Another high mountain lake in the Uinta Mountains, Fehr Lake is one of the headwater lakes of the Duchesne River watershed. Even though the hike to the lake is itself less than strenuous, and is a wonderful hike to take the family on, it is one that lets you know just how rugged the Uinta Mountains can be and though you're less than a mile off of the highway-you would imagine that you had hiked for miles and miles into the wilderness.
To get to Fehr 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 a little over 30 miles. You will go over Bald Mountain Pass and head down the Northern Slope, just about 1.5 miles from the pass you'll see a small pull-out on the right side of the road. This is the trailhead, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. The trail usually opens up about early to mid June and stays open through September, and maybe into October. Be prepared though, the weather changes in the Uintas at the tip of hat, and while it's rare, it has snowed even in July, August, and September.
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 decimated by Pine Beetles, yet. It is big country and don't hesitate to stop and take in every view that this country offers you. Be prepared with whatever hiking essentials you feel necessary to take with you. Sunscreen, bug repellant, emergency kit, water, etc. Even though you are less than a half a mile in from the highway, a lot can happen in the half a mile. Always be prepared when you are in the backcountry.
Fehr Lake is about 6 acres and has a maximum depth of 29 feet. The depth and amount of water makes it a great lake to either use a canoe or float tube on, if you are willing to hike them in. The North and West shores of plenty of room to get a great backcast, the South and East shores have more timber around it, requiring a more delicate cast. We hiked in with our 7'6" 3 wt rod however, a 9' 5 wt would have increased our ability to get further out into the lake. We wouldn't recommend anything over a 5 wt rod, but the size of fish in this lake make a 3 wt seem a little too small and a 5 wt just a little too big.
Fehr Lake is a natural, glacier carved lake that is relatively untouched by human effort. It has not been impounded like many of the other lakes within the Uintas, and the water level is completely dictated by in and outlet flows. It has a wild population of Brook Trout that is maintaining itself without stocking from the Utah DWR. In fact, we looked at the stocking reports from 2002 to present and Fehr Lake was never stocked during that time. That wild population is beautiful as well, they are big and strong, a real fight that ends with one of the beauties of the Trout family.
Aquatic insects do exist in these waters, even though their hatch cycles are more sporadic than lower elevation lakes and rivers. 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, even though you will only be a half mile 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!
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!
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.