Wildlife News

Spring fishing in southeastern Utah

Shore fishing heats up as ice melts

Part 3

Editor's note: The story below is the fourth 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!

PRICE — The ice is receding from the shoreline at many low-elevation waters in southeastern Utah. And that means some of the best trout fishing you'll find from the shore all year is about to begin.

A young boy holding a rainbow trout at Scofield Reservoir.

Ice off is a great time to catch rainbows from the shore at Scofield Reservoir.

Photo by Randall Stilson

From mid to late March, hungry fish begin searching open water for new food sources. The fish have been trapped under the ice all winter, and they're hungry. The temperature of icy water is fairly uniform, so fish can be caught at almost any depth. Anglers often do best fishing at dawn, because trout feed at first light.

Baits and lures

Some of the same baits you used while ice fishing will also work from the shore in the spring. Soft plastic grubs and jigs, tipped with chub or sucker meat, will hook fish. A plain hook with bait on it can also be very effective.

(Please remember that hooks tipped with chub or sucker meat may be used only on waters where bait is allowed.)

Nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, dead minnows, chub or sucker meat, or egg sacs are among the best baits to try. If you're fishing for rainbow trout, Berkley's PowerBait is an excellent choice. If the water you're fishing is murky, trying using chartreuse PowerBait or rainbow PowerBait that has some glitter in it. These bright colors make your bait easier for the trout to see.

When the ice sheet is within casting distance, casting onto the ice and letting your bait drop into the water gives it a natural presentation. Pay careful attention to your line as the bait falls; a slight pause can indicate a bite.

If the ice is beyond casting distance, fish your bait just off the bottom using a sinker. A Carolina rig is a good set-up for anchoring your bait without letting fish feel the sinker's weight. A split-shot pinched about 12 inches up the line can also work.

(Step-by-step instructions on how to tie a Carolina rig are available online.)

If you have trouble waiting for a bite from the bottom, try spin casting. The Rapalas, Jakes Spin-a-Lure and Kastmaster are good lures for this. Bring gold and silver, and give each several tries. A lure that imitates a rainbow trout works well in many waters. Any crankbait pattern that mimics the baitfish in the water is a good choice. Scented soft plastics are gaining in popularity.

Best waters

Scofield Reservoir is an excellent place to fish during ice-off. The state record tiger trout was harvested at the reservoir in February. The catch-and-release record tiger trout was broken last year at Scofield.

"The reservoir has a history of huge trout being taken within casting distance of the shore," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. "Egg sacs and minnows or chub meat are especially effective at Scofield in the spring. Bring along a minnow trap to catch fresh minnows to use."

Last year, the ice started receding from the shore at Scofield during the last week in April.


Before your first trip this spring, make sure you "spring clean" your fishing equipment.

"If you haven't done so recently," Stettler says, "replace your fishing line. Lubricate the reel and adjust the drag. Check your rod's ferrules, windings and guides. If the rod/reel combination doesn't work very well, upgrade. Even a good angler will catch more fish with better equipment."

"The Internet has a wealth of fishing articles and videos for the angler intent on improving his or her skills," Stettler says. "Online fishing forums can help you find good fishing in your area."

Updates on fishing success and bait recommendations are also available by subscribing to the DWR's free, weekly fishing reports. You can subscribe to the reports online.

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