Brad Carter | Fish Stories

Fishing the Boulders

Written by Brad and posted on September 1st, 2012 | Comments »

Had an early cartographer taken better notes, this report may have a much different title. It’s rumored that the Boulder Mountains–a mountain dotted with lakes across it’s high plateau and surrounding cliffs, and the Thousand Lakes Plateau–a mountain covered in a few lakes and large expanses of boulder fields, were mixed up and named incorrectly a little over a century ago.  Today excellent fishing can be found on both mountains, however, fishing the Boulder Mountains has been on my list for a long time. It finally came to fruition this last week as Cole,  Ben and I spent a very short 3 days exploring and chasing fish.

Arriving to camp thursday afternoon shortly after a rainstorm had us salivating for oversized fish. The abundance of waters on the mountain makes it hard to decide where to fish.

Our first evening was full of  mosquito bites, a bumpy road, and some decent brookies. Kicking out in the tubes and casting towards the bank was most productive although took a bit to hone in on what was working. Small black marabou and mayfly imitations seemed to be the meal of choice that evening. Fishing wasn’t fast and furious, but constant for most of us. Cole only landed one that evening.


We fished until dark and headed for camp. Weary from our day of travel, we nursed a Dutch oven dinner to boil and hit the sleeping bags ready to fill our nets and hands with slabs of monstrous cutthroat and tiger trout in the morning.

Day two was not what I expected. Thoughts of fishing this mountain conjures cast after cast, each resulting in a landed fish — each bigger than the last. Of course reality has it’s way of crushing dreams.  We arrived at the first lake a few minutes after the sun came up. The steam rose from a seemingly lifeless lake. When I arrived at the lake I watched for fishy activity. I knew this lake held fish, but they showed no signs for several minutes.  I finally  saw a lone ripple appear in the middle of the lake, then caught some movement closer to me as a large cutthroat cruised past in the shallows. My first cast’s result was a large tiger trout tugging on the other end of my line. But he was likely more seasoned than I, and ran straight for some thick underwater vegetation. I’m sure he swam off laughing while my lure stayed behind, lodged in the woody stalk of the underwater forest.  A few seconds later whooping and splashing came from Ben as he was fighting a large Tiger trout as well, however, this old fish was able to throw the lure right back on his second or third jump. Word must have got out to the other fish that there were foreigners in the pond, because after that the bite turned OFF. A few followers would lazily chase our lures, but ultimately swim away, taunting us with their oversized bodies and fancy markings. This continued for a few hours. I decided to get out and cast from shore, and finally hooked into another fish — a bright 19 inch cutthroat came to hand, then a follow from a very large fish. I was expecting more, but that was it. The single cutthroat was the only fish we pulled from the lake that morning.


We travelled around the mountain to fish another lake with a reputation of holding fat brookies. A sudden thunderstorm kept us parked in the truck for a few extra minutes. We sat, sheltered from the downpour of rain and hail which quickly subsided and then loaded onto the wheelers and drove for the lake. It was amazing to see that much water fall from the clouds in a short 20 minutes. The road had become an 8 inch deep stream, black water erupted from the recently burned forest, and washed hailstones into large piles behind tree stumps. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.


The setting of this lake is incredible. It is a very expansive and shallow water body. We took in the scenery during a long kick in the tubes, then started fishin —  expecting big beautiful brookies. The rain and travel had taken up most of the afternoon, leaving us only a little more than an hour to fish. Fishing was not at all fast, but the size of the fish did not disappoint. Cole killed the skunk and struck first with his biggest brookie ever. A fat 17+ incher.


Ben followed up with a couple of misses and finally landed a beautiful fish.


I must have used up my quota for the day catching with the cutthroat from the lake that morning, because I didn’t touch a fish at this lake. So we made our way back to camp, having fished dawn to dusk with a single fish to hand each. Our trip thus far hadn’t quite lived up to our lofty expectations.

At least there was a friendly salamander crawling through camp as we ate our dinner. Who knows where he came from…


Day Three we were ready for vindication. We had to run into town first thing in the morning, but traveled around the mountain to explore some new areas. We reached our lake of choice in the early afternoon, threw on the waders and launched the tubes.

It is surprising how quickly these storms appear on this mountain. We had kicked out about 5 feet when the sky erupted again. The freezing rain and hail pelted our freezing hands, tightened hoods and parka covered backs. We hunkered into our tubes and took it like men,  hoping it would end quickly.


It did, and the fishing took off. This lake holds some large fish, but the cutthroats rising after the mayfly hatch was too irresistible. Ben was first to bring a fish to hand, but for the next few hours it was steady fishing. A size 12 parachute Adams seemed to fit the bill. The hatch was bit inconsistent with short flurries occurring every hour or so, but fishing was good. Between the three of us, we brought 40-50 fish to hand. Mostly cutts in the 14″-18″ range, with a couple of brookies mixed in. A few other fish were touched that seemed to have some size to them. We’ll have to meet them the next time we are on the mountain.


While the mountain did leave me with some unfulfilled wishes and teased me with her oversized fish, torrential storms and amazing waters; it also proved to be a productive and enjoyable trip with good company. Next time we’ll be better acquainted and I’ll be expecting to meet a few of the bigger slabs — face to face.


Brad fell in love with fishing the spring creeks and small rivers of his childhood home in Western Wyoming, however, the opportunity to go with Grandpa to Alaska really set the hook. Brad now lives in Northern Utah where he chases trout as often as he can, and mixes in a few trips here and there to chase more exotic species.

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2 Comments on “Fishing the Boulders”

  1. LOAH Says:

    Looks like a great time! Props for toughing out the storms.

  2. Kyle Says:

    Love the Boulders. They can be fickle but thats what keeps you going back. Nice work despite the weather! Keep the good stuff coming Brad!

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