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Anglers Can Beat the Heat in the Uinta Mountains

Anglers Can Beat the Heat in the Uinta Mountains

Northeastern Utah

Vernal -- When the weatherman predicts 92 degrees in the valley, it's time to do one of two things: Get some air conditioning or get higher in elevation.

The Uinta Mountain range in northern and northeastern Utah fits the latter choice perfectly.

Sheep Creek
photo by Ron Stewart, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Hundreds of lakes

While knowing the Uinta Mountains has at least 10 peaks more than 13,000 feet in elevation might thrill the mountain climber, or knowing it’s one of only two east-west running mountain ranges in North America might impress a geologist, it’s the number and variety of lakes and streams that excites anglers.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocks more than 400 waters in the Uinta Mountains with fish.

But those 400-plus lakes aren’t the only waters to fish. The Uintas also contain many lakes and streams where the fish maintain themselves through natural reproduction.

A variety of fish

Not only do the Uintas provide countless numbers of secluded fishing spots, they also provide a large variety of fish.

When trapper and explorer William Ashley crossed the Uinta Mountains in the mid 1880s, Colorado River cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish were probably the only native sportfish he found.

In addition to Colorado River cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish, today’s explorers will also find grayling, other species of cutthroat trout, and rainbow, brook, brown, splake, golden and tiger trout.

Fishing tips

Mountain fishing is often spotty -- it can be hot for a day or a week, and then cold the next.

With so many lakes to choose from, though, it’s fairly easy to find a good spot to fish in the Uintas -- if fishing isn't as fast as you’d like it to be at the lake at which you’re fishing, try fishing the outlet stream. Or, take a short hike to another lake.

Before you pack up and move, however, try these tricks:

Before you visit the Uintas, make sure you collect a variety of lures, flies or bait. Smaller, brightly-colored lures will work in both lakes and streams. Most natural and commercial baits will work too.

A selection of small flies, such as mosquitoes, black ants, scuds, shrimp, grasshoppers and leach imitations, are also good items to take with you.

If the selection you’re using isn’t working, change the size and color of your presentation.

Changing to a smaller lure often turns a slow fishing day into a fast fishing day. It’s also surprising how often changing to a lure that has a splash of red, orange or chartreuse green on it can trigger a stronger bite.

You can drive or hike

Lakes and streams on the Uinta Mountains are just a car drive away. Almost every drainage on the South Slope of the Uintas has a road that leads to it.

While you’ll find numerous lakes and streams near the roads, if you really want to explore the Uintas, you need to do some planning.

Books about the Uintas are available through various outlet stores run by the Intermountain Natural History Association (www.inhaweb.com).

The Natural Resources Map & Bookstore, 1594 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City, also has books.

An older series of high mountain lakes booklets compiled by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) biologists is also a good source. The booklets detail the lakes, camping areas and trails in the Uintas.

Check with the INHA outlets and UDWR offices to see which booklets they might have in stock.

“To beat the heat, try fishing the Uinta Mountains,” says Ron Stewart, the UDWR’s conservation outreach manager in northeastern Utah.

“Just remember to take a camera along,” he says. “The scenery is phenomenal. And the area has an abundant and diverse variety of wildlife.”