6 great spots for Utah fishing this spring
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Angler kneeling in the water at Minersville Reservoir, holding a caught cutthroat trout

6 great spots for Utah fishing this spring

Check out these scenic waters for your next angling adventure, along with helpful tips to catch more fish when you get there!

Trina Hedrick
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Sportfish Coordinator

Spring is the perfect time to organize your fishing gear, refill your tackle and fly boxes, and plan for a fun excursion on Utah's scenic waters. Fishing really amps up with the melting ice, but visitor usage usually doesn't pick up until Memorial Day weekend. So if you enjoy the opportunity to catch fish and need to get away from the ratrace, Utah definitely has fishing opportunities for you.

Physical map of all major reservoirs in Utah, with each reservoir showing its name and fill level as of March 12, 2024

Courtesy Utah Division of Water Resources. See water.utah.gov/reservoirlevels/ for current conditions.

Conditions are looking good statewide!

As of March 2024, most of Utah's reservoirs are around 80% capacity, which provides plenty of terrific fish habitat and lots of space to capture spring runoff. After the previous year's winter of record-breaking snowfall, it's great to see high water levels sustained at reservoirs and lakes statewide following years of ongoing drought. These robust conditions ensure lots of surface area for anglers to spread out, whether fishing from shore or casting from a boat.

Physical map of all major reservoirs in Utah, with each reservoir showing its name and fill level as of March 12, 2024

Courtesy Utah Division of Water Resources. See water.utah.gov/reservoirlevels/ for current conditions.

An added bonus of the past two wet winters has been improved fish habitat, and we expect to see continued strong growth of many fish species this season. Anglers will likely see plenty of trout this year, and more yellow perch, crappie, bluegill and bass in the next 1–3 years. Also, regardless of species, the fish that anglers catch this season should be healthier than in recent years.

6 spots to check out this spring and summer

Whether you're planning a waders-and-fleece high-elevation adventure in northern Utah or some sandals-and-shorts sunny days down south, we've got you covered.

Remember: Anglers 12 and older must have a valid Utah fishing or combination (fishing and hunting) license. Before you head out to your destination, check the current Utah Fishing Guidebook for regulations and harvest limits.

Bear Lake

Fishing at Bear Lake — a Blue Ribbon fishery straddling Utah's northern border with Idaho — typically picks up in early spring. In mid-March, cutthroat trout are getting ready for their spawning run and coming closer to shore, and this behavior continues into the late spring and early summer months. During this time, anglers have great success trolling, jigging and fishing from shore. Fly fishing near the mouths of tributaries — North Eden, Swan Creek, Big Spring Creek, St. Charles and Fish Haven — can be especially fun with artificial flies and lures.

Two individuals fishing at the edge of Bear Lake in the late winter or early spring

Keep in mind that Bear Lake tributaries close to fishing April 15 through mid-July for the cutthroat spawn. If you have a valid Utah or Idaho fishing or combination license — whether you are a resident or nonresident — you may fish both the Utah and Idaho portions of the lake, as long as you follow the angling regulations that apply to the state where you are fishing.

Planning an extended fishing trip to northern Utah? See more suggestions for great fishing and travel here.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Another famed Blue Ribbon fishery, Flaming Gorge Reservoir is a large waterbody located on Utah's northern border with Wyoming. After the ice comes off at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, coldwater fish — particularly rainbow, cutthroat and lake trout — become more active and move shallow to feed. Rainbow and cutthroat trout typically concentrate on shallow main lake points and in the backs of bays. Boat and shore anglers will have good results targeting areas where a perennial stream enters the lake. Lake trout can be found along shore, but also suspended over deep water, where they're susceptible to shallow trolling techniques. All three species can be caught while casting tube and hair jigs, or trolling with spoons and crankbaits.

A boat with a fishing pole cast over the water at Flaming Gorge

Note: The limit for lake trout is 12 at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, with one allowed over 28 inches. Our biologists are encouraging anglers to harvest all 12 lake trout per angler due to an increasing population competing with other sportfish species — and as a bonus, they make for excellent table fare! Learn more about license requirements and rules for fishing Utah and Wyoming waters at Flaming Gorge in the current Utah Fishing Guidebook.

Strawberry Reservoir

Fishing for kokanee salmon at Strawberry Reservoir picks up right after ice-off, which is generally mid-April to mid-May, depending on the weather. Boat anglers using fish finders should look for congregations of fish on the graph in shallower waters (no deeper than 40 feet). Remember that kokanee are zooplankton feeders, so you're just trying to get their attention with your gear: trolling with flashers and brightly colored lures like squid can be effective. Color preference may vary day to day, so bring a variety of options and see which ones work best.

Early in the season, casting to the retreating ice sheet and retrieving through the open water around the shore can be highly effective for rainbow trout and cutthroat trout, though the window of opportunity for this is limited. As the ice retreats further, food production expands beyond shoreline habitats, and fish disperse throughout the reservoir following bug hatches and blooming zooplankton.

As the weather warms, trolling with lures and minnow imitations can be effective for cutthroat, and shore fishing for rainbows using dough baits or worms can also be productive.

Keep in mind that many Strawberry tributaries have bait restrictions and/or catch-and-release-only regulations, and most close to fishing April 15 through mid-July for the cutthroat spawn. See the Utah Fishing Guidebook for details.

Check out more waterbodies and travel tips in central Utah here.

Recapture Reservoir and Blanding Reservoir No. 4
Clear water at Recapture Reservoir under a partly cloudy sky

Recapture Reservoir

In southeastern Utah, you get double the bang for your buck by visiting both Recapture Reservoir and nearby Blanding Reservoir No. 4. Ice is usually off Recapture Reservoir in mid-March, and as the water warms up you'll find northern pike actively feeding until they spawn in early April and the bite slows to a halt for a couple of weeks. Post-spawn fishing can be good using lures that mimic small fish.

Clear water at Recapture Reservoir under a partly cloudy sky

Recapture Reservoir

Between the two reservoirs, anglers can expect to catch northern pike, bullhead catfish, bluegill, largemouth bass, rainbow trout and tiger trout, with success varying by reservoir and time of year. (Check the Fish Utah interactive website for up-to-date information about Recapture and Blanding No. 4 reservoirs, and tips for catching fish at each.)

Clear water and rocky shore at Blanding Reservoir No. 4, under a clear sky

Blanding Reservoir No. 4

If you're one of the thousands of visitors to the area's national and state parks — or visiting the area for jeeping, mountain biking or hiking in the region's beautiful landscape — consider extending your stay for a few additional days so you can enjoy the unique fishing opportunities at these two reservoirs.

We have plenty of tips for great fishing and other outdoor activities in southeastern Utah here.

Boating Utah's waters

Visit the STD of the Sea website to review Utah's aquatic invasive species regulations and requirements for resident and nonresident boaters. For example, all boaters must complete the current-year Mussel-aware Boater course, and motorized vessels must have a valid AIS decal from the DWR. Thanks for doing your part to help stop the spread of quagga and zebra mussels in our waters!

Lake Powell

Access is looking good at Lake Powell this year! Auxiliary ramps have opened up to provide boater access at Stateline Aux, Bullfrog North, Antelope Point Business Ramp, Wahweap Main and Bullfrog Spur (boats less than 25 feet, only), though it's likely that the Castle Rock Cut will not be accessible. The Bureau of Reclamation expects the water to come up again this spring, and boaters can check the latest updates from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to confirm availability throughout the season.

Several small boats fishing near the shore at Lake Powell under a clear sky

Anglers looking to cook up their catch are in luck: Striped bass are abundant and very healthy right now, as their main forage (shad) had a great production year in 2023. We encourage striper harvest now while they are in good condition, which will help prolong forage availability and reduce competition with other sportfish in the reservoir.

In addition, higher water levels this year mean more structure, which is great for targeting species like largemouth bass and crappie. Head into the backs of bays and look for submerged brush, trees and even overhanging ledges.

Large striped bass in a fishing net, caught from a boat at Lake Powell

Striped bass caught at Lake Powell

Angler success at this Blue Ribbon fishery can vary widely depending on the season, weather conditions and location in the reservoir; we recommend checking the Fish Utah site or Wayne's Words for the best locations and fishing tips at the time of your trip.

More great fishing and travel suggestions for southern Utah are available here.

Learn more

Trina Hedrick

Trina Hedrick

Trina Hedrick is the sportfish coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Based in Vernal, she enjoys mountain biking, fishing and skiing.

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