- Rating: Good
- Conditions: Even with the unsettled weather, water temperatures in the reservoir are in the upper 50s. These are the temperatures in which the magic begins on the Gorge. The reservoir is greening up with microscopic algae, and will soon be followed by zooplankton increases, providing essential food resources for kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and small lake trout. Most of the time, when food is present, fish activity increases.
Here's Ryan Mosley's summary of successful fishing methods by species, which should provide a good start for the upcoming holiday and the first few weeks of June.
Kokanee salmon: Kokanee salmon are most commonly caught while trolling spoons, dodger/squid combos and pop gear. Most kokanee are hanging close to the surface where the water is warmer and zooplankton densities are high. Target depths from 10-20 feet early in the morning, but watch the sonar for fish to drop deeper during the day. Vary your trolling speed by doing 'S' turns, and note if hits come on the outside (faster) or inside (slower) of a turn. I had the most success trolling around 1.8-2.0 mph with a Rocky Mountain Tackle dodger in watermelon, trailed by a squid in double-glow pink. Tip the bait with Gulp, mealworm, etc. for more enticement.
Smallmouth bass: Smallmouths are starting to become more active in the shallows in preparation for the spawn. This is the time of the year when big smallies are more commonly caught. Releasing the big bass while harvesting the small ones (8-12 inches) is helpful for promoting a healthy bass fishery. Smallmouth bass in the Gorge make great table fare, too. Target bass using jigs, Senkos, jerk baits and deep running crankbaits. Where you find one bass, there are likely many. I used a Rapala Xrap, retrieving it with a jerk, jerk, pause (5-10 seconds). All of the hits came on the suspended pause, some of which were explosive. Jigs can be worked slowly across the bottom, and flipped to fish spotted in the shallows.
Rainbow trout: Rainbows are probably providing the highest catch rates right now. They can be caught fishing from the bank, trolling, casting, vertically jigging and often enough are caught while fishing for other species. Big rainbow trout are concentrated in the shallows, attempting to spawn on shallow rocky points and where water flows into the reservoir. Once again, where you find one, you will find others. Try casting small three-inch tubes or marabou jigs in earth tone colors. Whites and blacks will also work well. Fly fishing can be very effective for rainbows this time of year, with abundant midge hatches throughout the day, and terrestrial species like flying ants and cicadas starting to show up.
Lake trout: Small lake trout are biting more frequently on the north end of the reservoir; the catch on the south end is more incidental right now. Stable weather patterns will likely help. While trolling for rainbows or kokanee, watch the sonar for schools of small lake trout. Dropping the lure just above their depth can produce a lot of good fishing and some fine dining! You can also jig for them. Try small tube jigs (white with black flake) tipped with sucker meat. Look for schools of lake trout along rocky points and submerged ridges or islands in depths of 60-110 feet.
- Location: Daggett County
- Directions: Drive 45 miles north of Vernal on US-191
- Type: Blue Ribbon
- Size: 42,000 acres
- Elevation: 6,024 feet
- Hours: No restrictions
- Likely catch: Kokanee Salmon, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass
- Possible catch: Brown Trout, Common Carp, Channel Catfish, Cutthroat Trout
- Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
- Site amenities: A Forest Service campground in the National Recreation Area around the reservioir, and numerous boat ramps
- Handicap access: Access at the Forest Service campground and boat launching facilities
- Site description: The Wyoming end of the reservoir is quite open and can be extremely rough if the wind blows hard. The Utah portion of the reservoir is mostly in a canyon, so it is more protected from the wind.