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3 great spots for end-of-fall fly fishing

By Spencer Durrant, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Nov 18th, 2016 @ 11:16am


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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — The reluctance of winter to arrive in the Beehive State has prolonged the fall fly fishing season, a time of year looked forward to by anglers across the country.

The cooler temperatures and shorter amounts of daylight spur spawning activity from brown, brook and lake trout, while other trout get ready to gorge on roe and other food before winter sets in and the abundance of aquatic insects dwindles.

Utah had its first snowstorm of the season Thursday, but fall fly fishing is still in full swing in some areas. At the following Utah water bodies, it's just off the hook.

Bear Lake

A tiny window exists during the fall to catch lake trout — normally deep-dwelling fish — when they come into shallow areas to spawn. Bear Lake is one of the most popular areas to catch these huge fish on the fly. You'll need to bring an 8-weight rod and some big flies, like articulated streamers, to entice these trout.

Additionally, the Bonneville whitefish should start spawning soon. While most fly anglers overlook these fish as a nuisance, they're important ecologically and are hard-fighting sport fish.

Huntington Reservoir

Also known as Mammoth Reservoir (due to the mammoth skeleton found during dam excavation in 1988), this is a great destination for anglers searching for hard-fighting tiger trout. The reservoir regularly yields big fish during spring fishing, but it tends to get overlooked in the fall.

After the first cold snap of the year, the big fish begin to bite here. You'll want to use larger streamer patterns for the predatory tiger trout. Size 8-4 white and black zonkers are a traditional success, in addition to olive and white crystal beadhead buggers.

This reservoir is also home to a ton of sow bugs. Tie a size 14-18 dark brown bug on about 18 inches of 5x tippet behind your streamer to pick up fish that don't want to chase your big fly.

Fish Lake

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocked Fish Lake with kokanee salmon a few years ago, and the first year class are old enough to start spawning. You may see some still trying to spawn along the banks and in the many tributaries, but bear in mind, it's illegal to harvest these fish until after Nov. 30.

The fishing is hot right now for rainbow trout. With the cold weather, shore anglers will have an easier time fishing around the weed bed on the west shore. Using flies like larger streamers, or even smaller nymphs (Hare's Ears, Pheasant Tails, Egan's Frenchie, etc.) under an indicator will produce plenty of eager trout.

The lake trout are also going to be active here towards the end of their spawning run, so look for the opportunity to catch those fish as well.

This is one of the most productive — and enjoyable — times of the year to be fishing in Utah. Where are your favorite fall fly fishing spots? Let us know below in the comments.


Spencer Durrant

About the Author: Spencer Durrant

Spencer is an outdoors columnist and novelist from Utah. His debut novel, Learning to Fly, was an Amazon bestseller. Connect with him on Twitter @Spencer_Durrant or on Facebook.

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