Local trout is one of the healthiest fish you can eat
If you live in landlocked Utah and long for the sport and excitement of reeling in your own catch, try fly-fishing for trout. Look for the freshwater fish in cool moving water, such as the smaller streams in local canyons (Millcreek, Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood) where you’ll find small native trout. Drive 20 miles north to the Weber River or south to the Provo River to catch larger river trout—in fact, the Provo River and Deer Creek Reservoir make up one of the country’s top tailwater fisheries.
Lake trout (as well as walleye, bass or perch) can be reeled in at Rockport, Willard Bay or Jordanelle reservoirs—all within an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City.
To enjoy fly-fishing, you’ll need a fly rod and reel with line to cast out on the water, as well as a selection of flies suitable for what the fish are most likely feeding on at that time and season. The idea is to “match the hatch.” Both wet and dry flies resemble insects between the stages of hatching at the bottom of the river and rising to the surface as adult insects.
Strange and beautiful flies are tied by hand using feathers, fur, iridescent thread—anything that looks like what the fish are feeding on.
Local fishing stores like Fish Tech Outfitters (6153 S. Highland Drive, SLC, 801-272-8808, FishTechOutfitters.com) offer not only the right flies and gear like waders, vests, rods and nets, but good advice, too. A chalkboard in the back of the store explains conditions and suggested flies for popular areas, and a fishing license is easy to get online or in stores.
Once all necessary gear has been collected, grab a lunch and head to a beautiful nearby waterway, don your waders (or not), and cast your line gently into a promising spot. The dry fly will float like a real bug on the water. Wet ones are made to drift below the surface. When they start to drag in the current, cast again and enjoy your day. Whether you want to entice “ol’ mossy back” from under the bank of a river, attract smaller fry concealed by the shade of willows in mountain streams, or use a float tube to launch out to the deep waters of reservoirs and lakes in search of those big lunkers, there are many opportunities to wet your line.
Fly-fishing can be an enjoyable, lifelong hobby because you never stop learning more about it. A good way to begin is with some instruction through community education, a sporting-goods store or with friends to learn the basics of casting. Good casting technique is important in order to hit your mark and avoid wearing yourself out. But don’t let lack of form hold you back. Beginners mainly need to learn how to get the fly out to the fish 30 to 40 feet from the bank.
Fly-fishing is an endeavor that requires your full attention. You can’t think about anything else while doing it, and therein lies the pleasure in skill and fishing success.
Cooking Up Fish Tips
Cooking a whole trout
Not only are trout among the healthiest fish you can include in your diet, they’re easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Trout has a delicate, sweet, earthy flavor, and the texture is tender but firm. It needs very little dressing up.
Stuff or garnish with herbs
Fennel; garlic; chives; dill; lemon thyme; rosemary; parsley; and citrus juice, slices and zest are all great complements to this fish.
Because small trout are delicate, lower temperatures and slower cooking is best. Turn only once.
Use a pan that the fish sits in snuggly so the juices surround it as it bakes. Make a shallow bed of herbs like the ones mentioned above, and stuff with the same.
Score the fish so butter and seasoning on top can infuse it.
Good for larger lake trout (5-pounds plus). It’s best to fillet it. Brush with oil and sprinkle with fresh spruce tips or rosemary and lemon zest.
Dredge the cleaned fish in a flour-and-cornmeal mix that is seasoned with chile, mesquite or other blends. Place into heated, bubbling butter in a frying pan for about 5 minutes per side until golden brown.
Cook trout and let it rest. The entire skeleton can then be easily pulled away from the tasty meat.
Seasonings for other kinds of fish
Dill, fennel, chives, tarragon, fresh chervil
Shallot, dill, paprika, bay, thyme and lemon thyme, lovage, marjoram, garlic
Chervil, tarragon, parsley, chives, shallot, dill, fennel, all kinds of basil, bee balm, lemon balm, paprika, saffron
Bay, basil, saffron, fennel seed, rosemary, marjoram, chives, lovage, rosemary, thyme, savory
Bay, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, lovage (all sparingly) and parsley
Allspice, clove, saffron, cayenne, parsley, lovage, thyme, bay, garlic, celery, turmeric, cayenne