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Brad Kerr

Tips for fishing small trout reservoirs in Utah

By Brad Kerr, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted May 18th, 2017 @ 11:29am


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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Small reservoirs are attractive to many northern Utah anglers. Fishing can be successful from the shore, a float tube, pontoon, kayak or boat, and many different tactics will work from any of these platforms.

The smaller reservoirs with good current fishing conditions are East Canyon (especially good right now), Lost Creek, Causey and Rockport, just to name a few. Access is generally good from multiple locations around the lakes, and a little time and creativity can put fish on your line.

The proper choices in bait and lures will help you be successful. And involving the kids in such experiences can be a good way to hook them to the sport of fishing.

Here are some tips to help you have success fishing for trout in small reservoirs.

Trout tactics for using bait

If you like to use PowerBait or a nightcrawler and marshmallow, for example, then you’re set for numerous approaches. Some tubers and kayakers like to drift with these baits. Shore anglers can easily cast the baits with a water-filled bubble or slip-sinker just about as far and deep as they desire.

Placing a swivel about 12 to 18 inches above the hook and putting the weight/bubble above the swivel will allow the bait to float off the bottom using this rig. The bubbles and egg sinkers will allow the line to pull free without undue weight that could possibly stop a fish from taking your bait. Even boaters will occasionally anchor up and do some still fishing for their dinner.

While a single hook works well for the crawler/marshmallow combo, a small treble hook is good for PowerBait. This gives the doughy bait something to cling to better than a single hook will. However, fishing with these baits often results in the trout swallowing the bait with the hook deeply embedded in their gullet. Most, if not all, of these fish will need to be kept as a part of your limit. However, cutting the line and leaving the hook is one way to release the fish without immediately killing it. The hook will deteriorate on its own in a short time.

Photo credit: Brad Kerr

Be sure to check the Utah Fishing Guidebook for size and species restrictions at certain waters. This may cause you to adjust or abandon your planned fishing strategy.

Using lures: An alternative to bait fishing

For more skilled anglers, using lures is a more exciting option to bait fishing. Spinners, spoons and flies can be just as successful and will give you the feeling of the hit when a fish strikes. Most spinners and spoons are heavy enough to cast just as they are. Consider using a swivel 3 to 4 inches above the lure to help avoid line twist.

One good tactic is using a bubble to cast long distances with a small flatfish or a fly, such as a woolly bugger or streamer pattern. Use a countdown method with a water-filled bubble to search for proper depth. The fish will tell you where they are when you experiment with this technique.

On a kayak or boat, trolling is often the chosen strategy for trout. Boaters, especially, will seek out fish with a variety of lures— spinners, spoons and the old pop gear and a worm will all do the trick. Again, proper depth is important. Many anglers use lead-core line to get their lures down; others will utilize downriggers.

One good method to try is a single-hook needlefish tipped with a piece of a worm. This lightweight spoon has the ability to catch fish as is, but a worm can sweeten the deal and often produces good strikes. The advantage here is, if you get a strike that may have pulled away the worm, the needlefish is still doing its thing to attract hungry trout.

Generally, these lures will hook fish in the mouth, as they strike the moving target without a real chance to swallow the lure. These fish are much easier to release safely.

Casting from kayaks or boats as you drift along will give you the opportunity to really let your lure sink through the water column before beginning your retrieve. This is a tactic to use when you don’t have the luxury of a fish finder to tell you where the schools of fish are lurking.

Specific types of lures to use for trout

For spinners, try choices like Rooster-Tails, Blue Fox, Panther-Martins, Mepps and other similar lures. These lures have enough weight to get down a bit when trolled slowly. Likewise, Crocodiles, Johnson Silver Minnows, Jake’s and Kastmaster spoons are heavy and will sink at a good rate. Experiment with color choices for the best success. You’ll soon find a color that will out fish other colors.

Flatfish are good minnow/baitfish imitations, along with Rapalas and Rebel lures. Color choices will increase your success rate. Any lure that is a sinking lure will help you get down into the strike zone for trout. A floating lure will dive as you move, but not get as deep as a sinking model will.

Jig fishing with either grubs or tubes can be excellent for slow drifting and casting. Using a slight pumping action, in either case, will create life-like movement and attract trout.

Involving the kids in fishing

Kids especially thrive with this type of fishing, as they don’t necessarily have to worry about casting and retrieving lures, which is when tangles and frustration are frequent.

You’ll want the young ones to have a fun, positive experience. Allowing them to bring in the fish will teach them proper techniques, such as letting the fish pull drag if big enough, keeping their rod tip up and reeling in the fish without trying to overpower them with too quick of a retrieve.

However, don’t overstay an outing with the kids; keep them hungry for more and head home before they become bored or too tired to be having a good time.

Conclusion

Regardless of your choice of angling methods, these tactics will work for you throughout the spring and summer months when fishing for trout. Certain times of the day may become critical as summer heats up, but taking a day to fish a reservoir can be rewarding and a lot of fun.

What other tips do you have for fishing for trout in smaller reservoirs? Let us know in the comments.

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