Friday, July 26, 2013

Utah Trip: The Lower Weber

Looks can be deceiving. When I first saw the Weber near Ogden I wasn't sure it could hold trout. The water looked dingy and full of grass. The flow seemed really low and I figured the water would be too warm for trout. I walked the banks looking for access. Utah seems to love lining the Weber with these types of rocks.
They do look cool but they also provide perfect habitat for snakes. The round smooth shape of the rocks makes them shift at times while you're walking over them. It's a little unnerving. I could see fish flashing and I tried getting to them with various nymph setups. I didn't get a nibble. I worked downstream and looked for a good spot to try streamers.
Using a rock as a casting platform I peered down into a huge pool. There were two massive fish swimming right below my feet. These fish were giant if they were browns they had to be 20lbs or more. The fish circled slowly and moved from the blurry fast water into the still calm flows. The blobs turned into familiar fish I'd seen before. These were monster carp. I was using a big articulated streamer and I thought about switching to a carp fly. I only had a 5wt and these fish would have snapped that rod like a twig. Even with the huge fly I had a couple carp inspected and I even think nipped at the fly. I kept working the streamer along the bank and in the deeper part of the pool. There was no action. Not even a bump or tap. I talked to another angler fishing upstream. He could see fish rising all over but couldn't get one to take anything. He had been trying for over an hour. I started to feel like I was on the Provo again.
The angler called it a day and I tried where he was fishing with the same luck. I worked upstream and started to go over ideas of what these fish might have not seen before. If you've been following my blog then you know about my love for the white wooly bugger. I think it is the most versatile fly that works in almost any situation. It is my go to when things are tough. I came to a calm section where the water was almost glass clear and I could see the grass flowing from side to side. I cast once to check the action of the fly. Then I cast to where I was certain a fish would be. My cast landed short right over a grass clump. Part of the grass clump moved and started to follow my fly downstream. The fish spun back sucked up the fly then turn upstream almost hooking itself. I set the hook and the water was so clear I could make out that it was a brown. The fish was huge and my heart jumped as I watched the fish thrash. I left my net in the car and I was fighting this fish with 5x. I thought for sure the fish would break off so as I had it close I tried to get a good shot with the camera.
I noticed the fish would not swim close to me but it also didn't fight like I thought it would. I have been watching youtube videos of people fishing the Weber and Provo. I noticed one thing in a lot of the movies. The guides would hide the net from the fish until the last second. If they put the net in the water early the fish would go crazy. I was wondering if this brown was doing the same thing. Conserving its energy until it really felt danger was imminent. The fish was super close and I went to grab it by my fly. The fish jumped and cartwheeled back into the water. Then made a hard run across the river. I managed to get it back then tried tailing the fish. Once it felt my hand it bolted again this time getting hung under a clump of grass. I wasn't going to lose the fish this way. I waded close to the fish and tried to untangle my leader without scaring the fish. Luckily the fish stayed calm. If it had thrashed and went ballistic it probably would have snapped the leader. I freed the leader and the fish bolted again. We played cat and mouse for what had to be a good 5min. I eventually did something I feel is pretty dumb but I couldn't figure out how to land the fish any other way. I didn't want to hurt this fish so I started walking backwards basically swimming the fish towards me. I navigated it through shallow water into a place where I could beach the fish and still keep it wet. Then I just stared at the fish.
This could be my trout of a lifetime. It dwarfed other browns I have caught. I had enough wits about me to realize I needed to get this fish back in the water. Even after the long fight this fish had plenty left to swim off with little reviving. The white wooly bugger had saved the day again. I think I'm going to start calling this fly the "skunkbuster."
The next day my family hiked along the Weber. I had brought my rod but I knew I couldn't really fish that much. There was a nice easy access near the trail and my wife gave me the go ahead. A train went by as I was fishing and there's something I love about that.
Some how trains and fishing go together for me. The older the train the better. I managed two browns right away then I had a nice surprise. I couldn't identify this last fish. It looked like a rainbow but I hadn't caught any wild rainbows in all of the rivers I've fished except the ones stocked in Ogden. When I went to raise the fish out of the water I noticed the two orange red slits under it's chin indicating a cutthroat.
This was icing to an already awesome vacation. I had heard cuts were in the Weber but my expectations were low. Catching one was huge for me. The fishing in Utah is amazing. The rumors are right. You really are one cast from catching the fish of a lifetime.
Fly Shops that helped my trip be a success:
Troutbum2 Fly Shop - Park City
Four Seasons Fly Shop - Heber City


  1. What a great story! Chris at Missouri Flies says carp flies are everything flies essentially so I am never without some. If ever in my neck of the woods visit me for very large BT in one river, I abandoned it for the crowds but I'd take someone. Too cool all the way around-I do need to take a look at the white WB as you do do well with that!


  2. Well, suffice to say, you have had a wonderful trip out to Utah for some really nice fish. Persistence pays off! Oh, and White Wooly Buggers.

  3. Great post Kevin. I can't believe I haven't been to Utah except by fly over. Thanks for giving me another reason to plan a trip.