5 big lakes that offer great spring fishing
A few great reasons to get excited about this season's fishing.
SALT LAKE CITY — If you are getting excited to take your fishing boat out for the first time this season, these five Utah lakes and reservoirs are a good place to start.
These larger waterbodies will give you plenty of opportunities to troll for a variety of fish species, and you will find ample space — with little to no crowding — if you are fishing from shore.
While these lakes and reservoirs are ideal for boat fishing, April is actually a great time to fish from the shore because many fish species are spawning and searching for food after the ice melts. Flaming Gorge and Otter Creek, in particular, are excellent for targeting rainbow trout from the shore right now.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Flaming Gorge is a popular fishing area, due to its large trophy-sized lake trout and excellent kokanee salmon fishing. Several agencies are hosting a fishing tournament targeting small lake trout at the end of April, so it's a good month to visit and join in the action.
While lake trout and kokanee salmon get a lot of the attention, Flaming Gorge is also a great place to fish for rainbow trout. Anglers can catch a lot of fish quickly, so get excited for fast action. Because of that, now would be a good time to introduce a new angler to the sport.
Anglers should note that the reservoir is still covered with ice down to the dam, with patches of open water near Dutch John Draw and the stateline, according to the latest fishing report. All the launch ramps are currently inaccessible due to ice.
- Location: About 1 hour 30 minutes from Vernal, Uintah County
- Size: Almost 66 square miles
Lake Powell is the second-largest body of water in Utah (after the Great Salt Lake) and offers a unique fishing experience. Because it's in the southern part of the state, it gets warm sooner and spring arrives earlier, making it one of the first waters to get really hot fishing.
"Lake Powell has a diverse warmwater fish community, and temperatures in April and early May should hit points where the fishing is really good," said Randy Oplinger, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources sport fisheries program coordinator. "Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and crappie will begin spawning, and the spawn can be a great time to catch these species."
- Location: About an hour from Kanab, Kane County
- Size: 254 square miles
Otter Creek Reservoir
Located between Fishlake National Forest and Capitol Reef National Park, Otter Creek Reservoir is a hidden gem for fishing. While it is the smallest on this list of lakes, it is known for having football-sized rainbow trout that offer hot fishing in April.
Biologists recently finished surveying the reservoir's fish populations and found healthy rainbow trout that generally ranged from 2 to 4 pounds — with the largest coming in at 6 pounds. The biologists also netted some wipers that weighed up to 8 pounds, according to the latest fishing report. One angler reported that the rainbow trout are close to the shore currently and recommended fishing in the early-morning hours.
Otter Creek is also a state park and offers other amenities, including a boat ramp, tent and RV camping, a day-use area, restrooms, showers and a fish-cleaning station (for all those rainbow trout you catch).
- Location: About an hour from Richfield
- Size: About 4 square miles
Utah Lake is the third-largest waterbody in the state, but you don't need a boat or expensive gear to have success at this fishery, Oplinger said. Anglers of all ages and skill levels can be successful using a variety of techniques. The lake offers channel catfish, walleye, white bass, black bass and several different species of panfish. Along with fishing, it is a great place for power boating, sailing, canoeing or kayaking and also provides camping and day-use facilities.
According to recent fishing reports, the ice is melted and boaters can launch from all marinas.
- Location: Provo, Orem, Lindon, American Fork, Saratoga Springs
- Size: 148 square miles
This Blue Ribbon fishery is the fourth-largest lake in Utah and is a great place to catch good-sized cutthroat trout, some of which reach trophy size. The lake currently has open water, but there are still a few chunks of floating ice, so boaters should be cautious, according to the most recent fishing report.
"Bear Lake is unique because it's the only body of water in the world that has Bear Lake whitefish, Bonneville whitefish, Bonneville cisco and Bear Lake sculpin," Oplinger said. "The two whitefish species are caught readily by anglers. The cisco is mainly caught by anglers using nets when it spawns in late January through early February, and the sculpin isn't caught very frequently by anglers, but is an important prey fish that feeds other fish in the lake."
- Location: About an hour from Logan
- Size: 109 square miles