The best fishing of the year is about to begin. You can locate the action by visiting websites that provide updated fishing reports.

One of the best sites is www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots.

Paul Birdsey, cold water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says October is his favorite month to fish.

“There’s no better time to fish,” Birdsey says, “and the beautiful fall scenery and the cooler temperatures aren’t the only reasons why.”

Birdsey says at the end of September or the start of October, lakes and reservoirs in Utah experience what he calls their “fall turnover.”

“Basically,” he says, “the water mixes. As the water on the surface cools, it sinks to the bottom of the reservoir.  As the water sinks, it pushes the water on the bottom of the reservoir up to the top.”

This swirling motion brings material from the deeper layers of the lake or reservoir into the upper layers. All of the sudden, algae starts to bloom. As the algae blooms, zooplankton feed on the algae. Then, the zooplankton bloom too.

Suddenly, abundant food is available for bait fish and sport fish throughout the lake or reservoir. “During this period of time,”

Birdsey says, “the fish go into a ‘feeding frenzy.’”

During the frenzy, Birdsey says you can catch fish from the shore using simple equipment. “A rod and a reel, a bobber and some worms are about all you need,” he says.

Because food is so abundant, fish will spread themselves across the entire body of water.  They’ll be in shallow water near shore and in deeper water in the middle of the lake or reservoir.  “You can catch fish from the shore or from a boat,” Birdsey says.

And lakes and reservoirs aren’t the only places where fishing improves in October. Fishing in “tailrace” waters (rivers and streams that are below dams) improves as nutrients and cooler water are released into them. Having cooler water temperatures and the sun at a lower angle also improves fishing in all of the rivers and streams in the state, including those that aren’t below dams.

Birdsey says the feeding frenzy usually lasts two to four weeks.

“You can still catch fish in late fall,” he says, “but fishing usually isn’t as fast as it is in October.”

Birdsey says the week before Utah’s general rifle buck deer hunt starts is his favorite week of the year to fish. “You can usually have the water to yourself,” he says, “and the fishing is as good as it gets.”

During the week before the rifle deer hunt last fall, Birdsey says he and a friend caught and released 30 to 50 splake in a single day at Joes Valley Reservoir in southeastern Utah.

“We had a blast,” he says.

This year’s rifle buck deer hunt starts Oct. 20.

And even if you’re going out on the big game hunts, you can still get in on the action. “Take your fishing equipment with you,” Birdsey says. “When you’re not hunting in the middle of the day, you’ll have plenty of time to fish.”

Stay updated

You can stay updated on where the best fall fishing is happening in Utah by checking several websites. The following are among the best:

You can also call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Image courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

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