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Better late than never in ’98 - Uintas fishing should be good

SHARE Better late than never in ’98 - Uintas fishing should be good

With the exception of some of the very high lakes, the Uintas are now open and fishable.

Which is good news, albeit about a month late.Lingering snow has kept roads and trails into the higher-elevation lakes closed, the water frozen and Uinta faithfuls checking reports for daily updates.

The downside is that it will result in a shorter fishing season. The bright side is that it may mean overall better fishing.

Typically, when baked by the hot July sun, the surface temperatures of the high lakes get uncomfortable and the fish move deeper and further away from baited hooks.

With the likelihood of sustained cooler water temperatures, it could mean the fish will stay longer in the shallows, therefore being more accessible to fishermen and more hungry to bite at whatever is thrown at them.

As recently as two weeks ago, some of the upper-elevation peaks in the Uintas looked no different than they did back in February and March. That is, solid white except for the trees making little green freckles.

If some of the higher passes remain snow-covered all summer, some lakes are going to be very difficult to reach.

Fish trucks have been able to reach those lakes along the Mirror Lake highway in recent weeks, but air stocking, which usually starts earlier in the month, won't begin for another week.

"With the snow staying around," says Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, "it means the streams will run higher for a longer time, and the lakes will stay a little cooler.

"It may retard some of the hatches, but it shouldn't hurt fishing and could help it. The shorter summer may affect the feeding of the fish. Once the ice is off the fish will be hungry and fishing should be great."

The Uintas, which include more than 1,000 lakes, about half of them with fish, will account for enough fishing pressure during the three months of summer to be listed as the fourth most popular trout fishing spot in Utah. The three leaders will be Strawberry, Scofield and the Green River.

Because of popularity, the DWR plants a lot of fish in the Uintas, especially in the more popular roadside lakes.

"Typically, we stagger planting so that each of the lakes gets fish about every two weeks. Some lakes, however, are stocked weekly," said Pettengill.

"What we tell people is that if the fish aren't biting at the lake they're fishing, move to another lake. People will call and tell me they camped by a lake and didn't do well. I asked if they moved and they say no, that they wanted to camp by that lake. Well, they can camp by the lake, but it doesn't hurt to hike around if the fishing is slow."

Byron Gunderson of Fish Tech Outfitters said the late start could bring a change in fishing habits.

Instead of expecting good fishing only in the mornings and evenings into August, when the waters are cooler, he expects fishing to remain more consistent "throughout the day.

"Because of the continued good runoff, fish the inlets. The higher water will be bringing down food."

Typically, fly fishermen do well in the Uintas throwing common patterns such as Renegade, mosquito and black nat. Nightcrawlers are the best bait early in the summer. Runoff waters wash a lot of worms into the lake, which is one reason it's a good idea to fish inlets. As the summer moves on, salmon eggs and Power Bait, in orange and rainbow, usually work well.

Popular lures, such as Jake Spin-A-Lure and Maisie, should work well this year because with the colder water the fish will remain closer to shore longer.

Another popular technique is to fish with a fly, such as a dansel-fly nymph, leach or Woolly Bugger and a bubble.