Fishing Highway 150 in the Uinta Mountains
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Scenic Highway 150 from Kamas to Evanston, or the Mirror Lake Highway as it is more popularly known, gives access to a wide range of diverse fishing. Within elevation changes of 6,500 feet to over 10,700 feet, there are many different types of water to fish. The potential of finding the type of fishing you enjoy is tremendous.
Heading east from the small friendly town of Kamas, there is Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek is a small stream that is well protected with willows. Most people drive by, neglecting the stream's great opportunities. Usually only the local and very serious fishermen fish this stream and they keep very quiet about the fish they catch. I don't blame them. A stream this size needs protection. The only place that I've seen getting much use is seven miles up in a big meandering flat.
After passing Pine Valley Campground, the Upper Provo River flows to the right of the highway. This part of the Provo River is neglected except next to the campgrounds and other easy access points. Before the side dam on Trial Lake broke June 7, 1986, the fishing was excellent for all species of trout. Quite often I was able to catch brookies, browns, rainbows and cutthroats out of a single hole.
Since the flood from the dam break, the aquatic insect population has been low to almost non-existent. But I have noticed an improvement again except where the Forest Service insists on making a canal of the river next to campgrounds like Soapstone.
Nearing the summit of Bald Mountain Pass, the number of lakes increases. Each lake has its own identity and fishing techniques. Trial Lake was a beautiful place with rainbows, cutts and a few grayling. Since the side dam broke, the lake has not been repaired or filled. It is a terrible shame because of the lost fishing experiences and because the beautiful camping area is now unaesthetic for recreational use. Public pressure would sure help here.
Mirror Lake, 32 miles NE of Kamas, is the lake of reputation. Its constant water level helps to stabilize the natural aquatic insect life. I had my best fishing day so far on Mirror Lake. I tied on a poorly tied size 18 hardshell ant after an afternoon thundershower and cast it out into the lake. It was like a shark feeding frenzy on that ant, especially for the brookies.
I couldn't cast without a strike. Fish were taking it before it hit the water. I even caught one on a sloppy backcast. The more the ant was torn apart, the more the fish wanted it. My brother and I got hypothermia that day because we stayed in the cold water for over eight hours.
We couldn't control our willpower with that kind of fishing. Be careful and don't let that happen to you or a friend on a day like that.
Going down on the north slope of the Uintas towards Evanston, there is again more river fishing. Not many get that far over and the Wyoming residents don't over fish the waters because of our out-of-state license costs. The Bear River has a good stonefly hatch and many of the browns are fat. Rockroller type caddis flies are also very numerous.
A person could spend years fishing from Highway 150 and not fish every lake and hole. It would sure be fun to try. Forest Service planimetric maps are helpful in finding lakes and rivers in the area. I would recommend USGS 7.5 minute maps if you want to get more serious. Also the DWR has a little booklet called "Lakes of the High Uintas – Provo and Weber River Drainages" for only a dollar. It was newly revised in 1985 and is publication number 83-6.
Many of the lakes in this high country were enlarged a long time ago into reservoirs with almost complete draw down. Later in the summer when the water level drops it is very unaesthetic and the low water results in winter kill in many of the lakes. The CUP, when planning for the Jordanelle Project, compromised because of the Wetland Act, and has agreed to stabilize all the lakes in the Upper Provo River drainage except Wall, Trial and Big Elk. This will increase the value of the high country fishing experience.
The Division of Wildlife Resources has prepared a series of booklets on the Uinta Mountains. The booklets describe almost all of the lakes and types of fish they contain. There are seven booklets. Each one costs $1.00.
Many of my early childhood fishing experiences were at Trial and Mirror Lakes. I want to share those experiences with my friends and family. The area is full of beauty and wildlife. Before the dam at Trial Lake broke, I was fishing in the late fall in my float tube and an osprey dove into the water behind me, bringing out a nice cutt. It was a special experience to remember all my life. Just me and that osprey fishing together in the High Uintas.