Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Weber River, Utah, August 2009

Back in the lower 48 after our Alaska odyssey, Regan and I drove a moving truck from Oregon to our new home in Flagstaff, AZ. I figured I might be able to sneak in a bit more fly fishing along the way, and I decided to fish the Weber River in northern Utah for a day. The Weber is known to hold strong populations of Brown trout, some reaching large sizes, and with fewer crowds than the Provo to the south, so it seemed like a good option to explore.

I worked up through a section of stream between Rockport and Echo reservoirs, essentially a tailwater, flowing through agricultural land. Public access points have been created through an agreement between the state of Utah and landowners throughout this area, an arrangement that certainly works out in favor for anglers. I cast into a pool near a bridge crossing at one of these access points, downstream of the riffle above, and quickly connected with a chunky, 15" Brown that grabbed a #10 Crawbugger, with a head shot of the fish and fly shown below.

I proceeded upstream, back to the riffle above, and worked through the run several times, before getting a strike from another spirited Brown, this one 16", on a brown #10 BH Girdle Bug.

This fish looked to be a female, with a silvery coloration and a relatively small head (it actually bore a striking resemblance to a Landlocked Salmon in my mind).

Both of these fish were real leapers ( more prone to jumping than most Browns I can recall), and strong fighters--healthy and tough specimens, that proved to be the norm for fish caught today.

I continued fishing upstream, and caught several other smaller Browns in pockets and along grassy banks, using mid-sized nymphs and a #10, tan-bodied Neversink Caddis (probably imitating the abundant hoppers clinging to grasses near the river). However, the larger fish were lacking, so I wandered farther upstream, until I found the shaded riffle run above, flanked by large Cottonwoods. I tied on a double nymph rig, consisting of a #10 BH Girdle Bug, followed by a #16 Zug Bug on 5X, as I suspected that some of the better fish might respond to a smaller pattern (despite an amber tint to the water, the Weber here is still a tailwater, and I came across more than a few anglers fishing through runs, to Browns that by their nature are probably more cautious and discerning). I began near the head of the riffle, and drifted the nymphs close to the far bank, where the main current of the run flowed. Within several drifts, the leader tightened, and I quickly found myself attached to a heavy fish. I fought a strong Brown over the next few minutes, a powerful trout that made several runs, but primarily sulked near the streambed, and used the currents to its advantage (this was the lone trout today that did not vault from the river). Finally, I pulled the brute close to hand, and admired a colorful, 19-20" male Brown trout.

The fish took the #16 Zug Bug, and its big jaws had begun to form a kype. Here is a closeup of the trout's head.

The fish shone a brilliant yellow-gold along the sides in the sunlight--truly one of the finer Browns I've caught in awhile.

I returned the male to the shallows of its run, and watched the Brown merge back into the deeper currents, before heading back towards the head of the riffle, and cast the nymph rig again. I hooked into another strong fish after several drifts, that materialized as a rather large, 18" Mountain whitefish.

This fish took the #10 Girdle Bug, and provided a spirited (if less lengthy) fight. Whitefish sometimes get a bad rap by anglers, but they are native to many watersheds in the West, an important part of the ecosystem, and I am always happy to see them thriving in any given stream.

I managed to connect with one last good fish in this productive riffle, a thick Brown of 16" or so, that unfortunately threw the hook on one of its multiple leaps from the water. It was also during this time that a pair of fly fishermen entered the river directly below me, began fishing several feet away, and informed me that they were not trying to pressure me out of the run. They seemed to be experienced anglers, and friendly guys that meant no disrespect, but in moments like these, it can make me wonder at a person's motives, when much of the rest of the river is unoccupied. No matter though, I had hooked and landed some beautiful fish from the Weber river, and caught a couple more in the 12-14" range farther upstream, on a brilliant sunny day--not bad for my first fishing outing in northern Utah, an area I intend to revisit with the rod and reel in the future.


  1. Glad you ejoyed the UT web water.
    Sorry for the close encounter with other UT anglers. I fish Web often & I am guessing they just like their own honey hole & is why they walked in where they did. ?? Thanks for visiting.

  2. Hey featherhook, thanks for the reply, I can see why you visit the Weber often. The anglers were nice guys, even if they did wade in and start casting right below me...I will certainly be back to fish there in the near future, not to mention some of the other great surrounding waters!

    Tight lines, Iain