This beautiful lake lies in a unique location within an interesting geologic formation. It is fed by snowmelt and ground water through numerous springs and lava tubes. Covering over 600 acres when full at an elevation of over 9,000 feet, it drains into both the Sevier River drainage (via Duck Creek) and the Virgin River Drainage (via Cascade Falls). The lake drains through numerous lava tubes in the lake basin.
In an effort to maintain a more consistent water level, a dike was constructed in the east end of the lake to isolate the major portion of the lake from some of the major lava-tube drains on the east side. On good water years, the area of the lake nearly doubles in size in the spring and the dike can be five feet or more under water. Maximun depth of the lake when it is up to the level of the dike is about 15 feet.
The shallow nature of the lake presents some challenges for managing a sport fishery. With its large littoral area producing a significant amount of vegetation and the long period of ice cover at this elevation, winter conditions are often marginal for trout. During the long winter, vegetation decomposes under the ice, using up oxygen and producing toxic gases.
In the past, trout survival has typically been poor over the winter. Spring-stocked rainbow trout grow to over 14 inches in the fall and, during good water years, can reach 16 to 18 inches the next summer, if they survive the winter. Fingerling brook trout are stocked later in the summer and usually better-survive the winter than rainbows.
The latest addition to Navajo Lake is the splake, a cross between brook trout and lake trout. These sterile fish are aggressive predators that help keep the Utah chub population in check. Splake have shown the best observed winter survival rates at Navajo Lake. For example, in winter 2007-2008, while the entire rainbow trout population was lost because of the low water levels, the number of splake actually increased. In 2008, anglers caught splake up to 19 inches and, with the abundance of chubs, you can expect to continue seeing the quality-sized splake.
Navajo Lake's shallow nature means that anglers can catch splake year-round. Splake head to deep water during warm summer months, so you can usually only catch splake from October until April or May. Anglers have the unique opportunity to catch splake on a fly rod during the summer at Navajo Lake. Try stripping wooly buggers over holes in the weeds, or using flashy lures like Kastmasters and Jake's. During heavy feeding times in early spring and late fall, or through the ice in the wintertime, jigs tipped with pieces of chub or sucker meat are very effective.
The lake is generally inaccessible during the winter except by snowmobile. Fishing can be good from shore from ice-out to when the lake freezes again in early December. Trolling spinners or popgear and a worm will work for boat anglers. During the late summer or fall there can be some good flyfishing in the west end. Boat launching can be difficult on low water years.
- Location: Kane County, east of Cedar City
- Directions: Approximately 24 miles east of Cedar City via SR-14
- Type: Fishing
- Size: 618 acres
- Elevation: 9,250 feet
- Hours: No restrictions
- Likely catch: Rainbow Trout, Splake
- Possible catch: Tiger Trout
- Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
- Site amenities: Three USFS campgrounds. One private lodge with cabins & boat rentals. Launch area for small boats
- Handicap access: None