May 4, 2018

Yellowstone Cutthroats in Utah

Yesterday I decided to find and fish some small, remote steams in Utah that contain Yellowstone cutthroat trout. I can catch this strain of cutthroat trout pretty much everyday, as I live in their historical range. But Utah is predominately a state with other strains of cutthroats like the Bonneville and Bear Lake strains, therefore catching a Yellowstone cutthroat is really special.

There however are a few creeks in far north west Utah that drain northwards into Idaho that historically have the Yellowstone strain of cutthroat trout. These creeks are small and to some, not very satisfying to fish. I like them because they can be hard to get to and fish. They are also not very friendly to fly fishing as there is a lot of cover and very little water.

I drove out into the northern Utah desert and then up into the mountains. This is really remote country. There is no cell service for 25 miles. There are no gas stations and very few people. If your vehicle breaks down plan on walking a very, very long way to find any help. In other words, my kind of place!

I elected to hike into a remote section of one of the creeks. I parked the truck off the 4x4 road in a grove of mountain mahogany, took a GPS and compass/map bearing, and headed off cross country hiking through high mountain sagebrush, aspen and conifer tree belts. There was still snow under some of the trees. After a long hike I found the creek right where I had planned on it to be. It was running cold and clear. It was very beautiful!

After arriving at the creek I stood still, scouting out a few pools. Sure enough, there were trout moving in the pools! I geared up using the modified Suzume, #3 level line, 2.5 feet of 5.5X tippet and a #12 wool kebari. Because of the many aspen branches I had to cast side arm. First cast took the first fish, a beautiful Yellowstone cutthroat about 6-7 inches long. 

As I worked my way upstream I took both cutthroat and rainbows. Personally, I wish the rainbows were not present, as they are an invasive species and will over time interbreed with the cutthroats wiping out their pure genetics. The rainbows fight better than cutthroats, that's probably why they were introduced. But they are not native and are not needed, especially in this remote and pristine part of the intermountain/desert west. After a few hours of fishing, and catching many trout, I hiked back to the truck. 

I need to find a better rod for these small creeks/streams. The Suzume is an unsatisfying rod to fish with and doesn't cast well at it's longest length, but it does have three versatile lengths for these small streams. Finding a rod that fishes and casts reasonably well at 240-250 cm, yet also has some length with good casting dynamics for the more open areas seems like finding the grail. I'm pretty convinced that a rod like this currently doesn't exist. I'll keep looking. 

Anyway, it was a great adventure and I'll be back. There are more remote sections that I want to fish. I just need to get in better shape before attempting them!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm retired, new to Tenkara, and like to fish remote streams and high lakes solo, midweek, in the Washington Cascades. Native Coastal and West Slope Cutthroat waters are favorites and I do put some effort into conditioning. 99% of the time I can, and do send an email-text to my wife using a mobile VHF radio through the global APRS network that contains a link to a map showing where I transmitted from, and specify the direction/route I am taking for added safety. I purchased a Dt Hydra 390Z after reading your review and have recently had amazing success landing some of the largest fish I've ever caught in small, open streams. I would like to find a shorter zoom rod to compliment the Hydra that would be suitable for very tight streams like you targeted in this blog post, and I'd sure like to know when you find the short "holy grail" zoom rod you describe.

    Thanks for your excellent reviews and inspiring blog posts!


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