Lower Bowns Reservoir

Image of Lower Bowns Reservoir

This reservoir can be viewed as part of the eastern vista from the east side of Boulder Mountain along the highway between Boulder and Torrey. It generally produces excellent fishing for rainbow trout. Fingerling-size rainbow trout are stocked each year and grow to catchable-size after spending one summer in the reservoir. Rainbows range in size up to about 2 pounds. An occasional brook tout or cutthroat trout can be caught after migrating into the reservoir from upstream.

The reservoir itself is constructed off-stream with water diverted into the reservoir basin from Pleasant Creek. Reservoir trout don't often successfully spawn because the inlet canal is usually de-watered for part of the year. A conservation pool of 725 acre-feet was purchased in 1959 by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources which keeps the reservoir from being completely drained and allows trout to survive from year-to-year. Maximum lake depth is 45 ft and mean depth is 15 ft.

The reservoir was treated with rotenone to remove problem nongame fishes in 1956 and 1963. The reservoir has contained nothing but trout since the last treatment.

Fishing can be good from shore, but part of the shoreline is difficult to fish and changes with fluctuating water levels. There is no boat ramp, but small boats can be used if they can be launched from shore. When the lake is drained to the conservation pool it is very difficult to launch a boat, but fishing can still be good from shore. This is also an excellent lake for use of a float tube or pontoon boat. Fishing with prepared baits works well, as does trolling small lures. Fishing with dry flies during summer evenings is often good.

The campground at Lower Bowns was rebuilt in 2007 and now provides several campsites with tables, firepits, and pit toilets. Other developed campgrounds can be found along highway U-12. Besides being surrounding by National Forest lands, Capitol Reef National Park sits to the north and east, the Glen Canyon National recreation area to the east, and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to the south. Other facilities, services, and lodging are available in Boulder and Torrey.

Other nearby fishing includes Pleasant Creek and numerous high elevation Boulder Mountain lakes. Most of these lakes such as Oak Creek Reservoir, Deer Creek Lake, Fish Creek Reservoir, and Blind Lake require walk-in access or 4-wheel drive/ATV access. Signs and Forest Service rules on where motorized vehicles can be used must be observed.

Latest fishing report

There are no recent reports on access or ice. Call the Quiet Fly Fisher fly shop at 435-616-2319 for up-to-date conditions and fishing reports. (Last update 01-03-19)


  • Location: South-central Utah, N of Boulder, S of Torrey
  • Directions: Take gravel Forest Service road FS 181 from U-12. This turn off is 19 miles north of Boulder or 15 miles south from Torrey. The turn off is signed and located 1.5 miles south of the Wildcat Ranger Station.
  • Type: Fishing
  • Size: 125 acres (when full)
  • Elevation: 7,450 feet
  • Hours: No restrictions
  • Likely catch: Rainbow Trout
  • Possible catch: Tiger Trout
  • Regulations: To see what statewide or special regulations apply to this waterbody, please read the current Fishing Guidebook.
  • Site amenities: The reservoir shoreline is entirely Forest Service land; the primitive campground was recently upgraded to a more fully developed facility; there is no boat ramp, but small boats can be launched when the reservoir is full
  • Handicap access: