Utah Fishing & Outdoors Vol. 7, #19, Nov. 15, 1993
Dig out the backpack, lace on the hiking boots and get ready for an adventure like you have never even dreamed of. You'll need two or three days for this trip and you will need to be in excellent condition.
Point your car toward south central Utah and the town of Escalante. Follow High way 12 out of Escalante, toward Boulder. Immediately after you cross the Escalante River turn onto the dirt road to your left (west) and find a parking spot (see the map on page 17).
Kiss civilization goodbye, load up your gear, follow the trail across the river and start hiking toward Sand Creek. (NOTE: You will have to wade the Escalante River at least five or six times so do two things: First, make sure your boots can take repeated soaking and still offer the comfort and support you need. Second, check the weather reports and make sure there aren't any big thunderstorms upstream from you. The Escalante is notorious for impressive flash foods. Don't get caught in one or they just might find your remains in Lake Powell. Keep your eyes open! There are Anasazi Indian ruins, petroglyphs, arches and an amazing natural bridge along the trail. At your fourth river crossing, stop and look up at the massive sandstone cliff face on your left (south) and you should be able to see some cliff dwellings on a protected ledge.
As you near the mouth of Sand Creek, there are petroglyphs on the sandstone wall to a your right (north). See if you can find the snake drawing.
It's about a three-mile hike to the mouth of Sand Creek.
Sand Creek is surrounded by willows and finding a good trail will be difficult right along the river. The trail up the canyon is to the east of the river out in the flat.
Be sure to check out the beaver ponds to see if any fish are rising. Time to break out the fishing gear and start fishing.
There are brown trout in Sand Creek that run up to about 20 inches. These are wild fish and boy are they spooky. You'll scare them if you get too near the bank and generally they will only take one look at your fly. Miss that one chance and you won't get another.
So how did the brown trout get into Sand Creek? In the early '60s the DWR planted browns in Pine Creek and in Calf Creek. The browns did well in these two streams and even entered the Escalante River. Using the Escalante as a corridor they moved into Sand, Mamie, and Boulder creeks.
No fish have been planted since that time and because almost no one even knows the fish are there, they have grown in numbers and are now pushing the capacity of the streams. Harvesting a few fish would actually do some good, but don't get greedy.
Utah Fish and Outdoors writers have never been into Mamie Creek (about a six-mile hike up the Escalante) but it should also have good fishing for brown trout. If you are a real hiker and want to get about as far away from civilization as you can, check out Mamie Creek.
As you plan your trip there are a couple of things to keep in mind. This is wild and remote country on the edge of the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area. It is in essentially pristine condition. Keep it that way. Pack out all of your trash. If you have a fire, use existing fire pits. Don't mar or deface any of the petroglyphs. Stay out of the Indian ruins and don't remove any artifacts you find.
One of the great fears we at Utah Fishing and Outdoors have is that by introducing our readers to new and little-known areas we will open them up to abuse and ruin. Before you head down the trail promise yourself that when you leave no one will ever know you were there. This is a truly remarkable country and it must be protected.
The best time to fish Sand Creek is in the early spring before the runoff begins and then again in the fall when things begin to cool down. Any of the standard baits will work but fishing with lures would be extremely difficult because the fish are so spooky. Any small fly that looks like a mosquito or ant will take fish. Casting a fly rod can be difficult due to the willows that line the stream banks.
Look for the brown trout to spawn in mid November to early December - a great time to explore the Escalante canyons if you are prepared for unpredictable weather and a chance for cold and snow.