Streams in Winter
Winter is here in the Uintah basin of Eastern Utah and the December low temps have dropped below zero. The days are the shortest they will be all year. Fog has engulfed the valleys and the ponds and lakes have iced over. But what is happening on the rivers near Falcons Ledge and how are the fish faring? Fellow guide Bryan Eldredge and I set out to answer this question.
After loading way more gear than we would need (like we always do), we headed for one of our favorite rivers in the Uintah basin. This river is very productive in the spring and summer and the dry-fly fishing is second to none. Many of our repeat guests at Falcons Ledge love to return to this river and we have lots of pictures of big fish and big smiles. And even though we have been fishing and guiding on this river for years, neither one of us had ever fished it in the dead of winter.
After putting on a few extra layers of clothes, we jumped into our waders and headed to the river. We found lots of snow on the banks with ice along the edges. The water level was low, which is typical of this time of year. But the flow was steady and our “go to” holes from the summer were still there. Our fly of choice was the red copper john, the same fly that works in the summer. We also tried glow bugs as the browns are spawning this time of year and all species of fish love to feed on the eggs. Our usual deep holes produced a few small fish but it was the shallow runs that were most productive. The browns were using these runs for spawning and the rainbows and cutthroats were feeding on the eggs.
We fished until we could hardly feel our hands and feet. We caught a bunch of fish, including browns, rainbows, and cutthroats. The fish were healthy and put up a good fight, and some were pushing 18 inches in length. We joked how there have been times when we have caught fewer fish than today in the summer on this river. It was fun to catch fish on one of our favorite summertime rivers. We concluded that the fish are still there, hungry, and active. And despite the cold temperatures, I’m sure our summertime clients are wishing they were with us.
Written by guide Jeff Lindstrom
Photos by Jeff Lindstrom