Some of my favorite times of the year to fish are the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October.
Amazingly, it is not because of the huge cutthroats at Strawberry, nor the lake trout or rainbows on Flaming Gorge. Fishing tiny streams all over the Uinta Mountains, taking advantage of the brook trout spawn is a fantastic way for the entire family to get in on bank-to-bank action on great little fish.
Let’s take a look at how to catch aggressive “brookies” in the high country.
This time of year, I tie on a small spinner such as a blue Fox, Panther Martin, or any number of other brands. The key is “small,” 1/8-ounce or less.
Next, choose three specific colors: rainbow, brown trout, and gold. Finally, cast both upstream and downstream, bringing them through small or large holes or against grassy banks that have been undercut by runoff.
The exciting thing about this method is that children with their shorter rods and smaller spinning reels can easily learn to cast and retrieve their lures and target 6- to 13-inch brook trout.
The key is to keep moving: Fish a section, catch a few fish and move on. There have been times that within a few hours of fishing, I and my children and now grandchildren have moved up to a mile or more along the stream.
It is difficult to describe exactly where to find brook trout in the High Uintas. The key is to simply get out and fish. There are literally hundreds of streams that have very healthy populations of brook trout. I quite literally began looking for brook trout streams while scouting for areas in which to hunt deer and elk.
I remember one specific time we were scouting for deer in the Hoop Lake area of the North Slope of the Uintas. After a morning of scouting we noticed a small stream that ran along the access road to the campground in which we were camped. We went back to camp, grabbed our rods and reels and went back to the stream and began to explore.
It took us about 10 minutes to get our first bite, but shortly thereafter the four or five of us began leapfrogging each other as we moved downstream looking for the next hole or cut bank. We caught and released fish after fish, catching several in each hole and then moving on to the next one. We forgot about scouting for deer and went looking for other streams we could fish.
My wife, Jeri got hooked on this type of stream fishing a few years ago when she found a small stream near our cabin and all by herself fished a small section of stream that held brook trout and rainbows.
As she tells the story, “I couldn’t believe how clear the water was. I hid behind a rock and could see the fish I wanted to catch. I threw my spinner to the far side of the hole and carefully brought it back to me right in front of the trout and they smacked it.”
She caught and released fish after fish until finally, she couldn’t remove the hook from a fat rainbow so she took it home and ate it for dinner.
In September just two years ago, several of our grandchildren joined me to fish a small stream at 8,500 feet of elevation a few miles from Spirit Lake.
I began catching fish and each of the grandchildren figured out what I was doing and in a couple of cases asked me to cast their spinner in a likely spot, and every one of them began catching fish. Girls, boys, it didn’t matter. They all caught fish.
Don’t waste your scouting time by leaving your children home. Get them out in the high country and teach them how to catch brook trout. They will love you for it, and you may even have something to eat when the deer and elk don’t cooperate.