Craig Peacock | Fish Stories

Wandering the Boulders

Written by Craig and posted on August 3rd, 2011 | Comments Off

I had been anxiously awaiting my trip to the boulder mountains for several weeks. I have this crazy goal to fish every lake on this mountain there are between 65 to 75 lakes depending on what you consider fishable lakes. Several are not on the map and many have no roads or trails leading to them. At first it didn’t look like the trip was going to be able to happen at all but it turned out I actually had 1 to many that wanted to go. We decided that with only being able to take 3 four wheelers that one would have to ride doubles. The terrain we were going to wasn’t going to be that rough and we could make it work. Instead of leaving Thursday afternoon one of the guys had to work so we ended up leaving at 6am on Friday morning. For me that is like sleeping in until noon I am like a kid at Christmas time when it comes to this mountain so I couldn’t wait. Once we were loaded we were on the way to Payson to pick up our 4th guy when the roads where getting rough. Now Utah county is under construction but the shaking was getting bad it was not just the road. Luckily one of the guys looked in the rear view and saw that we had a problem.
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Turns out one of the tires on the ATV trailer had the tread peel off of it and we had a jack in the truck but turns out no star wrench. We made a call to our buddy in Payson he was going to bring one up but we would have to wait about 30 minutes. Soon after a policeman pulls up behind us in my younger days this would scare the crap out of me but today it turned out to be a good thing. I explained we had help on the way expecting he would leave but he offered to help and told me he had a star wrench we could use. Me not being the most handy person in the world was able to get the tire off and changed and we were off to the tire store. Met a nice guy and we talked ATV’s and they had us in and out quickly and with my wallet $240 lighter and 2 hours of delay later we were on our way. The truck was loaded to the max and the bikes where ready to get dirty.

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Since we were already late we wanted to stop and get lunch before gong setting up camp. My favorite spot Mari’s was not open so we tried a local diner that was famous for weird pies.

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They had kidney bean, buttermilk, pickle, and oatmeal pie samplers. One of the guys was brave and gave it a try very different for sure.

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The sign showing alpine splendor is just ahead!

Well it was finally time to get after what we came up here for to explore and fish! We headed up the mountain only to find a boy scout camp at the lake we originally wanted to camp at. We were here for solitude so we opted to move to another spot on the mountain. We got to the end of the road and I had limited room to move around. I had to jack knife the trailer out onto the road to get turned around. I went too far and hear the CRUNCH of metal never a good sound. Turns out I bent my bumper in on one side and dented my gear box in my ATV trailer!

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This side of my truck bumper got pushed out…

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This side of my truck bumper got pushed in…

That is going to leave a mark and my wallet a minimum of $500 lighter maybe more if we don’t claim it on the insurance. We get our camp set up and make out to our first lake.

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Home sweet home for the next couple days..

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View from our the front of our tent have to love the high country!

According to the map there is a trial that should lead us to three other lakes with a short 2 mile hike. We get there and there is a sign which up on the boulders is not the normal. It is rumored a local guide goes around and takes all the signs down making it harder for you to explore on your own. Two guys were ready first so the tore down the trail eager to fish. I was in the group that got left behind and we waited back and finished getting ready. Turns out there really isn’t a clearly marked trail and it was more of a bushwhack. We get to the first lake and it turns out to be nothing more than a puddle no signs of life anywhere. We headed on down what we thought looked like a trial only to find it ended a cliff. You could see down in this gorgeous valley and see two lakes in the distance and a great looking stream wandering though a meadow.

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You would have to either have a helicopter or rock climbing gear to repel down into this valley. I found what looked like was more of the trial and it went across a river and up the ridge some more. It looked like I had found a way down yes fishing time! Turns out it was just another ridge looking down over the valley. So here we are now having to hike back several miles and all we got to do is take a couple of pics not what I had in mind for the first day. We get back and the other two are nowhere to be found. GREAT!!!!! We debate on visiting another lake or staying put waiting for them and after about 1 hour they wander back. We just stayed at the first lake and caught nothing how did you miss us? That is how the mountain is heavily timbered you can walk by your friends and not even know it! So I knew of a lake reasonably close by that I had done well at in the past and we attempted to salvage a couple of hours. We get to the lake with about 2 hours left to fish before dark and all of us get fish.

The best being about a 15 1/2 inch brook trout yea no skunk age today! Since we were not able to get to the lakes we were hoping for we re-arranged the day for what we had planned on. We got up the next morning rode atv’s to a lake closer to camp and tried our hand at the cuts.

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Having in the last month seen some pictures of some tanks out of there we were anxious to get up the to the lake. I led the charge and got to a nice looking lake that had tons of promise. We fished it hard for 3 hours but only 1 cut would come out to play and it was tiny. We headed over to the other side of that canyon to get back to the lakes I could not access. We rode our wheelers into Cressent I had fished this last year but it was fast fishing for pan size cuts so I wanted to make up for the lack of fish the day before. I was hoping someone would join me on the hike to the other two lakes but everyone wanted to stay at Cressent. I was given a GPS and took a look at the map and off I went solo to try and get to the lakes. Once again there was supposed to be a trial but same thing it ended and I was bush whacking solo! I got more than 1/2 way down the mountain this time only to find that same rock ledge on the other side. There were only 2 lakes on the map so these had to be it I was SO frustrated I decided they were not fishable lakes and was going to have to cross these ones off the list. I wanted to head back and try for a fish. Guess what I got so turned around I spent the next 4 hours doing nothing but wandering around in the forest completely lost! I could not get the GPS to show me what direction to walk in so I would walk for a 1/2 mile then go the other direction a mile. All I could think of in my head was all the survival shows I had seen telling me if you sweat you are a dead man. I was drenched with nothing to light a fire, only a light jacket, and my fishing gear. I was sure I was spending the night on the mountain to make it worse they wouldn’t come looking for me until dark because they would assume I am killing it at the other two lakes. If you haven’t had this type of experience before it will shake your senses and scare the crap right out of you. I had a small bag of beef jerky and less than 20 oz of water that was not going to last long. I decided I would try and walk around different directions until dark then I would find a spot to hunker down for the night and try to get out the next day. I finally saw some water though the trees and hiked toward it. This is finally when the GPS helped me because it told me this was Circle and Half-moon I was looking for. These were not the lakes I could see from the ledge earlier those lakes turned out not to be on the map. At that point I knew I was safe because there was a trail from those lakes back to where my 4 wheeler was parked. I decided since I was here might as well give them a try. Typical to how the trip was going neither lake would give me a sniff at a fish and there were no signs of life at either of them. I finally after hiking around both sides of the lake ran across the trial and boy was it a welcome site! It dissipated several times but I managed to find my way back.

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Finally a sign! Although it was ripped down it saved my bacon!

They others were just leaving and ready to head on to the next lake. They did well as expected some got as many as 50 fish from this lake. I had to shake the skunk off so I borrowed a tube that was already set up and kicked out got 2 fish in 10 minutes and went on to the next lake. This lake looked good but it also gave us the middle finger no bites, and no signs of life.

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I was ready to get this day over with so we headed back to camp. The new plan was to get up at 3am pack down camp drive to the other side of the mountain hike in to a remote lake fish 3 lakes then head home for dinner Sunday. This turned out to be a bit ambitious. It rained all night and everything was soaked we finally got packed up and on the road by 4:30. We got to the other trial head and because I had been here before no need for a map or GPS right? I get us to the first lake no problem but we have to hike past this lake and the other one should be just right around the corner right as I remember. There was a sign that said if we hiked 2 more miles we would end up and a lake so worst case scenario we will fish soon! Turns out our guide friend took down the sign at an important fork in the road that none of us saw and we ended up going the wrong way! We hiked in a circle nearly back to the trial head what a waste of time. Some people took it in stride and others were pissed. It was my fault and I felt terrible but so far this is how this weekend was going for me. I said that I would skip this lake hike back to our starting point and fish the lake I had not fished we could meet back up and still make it home for dinner. So I walked 6 miles round trip without fishing and was on the water at 11am prime fishing time right?

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At least the wildflowers were out..

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More color…

I got the middle finger from this lake and I left the guys a note I would be waiting at the truck so I could get my wheeler loaded and my gear put away. I waited at the truck for 4 hours and they finally show up around 4pm. They had caught fish, they did not knock it dead or get any big ones but got about 17 between the 3 of therm. We loaded up and headed home. Honestly my worst boulder trip ever a total of 8 fish in 2 1/2 days 7 of the new waters fished and all of them I got skunked on! Honestly makes me think if I still want to continue with this quest to fish them all or just keep fishing the dozen or so lakes I know are the good ones. I am not sure if I am going up again in two weeks for my last exploration trip of the year or taking the family out. I know I have at least 2 more trips planned for the year but to lakes I have already fished. One targeting brook trout and one targeting tiger trout. If I can learn some bushwhacking skills hopefully by the end of next year I will have accomplished my goal.

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