Ray Grass

Experts, anglers say fishing conditions are prime at Strawberry Reservoir

By Ray Grass, ksl.com contributor | Posted - Nov 5th, 2013 @ 10:58am


6 photos

STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR — The fish are currently biting at Strawberry Reservoir — flies, lures, baits, and pretty much anything passing by.

It’s that time of year. Winter’s approaching, the fish are hungry and their feeding opportunities are limited. Fish need to eat before winter really sets in so they are going after anything resembling food which could be flies, lures and baits.

Currently, the popular flies and lures come in colors of white, black and red, and tube jigs in sand and white. Other popular lures being used during this time of year are rainbow Rapalas and Flatfish trolled at slow speeds.

I tried a variety of different baits in the water this week. First, I tried a black Woolly Bugger tied to a sinking fly line trolled 30 yards behind the boat. But aside from a few nibbles, the fish showed little interest.

Next, I tried a bright red Woolly Bugger tied to a sinking line trolled about the same distance behind the boat at the same speed. In less than an hour, I had caught and released eight rainbow trout, most of which were in the two-year age class, 17- to 18-inches — fat and feisty.

The project leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Alan Ward, said that was different information than he had heard from other anglers.

“Most of the reports I’m getting are that they’re catching mostly cutthroats, hand over fist," Ward said. "Two weeks ago, one report showed that a couple of men caught 80 to 100 fish, and most were cutthroats."

Matt Wray of Park City said he had primarily caught cutthroat fish as well when he was fishing in the same bay a week earlier.

“Two of us caught 30 fish in a couple of hours," Wray said. "A couple of the [cutthroats] were close to 21 inches. They were all nice fish.’’

Ward sais he’s received several reports of boaters catching and releasing 40 to 50 fish in a single day.

That’s typical for fishing in the late fall. Fishermen give up on rods and reels and begin winterizing boats, RVs and snowblowers, but fish step up their feeding pattern. A number of fishermen, Wray included, agree that fishing Strawberry in recent weeks has been some of the best they can remember.

Ward said most of the larger fish currently in Strawberry Reservoir are cutthroat.

“There are fewer of the larger rainbow in Strawberry," Ward said. "Most are in the 2-year class and this year’s class. People have a tendency to take the larger rainbow because they can.’’

Strawberry regulations allow the taking of four fish per day, which would include trout and kokanee. All cutthroat between 15 and 22 inches must be released. Anglers can keep two cutthroat if they’re under 15 inches and can keep only one over 22 inches.

Gillnet surveys taken the week of Oct. 14 support Ward’s assessment.


Strawberry regulations allow the taking of four fish per day, which would include trout and kokanee. All cutthroat between 15 and 22 inches must be released. Anglers can keep two cutthroat if they’re under 15 inches and can keep only one over 22 inches.

“The survey showed improvements in the number of cutthroat," Ward said. "Overall, cutthroat numbers were up and the biggest number of those were 2-year-olds . . . 16 inches and larger. That year's class survived much better than we anticipated. We’re very pleased.

“We saw a big increase in the 2-year-old chubs, about 30 percent. That’s because there were fewer large predators (the large Bear Lake cutthroat) in that age class. The result is we saw more chubs in that age class than we’ve seen in a while.’’

The fact that the cutthroat numbers are up bodes well for future years when they are large enough to feed on the chubs.

This week the DWR will complete its 2013 planting program at Strawberry when it releases the final load of 8-inch rainbow trout. In total, 400,000 of the 8-inch rainbow were planted in Strawberry in 2013, along with 600,000 8-inch cutthroat and 400,000 kokanee.

Ward also noted that the annual kokanee run in 2013 was good and roughly 1.8 million eggs were taken. Those eggs will be raised and the fish planted in Strawberry, Flaming Gorge and Electric Lake.

Good fishing is expected to continue at least until ice begins to form around the edges of the reservoir, which could still be several weeks away. So plan a day to take your pole and boat for some end-of-the-year fishing.

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