Wildlife News

Catch big fish in northeastern Utah

Fishing heats up in northeastern Utah

Part 2

Editor's note: The story below is the second in a series of news releases about some of the best waters to fish in Utah during ice off this spring. Ice off is one of the best times of the year to catch fish from the shore!

VERNAL — A week of warm weather and a howling windstorm have changed the face of reservoirs in the lower elevations of the Uinta Basin.

A hen pheasant takes flight in south-central Utah.

Ice off is the perfect time to catch trout in northeastern Utah.

Photo by Georgia Stewart

The reservoirs have gone from an ice- and snow-covered shade of white to sprinkles of blue to large expanses of blue open water.

Ron Stewart, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says this is good news for anglers. "Ice off usually brings a couple of weeks of great fishing," he says, "especially for larger fish."

As the ice melts, most fish, especially coldwater trout, become more active. They start cruising along the edge of the ice or along the shoreline, looking for prey that thawed out of the ice or washed into the water from the shore.

Whether the fish are just reacting to a burst of sunlight or an increase in prey, the bite won't last long.

Best waters to try

Where should you go? Stewart provides some advice:

  • "The reservoirs on the west side of the basin are thawing out first this year," he says. "Starvation and Big Sandwash already have large expanses of open water. Fishing at both reservoirs should be good for rainbows."

    Starvation usually offers good brown trout fishing too. The browns aren't as abundant as the rainbows, but they tend to be bigger in size.
  • On March 20, both Steinaker and Red Fleet reservoirs were about a week away from ice off. Both of these reservoirs have good numbers of rainbows and some larger brown trout.


Stewart provides the following advice to catch fish at ice off:

  • The fish are still sluggish, so retrieving your lure slowly or fishing with baits will likely result in more hits.
  • The water is cold, so the fish can be anywhere in the water column, from the surface to the bottom. They can also be in shallow water near the shore. To find the fish, try casting along the shorelines and close to the edge of the ice.
  • Look for fish close to the shore too. Ice off is the time of year when trout will likely be close to shore. Also, the water at ice off is the clearest it will be all year. Sometimes, you can actually see the fish you're trying to catch.

Stay current

Updated ice-off reports and weekly fishing reports for northeastern Utah are available online. You can also subscribe to receive the free reports via email.

If you have questions about fishing in northeastern Utah, call the DWR's Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.

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