East Fork Sevier River, Black Canyon

Image of East Fork Sevier River, Black Canyon

This stream was an exceptional sport fishery in the 1970s and before, but not well known. In 1983, an exceptionally high spring runoff caused most of the stream channel to blow-out, removing almost all riparian vegetation, destroying most trout habitat, and leaving behind a continuous shallow riffle in multiple braided gravel channels. It would have taken years for this stream to naturally heal and restore itself as a good trout fishery.

In order to gain public support to restore the area, this exceptional stream could no longer be kept secret. In 1987, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources initiated a plan to procure public access on this section of river and conduct habitat improvement work. By 1992, several key stream reaches had been acquired through purchases and easements. Combined with BLM and School Trust lands, this opened more than 10 miles of stream to allow public access. Stream improvements and fish habitat work continued through 2006 on Division Wildlife Management Areas, including work on BLM and private lands. Funding for the work has come from the Division Habitat and Blue Ribbon Councils, the BLM and from EPA grants. Garfield County also provided assistance and facilitated much of the work.

Improvement work included fencing to control livestock grazing, rebuilding stream meanders, reshaping stream banks to create flood plains, installation of rocks and logs to keep stream banks from eroding and provide fish habitat, and re-vegetation of stream banks. Much of the stream has been restored to excellent trout habitat. Flooding in 2004 was probably more extreme than the 1983 flood, with high water lasting for over three months, but damage to the stream was relatively minor. Restored areas where riparian vegetation had re-established were left essentially undamaged.

The stream is primarily a brown trout fishery but some sections have decent numbers of cutthroat and rainbow trout. Fish sizes are typically 10 to 17 inches, but some larger fish are occasionally produced. The fishery can change from year to year depending on water conditions, flooding, drought, and upstream water releases from Tropic Reservoir. The water can turn muddy at any time of year depending on recent rain storms and upstream releases but, on the positive side, fishing also can be good at any time of year. Because of the high water table and numerous springs, this section of stream never freezes.

Special fishing rules�the required use of artificial flies and lures only and a two-trout limit�apply in the main portion of Black Canyon upstream from the BLM boundary to Deer Creek. General state-wide rules, including those that allow bait and the four-trout limit, apply upstream from the confluence of Deer Creek. The upper extent of this stream section ends on the private land in John's Valley where the stream flows become intermittent from irrigation use and water storage in Tropic Reservoir. Most sections of private land are posted closed to trespass, so please watch for the signs.

Some other nearby fisheries include Otter Creek Reservoir, Pine Lake, Tropic Reservoir, the upper East Fork Sevier River, the East Fork Sevier River in Kingston Canyon, and Antimony Creek.

Latest fishing report

Black Canyon usually remains ice-free in the winter due to spring inflow. Flows are a little murky but not unfishable. The slow-moving runs have less oxygen in winter, so target stretches with fast-moving water in between deep pools. Call the Circle Valley Anglers fly shop at 435-577-2168 for up-to-date conditions and fishing reports. (Last update 02-13-19)


  • Location: Garfield County, south-central Utah
  • Directions: Located ten miles south on SR-22 of Otter Creek Reservoir and 25 miles north of Bryce Canyon
  • Type: Blue Ribbon
  • Size: 20 miles of stream
  • Elevation: 6,440 to 7,200 feet
  • Hours: No restrictions
  • Likely catch: Brown Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout
  • Possible catch:
  • Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
  • Site amenities: Public walk-in access on Division and BLM lands; a State Park campground and restrooms at nearby Otter Creek Reservoir.
  • Handicap access: