Recently, I found myself out in Salt Lake City, accompanying my wife at a genealogy conference. Usually my trips to the Salt Lake area are in warmer weather, without snow on the ground. On an ordinary trip, I’ll end up fishing either the Provo River or the Green River for a couple of days, but this trip, I figured it would be too cold and left my fishing gear behind. Turns out, I could have been fishing despite the cold weather.
Rather than just hanging around a downtown hotel catching up on my reading, I decided to find a local fly shop where I could at least talk about fishing with local anglers.
I ended up at the Western Rivers Fly Shop in Salt Lake City, chatting with owner Steve Schmidt. I soon found that Steve has been in business over 25 years and really knows his stuff. Steve is the author of “Utah Flyfishing,” published by No Nonsense Press out of Tucson. “Utah Flyfishing” is a well-written guide that is both a “how-to” book and a “where-to” book that covers all of the main fishing waters of Utah. I heartily recommend it.
When I entered the Western Rivers Fly Shop, I inquired if this was the place where fishermen and other liars hung out. There were several guys sitting around a battered coffee table that looked as if several decades of anglers had rested their boots on it. I was offered a coffee cup and a chair and invited to join the discussion.
The guys were chatting about current fishing conditions on the Green River downstream from Flaming Gorge Reservoir. That stretch of water may actually be the most productive stretch of trout stream in North America. It has literally thousands of trout per mile of water, and you can regularly catch trout in the 14- to 19-inch range.
If you’re coming from out of state and have never fished the area before, probably the wisest thing to do is hire a guide at least for the first day or two to get you started right. The local guides know which areas to fish and what gear to use to catch the most and biggest fish. You can try either wading the streams or taking a drift boat. The upper stretch of the Green River has more fish, while the lower stretch has fewer but larger fish. The Provo River, however, is almost exclusively a wading stream and has great public access. If you have sufficient time, I recommend that you fish them all. Once you get the basic local information from your guide, you can go back on your own at only the cost of gas. Hiring a guide for a full-day runs about $450 and, while pricey, is a great investment in some great fishing.
If you’re too poor, or too cheap, to part with that kind of money, all is not lost. Just drop in at the local shop and bum a cup of coffee. You’ll be treated like a brother they just haven’t met yet. While you’re there, you might want to take a dog biscuit or two and introduce yourself to the real owner of the place, Gizmo, a beautiful beagle who is lord of the manor.
You can reach Steve, the human owner at Western Rivers Fly Shop, at 801-521-6424. While you’re there, say hi to Gizmo for me.
Until next time, tight lines.
• Don Moyer is an author and outdoors columnist for the Tracy Press.. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.