Johnson Reservoir has historically had a problem with nongame fish. Suckers, chubs and perch migrate downstream from Fish Lake each spring searching for spawning areas. In 1964, 1979, 1986 and 1992, the reservoir was treated with rotenone to remove problem fish and then stocked with rainbow trout. This would improve fishing, but only would last for two or three years.
The Division began to stock tiger muskie in 2000. These potentially large predators prey on problem nongame fish, and provide fishing opportunities — eliminating the need for repeated rotenone treatments. Tiger muskie are not always easy to culture—since 2000, annual stocking has ranged from 100 fish to over 5,000—and sport fishing for tiger muskie has been slow to develop. 2006 surveys, however, found a good number of tiger muskie up to 36 inches long.
In recent years, angling pressure has increased with fair to good success. The best time to fish is after ice-out and through mid-summer, while water levels remain relatively high. Later in the year, the reservoir becomes muddy and the water levels lower. If you want to catch an exceptionally large fish, Johnson Reservoir is a good place to try.
Tiger muskie fisheries in Utah and across the west took a big hit in 2006 when the virus Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, which has the ability to decimate fish populations, was discovered in the Midwest. Utah, along with most western states, decided that importing tiger muskie would endanger our coldwater fisheries, so tiger muskie stocking was discontinued after 2005. (Before 2006, Utah bought tiger muskie fry from private growers in Minnesota.)
The Division has made strides producing its own tiger muskie. Northern pike were collected from Recapture Reservoir and moved to warmwater ponds at the Lee Kay Center, west of Salt Lake City. The true muskellunge—the other fish needed to make tiger muskies—are not found in Utah. The Division, after investigating clean sources, was finally able to secure fingerling fish from three sources in 2009. In addition, a number of tiger muskies were also purchased and stocked in Johnson Reserovoir. The true muskies are being held at Lee Kay, where they are growing fast. Biologists hope that Utah will be able to produce its first batch of home-grown tiger muskies by 2012 or 2013. For now, Utah will continue to secure a limited of number of tiger muskie to maintain our current fisheries.
Other waters nearby include Fish Lake, Sevenmile Creek, UM Creek, Mill Meadow Reservoir, Forsyth Reservoir and the Fremont River.
Latest fishing report
The reservoir is full, and the water should be clearing up any time. Look for tiger muskie to get more active as the water clears and the weeds grow, from now to early June. Call the Quiet Fly Fisher fly shop at 435-616-2319 for up-to-date conditions and fishing reports. (Last update 05-17-18)
- Location: Sevier County
- Directions: Head southeast of Sigurd on SR-24, then turn onto SR-25 and head northeast; the reservoir is about 4 miles northeast of Fish Lake
- Type: Fishing
- Size: 704 acres
- Elevation: 8,819 feet
- Hours: No restrictions
- Likely catch: Yellow Perch, Tiger Muskellunge
- Possible catch: Utah Sucker
- Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
- Site amenities: A paved boat ramp and parking area, and a nearby Forest Service campground
- Handicap access: