All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Monday, April 17, 2017


The fly angler's secret for fishing small creeks and streams

Created By: Robert Williamson
 Robert Williamson
Web Tease: When the large rivers are flowing high and murky, don't overlook small streams and creeks to satisfy your desire to go fly fishing. While the location of these streams may be secret, the rewards of fishing them are well known!

THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Because Utah is a dry, desert state, most of our large rivers receive moderate to heavy fishing pressure, especially in the summer and fall months.
Guides and outfitters work these waters, along with groups of fly fishers who enjoy the social aspects of angling. This increase in pressure can make it difficult for some to find a stretch of water all their own. Fishing pressure will send some fly fishers in search of their own piece of heaven: usually a small creek or stream that is often overlooked.
Many fly fishers have a secret creek or stream they rarely, if ever, share with others. They may talk about it, but never tell the location or name of the water. Some will give this water a code name or use the generic "No Tellum" creek as they verbally share their fishing experiences. This creek or stream is the one they fish alone, the place they go for solitude, the place they keep secret because too much pressure can send the already skittish trout into hiding, and because frankly, there is not enough room for a lot of anglers.
However, before you head out into the mountains to find your new favorite spring to fish this spring, be sure to read the proclamation and know which tributaries close for cutthroat trout spawning. Some tributaries close until the second weekend in July.
A fly fisher who takes the time to go exploring can find some real jewels. The old cliche "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" certainly applies to the perception fly fishers have on the waters they fish.
Here are some of the benefits of finding your own secret fishing stream.

Many of Utah's small streams and creeks are teeming with trout. A fly angler who just wants to have a lot of fun catching fish will have a blast on small streams. A sneaky fly fisher with the skill to stalk and cast in tight brushy places should have no problem with numbers. It is possible to catch and release dozens of trout in a few hours on many of Utah's small streams. The trout in small streams are aggressive and opportunistic feeders and will hit most well-placed flies.
Some anglers measure quality in numbers, some measure quality in inches, while others measure quality in beauty. There are small creeks in Utah that have trout of decent size. While most trout will fall within the 6- to 12-inch range, it is possible to catch 14- to 19-inch trout in small waters. It is surprising to see a 19-inch trout come out of a deep undercut bank, a pooled bend, a beaver pond or from in front of a large rock on a small creek. But for those who fish these places regularly, it occurs often enough to provide real excitement.
The beauty of the surroundings and the colors of the trout are often the aesthetic aspects that prove the real draw of the smaller waters. The trout caught in the small waters are some of the prettiest trout around. They take on the coloring of the streams with rich dark backs, and depending on the species and age class, are splashed with blueish parr marks, white, yellow or crimson bellies, and spots of red, orange and black.
If you are seeking solitude, small creeks are the ticket. To find a peaceful setting, one that you can have to yourself, look for creeks and streams that require a little hiking. Or seek waters that most people just overlook because of size, too much brush or that are remote.

Native Bonneville and other cutthroat trout
If you are seeking Utah's native Bonneville cutthroat, the Colorado cutthroat, Bear River cutthroat or Yellowstone cutthroat, you can find them in creeks and streams around the state. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Trout Unlimited have partnered to create the Cutthroat Slam Program where anglers can register to catch the above-mentioned trout and qualify for recognition. The fees collected go toward preservation and habitat improvement.
Stream flow
Most small streams and creeks are not controlled by dams. This means the spring runoff will blow out quickly and you can fish when larger waters, especially those below reservoirs, will still be too high to approach or too murky to fish adequately. Monitor the runoff and hit a small stream or creek just after flows drop — the fishing is fabulous and so fun!
On years of heavy runoff, searching for, exploring and fishing small creeks and streams will satisfy the craving to get outdoors and an occasional large trout or two is an added bonus. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Autumn Trout

 With a feeling of early winter in the air, there is a need to get out on good fall days. Unsettled weather and other obligations just seemed to be getting in the way. We decided that on Friday September 30, 2016 we would make a trip even if the weather was just a little unsettled. We ate an early breakfast and then drove to a beautiful little river in Idaho. On the drive we kept our eyes on the larger cumulus clouds, some which had that dark grayness on the bottom. If they accumulated and bunched up against the mountains, we knew there was a chance of isolated thunderstorms right over us. As we neared the town where we would buy our licenses, the clouds had moved on and more blue sky was appearing.

After securing our licenses, we drove through the foothills toward the canyon. The road through the foothills was dotted with older homes and a few newer ones. The small community would be a nice place to live--quiet, with little traffic. We guessed that most of the residents were farmers and ranchers. Some of the homes might be summer homes owned by those who want a semi-secluded get-a-way--a place where they could come to relax and maybe do some hunting and fishing. Some homes might have been inherited by children or grandchildren of the original residents.

 It wasn't long before we were on the dirt road that paralleled the river. We glanced at the water with excitement. It looked so inviting. We found a turnout and hurriedly put on our waders and then rigged up our rods. As we walked down river looking for a good place to enter the water, we commented on how it seemed so perfect. The only other thing that would add to our already giddy demeanor would be for the trout to cooperate. We found a small clearing and walked through fall leaves and dry grasses. Upon entering the water I could sense through my waders that it was cold; just the kind of water that cutthroat trout like to live in. It was so clear. The bottom rocks matched the autumn leaves. My favorite color is yellow. I see it in the autumn aspen leaves and in the water-covered rocks of the creeks, streams, and rivers I fish. I also see it in the trout I catch. Just a tinge in cutthroat trout but more pronounced in the cutthroat that hide in shaded water and dark undercut banks. It is also pronounced on the sides and bellies of stream bred brown trout; rich and buttery during the Fall.

We started the day with hopper patterns. These were tied with tan heat shrink air-filled bodies, light elk hair wings, tan foam heads and brown rubber legs. We always add just a little floatant in the wing to keep them buoyant. After a few trout we seldom redress the wing and let the fly sit down in the surface a little.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Brown stoneflies
Two brown and one gray stonefly adults
Top and bottom view Silhouette Airbugs
Brown trout

The Silhouette Series of Airbugs is a "new" way to use  O2 Body Material. I have been tying large dry flies with O2 for the past 18 years. The tying technique creates two air-filled chambers that form the body of the fly and creates a nice silhouette. The air-filled body along with the elk hair wing and foam head makes for a great floating fly.

If you want to imitate some of the large stonefly adults such as the salmonfly and golden stone this is a great material and tying style to do it. By using orange, brown, black, and gold colored O2 a tier can create some great looks to imitate the stoneflies.

This technique and material also lends itself to the creation of beautiful cicada, hopper, and beetle patterns. Hoppers are best tied in the tan and pale yellow color, cicada with black or orange, and beetles with black, green, or even purple. With a little crystal flash or similar material mixed in with the wing the cicada pattern looks and works great. The body, foam head, and leg colors can be changed to create several fun patterns.

Last year I used the hopper for most of my late summer and fall dry fly fishing and had a blast. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Under Construction

I'm going to start selling the material for the air-filled flies I have created and eventually the flies themselves. The site is still in the works, but thought I'd give a sneak peek.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014


I love  Fly fishing in late summer and early fall. I love fly fishing on small creeks with fun-sized trout. I love the quietness of the afternoon on these creeks when no one is around. When you can sense the season's end. When the breeze causes the high grass to dance. When grasshoppers jump out in front of you with each step, some of them landing in the water, and though you can't see the trout eat them, you can hear it. 
 It is the season when trout are eager to eat. The brown trout, in particular, is looking to fatten up and gain energy for the spawning season. It is the time that one writer penned: We sneak, we search, we seldom go to church, we tell monstrous lies with wide unblinking eyes. It's my time to fish with a hopper pattern until the snow flies.
In most cases, I'm not a big fan of Beaver dams, but on some of the smaller waters, smaller beaver dams are not bad, as they create a little deeper holding water. Sneaking around these waters one has to be careful on the approach. Too hard of a step and vibrations are sent that the trout can feel with their lateral lines. I often find my self casting from several feet back and landing just my leader and fly over the edge of the high grass. As with the natural hoppers, I sometimes can't see my fly so I have to listen for the rise. It's like magic.
These are nice  trout for this water. I enjoy catching them and releasing them. When all the conditions are right, they are aggressive and take the fly recklessly. They are wild fighters and can bend a 3-weight rod giving he angler the feeling of a much larger fish.
On this day, I was able to catch two browns which would fall under the category of decent. These were powerful and heavy fish for this water and made me second guess my decision to not carry a net. I was lucky to land them on small gear.
Soon all of the grasses will be brown and bending down in preparation for snow. I hope to get one more trip to this area before then. Maybe when the temperature warrants a jacket--when the sun sits lower in the south--when the hunter's attention turns to big game.  Then I can let this creek rest. I will dream again of hot, late summer afternoons and early autumn days. I too will rest.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Searching for Bonneville Cutthroat

I posted some pictures of some Bonneville Cutts I caught on a headwater. You can check it out on my other blog: