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Friday, July 6, 2012

Quest for Golden Trout in the Uintas

The second weekend in June, we headed up to the Uintas to attempt to catch the rarest trout in Utah.  Golden Trout are also rumored to be the prettiest trout out there.  I've had them on my list for probably 10 years now, but something always comes up- as if there is a conspiracy to prevent me from realizing my dream.  I've been to the Wind River Mountains several times, but each time something has happened to steer me away from the hallowed waters where goldens dwell.  The most comical, glaring, extreme (searching for the right word here) example was a few years ago the road to the Dickinson Park trailhead, which crosses the reservation, was closed because someone had ticked off one of the reservation dwellers.  We couldn't do anything about it other than change our plans.  We had a beautiful trip to the Cirque of the Towers, but were kept out of anywhere near a golden lake.   
We headed up to the Uintas on Friday night, camped over, then met with some friends in the morning who also had a golden hex to defeat.  With the low snow year, and timing for shortly after ice out, we hoped to tilt the odds in our favor.  There are only two lakes in Utah with golden trout.  One is an 18 or so mile backpacking trip, the other lake is accessible via a 4 wheel drive road that gets a little gnarly.  We planned on the drive, but knew that brook trout outnumber the goldens by about 1000:1.   Maybe our timing could help even the odds. 
We found the lake and had a great time fishing around it.  There were a lot of smallish brook trout, but the goldens proved elusive.  We didn't see anything in the small streams that feed it.  The north side of the lake was also slow.  The south and east sides had the best fishing but the fishing was cyclical- sometimes it was really hot, but then the bite would die down.  We kept several of the pretty little brookies and cooked them for lunch.  If we couldn't catch a golden, at least trimming down the brookie population and enjoying a good lunch would be of benefit. 
 The brookies tasted incredible!  I filleted them, then fried them in butter with a sprinkling of garlic salt and some onion powder.  It's the best way to cook high-country trout.  Too bad they were so small. 
Toward the end of the day, I saw a fish that definitely was not a brookie.  Golden!  Things got even better when I coaxed him to inhale my fly.  Fish on!  Two flips and he was off.  I don't know what's worse- not having a golden trout on, or hooking one and watching it flip off.  I was successful in hooking two goldens, but both times they threw the hook.  There's nothing quite like turning gold into lead.  I'm the one that was hooked even more deeply- I will catch a golden trout one of these days!  I think I prefer having hooked a golden trout and watching it flip off to not even having one hit.  At least it's closer to realizing my dream.

If catching golden trout was the sign of a successful day, my day ended in failure.  But I wasn't the only one there.  My friend hit a jackpot and landed a nice 8 or 9 incher.  You can see the golden trout he caught on his flickr page.  Congratulations deadeye008!

Nearest City: Kamas, UT
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: all day
Difficulty: Difficult
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  1. Oh, I wish you could have caught the Golden Trout! That would have been fun! Nanni loved seeing the picture of the brookie that you caught!

  2. Nice post, the rare golden comes out to play. I know this is low, but do you mind emailing me the name of the lake you fished? I have always wanted to catch a Utah Golden and I'm trying to get it done this fall.
    Thanks for your help,