Early spring is a great time to fish in central Utah: You can take advantage of open water fishing before the bugs come out and melting mountain snowcaps send a flood of water into lakes and reservoirs.
Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the ice at many waters in central Utah has melted, and spring fishing is underway. He says the following should be some of the best waters to fish in the region this spring:
Deer Creek Reservoir
“This year,” Root says, “don’t miss a chance to fish for rainbow trout at Deer Creek Reservoir.”
The DWR stocks about 90,000 rainbow trout into the reservoir every year. But this year, even more trout might be stocked there.
Root says you don’t have to wait for more fish to be stocked to enjoy great fishing at the reservoir, though. In late March, angler Austin Olsen reported catching and releasing 19 rainbows in just two hours.
In addition to the rainbows, you can also find smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, brown trout and perch in Deer Creek.
Root reminds you that if you aren’t camping in the state park, you can’t access the boat ramp at the reservoir after 10 p.m.
Anglers using traditional baits and lures have been catching trout in open water at Jordanelle Reservoir. If you have a float tube or a small boat, now is the time to fish at Jordanelle — very few recreational boaters are using the water right now.
In addition to trout, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are possible catches at Jordanelle.
Root says Utah Lake is also free of ice.
In the spring, walleye spawn at Utah Lake, which makes them a good target for anglers. Casting and slowly retrieving twist-tail jigs near inlets or spawning areas can convince a territorial walleye to strike.
Channel catfish and white bass are also available at the lake. Channel catfish respond to a worm, shrimp or other stink bait. White bass will usually bite a small action lure tipped with bait. “At Utah Lake,” Root says, “there isn’t a possession limit on white bass, so one angler could literally ‘feed a village’ if they get into a large school of these tasty fish.”
Before you head to the lake, check the DWR website for a new brochure that provides access points to the lake. The free information is available online.
Yuba Reservoir is ice-free, and DWR biologists think this year will be one of your best chances ever to catch a large northern pike at the reservoir. Biologists found lots of northern pike in the reservoir during recent sampling work.
In April, pike are preparing to spawn. They’ll often attack a lure that imitates a fish.
In April, you can find pike in water that’s about three to six feet deep. A lure that imitates a yellow perch is one of the best lures to use.
When fishing for pike, find a shallow area with some vegetation in it, and repeatedly cast and retrieve your lure. Using steel leader is a good idea. Their sharp teeth and enormous strength allow pike to snap lines easily.
At Yuba, you can keep up to six pike.
Little Dell Reservoir
Now that the ice is gone, Bonneville cutthroat and brook trout are waiting for you in open water at Little Dell Reservoir. Root suggests using woolly buggers or shiny lures to catch them.
Because Little Dell is a protected watershed, several special regulations are in place. You may use artificial flies and lures only. All cutthroat trout must be released immediately. Any fish you catch must be removed from the watershed canyon before you clean it. Fishing from a float tube is allowed with a dry suit or rubber waders, but not a wet suit. To wade, you must wear clean waders.
“Though regulations may be restrictive at Little Dell,” Root says, “anglers often have the entire reservoir to themselves.”
Much of Strawberry Reservoir is still covered with ice. Warmer temperatures are weakening the ice, however, so use caution if you go on the ice. “At this point,” Root says, “it’s very dangerous to take a snowmobile or an OHV onto the ice.”
As ice melts over the next few weeks, the state’s most popular fishery will likely see a sharp increase in anglers.
You can often land trout at Strawberry by casting minnow-imitating lures or tube jigs from the shore or toward the shore (if you’re fishing from a boat), or fishing lures or tube jigs in submerged weed beds.
“Strawberry has special fishing regulations,” Root says, “so check the guidebook before you go.”
Image courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources