Fishing for a feast
Panfish are easy to catch and provide a tasty meal.
Drew Cushing is chief of the Division's aquatics section. He works with other DWR personnel and angling groups to ensure appropriate and consistent program direction. Drew is an avid angler and hunter.
WHAT ARE PANFISH? They are certain species of fish popular among anglers for their mild flavor and white flaky texture. They are easy to catch and fit conveniently in a frying pan!
Because panfish reproduce in high numbers, you can typically keep quite a few of them. These fish also provide a great food source for Utah’s largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, tiger muskie and walleye.
In Utah, many ponds and lakes are home to panfish. You won’t have to look too hard or drive very far to find one of these fisheries.
Panfish aren’t picky. You can catch them in the hottest conditions and through the ice. They respond to almost every bait but are easiest to catch with a simple hook and nightcrawler.
Four main species of panfish live in waters across Utah. If you haven’t already caught them, make it a goal for this fishing season!
Yellow perch can grow up to 15 inches but are typically in the eight- to nine-inch range. The general statewide limit is 50 fish. Perch are easy to catch throughout the year, but the fall months and ice-fishing season are the best times to target them.
Where to find them: The main yellow perch waters in Utah are Deer Creek Reservoir, Echo Reservoir, Fish Lake, Hyrum Reservoir, Jordanelle Reservoir, Rockport Reservoir, Starvation Reservoir and Yuba Reservoir.
How to catch them: Use jigs or small spinners to catch them.
Bluegill are Utah’s most common panfish, and May, June and October are the best months to target them. They can reach 12 inches but generally range from eight to nine inches. The general statewide limit for bluegill is 50 fish.
Where to find them: Bluegill live in many waters, but the most notable are Huntington North Reservoir, Lake Powell, Mantua Reservoir, Pelican Lake, Red Fleet Reservoir, Sand Hollow Reservoir, Steinaker Reservoir and Utah Lake.
How to catch them: They are easy to catch with very basic tackle. Small jigs or a nightcrawler under a bobber work really well.
In spring, crappie school in large numbers — if you find one crappie, you’ll find many more nearby. May and June are the best months to catch them. These fish have a very mild flavor, even when compared to other panfish. Crappie can grow as large as 15 inches, but they are usually nine to 12 inches long. The general statewide limit is 50 fish.
Where to find them: You’ll find crappie in DMAD Reservoir, Gunnison Bend Reservoir, Lake Powell, Newton Reservoir, Pineview Reservoir, Utah Lake and Willard Bay Reservoir.
How to catch them: Try using jigs or small spinners to catch crappie.
White bass can grow to 15 inches, but most are in the eight- to 10-inch range. There is no limit for white bass in Utah, and the best months to catch them are May and June.
Where to find them: White bass are common in Utah Lake, which has a huge population. You’ll also find them in DMAD Reservoir and Gunnison Bend Reservoir. In May and June, the bass congregate in schools at the mouths of the rivers and streams that flow into the lakes where they live.
How to catch them: Small jigs and spinners are very effective for white bass.
New to fishing?
If you’re new to fishing in Utah, please take a minute to familiarize yourself with the latest Utah Fishing Guidebook. Those over 12 years old must have a valid fishing license. You can purchase one online, at a retail sales outlet or your local DWR office. You can also download the Utah Hunting and Fishing mobile app for free, and store your license there.
Favorite crappie recipe