, this would be one to put down on the “bucket list”.

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