Getting to the West Fork can be a beautiful drive through the mountains, or an awe inspiring one through desert and red-rock territory. From Heber City, head North on Highway 40 to the intersection of it and River Road/SR 32. At the intersection turn right and head towards Kamas. After about 10 miles you'll come to a tall hill, just up a little will be a turn off to the right, Lower River Road. Take Lower River Road and drive over Wolf Creek Pass for 25 miles and the road that follows along the West Fork will be on the right. From Duchesne, drive North on Center Street for 6 miles, turn onto SR 35 and drive for 35 miles, the road for the West Fork will be on the left. You can also access the West Fork from Heber City by going over Lake Creek and various Forest Service Roads. These roads also interconnect many Uinta fisheries, including Currant Creek, Rock Creek, Little Strawberry River, and others.
The West Fork of the Duchesne is beautiful in its calming, babbling nature. Don't take this to suggest that the Wet Fork is a meandering, meadow creek. It is a freestone river that has fast moving water and large pools that you can get lost in. The West Fork is a water system that is little changed from when the first humans saw her. Even though it travels through private lands and range cattle are a common occurrence, the West Fork has a virgin beauty to it that at times is unknown on other rivers. This river is very much similar to her sister, the North Fork.
The river is impounded about 8 miles from the turn-off from the main road that leads to Wolf Creek Pass. Above the impoundment, fishing can be spotty, look for areas where the fish can hide easily. Below the impoundment, there is a healthy population of big fish with an appetite. The best fishing is going to be below the impoundment but there will be less competition to find a place on the river above it. We have had success in both areas. The Forest Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is also actively eliminating beavers and their ponds from the river system. Fishing tends to be better where the river had not been dammed, look for where the bank tends to be lined with vegetation instead of the desolation left in the wake of the beaver dams.
As the West Fork is managed for Cutthroat Trout, check the regulations to determine when the stream opens for fishing, usually the second Saturday of July (once again, check the regulations for the most up-to-date information). Fishing immediately after the river has opened can lead to days that few ever get to see. The fish are hungry and willing to take even the worst presentation fly, as long as it looks good.
As soon as the river opens, large stimulators and hopper patterns will entice strikes on the surface. Later in the season, try to match the hatches that occur infrequently, generic caddis and mayfly patterns always bring success. Below the surface, brassies, hotwire prince, hare's ear, and gunslinger patterns are successful throughout the fishing season. On nymphs, use a tungsten bead-head to get the flies down quickly without adding extra weight. As with most small streams, start out with a hopper-dropper rig until you start to get a bite and can determine where and on what the fish are biting on.
The West Fork of the Duchesne River is a beautiful South Slope river that is slowly becoming a more popular river as people tire of the crowds on their favorite streams that are closer to civilization. Take the time to hit the West Fork before you need to find a new lonely river to call home.