For about a half hour, Phil and I were treated to a non-stop photo opp as Calvin yanked trout through the ice. Most of these trout ranged from 14–16 inches. Except for one Bear Lake cutthroat, all of the fish were splake. All of the fish were well proportioned. Not fat, not skinny. Just right.
In Utah we’re lucky enough to have a long and consistent ice fishing season on most of our favorite waters. I’ve always been a quality over quantity guy, so I’ll share my favorite spots in the southeastern part of the state.
Fishing for brown trout in the Ogden River can be fantastic. Average fish densities can reach upwards of 6,000 fish per mile of stream. Yes, you read that right: there are tons of fish in the Ogden River.
Fall is the time to get out to the fisheries here in Utah. Fish become more active after water temperatures drop and lakes turn over; they’re preparing to spawn or looking to fatten up for wintertime. As summer comes to an end and hunting season approaches, a few people stow their summer fishing gear. Not me.
Many of the larger rainbow trout were shaped like Spalding footballs, especially those in the 15- to 17-inch size class. Brown trout have also taken on a new look, and the night’s “big fish” was a 20-inch brown trout weighing in at 3.5 pounds.
On page 13, the Utah Fishing Guidebook states, “Fishing for crayfish (also called crawdads) is a fun activity for the whole family.” But I’m here to tell you that crawdaddin’ is not just “fun,” it’s crazy-awesome and you have got to give it a try.
Seeing a striper boil in person was awesome—it’s louder and more frenzied than I imagined. The final fish count included three respectable stripers, one obscenely large bluegill, a couple largemouth bass and a few smallies.
Bear Lake cutthroat trout follow the same tributaries during their early-June spawning run. The tributaries to the reservoir are currently closed to fishing. Though the water is a little murky in June, you can still watch them in the river as they work their way upstream to spawn.
Fish activity and feeding really heats up along reservoir shorelines in the spring. The sun warms the shallow areas of water first, and fish naturally move into this water to bask and feed. The resulting activity attracts anglers and fishery biologists, both with the same goal: to catch a lot of fish.
Our total catch was 681 fish, including 443 rainbows, 236 browns and a couple whitefish. Our PIT tag recapture rate was around 19 percent, which is similar to what we normally see. The big fish of the night was a rainbow trout that stretched the measuring stick to nearly 22 inches, while the longest brown was just less than 19 inches.
All winter I’ve been looking forward to the ice coming off at two reservoirs where I’ll have a good chance of doing both—catching lots of big fish. This spring you’ll find me at Scofield and Joes Valley reservoirs.