All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Great Fall Fly Fishing with Hoppers!

My favorite time of year. The trout are out looking for hoppers. I fished a very small water and took several nice browns and cutthroats using my air-filled hopper pattern. Hopefully, the snow will stay away and I can enjoy a nice fall season.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Many small streams are kept secret by fly fishers, but the streams themselves have secrets of their own!

This article first appeared on

The fly angler's secret for fishing small creeks and streams

Created By: Robert Williamson
 Robert Williamson
Web Tease: When the large rivers are flowing high and murky, don't overlook small streams and creeks to satisfy your desire to go fly fishing. While the location of these streams may be secret, the rewards of fishing them are well known!
THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Because Utah is a dry, desert state, most of our large rivers receive moderate to heavy fishing pressure, especially in the summer and fall months.
Guides and outfitters work these waters, along with groups of fly fishers who enjoy the social aspects of angling. This increase in pressure can make it difficult for some to find a stretch of water all their own. Fishing pressure will send some fly fishers in search of their own piece of heaven: usually a small creek or stream that is often overlooked.
Many fly fishers have a secret creek or stream they rarely, if ever, share with others. They may talk about it, but never tell the location or name of the water. Some will give this water a code name or use the generic "No Tellum" creek as they verbally share their fishing experiences. This creek or stream is the one they fish alone, the place they go for solitude, the place they keep secret because too much pressure can send the already skittish trout into hiding, and because frankly, there is not enough room for a lot of anglers.
However, before you head out into the mountains to find your new favorite spring to fish this spring, be sure to read the proclamation and know which tributaries close for cutthroat trout spawning. Some tributaries close until the second weekend in July.
A fly fisher who takes the time to go exploring can find some real jewels. The old cliche "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" certainly applies to the perception fly fishers have on the waters they fish.
Here are some of the benefits of finding your own secret fishing stream.
Many of Utah's small streams and creeks are teeming with trout. A fly angler who just wants to have a lot of fun catching fish will have a blast on small streams. A sneaky fly fisher with the skill to stalk and cast in tight brushy places should have no problem with numbers. It is possible to catch and release dozens of trout in a few hours on many of Utah's small streams. The trout in small streams are aggressive and opportunistic feeders and will hit most well-placed flies.
Some anglers measure quality in numbers, some measure quality in inches, while others measure quality in beauty. There are small creeks in Utah that have trout of decent size. While most trout will fall within the 6- to 12-inch range, it is possible to catch 14- to 19-inch trout in small waters. It is surprising to see a 19-inch trout come out of a deep undercut bank, a pooled bend, a beaver pond or from in front of a large rock on a small creek. But for those who fish these places regularly, it occurs often enough to provide real excitement.
The beauty of the surroundings and the colors of the trout are often the aesthetic aspects that prove the real draw of the smaller waters. The trout caught in the small waters are some of the prettiest trout around. They take on the coloring of the streams with rich dark backs, and depending on the species and age class, are splashed with blueish parr marks, white, yellow or crimson bellies, and spots of red, orange and black.
If you are seeking solitude, small creeks are the ticket. To find a peaceful setting, one that you can have to yourself, look for creeks and streams that require a little hiking. Or seek waters that most people just overlook because of size, too much brush or that are remote.
Native Bonneville and other cutthroat trout
If you are seeking Utah's native Bonneville cutthroat, the Colorado cutthroat, Bear River cutthroat or Yellowstone cutthroat, you can find them in creeks and streams around the state. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Trout Unlimited have partnered to create the Cutthroat Slam Program where anglers can register to catch the above-mentioned trout and qualify for recognition. The fees collected go toward preservation and habitat improvement.
Stream flow
Most small streams and creeks are not controlled by dams. This means the spring runoff will blow out quickly and you can fish when larger waters, especially those below reservoirs, will still be too high to approach or too murky to fish adequately. Monitor the runoff and hit a small stream or creek just after flows drop — the fishing is fabulous and so fun!
On years of heavy runoff, searching for, exploring and fishing small creeks and streams will satisfy the craving to get outdoors and an occasional large trout or two is an added bonus. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016


The dirt road starts from a turn-off on the main road in Logan Canyon. From the pavement it goes straight into the pines and  aspen. On the Utah side it is rocky and uneven with ruts. Too many four wheel drive vehicles using it on rainy days. On the Idaho side, it is graded and groomed. Beaver Creek parallels the road for several miles even as the road crosses into Idaho. The road and creek eventually meander through open meadows. Beaver work here damming the flow creating ponds and areas of thick willow growth. Native Bonneville cutthroat trout can be found here along with Eastern brookies and some planted rainbows. They are not big--most maybe six to ten inches. They are skittish. They are hungry. They will rise readily to a well-placed dry fly. In summer and fall vehicles cause dust plumes as long as a couple hundred yards. Some drivers will slow down and respect vehicles coming the opposite way but others never seem to care as they speed along creating dust and flipping rocks onto the windshields of passing vehicles.

The man has travelled this road for nearly forty years. It is the route he takes to get to Saint Charles Canyon. He drives it alone always in the evening and sometimes in the dark when he gets a late start. Driving this dirt road, camping in Saint Charles Canyon, fly fishing the creek, and sitting high on a side hill watching the sunlight come down the canyon wall early in the morning is a therapeutic coping skill Colter Ellis has developed.

Colter Ellis, turned off the main dirt road. He followed the very faint impression of truck tire tracks toward a lone large pine. Visible in a grove of aspen was the old mountain cabin. He pulled up into the clearing right in front of the cabin and turned off the ignition. He got out of the truck and listened. The sound was more a feeling than any noise. He could feel it on his skin. His heart rate increased for just a moment and then settled back down. Still, he could feel his heart beat and almost hear it in the silence. He walked up to the front door of the cabin. The padlock secure. He held his hands up to the sides of his face and peered into the front and only window. The one room cabin was neat and tidy. Chairs were neatly tucked around the table on all four sides. The wood burning stove against the end wall cold and black. Several small shelves held a few canned goods. The two hinged beds secured to the far wall. No one had been in the cabin for some time. Colter sat down on a log near the woodshed. He thought and pondered about his life. He'd earned a degree in geography but had never really done anything with it. His first desire was to work with the National Forest Service. He wanted to work in their cartography division making maps. During an interview he was told that twenty-seven people had to die before they could hire him. He turned his thoughts towards being a teacher. During his twenties, thirties, and into his forties, he never felt that comfortable in front of people especially in a teaching situation. Fear had almost always ruled his life. Change did not come easy.

He stood up, took a deep breath of cool mountain air and walked down the north facing hill. About 100 yards down the slope was an old rusted out car. Probably a 1940's model, make unknown. It was situated at the front of a mine opening. The engine used as power to pull an ore cart up the mine shaft. He gazed into the opening. The darkness reminded him of the darkness he felt with his own life. It reminded him of his fear again. He thought back to a day when he and his siblings was brought to the mine by their parents. They were not even in their early teens yet. Their ages somewhere between eight to twelve. A couple of his siblings started down the mine shaft. He followed. About fifty or sixty feet into the mine it took a turn to the right. It became dark. The darkness brought fear into those in the front. The mention of a mountain lion living in there sent the whole group scrambling to get out. The sunlight breaking through the trees brought Colter back to the present. He lifted his head and squinted. Out to the north was Saint Charles Canyon. He looked down into the canyon bottom. Too far to see the road or the creek, at least they were not visible through all the trees. Too far to hear the water.

He hiked back up the hill to his truck. Paused for a moment and thought of his great grandfather, grandpa, and great uncles. They had built the cabin and blasted the mine. It was a place where they worked, hunted, and dreamed. All of them gone, he thought. Ghosts that ride the breeze. Maybe that is the feeling he feels when he hears the silence. Ghosts.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Sound of Water

Once I caught an eighteen inch brown trout on a small stream in northern Utah. It was opening day of the deer hunt. I went alone on purpose. I wore a red jacket so I would stand out. I didn't want to be mistaken as a deer standing in or near the stream by some excited or impaired hunter. When I caught the trout I held it up to the heavens and vocally exclaimed, "Can you believe this?" I don't know who I was talking to. Maybe I was talking to my own brain, or possibly it was a short prayer of sorts to God or Mother Nature. I stood their admiring the trout and listening to the sound of stream water.

On many lone excursions, I've noticed that there is an inner voice that explains to me what I see, what is going on with the stream environment, and why I find such simple pleasure catching trout on fly gear. For the most part, I have learned to block out the voice that tells me I'm wasting my time, that I should be involved with something more significant or more meaningful. In fact, I have found that for me, (and I'll assume others have found it), the total package that comes with fly fishing has enhanced my life, and brought a high degree of significance and meaning.

I'm not exactly sure how the story goes but my dad tells me that when I was about three he and my grandpa were fishing a river or stream. As they were fishing my dad says I went floating by head down past them. I don't know if it was my dad or my grandpa that pulled me out but one of them saved me. They could never figure out how I ended up in the water. I was too young to have any recollection of this event. I like to think I was so fascinated with the water and the sound of the river that I just jumped in trying to get the most of the experience.

Another story that is told is of my desire to enter the world. My parents and my mom's parents were up camping and riding horses up Logan Canyon near Beaver Creek (I'm pretty sure that is where they say they were). My mom was pregnant with me and while they were camping her water broke. They packed up and drove down to Ogden, Utah where I was born. They said I looked like a little shriveled and wrinkled old man when I was born. That is their story. I've added to it and decided that while in the womb, I could hear the gurgling of Beaver Creek and wanted to get out to take a peek at what to me was a very pleasant sound. To this day, the sound of running water, whether the rush of a large river or the gurgle of a small creek will turn my head. The sound is pleasant to my ears and the sight of water gets me thinking. I wrote a poem that is still rough but tells the story of my anxiousness to be near Beaver Creek.

Beaver Creek
Horsemen ride through canyon pines
on horses with hooves shod
in steel that strike rock.
Clear creek water fogs the meadow,
and blends with men's breath
then dissipates like summer cumulous clouds.
I hear the song of water
running free--running forever.
It calls to me: come mix your life with mine.
The next day my mother
gives birth.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Time to Hit it Hard

I've been dragging this past year, partly because of time constraints, and partly because of mental focus. But the weather is starting to cooperate, and time constraints have changed a little. I plan to get back jogging my 3 mile route in the near future to prepare for all the outdoor activities I enjoy.

We've had an average snow season so getting into the high country will not be as quick as it was last year. So the hikes my wife and I have to take to keep on our hiking goal will wait until later in the summer and fall.

I've had my eye on a mountain bike ride for the past two years and want to find time to do it this year. It does involve a high ridge line that I'm sure will have snow at least into the end of June--so, another late summer adventure.

Last year the local paper did a little story about our hiking goal and adventures. I wasn't to happy about the mid-life crisis part, but I guess it fits. Here's a link to the story: