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Fat, healthy rainbows at Deer Creek

Deer Creek also contains some big largemouth bass

Heber City — Thousands upon thousands of fat rainbow trout are waiting for you at Deer Creek Reservoir.

Deer Creek Reservoir

Deer Creek State Park is a great place to fish and relax.

Photo by Scott Root

And who knows; while you're chasing the rainbows, you might catch a five-pound largemouth bass.

It won't cost you much in gasoline money to give Deer Creek a try. Located just southwest of Heber City, the reservoir is less than 20 miles from Provo.

From Salt Lake City, Deer Creek is less than an hour's drive away.

Fishing updates for Deer Creek are available online.

Thousands of rainbows

The Division of Wildlife Resources has stocked between 70,000 and 100,000 rainbow trout into Deer Creek every year for the past seven years.

The fish are 10 inches long when they're stocked in the fall and spring, but they grow fairly fast—a year later, most of the 10-inch fish are 17 inches or longer. And the rainbows produced in Deer Creek are fat and healthy.

Anglers are also paying attention to Deer Creek because of the diverse mix of fish it offers. In addition to the rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, brown trout and largemouth bass make their home in the reservoir's blue waters.

Largemouth bass are quickly becoming a favorite among many Deer Creek's anglers. Some of the largemouth bass in Deer Creek weigh five pounds or more.

Fishing from a boat

The reservoir is part of Deer Creek State Park. Tamara Lott, a park ranger aide at the park, often talks to boat anglers as they're leaving the reservoir in the morning.

"This year has been a good year for these guys," Lott says. "Many of them have reported catching their limits on a regular basis. They often have their limits by the time I arrive in the morning."

Lott says the summer months have been especially good for bass anglers.

She says experienced Deer Creek boat anglers find the most success trolling or casting lures early in the morning, when the surface of the water is as smooth as glass.

"The recreational boaters typically show up a little later in the morning," she says, "and the wind usually doesn't start blowing on the reservoir until about noon."

When the recreational boaters arrive and the wind picks up, most of the boat anglers leave the reservoir for the day. But you don't have to fish from a boat to catch fish at Deer Creek.

Catching fish from the shore

Scott Root, a regional conservation outreach manager with the DWR, has enjoyed some productive fishing trips at Deer Creek recently.

"Like many anglers," Root says, "my son and I have caught six different species of fish over the last few fishing trips. And we caught the fish while fishing from the shore with lures and baits."

Root says PowerBait and nightcrawlers are good baits to try. He says lures, such as spinners, Rapalas or rubber twist-tail jigs, work well too.

How to catch 'em

To catch the diverse fish at Deer Creek, Root recommends the following:

Baits

  • PowerBait is a great bait to use if you're after rainbow trout. Place one or two sinkers on your line about two to four feet above the hook, and cast it out.

    PowerBait floats. After your sinker sinks to the bottom of the reservoir, your bait will float in the water above the sinker, putting it just above the vegetation.
  • Nightcrawlers are also an excellent bait to use at Deer Creek—all of the fish in the reservoir will take them.

    Unlike PowerBait, nightcrawlers won't float above the vegetation. To put the nightcrawler where most of the fish will find it, you need to cast it into an area that doesn't have much vegetation on the bottom.

    You can find these areas by looking for rocky shorelines where the water gets deep quick—rocky areas with steep inclines usually don't have as much vegetation on the bottom.

Lures

  • Two lures—spinners and Rapalas—are good lures to use if you're after trout, walleye or bass.
  • Lures that have a rubber twist tail on the end of them are great lures to use for bass.
  • Bottom-bouncing lures are great lures to use if you're trolling from a boat for walleye. Bottom-bouncing lures include a piece of piano wire. This wire keeps the hook on the lure out of the vegetation as you slowly bounce the lure off the bottom.
  • If you're fishing for bass from a boat, find rocky points or other submerged structure near the shore. Then stop your boat, and cast your lure or bait towards the shoreline.
  • A fish finder is very important if you're after perch. In late summer, the perch move into deep water. They could be anywhere in the reservoir.

Plenty to see and do

When you're not fishing, you can enjoy the many amenities Deer Creek State Park offers. Those amenities include beaches, grassy areas, pavilions, shade, food service, campsites with hookups, modern restroom and shower facilities, hiking trails and more.

For more information about the park's fees and its facilities, visit Utah State Parks Deer Creek website.

If you haven't bought your fishing license yet, you can get one at wildlife.utah.gov. Licenses are also available at DWR offices and from more than 300 fishing license agents across Utah.

A 365-day license is good for 365 days from the day you buy it.

While you're at the park, don't forget the photography opportunities that are available in the park and the surrounding area.

"Lots of photographers pull off the road to capture one of the many moods this scenic location offers," Root says. "Nestled at the base of Mount Timpanogos, every day provides a different type of photo as clouds, colors and lighting often change. Each time they change, a new, breathtaking scene presents itself."

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