A weekend which saw roughly 1000 miles of driving, a truck hauling a trailer for the first time, a solar eclipse from a gas station in Kingman AZ and no fish caught, was still an incredible success. Yes, I will openly admit that this is a truthful fishing story. There is no “big one” that mysteriously didn’t get a photo taken with it. This fishing story has more in common with a Jackass movie than A River Runs Through It.
I have had my fair share of experience Fly Fishing. It’s been a common enough escape from the heat of my hometown, Phoenix, since I was roughly ten years old. Now, 14 years later and after far too long without a fishing trip for a variety of reasons, I decided there would be few better ways to get back in the saddle of chasing trout than by using a Kawasaki Teryx KRX4 1000 SE eS as my adventure vehicle.
While I was struggling to either re-learn or remember the all-important knots that my dad had taught me all those years ago, our in-house photographer and Utah tour guide, Logan, picked out a variety of spots where we could test out our fishing from an SXS experiment. The plan was formed that my longtime friend Jackson Beer would bring his Tacoma along to haul the Kawasaki, and the three of us were certain we would soon be catching more fish than we had seen in Parowan, Utah. With a truck bed loaded with our camping gear and a cooler with plenty of beer and sandwiches to celebrate our seemingly inevitable victories, we set off from Phoenix before sunrise.
Our arrival in St. George meant we had business to handle, namely getting loaded up with the Kawasaki on the towing rig and then acquiring our fishing licenses. Thankfully Logan was able to secure a trailer for the weekend, and we loaded up without incident. With a brief stop at Sportsman’s Warehouse and a wallet that was $30 lighter, we headed out with the hopes of getting lines in the water before sunset with our newly acquired Utah fishing licenses.
Arriving at our chosen destination, Jackson and I elected to get lines in the water as fast as possible- which meant not setting up camp until the sun had set behind the breathtaking mountains that Yankee Meadow’s Reservoir was nestled in. While rigging and setting up our lines and gear, we quickly noticed a pair of Bald Eagles looking over the lake- surely a good omen for our fishing luck, right?
This brief venture to get lines in the water led to our only “near miss” of this trip, where I had a strong hit off of a sinking fly. Unfortunately, this is where my long gap in fishing experience led to a real loss. My decade-old leader, which I had simply forgotten to change out for a newer, stronger, and less degraded one which I had in my bag, simply wasn’t up to the task. A quick snap, followed by plenty of expletives, which were heard echoing across the glass-like water.
As bad as this disappointment was, a quick change of leader and tippet on both our rods promised to fix it- Doh! Looking over the scenery that surrounded me, I was reminded of a quip my dad always would make on our fishing trips, “Trout don’t live in ugly places!” and I felt reassured that Yankee Meadow was the perfect swansong to this statement.
Cold is the wrong way to describe what we endured that night. Maybe it was down to my upbringing in the otherwise hellishly hot Sonoran Desert, but my three layers of clothing simply weren’t enough for the wind chill that was encountered in the Kawasaki that night. Our nighttime exploration in the Kawasaki was a great idea, or at least seemed like one at this time.
I became more acquainted with the dirt roads and trails in the surrounding area before what was sure to be more of a riding experience the following day. We toughed out the cold as long as we could, with the silent peer pressure that is felt among longtime friends, but eventually, it was time to head back to camp and try to warm up before calling it a night.
We didn’t have the bravery to explore much beyond the various dirt roads with signs that we could see, or trails I could find on my phone. The experience of riding at night, while marred by the painful chill that was washing over my whole body with each stab of the throttle, still had plenty of interesting sights. We could see and hear owls hunting and ran into several deer along our ride.
With a blanket of stars above us, we thundered down dirt roads, getting a feel for what the 1000 SE eS had to offer before what we hoped would be a more comfortable, and thorough feeling of that tomorrow. We toughed out the cold as long as we could, with the silent peer pressure that is felt among longtime friends, but eventually, it was time to head back to camp and try to warm up before calling it a night.
The next morning brought the return of the two Bald Eagles we had seen the previous evening. No doubt another good sign, we watched them begin to hunt in the reservoir as we set our lines up. The fish were certainly there, as they could be seen in the talons of eagles that were prowling the shore. The Teryx was a fantastic platform for holding and hauling both the fishing rods and our cooler as well, making the trip from camp to the reservoir a trivial affair.
With some impromptu lessons teaching Jackson how to get a line out at least crudely in the water, we continued our effort to at least get a fish. With the basics more accurately covered now and fish visibly feeding on insects from the water’s surface, it seemed like at least one of us would be bound to catch something.
After around two hours of fishing, trying every variety of fly I had in my box ranging from leeches to intricately made dry grasshoppers, not a single bite was to be had. While this was certainly a bit of a damper, it’s hard to stay disappointed when you have the option to just go tear around some trails in mountains as beautiful as this. We gave up on catching anything for the day and loaded up the Kawasaki to explore the mountains.
The trail started right from the reservoir itself, climbing upwards and dipping through groves of aspen trees that were starting to shed their leaves in a brilliant display of colors. This was a breathtaking change of scenery from what most of us are accustomed to in our riding, especially in the southwestern US. It’s even a drastic change from Sand Hollow and other locations further south in Utah. After about an hour’s drive, we started taking little turn-offs to try and find any other points of interest, which seemed to be available in abundance. The views from the top half of the trails were also breathtaking, with clear skies and unbroken visibility stretching for miles.
The overall terrain wasn’t anything too difficult, with long flowing switchbacks along what appeared to be a disused fire road. Plenty of turnoffs onto some rougher terrain were possible, and we took those opportunities as we saw fit. The high-speed, flowing nature of the ride felt perfect for the KRX4, with the live valve suspension keeping everything feeling planted, and more than enough to get up and go from the engine to have some fun- even with three people in the vehicle.
With limited areas where we could test out slower-speed obstacles, we focused on enjoying some of the faster terrain. With a massive wake of dust in tow, we continued to careen down trails that felt more like something out of a forest rally than a trail. Limiting my urges to attempt any Colin Mcrae-style heroics was important to keep in mind. The back end felt planted, but I wasn’t willing to push the limit of that with such a steep drop present to punish any mistakes. After a few hours that felt like minutes, we turned around and headed back to camp.
Like all good things, our trip was coming to an end. As we loaded back up and tore down camp, we took a few minutes to have a cold drink and marvel at just how much we had accomplished for an ambitious overnight trip. I could safely say that fishing via SXS was certainly going to be one of my top options for a trip. The level of mobility it provided just gave us so many options, especially if you camped nearby. No longer did we have to rely on what we just brought with us to the lake, and we could get to and from camp in roughly half the time the truck would take to make the drive. The Kawasaki also had ample room to store all our equipment, even with three occupants. The only thing I could have hoped to change was the outcome of our time fishing, but as they say, there’s a reason it’s called fishing and not catching.