Posted June 13, 2014, 10:56 am
HUNTINGTON — A treasure trove of excellent summer fishing waters are waiting for you on the Manti-La Sal National Forest in central Utah.
Trout grow big in Cleveland Reservoir. This 18-inch rainbow weighed two pounds.
Photo by Tom Ogden
Driving 30 minutes east of Fairview, or 45 minutes west from Huntington, will put you at Cleveland Reservoir, the diamond of them all.
Cleveland sits in the middle of four additional reservoirs and a Blue Ribbon trout stream. Each of the six waters provide great fishing and beautiful scenery.
A total of 5,000 nine- to 10-inch rainbow trout are placed in Cleveland Reservoir in the spring and summer. The reservoir has already received 2,500 of the 5,000 fish.
Because trout overwinter well at Cleveland, the fish have a chance to grow. Two-pound rainbows are not uncommon. The Division of Wildlife Resources even receives reports of five pounders from time to time.
Justin Hart, regional aquatic manager for the DWR, says trout disperse throughout the reservoir in the spring and summer. That causes boat anglers to spread out too. "That gives everyone on the water a lot of room to fish," he says.
If you like to fish from the shore, state Route 31 circles around the reservoir. The road features multiple pull-outs that provide lots of access to the shore. The north and northwest sides are especially popular because of good road access and generally good fishing success.
"The shoreline just off the campground is also a good spot," Hart says. "Deep water is close to the shore. The spot provides convenient shoreline access for those staying in the campground."
Although a few cutthroat trout find their way into the reservoir from the inflow, Cleveland is a rainbow fishery. Consequently, all of the traditional rainbow trout baits are effective.
Nightcrawlers and worms top the popularity list. The most common technique from shore is to fish off the bottom using a sinker, and then placing a mini-marshmallow or PowerBait under the worm so the worm floats a few inches off the bottom. The best PowerBait colors are rainbow or chartreuse.
When the trout aren't taking bait, a lot of anglers throw spinners and spoons. Two of the best are the Jakes Spin-a-Lure or a Kastmaster. Gold or silver are the best colors to use.
Fly fishing is often effective from spring through fall. Good patterns include the wooly bugger, soft hackle fly, leech, and prince nymph — in sizes 4-8 — at the end of sinking line.
Cleveland is close to 9,000 feet in elevation. The reservoir spans 185 surface acres. At full pool, the average depth is 28 feet, with a maximum depth of 52 feet.
"Sometimes the fishing is hot. Sometimes it's not," Hart says. "You can stay ahead of the game by checking the DWR's weekly fishing report."
While you're on the Internet, visit utahfishingforum.com or bigfishtackle.com for any late-breaking news about Cleveland or its neighbors.
Waters near Cleveland
Even the best anglers will have slow days. That's when Cleveland's strategic central location shines. Just a few minutes in almost any direction will land you at another fishing hole.
"In the course of a day, you can dip a line in five flat waters and one outstanding stream," says Brent Stettler, DWR regional conservation outreach manager.
Each of the four flat water fisheries that are neighbors to Cleveland are suitable for small water craft. And Cleveland offers a ramp just off the campground.
Two waters, Huntington Reservoir and Electric Lake, are home to healthy populations of cutthroat and tiger trout. Rainbow trout are the mainstay at Cleveland, Miller Flat and Gooseberry reservoirs. Huntington Creek offers excellent brown trout fishing.
"In all," Stettler says, "you'll have a crack at four species of trout and a chance to sample a variety of beautiful mountain scenery."
Aside from being a fishing-hole hub, Stettler says there's another reason to make Cleveland your base camp. It's only a couple of minutes north of the Lake Fork Campground. Operated by the U.S. Forest Service, the campground encompasses a broad expanse of forest with close to 40 campsites.
The camping fee is $5 per car, per day. You'll find groomed access roads, vault toilets, and concrete fire pits and picnic tables. You'll need to bring your own water, though.
More information about the campground is available online.
To reach Cleveland Reservoir, anglers from the Wasatch Front need to exit Interstate 15 at the Price interchange and follow U.S. Highway 6 that snakes through Spanish Fork Canyon.
Get off Highway 6 at the Manti turn-off, and travel south on U.S. 89. At Fairview, watch for SR-31, which heads up the mountain. After a steep climb to the top of Fairview Canyon, you'll come to the turn-off to Gooseberry Reservoir. The reservoir is three miles north of SR-31.
If you stay on SR-31, five minutes will put you over the crest and in sight of Huntington Reservoir, also known as Mammoth Reservoir. Three minutes later, the road curves around Cleveland Reservoir. And just five minutes after that, a vista of Electric Lake and its dam comes into view. Below the dam is Huntington Creek, one of the state's premier fly fishing-only stretches.
And if that's not enough to convince you that Cleveland is central to a lot of fishing action, note that Miller Flat Reservoir is just six miles south on Forest Road 0014.
For more information about fishing at any of these waters, call the DWR's office in Price at 435-613-3700.
Beavers in Utah
Building guzzlers in Utah's Newfoundland Mountains
Gila monsters — Creatures of legends and misconceptions