The Arapeen Trails are some of my favorite. Always looking for new ones, Kevin Christiansen of the Sanpete County Travel Council put me in touch with Brad Bradley, a retired DWR conservation officer. Brad told me that the title was just a fancy name for “fish cop.”
Brad knows the mountain because of his 30 years of service and his additional work in stocking the many lakes and ponds with fish. He agreed to take me and my friends, Taylor and his son, Josh, from Arizona, to some fun fishing spots and some new trails.
I felt like I had held my own on our trip to Yearns Reservoir to fish the night before so I was ready for today’s challenge. If you have seen any of the Bill Dance fishing bloopers on YouTube, you will see how not up for the challenge I was.
We headed south out of Manti on the Service Berry Road, which is a nice little connector trail to Six-Mile Canyon.
The ride in the canyon was worth the trip. Wide enough to be called a road, it still wound through the aspens and pines on a delightful track. The sun flashed through the aspen leaves like tiny explosions. We often caught glimpses of high canyon walls as we came out into open meadows.
At just above 7,000 feet, we turned left on a short trail that took us off the main road through a beautiful side trail. It took us only a couple of miles before rejoining the road, but it was a nice ride. We took the south fork at a point where the road split, which took us past Six-Mile Ponds where we turned down to the creek for our first chance to fish. Coming up fishless there and at Upper Six-Mile Pond, we continued across Twelve-Mile Creek and on to the WPA Ponds.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a 1930s project to put people back to work. These ponds were part of that program.
This looked like a good place to fish. Brad recommended a spot on a beaver dam a short distance away. Taylor and Josh took off to fish while I tended to my set up. I found that the trip had been hard on my rig — I had lost my bubble and my fly. I quickly attached a new setup and set out to get back into the fray.
I caught a fish and then I caught a big fish — I was having fun! Then my smiley face turned upside down as I looked down at my rig. Somehow in catching that big fish I had created a bird’s nest and a snag. Taking care of the snag, I left the fray and went back to my tackle box.
It took me a while, but I straightened out the mess and attached a new bubble and fly, only to find that I had attached the line on the wrong side of the bailing arm. That is the thingy that you open to hold the line and make a cast.
At that point, I was beginning to feel like Bill Dance. I took it all apart and put it back together — right this time, but I didn’t feel like getting back into the fray. The fray was over — I was up against some real fishermen who were there to fish, not just to see who could catch the most. Besides, they were done fishing. They wanted to ride, which was just fine with me.
We made a brief stop at Deep Lake and then we were riding trail. Finishing a loop that brought us to Twelve-Mile Canyon, we passed the campground there and climbed up over the mountain and down by Ferron Reservoir.
All of a sudden, Brad stopped his Honda Pioneer, grabbed a gun and jumped out. He had spotted a pine hen and wanted chicken for dinner. However, we were too noisy, which spoiled his chance.
Moving on, we traveled north past Harmonica Lake, making a brief stop at Duck Fork Reservoir. We didn’t mean to, but we had let Taylor and Josh go ahead. They made a wrong turn so I went after them.
Back on track, we passed Cove Lake, Jet Fox Reservoir and turned down Lowry’s Fork into Manti Canyon. Reaching Manti, we had finished a ride of about 67 miles.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and wouldn’t you rather ride than fish? I would.