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Angler in a kayak holding a group of channel catfish caught at Utah Lake

Where to go fishing this spring for family-friendly opportunities or to catch large fish

Salt Lake City — Memorial Day weekend is coming up, and many Utahns may be making plans for a long weekend adventure. If you want a fun outdoor option for your holiday activities, there are several potential destinations. Utah offers lots of different fishing opportunities and experiences for those who want to fish with their families or those who want to target large fish — and conditions are particularly good around Memorial Day.

Family-friendly fishing options

Angler in a kayak holding a group of channel catfish caught at Utah Lake

If you want somewhere to take your kids fishing, targeting waterbodies with good rainbow trout populations is recommended since they are an easier fish to catch. The following waterbodies were all recently stocked by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources with rainbow trout and will be good places to fish throughout this month:

  • Panguitch Lake (Garfield County)
  • Scofield Reservoir (Carbon County)
  • Strawberry Reservoir (Wasatch County)
  • Big Sand Wash Reservoir (Duchesne County)
  • Community ponds (located across Utah)

Rainbow trout can be caught with a wide variety of baits and lures and are easy to catch from shore, making them a good option for anyone without a boat. Since some of these waterbodies were recently stocked with rainbow trout, the fish won't be very large, but there is the potential to catch a lot of them. You can have good success fishing for rainbow trout at any of the listed locations using PowerBait about 18–24 inches below a bobber.

Another good option for family-friendly fishing is to visit waterbodies with bluegill. Here are some good options for catching bluegill this spring:

  • Mantua Reservoir (Box Elder County)
  • Pelican Lake (Uintah County)
  • Steinaker Reservoir (Uintah County)
  • Utah Lake (Utah County)
  • Some community ponds (check the DWR website to see which ponds have bluegill)

"Bluegill tend to be on the smaller size, but are also an easy fish to catch," DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. "During the warmer months, they tend to move closer to shore and you can often see them take your bait, which can be fun."

Similar to rainbow trout, you can have success fishing for bluegill using PowerBait, but make sure to use a small hook since bluegill have little mouths. Using small flies about 18–24 inches below a bobber is another good way to catch bluegill. To have success, slowly reel in the fly to trigger the bluegill to bite.

Where to catch trophy fish

If you want to try catching a larger fish, some good options are Flaming Gorge (targeting lake trout) and Bear Lake (targeting cutthroat trout). Flaming Gorge holds the current state records for lake trout. Some lake trout in Flaming Gorge reach sizes of more than 50 pounds and over 3 feet long. It can be difficult to catch these large fish, so be sure to have patience.

"Cutthroat trout numbers at Bear Lake are currently among the highest that we've ever recorded, so there are a lot of them available to catch," Oplinger said. "You can likely have success at both Flaming Gorge and Bear Lake by trolling crankbaits."

The DWR works to manage diverse fisheries at various waterbodies, ensuring there are multiple species that offer different types of fishing opportunities. Flaming Gorge is just one example of this type of management.

"As an example, we stock Flaming Gorge with rainbow trout so that families and shore anglers can have good fishing experiences," Oplinger said. "We also stock kokanee salmon for boat anglers who like to catch a lot of fish, and we manage the fishery for healthy lake trout populations so anglers can also have a trophy-fishing experience. We know that anglers enjoy having diverse options in case they aren't having luck fishing for a certain species — then they can switch tactics and target a different species that is biting. Having multiple species and different types of fishing also helps alleviate crowding at a waterbody. We implement this same strategy for the majority of the fisheries across Utah."

Visit the Fish Utah map on the DWR website to find more information about the different fishing locations across the state.

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