February 26, 2024

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Utah Fishing Guide: Complete Guide

Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Northern Utah and Southern Wyoming.

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Angling is an integral part of the local culture of the “Beehive State,” Contrary to its reputation as a land of dry deserts, Utah is a haven for anglers. And fishing in Utah means immersing yourself in an environment rich with everything from serene mountain streams to expansive reservoirs.

The state’s landscape presents striking contrasts for fishing enthusiasts. From the tranquil waters of the Provo River to the sprawling vistas around Lake Powell, all the way to the hidden high-altitude lakes in the Uinta Mountains… These destinations offer more than just a few casts to check what’s biting.

In this guide, we’ll navigate through Utah’s best fishing spots, the most coveted fish species, effective techniques for each season, and more. Let’s get ready to cast a line into the heart of Utah!

Best Fish to Catch in Utah

The fish in Utah are as diverse and captivating as the state’s landscapes. Here, you can reel in anything from hard-fighting Wipers to cunning Walleye, not to mention a plethora of Bass varieties and other species. There’s never a dull moment for those with a rod and a dream.

Cutthroat Trout

An angler holds a small Cutthroat Trout on a backcountry river in Utah  with lush spring foliage in the background
Photo courtesy of Bald Mountain Fly Guides

Utah is a playground for Cutthroat Trout, with each subspecies offering a unique angling experience. Bonneville Cutthroat are a true Utah treasure, flaunting their colors in the Weber and Provo Rivers. Their average size might range from 2–4 pounds, but it’s not uncommon to land a lunker that tips the scales even more. Fly fishing is the game here, with nymphs and streamers being your ace in the hole.

Bear River Cutthroat, a little more elusive, make their home in the colder, clearer waters of the Bear River system. This subspecies plays hard to get but that’s all part of the fun! Then, there’s the Uinta Mountains’ Yellowstone Cutthroat. Real crowd-pleasers with their larger sizes, these fish regularly exceed 4 pounds and promise to give anglers a run for their money, especially when fly fishing in faster-moving waters.

And that’s not all! There’s also the Colorado River Cutthroat – the gem in Utah’s crown. These Trout are often found in the more remote, pristine waters, making the hunt as memorable as the catch itself.


A young angler in a personal floatation device holds a small Largemouth Bass aboard a pontoon boat on a lake in Utah on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Dreamseason Guide Service

If you thought there was a variety of Cutthroat Trout, wait until you see what Bass fishing in Utah has in store. Leading the pack are Largemouth Bass. Known for their size and strength, they’re favorites for anglers seeking a robust fight. These fish prefer warmer waters around submerged timber and rocky outcrops, where they lie in wait for their prey.

In contrast, Smallmouth Bass add a dash of agility and spirit to Utah’s Bass fishing scene. Smaller and more energetic, these fish are celebrated for their acrobatic fights, often leaping out of the water when hooked. They favor cooler, deeper waters with rocky environments and are a test of finesse and strategy for anglers.

Then, there are the elusive Striped Bass. Originating in saltwater on the East Coast, they’ve been thriving ever since they were introduced to Utah, and offer an entirely different angling experience. With their voracious feeding habits, they provide thrilling action. Target them with lures that mimic their preferred prey and you’ll be in for fast-paced, action-packed fishing.

And White Bass only add to the diversity. Energetic and aggressive, they offer great opportunities for high-volume catches – especially during their spring spawning runs. Techniques like casting into schooling fish can be incredibly rewarding, as White Bass are known for their vigorous response to various lures.

Tiger Musky

An angler who has been ice fishing holds a large Tiger Musky on an iced-over lake in the winter
Photo courtesy of Locked With Lorensen

Fishing for Tiger Musky in Utah is what angling dreams are made of. These hybrids – a mix between Musky and Northern Pike – are aquatic beasts. Averaging around 30 inches, with some monsters reaching up to 50 inches, these fish are true trophies of Utah’s waters. Pineview Reservoir is a hotspot for Tiger Muskies, where anglers often find themselves in a tug-of-war with these formidable opponents.

The thrill of Musky fishing lies in the anticipation and the surprise. Get ready for sudden, explosive attacks, turning a calm day on the water into an adrenaline-pumping battle. The right gear is crucial, however. You’ll want heavy rods, strong lines, and a variety of lures from bucktails to jerkbaits in your arsenal. 


A closeup of a Walleye's head sticking out of the water at sunset, having been hooked by a fishing line in calm water

Walleye are often overshadowed by some more glamorous species in Utah. But we’re here to tell you that Walleye fishing is just as rewarding here. Night fishing is popular, as these fish become more active under the cover of darkness, turning the still waters into their hunting ground. The thrill of feeling a Walleye strike in the dead of night is unmatched. Get ready for a subtle yet powerful tug that sets the heart racing.

Techniques for catching these fish vary but a few tried-and-true methods include jigging with live bait and trolling with crankbaits. These fish require a bit of strategy and patience. But the reward? A delicious, flaky catch that’s as satisfying on the plate as it is to reel in.

Bonus: More Trout!

An angler holds a huge Lake Trout on a boat on Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Capt. Dan Flaming Gorge Fishing Guide

The Trout scene in Utah is a kaleidoscope of species, each adding its own dash of color to every angler’s palette. The trophy Lake Trout in Flaming Gorge Reservoir are the stuff of legends, with some tipping the scales at over 40 pounds. These deep-water Lakers are a test of strength and endurance, requiring heavier tackle and a lot of patience.

Rainbow Trout, on the other hand, are impressive acrobats in Utah’s waters. Whether you’re fly fishing on the Provo River or spin casting in Strawberry Reservoir, Rainbows are a delight to catch.

And then there are Golden Trout, patrolling remote, high-altitude lakes. Fishing for them is an excursion into Utah’s wild heart, where the reward is not just the fish but the experience of being in some of the most breathtaking, untouched landscapes the state has to offer.

Utah Fishing Techniques and Spots

Utah has more than 1,000 fishable lakes and numerous cool streams that descend from rugged snowcapped mountains. They feed shimmering lakes or pause in reservoirs where
Trout reach trophy proportions.

Whether you’re casting a line from a pier, drilling through the ice, whipping a fly rod, or joining a charter, Utah’s waters are brimming with opportunities to hook into your next big story. Let’s talk about the local techniques you can make use of, along with where to go…

Utah Shore and Pier Fishing

An angler stands in shallow water with his back towards the camera as he fights a fish with fly fishing equipment against a background of dramatic yellow rocks and stormy skies in the Flaming Gorge Nation Recreation Area, Utah

Shore and pier fishing in Utah is a treat for those who simply want to cast a line. The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is legendary, where you can marvel at the views from the 500-foot-tall Flaming Gorge Dam and then fish from the ADA-accessible fishing pier. This area boasts numerous Rainbow Trout, with the tranquil Moose Pond along Scenic Highway 44 providing a picturesque and productive fishing locale.

Red Canyon Lodge’s Greens Lakes also offer spectacular catch-and-release fishing for Rainbow and Brook Trout. Hanging above the gorge, these lakes combine scenic beauty with abundant fishing opportunities. And for those seeking more of a challenge, Little Hole on the Green River is a must-visit.

Whether you’re into fly fishing or spin fishing, the steep and scenic canyon below the Flaming Gorge Dam offers easy access to miles of Trout-filled water, where the average catch is a brag-worthy 15 inches.

Utah Ice Fishing

A close up of a hand holding a Cutthroat Trout next to a hole in the ice after ice fishing in Utah. A dog, another angler, and a fishing rod are visible in the background

For those hardy souls out there, Utah’s ice fishing scene provides a cool adventure. Currant Creek Reservoir, for instance, transforms into an ice angler’s paradise in winter. Accessible via snowmobile, the best fishing here often coincides with the first formation of safe ice or when the ice begins to melt, revealing open water teeming with fish.

Kolob Reservoir is another gem, accessible via dirt roads and presenting a stunning winter landscape. Snow-covered slopes and aspen forests frame this fishing hotspot, making it a picturesque setting for drilling a hole and dropping a line through the ice.

Utah Fly Fishing

An angler kneels by a mountain stream in Utah holding a Grayling and the fly rod and reel that he used to catch it
Photo courtesy of Bald Mountain Fly Guides

Fly fishing in Utah is an immersive experience, blending the tranquility of nature with the thrill of the catch. The state’s myriad of rivers and streams, such as the Provo River and the Green River, are renowned for their fly fishing potential. These waters are home to an enviable variety of Trout, including the native Cutthroat, the robust Rainbow, and the elusive Brown.

The exact technique and approach vary with the seasons and the specific water body. Spring and early summer see hatches that bring fish to the surface, making dry fly fishing particularly effective. Nymphing, a technique where the fly is presented underwater, is a year-round strategy, especially in deeper pools and slower-moving sections of rivers. 

And then there’s streamer fishing, enticing larger Trout with bait fish-like flies. This method is especially popular in the fall when the fish are more aggressive.

Utah Charter Fishing

A charter captain helps a young boy hold a large Lake Trout on a boat on a lake in Utah. Downriggers and other fishing equipment are visible in the background
Photo courtesy of Capt. Dan Flaming Gorge Fishing Guide

Booking a Utah fishing charter is perfect for those who wish to deepen their angling knowledge or simply enjoy a day on the water without the hassle of planning. Guided trips are available on many of Utah’s lakes and reservoirs, like Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge Reservoir, known for their diverse fish populations including Bass, Walleye, and Trout.

With a charter, anglers get more than just a boat ride. You’ll learn from the expertise of seasoned guides who know the best spots, the right techniques, and the optimal times for fishing. These guides not only help in locating and catching fish but also impart valuable lessons on local ecosystems, fish behavior, and effective conservation practices.

Charter fishing trips often include all the necessary gear, from rods and reels to bait and tackle, making it an easy choice for travelers or those new to the sport.

When to Go Fishing in Utah

A boat stands at a dock on a clear blue lake in the winter, with snow-lined shores in the background on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Capt. Dan Flaming Gorge Fishing Guide

Each season in Utah brings with it new opportunities and challenges. As spring’s buds bloom, anglers leap into action. This season is prime time for Rainbow Trout, as they become particularly active as the waters warm. Spots like Strawberry Reservoir and Fish Lake wake up from their winter slumber, with a healthy offering of Trout. But don’t forget about Bass, which start to swim in waters like Sand Hollow Reservoir.

Then come the sun-soaked days of summer and, with them, a whole new chapter of fishing. High mountain lakes are now fully accessible and lure in Trout seekers. Warm-water species like Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass also hit their stride in reservoirs like Lake Powell. Don’t overlook the nighttime Catfish during these warm months, either – it’s a Utah summer fishing tradition!

As fall descends, fishing in Utah takes a golden turn. Cooler temperatures bring a resurgence of activity in Bass and Walleye, while Brown Trout start their spawning run. And, while winter in Utah might seem quiet, beneath the ice, the waters are alive. Ice fishing enthusiasts drill their way to success in Panguitch and Bear Lake, where Trout and Perch await. Every fishing season in Utah is magical!

Utah Fishing Rules and Regulations

An infographic featuring the flag of Utah, a vector of a boat, and the FishingBooker logo, along with text stating "Utah Fishing Regulations: What You Need to Know" against a blue background

Before we wrap up, let’s quickly dive into some key regulations when it comes to fishing in Utah. And there are a lot of specifics!

While most of Utah’s fisheries are bait-friendly, there are also spots where special regulations apply. These regulations vary widely, from catch-and-release-only areas to specific gear restrictions. Take Currant Creek, for example, where fishing is a fly and lure-only affair from the confluence of Water Hollow Creek to the headwaters, including its tributaries.

In any case, before you cast a line, make sure you’re geared up with more than just rods and reels. A fishing license is a must. These are easy to grab. Visit the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website to get yours.

Fishing in Utah: Across Canyons and Peaks

An angler wearing waders and a hooded sweatshirt fly fishes in a canyon on the Green River in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation area, Utah, on a snowy, sunny winter's day

Now, it’s time to put this guide into action. Hopefully, we’ve sparked your desire to explore the diverse and abundant angling opportunities the Beehive State has to offer. Fishing in Utah is an experience that resonates with the soul of every angler. So, what’s your Utah fishing story going to be?

Have you ever been fishing in Utah? Do you have any fish tales to share with us? Head to the comments below!

The post Utah Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Utah Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/utah-fishing/
Published Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2024 10:55:50 +0000

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