KSL Outdoors: Fishing in the High Uintas

Thanks for tuning into KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle along with Mickey Anderson from Fish Tech of course and Mickey it’s been hot down here in the valley. (mickey) it’s so hot, lets get out of town, lets go up where it’s nice and cool. (adam) So that’s the plan we are heading to the Uinta Mountains. (mickey) “yeah, lets go get some fish.” (adam) “alright.”

(Adam) a neat little place on the way up to the Uinta’s to stop and get a few goodies and your recreation pass is the Samak Smokehouse.

(Jen Hisey, Samak Smokehouse) Samak smokehouse is a little country store up the Mirror Lake Highway. We make a lot of fantastic jerky. (adam) “and cheeses.” (Jen) “smoked cheese, smoked trout, salmon, we do a lot of baked goods, coffee, sandwiches, we sell the park passes.”

(Jen Hisey) and we have lots of advice on great hikes and fishing and all kinds of stuff that you can do up in the Uintas.

(Jen) “There you go. (adam) thank you, we’ll be back to get some smoked salmon after we don’t catch any fish. (laughs) Here’s a map? (adam) thanks.

We leave the Mirror Lake Highway at Mile Marker 21, the turnoff to Murdock Basin.

(Adam) it’s rocky as all get out. We are taking it pretty slow, hopefully there is some good fishing up here. I don’t think you’ve been here. (mickey) “i have not.” (adam) “none of us have been here, we are going on a little exploration. We’ll see what happens.”

There are over a thousand lakes in the Uintas and hundreds of them have fish. Pyramid, Marshall, Echo, Joan and Hoover, all lakes in the Murdock basin are said to provide some fast action for brook trout and cutthroat. Murdock Basin is outside the four hundred and sixty thousand acre High Unitas Wilderness Area, so you can drive to some of the lakes, but it’s a bumpy, rough road, you’ll need a vehicle with high clearance or maybe an ATV.

(Adam) “I guess one thing about it, we shouldn’t see a lot of people.”

Pyramid Lake is beautiful, the only others in sight was a father and his two sons who’d lugged a raft to the lake. Fish were rising and it didn’t take long for Mickey to figure them out.

(Mickey Anderson, Fish Tech Outfitters) “one of the cool things if you are hunting for fish is they are not that far off shore. When you find one, a lot of times all you have to do is take your fly with your left hand and flip it into the water this way. Give it a chance to sink down in front of them. get your rod tip down in the water, that gets your line tight to your fly, all the way to the tip of your rod and just little tiny pulls, sometimes just twitching the rod like this and they’ll swim over and grab it.”

(mickey hit and score!!) Here he comes again, got him!”

(Mickey) some of them are hitting it and i’m pulling it away from them. This one, look how pretty this one is. That is just a gorgeous fish.

(Adam) Little bit better fish. Caught him out of the moss, beautiful little brook trout.

(Adam) about the best size we’ve seen here so far. Chunky little guy. You know the limit here is four trout and four brook trout, they are trying to encourage anglers to keep a limit of these brook trout, take them home and eat them. That way they don’t stunt the lake they are in, caught him on a little Jakes., Get him back in the water.”

(Mickey) “You don’t have to be a great caster, to catch fish along the Uinta lakes, just hunt the shorelines, you’ll find them.”

(Adam) “They are not big fish up here, but a panther martin, like this one, maybe a crocodile, great introduction for kids, beautiful surroundings. Nice weather, beautiful fish, what more could you ask for. (release) come on buddy, there you go.”

(Mickey) “there’s a good little brookie.”

(Mickey) I don’t care what size these fish are, they are all fun.”

(TAG) “well the brook trout are teasing us here at Pyramid lake, but there sure are a lot of them in here, heard some of the guys catching some up to 16 inches, we didn’t catch any that size. Lot of lures seemed to work, night crawlers, Jakes Lures, flies of course, great place to bring the family. We’ll have another lake here, coming up on KSL Outdoors, but first tonights quiz question.”


(Mickey) “never overlook anything in the Unitas, even a stream this tiny has little fish like this.”

I can’t even get my line in the water and Mickey already has a fish on in the outlet of our next destination, Echo Lake. Echo is about a mile East of Pyramid, down another nasty forest road. We were surprised to see a couple of families already, enjoying the lake.

(Bryan Shirley, Payson) Just came up for the weekend.”

Bryan, his two daughters and his nephew are camping nearby and decided to come to Echo, a lake he hasn’t been to since he was a kid.

(Bryan) my dad always took me camping and I think you’ve got to start them when they are young. Laney went on her first camping trip two weeks ago and it didn’t go so well, she had a rough night, but last night it went well, so we are hoping she’s getting the hang of it, huh Laney? (laney) “yeah.”

(Bryan) “Just hoping that they’ll grow up liking it and we figure if we start them this young they probably will.”

(Bryan) So my nephew he’s from Texas but up in Utah for the summer. He’s trying to catch as many kinds of trout as he could and i said somewhere up here there is golden trout.”

(Bryan) “I couldn’t remember where but I remember somewhere up here catching them when I was a kid.”

(Bryan) “so we thought we’d drive up here and see if we could find any.”

(mickey) “there we go there’s another one.”

The most abundant and widely distributed fish in the Unitas is the brook trout, which has been stocked in Uinta lakes for more than a century. Golden trout haven’t been stocked for decades and are extremely rare in Utah. We didn’t catch any goldens in any of the lakes we fished. But a fish you will start catching more of in the Unitas is the tiger trout. Two years ago the DWR started stocking tiger trout in the Unitas on an experimental basis and it’s become so popular that they have decided to stock catchable tiger trout in Butterfly, Lily, Mirror, Moosehorn, Pass, Trial and Washington lakes on a permanent basis.

(Mickey) “oh crap, just ripped the line tight…there we got him.”

(Toss Patterson, KSL Creative Art Director) Fishing is great, caught probably 10-15 fish today, probably all us caught up to 30.”

KSL Creative Director, Toss Patterson needed a day away from his computer and he’s already making plans for another trip.

(Toss Patterson) bringing my family back and bringing a float tube.” (adam) “why a float tube.” (toss) I think if you are water close to the edge it’s real warm and I think a lot of the fish are out in the middle where it’s cold.

(Toss) (adam) “do you have a preference between these two lakes? (toss) I think this one is more pretty, less people, because of the road, it gets pretty rough.

(Tag) Both Pyramid and Echo have good populations of brook trout. I seem to think Pyramid has a little bit bigger fish, only because it’s a little more accessible and when you weed out some of the population of brook trout, the ones that remain seem to get a little bit bigger. Beautiful lakes though here in the Murdock Basin, a great place to bring the family up and do a little camping. Hey coming up on KSL Outdoors, we are going to check in on the Strawberry Rainbow Rush fishing contest, but first back to Mickey for tonights fishing report.”


(Intro) Welcome back to KSL Outdoors, I’m Adam Eakle and welcome to Strawberry Reservoir. You know it was just a few months ago we told you about the Strawberry Rainbow Rush fishing contest they were having up here at Strawberry Reservoir. Back in May they put 300 tagged fish here in the reservoir, already 51 have been caught and today the first money fish was caught and the angler came to claim his prize.”

(Brent Warner, Spanish Fork) “I trolled everything I owned and started picking them up on a flatfish, all kinds of flatfish, but this one came off of a silver and black back.”

(Adam) “so when you saw the tag you thought what?” (brent) “I better keep that one.” (laughs)

Fishing by himself in Bryant’s fork, Brent had heard about the fishing contest, but it wasn’t until he brought his tagged fish to the Strawberry Bay Marina did he find out he’d caught one of three, two thousand dollar tagged fish.

(Paul Phillips, Owner, Strawberry Bay Marina) “On behalf of Strawberry Marina, American Land and Leisure, the Division of Natural Resources and would even say KSL thank you for their help, here’s a check for two thousand dollars for catching the first red tagged fish on Strawberry. Congratulations.” (laughs)

(Brent) “I called my wife and told her this had finally showed a profit. (laughs) been promising her for years and I finally showed a profit.”

(Adam) Ok, you might as well just hand it over.” (laughs)

(Adam) “you wanted to be the first one to write that two thousand dollar check, why? (paul) because it’s a fun sport, they get to come out here and enjoy this beautiful reservoir and any reservoir in the state, you know take the sport up, go do it and enjoy the outdoors.”

Fifty eight of the three hundred tagged fish have now been caught. And just last weekend.

(Kent Hanson, Alpine Angler) “we were always looking for a tagged fish, but we didn’t know what one looked like.”

A group of buddies stepped forward with yet another red tagged fish to claim their two thousand dollar prize. Funny thing is, the fishing was so fast, they didn’t even realize they’d caught a tagged fish until they got back to camp.

(adam) what you didn’t see it. (kent) “no it was only about that long. (adam) so you had no idea who caught it. (kent) “no.”

(kent) “so we’ll just split it four ways.”

(Joe Trueva, Marine Products) “you won 2K, courtesy Marine Products, KSL and the Strawberry Fishing Contest. (kent) “Appreciate that.”

(Joe Trueva, Marine Products) “Anything to get people into boating and the boating lifestyle, that’s what we are about.”

There is still one, two thousand dollar fish swimming in the Strawberry. Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife has stepped up to sponsor that fish. The two ten, and twenty five thousand dollar fish will be decided after the contest is over. Everyone who catches a yellow tagged fish is winning a Camp Chef prize.

(Glen Hafen, Area Manager, American Land and Leisure) It’s just been a fantastic summer.”

Glen is the area manager for the campgrounds in the area and came up with the idea of the contest. He’s seen a 60 to 70 % increase in the amount of campers this year. Some of that he believes is the weather, the good fishing and the contest.

(Glen Hafen) “I’d sure be enthused about doing it again next year. Hopefully getting bigger and better prizes.”

Everyone, including biologists were saying the fishing is great this year. I didn’t believe it, that is until Paul and his guide John, opened my eyes.

(Paul) “oh, (hits fish) almost lost that pole.”

(adam) “no lie, it’s fast fishing.” (paul) “it is and there’s one on that one too.”

(Adam hit) “oh yeah another fish.”

(Paul) He’s having guided trips that usually take 5-6 hours, he’s filling limits in an hour and a half to two hours.

“Trolling is still successful right now, if you have trolling gear and can get deeper, you’ll be successful with these rainbows, but as the temperature goes up the fish are going to go deeper. Those people who bait fish will probably be more successful.”

(Adam Tag) We have been here 10 minutes and we’ve already caught 10 fish, 2 cutts and a nice rainbow. No tags but a beautiful fish, a great time to be had here at Strawberry Reservoir, get up here, check it out who knows you might catch a fish worth, 2,10, even 25 thousand bucks. Time now to dive into tonights Utah Field Guide.”

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