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We woke up the next day, packed up the hammocks, and headed to another Logan River trib to fish for a few hours that morning before heading south.  This was a stream I wanted to fish after looking at it via aerial imagery.  It looked like it had a lot of beaver activity on Google Earth and looked too fishy to pass up.  We hit the trail and hiked a mile or us up before we started fishing.  It was nice to have camped so close to where we planned to fish because it’s an awesome feeling to park and be the first ones at a trailhead.

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Once we started fishing it did not take long for me to get on board that morning and I was able to pull a nice cutthroat from the tail of a good run.

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The stream was a small one in a beautiful sagebrush prairie valley.  The first section we fished didn’t have much beaver activity at all, it was faster, with riffles and runs, much like a smaller Logan River.  It did not fish as well as the other trib we fished the day before, which was albeit harder to fish with a much denser canopy.

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Blake wasn’t able to pull any browns out of the main stem of the Logan, but was able to connect with a good one here.  Gotta keep pace in the diversity game.

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I only managed one more cutthroat out of this stream in our short time fishing here.  Normally, I’d be disappointed in a day like that on a river at home, but I really didn’t even notice.  The scenery was beautiful, the weather was nice, life was good.

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Life was good up until we got to the section I had been drooling over while on the computer back home and there was a guy already there fishing it.  I guess he hiked past us and we didn’t notice him.  I know we weren’t deep in a wilderness area, we weren’t far from a city, and this is probably a pretty popular stream, but he couldn’t have given us a bit more room to fish?  We hiked around until he was out of sight (no trees around so this was quite a distance), gave him plenty of water to keep him busy – that section had lots of braided channels and beaver ponds.  Basically we left him sufficient water so that he wouldn’t catch back up to us.

We dropped in on another beaver complex further up and started fishing.  It was slow going, we didn’t see much fish activity and weren’t getting any bites.  We were moving fairly quickly, leapfrogging each other and before we were even out of that beaver complex here comes that guy passing us on the trail again.  My mind was blown.  At this point I was ready to just leave, but out of spite we again went around him giving him lots of room.

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We didn’t fish much longer before we hit the trail and hiked out.  Right before we got to the vehicle we stopped to fish a bit of fishy looking water right next to the trailhead.  We knew that guy couldn’t high hole us here because he actually passed us while we were walking out on the trail.  Maybe we southerners move too slow?

Just as in the trib yesterday Blake was able to end the morning on a high note and pulled a decent sized cutty out from under some brush.  I actually looked back at him and thought he was foul hooked on the brush, but he was actually hooked up trying to keep the fish from breaking him off.

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It was a good feeling to end with that fish.  The Logan Canyon area treated us very well, it is a tremendous fishery and one we probably would not have fished were it not for the Cutt Slam.  I could come back and just spend the week in the Canyon and have an incredible time fishing a lot of different water, such a cool place.

It was time for us to get moving though to our next destination, so got in the car and followed the Logan on up to the head of the canyon.  Just over the pass we could see the brilliantly blue Bear Lake and the town of Garden City.  I had read that when in Garden City one must stop for a raspberry shake so we did and it was fantastic.

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This town is serious about it’s shakes and there were at least a half dozen within sight of the Quick N Tasty that we stopped at – quite the competition.  After the shakes we headed south to Evanston where we were able to restock on a few supplies and fuel up at a local brewery, Suds Brothers.  No trip is complete until I stop at a local brewery for a flight of beers.  Suds Brothers is no Wind River Brewing Co, but it was still a mighty fine way to have lunch.

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After lunch we kept going south, on our way to the north slope of the Uintas and away from modern day amenities for the next couple of days.  It was all dirt roads from here.

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Our next target species was the Colorado River Cutthroat.

 

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The Colorado River cutthroat are native, in Utah, to streams that flow into the Green and Colorado Rivers.  On the north slope of the Uintas those are going to be east of the Elizabeth Ridge.  Bear River cutthroat reside west of the Elizabeth Ridge in streams that flow into the Bear River.

Our destination was a popular trailhead near the Hewinta Guard Station for a trail that led deep into the wilderness of the High Uintas.  Just as at our last stream we wouldn’t be hiking deep into the wilderness, just a mile or so before we began to fish.

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One cool thing about this part of the Uintas is the number of old tie hack cabins.  We saw a few while on the trail and several more as we drove on the North Slope Rd.  Lots of old railroad history in this part of the country.

We left the trail and headed down to the creek at a section where it ran through a big meadow.  I’m a sucker for high alpine meadow streams and could tell this one was going to be fun.

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It was a small, shallow stream with lots of pocket water and at each bend it’s runs ran into slightly deeper undercut banks.  We were on fish as soon as our flies touched the water.  What the cutthroat lacked in size here, they made up for in numbers.  We caught so many fish in this creek, it was almost unbelievable.

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My best cutthroat from the stream wasn’t any bigger than the others, but it was a bit more colorful.  These fish get bigger and a lot more colorful in those high alpine lakes, especially down on Boulder Mountain.  We really didn’t have time to head down to southern Utah for this trip, maybe something to think about for a future trip.

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Fishing really just doesn’t get much easier than it was here which makes me think how great a place this would be to take a kid.  Once we fished through the meadow section the stream started to go into a forest and take on some elevation.  It was here that we headed back to the trail and made our way back to the trailhead, passing more tie hack cabins and an old abandoned truck.

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The drive east on the North Slope Rd. was a fairly bumpy, fairly slow ride.  The weather had threatened to rain on us while we were fishing, but we were able to avoid it.  While in the car though we saw rain at a distance, but also were treated with the rare double rainbow and we were left to question just what did it all mean?

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We set up our next campsite at Little Lake Lyman, which was a nice, quiet lakeside campground that had plenty of rising fish and resident bald eagle.  Pretty satisfied with the day we didn’t even wet a line.  A cold beer by the fire was good enough for me.  We’d get after the Colorado River cutthroat again in the morning, hoping to catch some bigger versions of the ones we had caught today.

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The first night of hammock sleeping on a week long camping trip is always tough so as soon as I saw twilight the next morning I was up and at ’em.  A short, chilly walk to the bathroom began to reveal the beauty of the Raft River Mountains and the valley we were in.  We had arrived in the dark so I didn’t know what to expect, but this campground had some of the best views out of any that we stayed in.  The remoteness of it was pretty awesome.  If you’re interested in heading to NW Utah to camp, Clear Creek Campground is the only campground option in the Raft River Mountains and it is free to stay there.

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Shortly after my walk we packed up and hit the road.  After a brief drive through Idaho the next stop was the Logan Canyon where we would be targeting Bear River cutthroat.

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The Bear River cutthroat is not actually a formally described species.  Federally the cutthroat in the Bear River system (including Bear Lake and the Logan River) are considered Bonneville cutthroat trout.  Obviously the state of Utah thinks otherwise so I had to do some reading to learn what makes these cutthroat unique.  It has been pointed out by scholars, most notably Dr. Robert Behnke, that the cutthroat in the Bear River system actually are more closely related to Yellowstone cutthroat trout due to a Bonneville Basin high water diversion between the Bear and Snake River drainages some 34,000 years ago.  If you want to learn more about native trout and native cutthroat I can suggest two books for you.  Trout and Salmon of North America by Dr. Robert Behnke and Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West by Patrick Trotter are absolute must-owns for any fish nerd.  They make great coffee table books as well.

We started our fishing on a Logan River tributary where we parked at a trailhead and planned on fishing up from there.  I got ready a little quicker than Blake so I made my way over to the creek to check it out and as soon as I did I saw a cutthroat holding next to the bank.  One float of a dry fly in front of him and my second cutthroat species of the slam was checked off the list.

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Then I caught another one.

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And Blake caught one of his own.

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Now that the pressure was off we were ready to spend the rest of the day looking for bigger ones.  The stream was pretty tight in some places and had lots of overhanging vegetation – great fish habitat, but kind of tough to fish.  In other places it was more open and easier on the fly rods, especially where there were beaver ponds and slower water.  There was lots of variation throughout which made for a pretty interesting little creek.  I feel like the size of the cutthroat we caught was pretty good for the size of the water, it was a great stream for our 3 and 4 weight glass rods.

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We had covered maybe 3/4 mile of stream and caught several nice fish before another group of three anglers passed by on the trail and dropped in at a trail intersection just upstream of us.  We had one more fish in us on this stream before we broke for lunch and Blake made his fish count.  It was the biggest on the day so far and a great way to end that session.

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We hiked out and set out to find a suitable campsite for the night.  Sleeping in hammocks requires sturdy trees to hold us so sometimes finding a good campsite can take a little extra time than with a tent.  There are numerous campgrounds in Logan Canyon though and despite them starting to fill up for the weekend we found one without too much hassle at Wood Camp.  We set up camp, had lunch and then hit the water again.

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We fished a section of the Logan that ran away from the road a bit just upstream from the campsite.  It was big water compared to what we were used to and the wading was pretty difficult mainly due to the depth and volume of water moving through.  We weren’t getting many strikes and then finally I get a good take on my dry.  I can feel the weight of a solid fish, I know it’s a good fish because I can feel each deliberate head shake.  Then just as quickly as I was hooked up here comes the fly back at me.  I pulled it from his mouth.  I’m guessing it was a big brown since the Logan is known for them, but I don’t really know.  I do know that it would have been a good fish, best of the trip for me.  After that we decided to move a bit further upstream, hopefully find some safer wading.

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I’ve heard the legendary Madison River in Montana is called the 50 mile riffle and I had read that the Logan was like a mini-Madison, from what I was seeing this was holding true.  The river was dominated by riffles and runs.

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I was throwing a dry-dropper with a stimulator up top and a green caddis pupa style nymph below and at some point I began holding my mouth right and hit a fish-catching rhythm.  I had 6-7 cutthroat in a row fishing the different seams and holding water.

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I caught my biggest cutthroat on the day in that stretch.

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I even had a few browns come up and slam the dry.

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Blake didn’t fare as well, it was one of those rare times when I out-fished him, but he did come away with a solid cutty from the Logan.

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Things slowed down for me after that productive stretch of water, more of a return to normal really.  It was starting to get dark out and we were starting to get hungry so we hit the road back to the campsite.  It was nice already having the hammocks set up, so all we had to was make a fire and cook dinner.

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We generally eat pretty cheap on these trips, just boiling water and eating dehydrated meals, but tonight was different.  We actually bought a couple of ribeyes and some potato salad and ate pretty good that night.

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For Day 3 we’d fish another Logan trib and then hit the road to hit the North Slope of the Uintas.  The next cutthroat on our list was the Colorado River cutthroat.