Article by Dave Blackhurst
Scenic Byway 12 in Utah is personal for me, actually it’s family. Usually ranked as the #2 most scenic drive in the world, you have to see it to believe it. My ties to this incredible landscape stretch back almost 150 years. My ancestors helped homestead many small towns surrounding this unique mountain. Everything from farming to sheep herding brought my family to the area. It is easily one of the most unique locations in Utah, from desert sandstone hoodoos and outcroppings to the pine and aspen covered cliffs. Trust me, it’s perfect here.
Getting away to this area sometimes takes some effort. It’s not close to anything. In fact the nearest major airport is almost 5 hours away, with most people just passing through as they explore the five National Parks in the state. But for those that know and love the mountain there is much more to see and explore. Take note, nothing is easy on this boulder strewn mountain. Every creek and lake you find will be a hidden adventure mixed with thunderstorms, rough 4×4 roads, long hikes and the occasional black bear.
This excursion was no exception. My wife and I started early from a nearby hotel to try and beat the afternoon thunderstorms. This mountain makes it’s own weather and you can count on rain in the afternoons. On our list today was native Colorado River cutthroat. We brought the mountain bikes to speed up a 4-mile hike to this unique stretch of water. Everything went as planned. We arrived at the small wild stream mid-morning. The views as we road the old logging road were everything we would expect from one of the most scenic areas in the United States.
I packed along the Tenkara USA® Hane rod for pack-ability on this creek. Within minutes I was in the creek, making quick casts with a simple reverse hackle kebari. Having fished the simple kebari fly for almost seven years now, I was full of confidence for the hungry trout I knew would eat it in this stream. My eyes quickly moved upstream as I spotted the first run and plunge pool near a boulder. I went quietly upstream as I moved into position. One cast is all it took for the spotted cutthroat to take the fly just under the surface.
I don’t think I will ever get over the adrenaline rush that a trout can give as you feel the tug. Many more trout came to the hand on this afternoon as the clouds came and went. This day ended up being an amazing day, just like so many before it.
So, if you get a chance, explore this mountain, or at the very least give the Scenic Byway 12 a test drive.
Dave Blackhurst has been fly-fishing Utah streams for almost 30 years, and, after picking up a Tenkara rod in 2012, has never looked back. Instagram: @tenkarautah
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