Utah Safari Pt 4 – Big Cottonwood Creek

4 days, and a big circuitous loop of North Eastern Utah, I find myself back in Salt Lake City.  There is a big trade show to unpack and prepare for, but there are still three days to go before opening bell and one more fishing outing in the Utah Safari left to talk about.

After spending a few hours finalizing my booth setup on the second morning, I decide to head out fishing for the rest of the afternoon.  I have to be at the airport later that evening to pickup the boss, but I have around 8 hours to fish.  I wanted to try something new, but close.  I stopped in at the Western Rivers FlyFisher and got the scoop on what was close and fishing well.  The recommendation was to hit up the Big Cottonwood Creek just up the road.  Good thing I did as the best tip I took out of that shop was that waders were mandatory on that watershed.  On the drive up the canyon, I did not see the sign, but at the parking area on my way out, I witnessed a warden giving a fisherman a stiff warning for not heeding the rules.  I hunted for the sign on the way down and sure enough, it was posted.  I bet it was in the proclamation as well, but who reads all the fine print.

A little bit of recon, a quickdouble-back and I am ready to hit the water.  The Big Cottonwood is a small creek, so I only expected to catch small to middling trout.  That is mostly what I hooked, but after spooking a good sized trout, I became very careful the rest of the way upstream.  At my starting point, I was the only vehicle, so I had high hopes of being the only one and being the first to pound those fish that day.

View from my parking area

I carefully got in the water and fished my way upstream.  Considering my luck lately with Stimmies, I tied on a my smallest one and proceeded to smack the banks.  Looking at the picture above, I can identify the first 4 areas that produced some small 6″ Trout.  A great start to the afternoon.

I was very impressed with the overall beauty of the area, and considering that the highway was mostly right above me, you caught very few glimpses of the road or the cars.  I fell into a pattern that was pretty predictable.  I would either move too quickly and spook a bunch of fish off a bank or bend hole, or I would get in a decent drift and hook a small fish.  Once you took a fish from a hole, it was spooked.

Big fish...small hole...holy smokes!

My luck changed at this hole.  I crawled up to this one thinking it was a “big” hole, and was extremely disappointed when I could actually see the hole from directly above.  I decided to toss the fly and bang the banks a few times as I *had* just worked hard to approach this hole in a very stealthy manner.  Right as the fly passed the point in the center of the picture, a nice 14″rainbow (the biggest fish of the afternoon by far) raced out and ate the Stimmie.  Talk about surprise.

I continued my adventure upstream and came around a corner that brings the river right up to the road embankment, and ran into my first fly fisher of the afternoon.  He was fast into a fish, so I got out of the water, walked past him on the roadway and got back in the water 200 or so yards upstream.  I continued to fish, but was back to the old program of catching mostly 6″ trout.

I fished for another hour, never saw another soul, got out of the water and walked down the road to the car.  I took one last photo at the car with the view biased more to show the canyon that I had just fished.  This was a very relaxing and much needed solo day on the water.  This was the relaxation I needed to survive the next week on trade show madness at the Salt Palace.

A view of the canyon