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Utah Fly Fishing Adventure

By on September 1, 2018

John Fletcher Proved to be a Quick Study


“I’m an avid outdoorsman, and trucking reduces my opportunities to get out. Fishing with Ms. Fabel would make up for a lot of what I miss.”

– John Fletcher, Pasadena, CA
Professional Driver for System Transport, Cheney, WA

With the above words, John Fletcher punched his ticket to a one-day Utah Fly Fishing Adventure with Bridget Fabel. Special thanks to the hundreds of RoadKing readers who entered the contest sponsored by the publishers of TA-Petro’s RoadKing magazine and to the judges who considered dozens upon dozens of very compelling entries. With his truck secured at TA Tooele (I-80 west of Salt Lake City) under the watchful eyes of GM Arthur Lorton, John was transported down I-15 to south central Utah.

No winner could have been any more deserving than John Fletcher. He has a passion for the outdoors and appreciated the beautiful scenery, mountain lakes, and some precious time in nature, not to mention the colors of the fish he caught, the bright sunshine and the crystal clear blue skies. Although he’s very into fishing with a spinning rod, John had never fly fished before. Patient while learning a new, difficult sport, he proved to be a quick study.

The perfect June day started with a good breakfast at a small country-style cafe. After filling up, we headed out for John’s fly fishing adventure. We made the trek from a 6,000-ft. elevation to 11,300 feet! The adventurous drive is not long in distance, but the bumpy, rocky road creates about an hour of jolts and jars from bottom to top.

Fly Fishing 101

Upon arrival at a solitary, secret, alpine lake, John and I geared up the rods, reels, and flies and began the short hike to the lake. Catching fish on the fly really relies on a good cast. Alongside the lake, I taught John how to cast a fly rod, which is extremely difficult compared to any other form of fishing. I taught John the timing between bringing the rod to his shoulder, and smoothly casting the line forward into the lake. Most people tend to cast “too fast.” At first, that was the case for John. With a bit more practice, he really got the hang of it, and we were ready to bring his casts to the lake! 

We started in a small bay filled with rocks and bugs, perfect fishing conditions! The first two or three casts that John made yielded big hits from arctic grayling! They came up to take his fly, but the timing of his hook set was just a hair off! After some fine tuning, John figured out the timing and landed his first fish on a fly rod. It was a beautiful arctic grayling. 

Only native in the Arctic Circle, arctic grayling were introduced to Utah and some other western states within the past 50 years. They thrive better than any fish in the high alpine lakes. They’re perfect for enduring brutal, -20˚ F winter cold at 11,000 feet. They are members of the whitefish family and have small, soft mouths. This makes the timing of hook set very important.

The Setup


I set John up with a 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod and reel. The 9-5 is ideal for big lakes, and windy conditions. At high elevations, you can always count on at least some wind, and the heavier weight rod really helps haul your fly out a good distance in the wind. I tied on a 9-ft. 5x leader with an elk hair caddis fly attached. When targeting deeper waters, I tied on a caddis or midge pattern nymph, about 18 inches below the dry fly. I like doing this because it “doubles your chances” and if you miss a fish on the dry, it might come back for the nymph.

Getting the Hang of It

After some frustrating misses and walking to different “hot spots,” John started looking like a seasoned pro! With his hook set timing down, he was hooking grayling left and right. And one point, he landed one every cast, about five times in a row! The arctic grayling’s “sails” or dorsal fins are incredibly colorful. They show tinges of teal, pink, purple, blue, and silver. This particular alpine lake is dominated by grayling, but there are a few brook trout in the mix. John ended up catching a brook trout and a bunch of grayling! That’s an alpine lake “grand slam!” 

After lunch, we headed down the mountain to a small stream. This creek is difficult for casting, especially with heavy winds thrown into the mix. John caught native Colorado Cutthroat on Dry Flies. These Colorado cutthroat have bright red and gold accents along their spots. They’re native to a couple of western states and very special for most fly fishermen. 



A Dream Come True

Learning from a Pro

“The day went spectacularly,” said John. “Bridget is a real pro. She was really great, very patient, an excellent teacher. I learned that fly fishing is all about presentation to the fish. Casting requires finesse and a smooth stroke, not speed or power. Confidence comes with finding a rhythm. I learned very quickly about pointing the rod down, removing slack, being instinctively ready to set the hook when you see the flash of the fish. With eyes glued on the fly, concentration and reaction time are critical. I’ve already purchased my own fly rod and reel and had success following the tips learned from Bridget. Thanks to RoadKing and Bridget Fabel, this Utah fly fishing adventure was a dream come true.”

Love of Driving

“My love of driving got me into trucking, and it definitely keeps me motivated,” said John. “It was 2012 when I decided to attend a driving school. I learned what was needed to pass the test and obtain my CDL. The real training was provided by the professional driver trainers who I had the privilege of working with at some major national carriers. I had to take time off to assist with some family health issues before signing on with System Transport last December. They’re a first class outfit, and I enjoy driving mostly in the 11 western states.”

TA-Petro Has My Vote

“I fuel at TA-Petro when I can and prefer their driver amenities,” said John. “I can see why they dominate the annual Voted Best survey. The hot showers, water pressure and towels are great. They have more and better parking than others. And TA Truck Service, both in shop and during on-road emergencies, has been a big help to keeping my wheels turning. Whether through RoadKing or how staff members treat us, TA-Petro’s everyday appreciation of drivers is greatly appreciated. General manager Arthur Lorton at TA Tooele, where I parked my truck, is an excellent example of the hospitality extended to drivers.” 


Hire Bridget as Your Guide!

Bridget offers guiding service all across southern Utah. Clients can fly fish lakes, streams, and rivers in solitary mountain environments. Bridget guides clients on species such as tiger trout, Colorado Cutthroat, brook trout, Splake, brown trout, arctic grayling, and more. Bridget specializes in 5+ pound tiger trout and stillwater fly fishing. To book a trip or learn more, contact Bridget at fabelonthefly@gmail.com. Mention RoadKing in your email for a special offer! 


About Warren Eulgen

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