Scofield Reservoir has lost its ice cap. That occurred this past Wednesday. And that means some fantastic trout fishing is about to begin.
One of Utah’s best trout fishing waters, Scofield Reservoir is just north of the town of Scofield in central Utah. The reservoir is only an hour’s drive from Provo. From Salt Lake City, you can reach the reservoir in about 90 minutes.
Stand on the shore; catch lots of fish
Fishing at Scofield is usually best just after the ice leaves the reservoir. That’s when hungry trout, trapped under an ice sheet all winter long, finally gain access to food that’s on or near the water’s surface.
Access to food and a surging metabolism create a feeding frenzy of sorts among the fish. Insects aren’t active until later in the spring, so it’s easier to entice trout using nightcrawlers and commercial baits, such as salmon eggs.
As the ice comes off, trout can be caught using just about any kind of tackle. A “Barbie” rod and reel, with a worm on a hook, is about as sophisticated as you need to get!
From ice off until June, the water temperature near the bank remains cool enough for trout to school close to shore. That makes spring the perfect time to catch trout from the shore at Scofield.
Baits, lures and flies
Three types of trout rainbow, cutthroat and tiger live in Scofield.
- If you’re after rainbow trout, nightcrawlers, PowerBait on cheese hooks and salmon eggs are great baits to try.
- Tiger trout and cutthroat trout are more predatory than rainbows, so they’re often looking for something different than cheese bait or worms.
- Spinners and lures will often stimulate a tiger or cutthroat trout to strike. Jake’s Spin-A-Lures, Kastmasters, Mepps, Roostertails and Panther Martins are among the best spinners to use at Scofield.
- A minnow- or trout-imitating Rapala, in sizes 5 or 7, is also a good choice for both cutthroat and tiger trout.
- The best artificial fly pattern to use in the spring at Scofield is a brown or green sparkle leech in sizes 6 to 10.
As far as natural baits go, Utah chubs are an excellent bait to use at Scofield in the spring. Chubs are found in abundance in the reservoir.
You can catch chubs in a minnow trap, and then put them on your hook. But before you can place them on your hook, please remember that the chubs must be dead.
You can fish chubs whole, or you can chop them into chunks that will be easier for the trout to bite.
A sac of trout eggs is another bait that will grab the attention of trout in Scofield in the spring. You can harvest eggs from a female trout, and then bundle the eggs together inside a nylon mesh bag that’s about the size of a marble. Hide a hook inside the sac, and then cast it out for the trout to bite.
Please remember, however, that if you take eggs from a trout, the trout you took the eggs from must be counted as part of your trout limit. It’s illegal to “squeeze” a fish for eggs and then release her. The trout will die if you do.
DWR Sergeant Stacey Jones says more and more cutthroat trout between 15 and 22 inches long, and ripe with eggs, are being seen in Scofield. Please remember that you may not keep these fish. And you may not strip or “squeeze” them for eggs either.
If you catch a cutthroat trout that’s between 15 and 22 inches long, you must release it immediately.
“You may not harvest eggs from cutthroats that are between 15 and 22 inches long,” Jones says, “and then release the fish. It’s illegal to keep these fish or strip them of their eggs.”
Best time to fish
As a general rule, you’ll find the best success if you fish early in the morning or later in the evening. The trout rest when the sun climbs. Like many wild animals, trout feed most actively at dawn and dusk.
- The limit at Scofield is four trout. But not more than two of those trout can be cutthroat or tiger trout under 15 inches long. And not more than one of the four trout can be a cutthroat or tiger trout over 22 inches. All cutthroat and tiger trout from 15 to 22 inches must be released immediately.
- You may keep rainbow trout of any size.
- Trout may not be filleted. And the heads or tails of the fish may not be removed in the field or in transit from the field to other locations.
- The tributaries that flow into Scofield Reservoir are closed until the second Saturday in July to protect cutthroat trout while the cutthroats are spawning.
Take your kids fishing
“When was the last time you took your family on a fishing trip?” asks Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR.
“For most of us,” he says, “it’s been too long. A family trip to Scofield Reservoir is a great way to strengthen family ties and ease tension.”
Stettler says we live in a hustle-and-bustle society. Sometimes, we get so busy that we put off having fun.
“So many obligations seem to take a higher priority,” he says, “but time slips away. Kids grow up and leave home.
“Give your kids some of childhood’s sweetest memories,” he says. “Take them fishing.
“And remember, Scofield is a great place to fish in the spring.”
The latest fishing reports for Scofield are available at wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots.
If you have questions about fishing at Scofield, call the DWR’s office in Price at 435-613-3700.
photo: Randall Stilson