Where is fishing good in Utah?
The state of Utah has some of the best fishing in the United States. These excellent fisheries provide a ton of opportunities to target a wide variety of species. Utah anglers can do anything from jigging for Lake Trout, trolling for Kokanee, fly fishing for Brown Trout, or throwing lures for Tiger Muskie.
Below we are going to give you a list (not fully comprehensive) of some of the lakes and rivers that will provide you with the best opportunity to catch your target species.
Where to catch Cutthroat Trout in Utah?
If you’re looking to catch Cutthroat Trout in Utah, the first location I would try is Strawberry Reservoir. This beautiful body of water in my opinion, is Utah’s premier cutthroat trout fishery. This Reservoir is absolutely packed with loads of good size Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, mostly commonly ranging in size between 16 – 22 inches in length.
The reservoir contains nutrient rich waters which help aid the fish in growing to large sizes very quickly. This healthy fishery allows spawning to happen in great numbers each year and despite this, Cutthroat Trout are stocked in the reservoir regularly.
As of August 2022, over 50,000 cutthroat trout have been stocked in the reservoir this year alone. These Bonneville Cutthroat are a very special subspecies of Cutthroat Trout which primarily feed on other bait fish. Because of the large quantities of baitfish and the Bonneville Cutthroat’s aggressive behavior, you will regularly experience heavy strikes on your lures.
However, Strawberry Reservoir isn’t the only good place to catch Cutthroat Trout in Utah. There are many other locations in Utah that offer great cutthroat trout fishing including Flaming Gorge, Uinta Mountains, Tibble Fork Reservoir, Joes Valley Reservoir, Bear Lake, Scofield Reservoir, Fish Lake, and Panquitch Lake just to name a few.
Where to catch Brown Trout in Utah?
If you’re in to fly-fishing then the best place to catch Brown Trout in Utah is the Provo River. The Provo River consists of 3 separate sections including the Lower Provo, Middle Provo, and Upper Provo. The Lower Provo River runs from the Deer Creek Dam down to Utah Lake. The Middle Provo River runs from Jordanelle Dam down to Deer Creek Reservoir. The Upper Provo River runs from the Uinta Mountains down to Jordanelle. Fishing for Brown Trout is great in any of those 3 sections.
The Provo is considered one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the United States with approximately 3,000 fish for each mile of river. However, this river isn’t just abundant, it’s also got some opportunities to catch some real monsters with the average fish size in the river ranging between 16-18” but can obviously get much larger than that.
This is a very healthy fishery and hasn’t been stocked in decades, making it one of the few self-sustainable fish locations in the state. One of the contributing factors to the successful breeding of these trout is that only artificial lures and flies are legal. This helps to prevent anglers who are primarily interested in catching fish to eat them as opposed to fishing for sport.
However, the Provo River isn’t the only great spot to catch Brown Trout in Utah. Some other good locations to target Brown Trout include: Jordanelle Reservoir, Deer Creek Reservoir, Tibble Fork Reservoir and Green River just to name a few.
Where to catch Lake Trout in Utah?
The best location to catch Lake Trout in Utah is Bear Lake. This is a very popular location to fish for Lake Trout because Lake Trout have the perfect living conditions, allowing these fish to grow regularly to over 30 lbs.
Bear Lake is the deepest lake in all of Utah, reaching as low as 207 ft. This provides an ideal habitat for Lake Trout who love feed off the bottom in cold water. One of the best ways to catch these fish is by jigging a white tube jig that is tipped with cisco or white fish, both of which are native species to Bear Lake. The fish typically are located between 40-80’ of water but will go much deeper than that in the summer months.
The other way to successfully target Lake Trout at Bear Lake is by trolling with a downrigger using flatfish or Rapalas. As you troll you want to keep your bait about 5-10 ft off the bottom so that the Lake Trout can attack the bait from below.
The prime time to target Lake Trout at Bear Lake is late Fall through early Spring. In the late Fall you can find success fishing from a boat by Cisco Beach, First Point, and the “Rock Pile”. The area by the “Rock Pile” is the most popular spot for Lake Trout fishing during these months but fishing can turn on at Cisco Beach and First Point as well.
Keep in mind that shore fisherman will have a very difficult time catching Lake Trout. Boat Access will provide much more success through Spring, Summer and Fall. However, during the winter months, ice fishing can be a great way to catch fish. The bait of choice for ice fisherman remains the tube jig but spoons can also be effective. The most popular location for ice fishing is just of the “Rock Pile”.
Besides Bear Lake a couple other great locations that fisherman can hook into a Lake Trout are Flaming Gorge and Fish Lake.
Where to catch Kokanee in Utah?
The best location to catch Kokanee in Utah is Strawberry Reservoir. I realize that Strawberry Reservoir was also listed as the best place to catch Cutthroat but it just so happens that this reservoir is the best place in Utah for both species.
Kokanee has become an increasingly popular fish to target because it is both good eating as well as a very hard fighting fish. At Strawberry Reservoir, Kokanee are abundant. So far this year as of August 2022, approximately 450,000 Kokanee have been stocked.
With that being said, you can obviously have some incredibly days catching Kokanee at Strawberry. The Key to having a good day is finding where the fish are schooling. Unlike trout which often wander on their own, Kokanee are always found in schools so it may require a bit of time driving through the water before you get on a school.
Once you have found a school of Kokanee, trolling through that same location over and over again until you’re no longer getting bites before moving on. Trolling is by far the most popular and effective way to target these Kokanee.
The most effective bait to use at Strawberry is a hoochie trolled behind a dodger. It is recommend that you tip your hoochie with corn or Berkley Trout Maggots. The most effective color are chartreuse and pink but its is recommended to be switching between various dodger and hoochie colors until you find what is working the best.
Keep in mind that it very common for cutthroat and rainbow trout to be bycatch when trolling for Kokanee. Besides Hoochies, wedding rings also can work well.
Make sure to stay up to date with the fishing regulations for how many fish you are allowed to keep. It is important to note that you aren’t allowed to possess Kokanee during spawning season so make sure you become aware of those exact dates.
Where to Catch Tiger Muskie in Utah?
Pineview Reservoir has been the premier Tiger Muskie fishing location for Utah for many years. This reservoir contains some true giants, with fish commonly reaching over 40 inches. The catch and release record Utah state record was caught at Pineview Reservoir in 1998 and measured to be 53 inches long.
Unfortunately, over the last couple years there has been a severe weather drought in Utah which has caused a lot of lakes to dry up and water levels to drop significantly. One of the hardest hit lakes in Utah has been Pineview Reservoir. Recent reports have described lots of these Tiger Muskie washed up dead along the shoreline. Biologists believe this is due to the increase in water temperature due to the low water levels.
As a result, the DWR seems to have reduced the number of Tiger Musk stocked in Pineview over the last couple of years. With that being said, it is still likely your best opportunity to catch a Tiger Muskie in the state of Utah.
If you plan on targeting Tiger Muskie, it is recommended that you use a long fishing rod (8+ ft) in order to cast that lure as far as possible and cover a lot of water. In addition, it is also recommended that you use a baitcaster reel instead of a spinning reel. This will help you from being as exhausted from the countless numbers of casts you will be making through out the day. A baitcaster reel also will help you to fight the fish much easier and get it to the boat as fast as possible.
Since these are toothy predators, it is recommended that your liter be 50+ lbs test. In regards to what works best, there are a lot of different lures that work well. Spinner baits and Jerk baits seem to work best. Pineview Reservoir has a lot of native perch so you can’t go wrong with a bait that matches those color patterns.