All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Saturday, June 23, 2018


My dad passed away last June. He's been on my mind a lot. A couple of weeks ago, I spent an evening fly fishing and reminiscing.

Dad loved to fly fish. He dragged us kids along as he camped and fly fished. One of my earliest memories is of dad standing in the stream casting a colored line through the air. The line would land on the water and then magically dad would have a beautiful cutthroat trout dancing in the silver sunlit water. Back then only the smallest of trout were released; the rest would be cleaned and kept for eating. Trout were always a welcomed meal and on these camping adventures, we would have them for breakfast and dinner.

I try to fly fish one of dad's favorite streams at least once a year. As is common in many places, the fishing never seems to be as good as it was when dad and us kids prowled its water. But part of the adventure is to stand in the water that dad stood in. To catch a native cutthroat just like dad had done. Somehow, there is a connection made, especially if the cutthroat is a naturally produced wild cutthroat. To know that the wild natives are still there and have been reproducing from a continuous line of trout that can go all the way back to when dad fished for them as a kid with his dad definitely provides connection.

In the quiet of the evening my mind remembers and my heart feels. Pale Morning Dun mayfly spinners dance above the water surface their rusty bodies and clear wings reflect the last rays of sun. I watch as trout sip the spent ones laying on the water. A cast, a raise of the rod tip and one of dad's passions is mine. I stay until the pines turn black and blend into the mountainside. I look up to see the stars starting to appear. I hear the gurgle of water, feel the cool canyon breeze. I close my eyes for just a few seconds and hear words form in my mind: Thanks dad. In a world of tumult, you showed me how to find comfort and peace. We will always fly fish together.

Friday, February 2, 2018

It's Been a Warm Winter with Little Snow. Get Out Hiking!

I was lucky enough to get this article published on KSL's web site. Link provided below.

ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK — With the unseasonably warm temperatures and little snowfall this winter, many hikers are jumping from cabin fever to spring fever in a heartbeat.
A good place to stretch out the legs, hit the hiking trail and get the heart and lungs working again is Antelope Island's South Island Trail.
The South Island Trail starts near the Garr Ranch. The trail is really an old service road that follows the mostly flat terrain on the east and south side of the island. If you start at the ranch parking lot, the trail is approximately 5.50 miles out to Unicorn Point, which is the end of the trail on the south end of the island. This makes the hike out and back about 11 miles.
This is a pretty decent hike even though the trail is flat. Plan on taking about four hours to accomplish the out-and-back hike to include a rest here and there to take in the scenery and wildlife, and to have a snack or two.
The South Island Trail is a great trail to use as a winter and early spring training trail to get you in shape for summer hiking. Even in a normal winter or a winter with greater snowfall, the trail would be hikeable in the snow. If you are trying to get in shape and do not want to hike to the point and back, you can turn back anywhere along the trail and get the miles your legs and feet are capable of handling.
The trail is also used by mountain bikers, equestrians and people walking their dogs. There is a 6-foot maximum leash regulation for those walking their dogs. Be sure to follow trail protocol and yield as instructed. Since the trail is wide, issues of who has the right-of-way are seldom an issue.
South Island Trail does not have very many resting places. A couple of large rocks along the trail and a large rock at the end of the trail are the only places suitable for sitting. The only available restroom is at Garr Ranch. There are no water spouts or restrooms along the trail. Be sure to take a water bottle even in the winter. Even if you don't feel like drinking, be sure to take occasional sips of water to ensure hydration.
Along the trail you might encounter buffalo, mule deer, coyotes, hawks and other birds. If you are lucky, you might see pronghorn antelope or California bighorn sheep. A small pair of binoculars is handy for scanning the hillsides for wildlife.
As always, remember to be prepared for inclement weather. Utah winters are tricky to predict. Changes in wind and cloud formation can be abrupt. Wear layers so you can regulate body heat as needed.
The end of the trail gives a great view across the south end of the island and Great Salt Lake. You can see across the lake to snow-covered Farnsworth Peak in the Oquirrh Mountains, named after Philo Farnsworth. The peak is the home to radio and television transmitters for Utah radio and television stations. Also visible is the 1,200 foot Kennecott Garfield Smelter tower.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Where the Grass is as High as Your Hips

The gravel road in was more fit for a truck but we managed to get the passenger car in. It was only three miles, and we could have hiked in, but by crossing from one side of the road to the other helped us miss a lot of the washboard areas.

It was dry but not too hot. The grasses were still green even though the summer saw little rain. I could smell the junipers and sage as I put my fly rod together and tied on a size 12 hopper. I walked along the buck-rail fence and found a place to climb over. The grass was as high as my hips. I could tell no one had been in this are most of the summer--at least not through the grass or around the creek bank. No matted down trail anywhere. That is always a good sign. It means the trout, while always skittish, would not be quite as skittish if I was quiet and sneaky enough.

I've always had a penchant for this type of water and area. I'm glad others would rather fish the larger popular waters. I've never been a "real" introvert, I guess, but I love to search out little unknown or less known areas and see what surprises they might hold. Some claim getting away like this is an escape of some sort. I'm not really sure that is it. It's more like going to places you feel you belong. I've always joked that trout are some of my best friends--that I have never heard them say a bad thing about me.

On this particular creek, the water is on pretty level ground. The gradient is enough to keep it flowing, but there are very few places it is swift and choppy. One almost every bend the water is deep enough to hold decent-sized trout. Trout up to 19-inches while not exactly common, do swim around in the deeper sections. There are lots of undercut banks on this stretch and it is fun to watch a dark-backed brown or green-sided cutthroat trout slowly appear from the shaded edges of the creek.

Typical fly fishing techniques are not normally used here. Often, your cast lands on more grass than water, or you are dapping your line over the grass and waiting to hear the take. It's a little more like stalking and hunting than fishing in some regards. In some places it's possible to look upstream, cast upstream, and watch the fish take your fly. Even at that, the casts are not long.

This particular day, I caught some nice browns and one or two nice cutthroats. I used to not carry a net, but the last two years I've carried one to certain streams because the fish have not only been bigger, but it is easier to lift them up the bank and over the high grasses to remove the fly and release them unharmed.

This trip was a couple of months after my father died. It wasn't a place we shared together. In fact, I have shared this place with only one or two people. But fly fishing is one thing dad and I had in common. He had to give it up for the most part when his knees and health started to fade, but I'm pretty sure he would have still gone if those two things hadn't bothered him. So just the act of fly fishing made me feel good as I thought about him. He never came right out and said it, but I could tell with certain things he said to others, and to me, that he liked that I spent a decent amount of time outdoors and in particular fly fishing. I thought I often caught a little twinkle in his eye when I shared a story about a fishing trip with him.

All trips are about the fish. We fishers would be lying if we denied it. Yes, all the other things associated with fly fishing are important, but trout seem to hold it all together. These trout were for dad. I like to think he is still pleased. I like to think he will join me one day, maybe on a water we shared together. Maybe the wind will weave through the grass, or the aspen leaves will rustle. Then I'd know he was around. I'd like that.

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