Pine Lake

Image of Pine Lake

Water rights and responsibility for operation of the dam as a stabilized fishing lake were acquired by the Utah Division of Wildlife in 1947. The lake has had a long tradition of being a popular and productive fishing spot, but has not gone without some problems. Overcoming inconsistent water supplies and winter kill of trout have long been a management challenge for biologists. Although the lake has a maximum depth of 31 ft and an average depth of 13 ft, about half of the lakes surface area is made up of shallow, weedy bays that contribute to the winter kill problem.

Two water sources feed the lake. Surface flows are diverted from Clay Creek and a subsurface collection system feeds spring water to the lake from near the campground. Clay Creek poses problems by either completely drying up during droughts or occasionally flash flooding. Deposition of large amounts of silt into the lake are now avoided by a diversion design that plugs and stops diverting water to the lake during floods. The system to collect spring water for the lake was constructed in 1978. The amount of water collected was less than expected due to high clay content in the soil and low permeability. Nevertheless, flows from the spring are more consistent than Clay Creek and only decrease during extended periods of drought.

Combined, both water sources generally keep the lake full. When the spring collection system was first constructed , it terminated at the lake�s east shore, dumping water into a shallow bay. During the winter, this provided little benefit to oxygen-starved trout. During the early 1980s, biologists experimentally extended the pipeline several hundred feet out into the lake. Even though the pipeline still terminated in a relatively shallow area, it was found that high numbers of trout congregated around the inflow during the winter.

By 1988, routine inspections of the dam required that it be totally reconstructed. This resulted in complete reservoir drainage, but provided an opportunity to extend the spring water pipeline another several hundred yards across the lake bottom. The new outlet was relocated at the head of the main deep water portion of the lake. After reconstruction of the dam and refilling, winter kill has been infrequent and only a problem during extreme droughts or unusually long periods of ice cover. Even when some winter kill occurs, many trout survive.

A secondary benefit of the spring collection system has been construction of an experimental spawning channel. Rather than run water to the deep portion of the lake throughout the summer, water is diverted into a spawning channel in early spring. Mature rainbow and cutthroat trout migrate into the channel and spawn in May and June. Large numbers of fry have successfully hatched and grown to more than an inch by August and September, but it is still uncertain if these small fish eventually contribute to the sport fishery. By October, most fry have moved into the lake and water is diverted back into the deep portion of the lake to help over-winter trout.

Annual stocking includes catchable-size (10-inch) rainbow trout and 7-inch Bonneville cutthroat trout. Bank bait fishing, casting lures from shore, trolling from small boats, and fly fishing are effective methods for fishing at this outstanding lake.

Other facilities and services are available near the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park, along highway U-12, and in the nearby towns of Tropic and Panguitch. Other local sport fisheries include Tropic Reservoir, Panguitch Lake, the East Fork Sevier River, Otter Creek Reservoir, and small lakes accessible from the southwest side of Boulder Mountain.

Latest fishing report

There haven't been any recent reports on access. Ice fishing is typically good if you can reach the lake. (Last update 02-13-19)


  • Location: South-central Utah, N of Bryce Canyon NP
  • Directions: 12 mi N of Bryce Canyon NP on paved county road (formerly U 22) to signed turnoff, then E 7 mi on graveled Forest road FS-132, or S 25 mi from Otter Creek Res. on county road to signed turnoff
  • Type: Fishing
  • Size: 77 acres
  • Elevation: 8193 ft
  • Hours: No restrictions
  • Likely catch: Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout
  • Possible catch: Brook Trout
  • Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
  • Site amenities: Paved boat ramp suitable for launching small boats. Developed Forest Service campground with 33 camp sites and 2 group sites.
  • Handicap access: