Commandment #8: Thou Shalt Keep Thy Rod Behind Thee and Thy Line in Readiness Until Thou Art Ready to Cast.
The last commandment that follows in the same vein as numbers six and seven, Commandment Eight is another commandment that is completely related to making your presence on the stream unknown to your quarry. Your rod is an extension of yourself, therefore, just as you would keep a low profile when approaching the water, you should add your rod into that equation.
I’ve heard the argument that the rod is thin enough that it more mimics a branch than an unnatural occurrence and one doesn’t need to be as careful with their rod as they are with their person. While the argument may be correct that a rod may mimic a branch and may not appear at all unnatural, this is only correct in fishing situations where you are fishing in places that are heavily lined with bushes and trees. If you’re fishing along a bank that does not contain any trees, a tree branch would actually appear unnatural.
Also, they forget that while moving from fishing spot to fishing spot, the rod may get tangled in the foliage of the area and create a disturbance that spooks every fish in the general vicinity. When moving through heavy brush the rod and line will get snagged on a branch too small to see and then you’re pulling at the tree and moving branches unnaturally to get your line and rod detached from the trees. This happens both when carrying the rod in front of you as well as behind.
When carrying the rod behind you though, it is possible to go back and correct the mistake, and most times the fish will not have an idea that you messing around and making a ruckus. If this happens in front of you, the likelihood that the fish notice greatly increases. For example, you’re carrying a 7’6” rod because you’re fishing a small stream. Carrying the rod in front of you through thick cover the rod gets stuck in some low hanging branches. You start to pull and whip the rod back and forth because you don’t want to get too close to the water, however the tree is now moving back and forth and creating unnatural shadows on the water for the current weather conditions. Now the fish know that something is up and they’re gone!
This commandment is a call to be mindful of what you’re doing and where everything that you’re carrying is. Don’t make a sloppy mistake that is going to frighten the fish and ruin your fishing trip.
As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!
The Provo River is one of the most iconic fly fishing rivers in the state of Utah. The vast majority of fly jockeys hit the lower or middle stretches of the river, leaving the upper stretches to those of us who love small waters. While we enjoy fishing the lower and middle stretches, real fly fishing magic takes place on the upper stretches.
The Upper Provo River flows from the high mountain streams of the Uinta Mountains to Jordanelle Reservoir in the Wasatch Mountains. This mountain freestone is a wonderful place to get away from the fly jockeys that want to hit the Middle or Lower stretches of the Provo and get back to the root of Fly-Fishing small streams.
Getting to the Upper Provo itself is fairly simple. From Heber City head North on Highway 40 to the light on River Road/SR 32 and turn East towards Kamas. Follow SR 32 for about 8 miles. SR 32 wraps around Jordanelle Reservoir and crosses the Upper Provo River near its inlet with the Reservoir. Here is the lowest point of the Upper Provo. From here until you get into the National Forest the River passes in and out of Private Property. From SR 32 the river follows along the Lower River Road that cuts off right before getting to Oakley. The river then cuts through the hills and mountains and meets up with Highway 150 from Kamas, the Mirror Lake Highway, and follows close to that highway to its headwaters.
The flow of the river is that of a mountain stream, completely dependent upon the snowpack and rain to fill its bed. As the river flows downstream from its headwaters to Jordanelle, it gets larger and begins to resemble its little brothers downstream. The upper stretches though are reminiscent of the many small streams that flow from the Uintas. This section of the Provo does not get fished a lot, either because of the private property in the lower stretches, or because of the smaller fish and numbers that are characteristic of its upper stretches, either way, it's hard to find another fisherman on the river.
At the inlet into Jordanelle, at Rock Cliff State Park, the fishing can be great, especially in the time right before spawns. But the fishing around that area is short-lived due to the river very quickly entering private property. If you can get permission to fish through that property you should be in for a treat, bigger fish with very, very little pressure. Once you get on the Mirror Lake Highway and enter the National Forest, you can fish any stretch of the river that you want to or are brave enough to hike down to, in places. The Upper Provo cut its way through a rugged mountain range, it’s difficult to forget this while hiking down to the river.
Most places along this river will allow for distance to cast and the ability to stay back and hidden from the fish, which comes in very handy when the water turns crystal clear! For the lower stretches a 9' 5 wt is a great rod, it gives you the power to push the fly across the river and if you're lucky to get into a fish big enough, the rod will handle it without a problem. The upper stretches, any 3 wt rod is key. The fish in the river get smaller the higher up you go, the smaller weight rod will be perfect for those battles.
Depending on what stretch you decide to fish really determines the fish that you will catch. In the lower stretches you’ll find browns, rainbows, and cutthroats. In the upper sections you will run into brookies. Don’t be surprised though if you luck into a grayling. While rare it has been known to happen...they are able to swim down from the lakes they have been planted into and a few make the river their home.
The fish in the lower stretches are more difficult to catch than the fish in the upper stretches. Hatches become a little more consistent and larger the further down the river you go. Standard midge, mayfly, and caddis patterns work well, as well as stoneflies. In the upper stretches, terrestrials are beautiful and will encourage even the wiliest of fish to rise. Fish in the upper stretches are opportunistic and will readily take most things that are offered.
While fishing, be prepared, and a bit cautious, you never know what you might run into. Moose call the Uinta Mountains home and for being as large as they are, are more than capable of hiding in the willows until you stumble upon them. Bear also claim the mountains as home, be prepared! The wildlife and scenery of this section of the Provo River make up for anything the other sections have that this one does not.
While not as well known as the Middle and Lower Sections, the Upper Provo is a gem in her own right. Widely overlooked by the fly-fishing community, it's one of our favorite rivers to take new fishermen to. It offers space to cast and fish that are more than forgiving. As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!
What a bright, sunny day. And the fly-fishing was amazing. We decided to hit the Upper Provo River. First, it's a beautiful drive through God's country to get to the Upper Provo, especially the stretch that we wanted to fish. A short drive along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway and we pulled over above the Provo River Falls. It should be noted that you should pull over and take a walk around the falls, even if you don't plan on doing any fishing, it's beautiful up there. The river was running crystal clear and a little low compared to a few weeks ago, but it was cold and refreshing on a warm summer day.
The beauty of this stretch of river is the fish that call it home. It is chock full of wonderfully colored Brookies that would make any Eastern river fisherman jealous. And they are plentiful and hungry. Almost every other cast in the pockets that dot this high mountain river was a take. Just like their brethren in the Eastern mountain streams, they weren't monsters by any stretch of the imagination, but their beauty and tenacity made up for anything they lacked in size.
It was easy to forget to take pictures while fishing on this trip. The fishing was just that good and it was easy to get lost in the magic of the moment. The fish didn't care about anything subsurface, which was wonderful. Every take was on the surface and we quickly cut off the dropper we had and focused on bringing these beauties to the surface. A size 16 Yellow Stimulator did the trick, even though they more than likely would have been happy with anything that we would have thrown at them.
Fishing this upper stretch is not without challenges though, and be ready for them. In places the river runs fast, a lot of drop in elevation characterizes this stretch. Be prepared to do some rock climbing to get up to the next stretch of river or pool, and sometimes it makes you wonder how the fish moved up some of the drops, but if you're careful, you'll discover them in some hidden pool that others may not have had the gumption to get to. Check out the gallery for more photos. As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!
One of the most alluring fishing destinations in Utah is the numerous lakes and streams of the Uinta Mountains. Many of the rivers that we have already highlighted here at Currant Creek Fly Company are found in the Uintas or their headwaters are. The mountains are home to many waters and many fish. One of these lakes, and the first in our series of stillwaters is Marjorie Lake.
Marjorie Lake is found in the Provo River watershed. And is one of the many lakes that make up the headwaters of this prolific Western river. It takes a little bit of time hiking to this high mountain lake, but the payoff is well worth it. And the hike itself is not at all strenuous and we would not hesitate to take our four year old on this hike.
To get to Marjorie Lake, travel North from Heber City on Highway 40 until you reach the intersection with Highway 32, roughly 4 miles North of town. Stay on Highway 32 around Jordanelle and into the town of Francis until you get to the first stop sign, about 11 miles, and turn left to stay on Highway 32. After 2 miles you will be in the town of Kamas and will turn right on Highway 150, The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, and stay on Highway 150 for 25 miles. You will be looking for the Crystal Lake Trailhead, which is on Forest Road 041. Follow the signs to the Trailhead, passing Washington Lake Campground and into the parking lot. The trial usually opens up about early to mid June and stays open through September, and maybe into October.
The landscape along this hike and around the lake itself is high mountain. You are still below the timberline, so you will be hiking through towering pines, thankfully they have not been deciminated by Pine Beetles, yet. It is big country and don't hesitate to stop and take in every view that this country offers you. Remember to take plenty of water!! Also, sunscreen and bug repellant won't hurt. At the lake itself we didn’t have any trouble with mosquitoes but along the way, whenever the trail would get close to the many ponds you have to hike near we would be covered in them--fair warning. The majority of the shoreline around the lake is clear of trees, at least enough to cast out to get to the fish.
There were only two places around the entire lake that we had to be more mindful than usual of our backcast. We took our standard 7'6" 3 wt to Marjorie Lake. The majority of fish in the lake made this rod the perfect rod to have out there. A 9' 5 wt would have increased our fishing distance on the lake but would have overpowered many of the fish that you would catch. It’s a tradeoff that each individual fisherman must make. We would not recommend taking anything over a 5 wt out. Remember, also, that you will be hiking about 6.5 miles, round trip, and will be carrying that rod with you-what rod are you comfortable hiking with, and how many pieces it breaks down into.
Marjorie Lake is a natural, glacier carved lake, and like many of her sister lakes in the Uintas, was impounded to increase water retention and serve as one more reservoir for the state of Utah. Since the construction of Jordanelle Reservoir, though, many of these lakes are no longer maintained as reservoirs and are allowed to flow as naturally as possible. The lake itself was last stocked with fish by the Utah DWR in the 1950's and now maintains itself with natural reproduction--which we find really, really cool. We love stories of life maintaining itself and fighting against the odds. The beauty of this lake is that it was stocked with Arctic Grayling, as well as Brook Trout.
Aquatic insects do exist in these waters, even though their hatch cycles are more sporadic than lower elevation lakes and rivers. We saw Stoneflies and Brown Drakes while fishing this water. During the morning and evening, throwing a caddis pattern out will almost always work. During the heat of the day the fish are still looking up though, terrestrials such as ants and small hoppers are great. As the weather cools down, fishing below the surface with a leech pattern or chironomid should work.
Remember that you are in the wilderness on this trip. You are in Mother Nature's home and she makes the rules. Expect to see wildlife and prepare accordingly, this is bear and moose country. Take a first aid kit with you just in case something happens, you will be three miles from your car, even a survival kit may not hurt. It is beautiful country that is unfortunately touched by man, help out and take a grocery sack and pack out some of the trash that some people choose not to. As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!
We had heard stories of Arctic Grayling in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. Some stories of apocryphal and some are true and it takes some time wading through that information to get to the sublime truth of this mystery. Marjorie Lake is the subject of many of those stories. It does become to wade through the misinformation, though, when the Utah DWR makes a video highlighting this fish and this lake. So, we got started early in the morning, made the drive, and started the hike.
From the trailhead, it was a beautiful 3.1 mile hike through God's Country. Pine trees line the trail and hard rock carved by the hand of time do little to cushion each step. It's an easy hike for the most part, we just wish we would have remembered the bug spray, word of warning to the wise. The trail is easily marked which helped. Being a little out of shape, the workout was welcomed.
Coming down one of the only steep sections of the trail, a meadow opened open with a beautiful alpine lake in it. We quickly made out way to the shore and began to rig up our rod. Even though it was about 10 in the morning and no clouds were in the sky, the sun beating upon us and the lake, the fish were still rising to whatever they could find on the surface. At other Uinta Lakes we have had success with a caddis pattern so tied one on. They didn't seem to be interested in that at all.
We then tied on a honey ant pattern and the strike began. We had read that Grayling were loose lipped, and the stories were true. We would have strike after strike and were unable to get the hook set in time. Finally, one took the ant and ran with it. After a short fight we had our first Grayling in our hands. Grayling are beautiful in their simplicity. We had the bug now.
As the heat of the day continued to grow, the strikes became less but did not stop completely. After a few casts in each spot we would move a few yards to the next one around the shore, slowly making our way around the entire lake. Near it's largest inlet we had a strike that made us wish we took a larger rod. Finally we brought in the largest Brook Trout that we have ever caught. Not gigantic by any means, but when you are use to catching 8" Brookies in mountain streams, a 12" one is a monster.
Finally, we made our way around the entire lake and it was time to return back to civilization. The hike back was not was exciting as the hike to the lake, but just as beautiful. It was a great day fishing and we were able to knock something off of our 2015 bucket list. For more pictures, check out our Gallery.
Growing up along the Provo River in Utah, I've seen countless numbers of Fly Fishermen search for the Tug. It's in the small streams that the dream is realized.