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4 great spots to fish during runoff season

4 great spots to fish during runoff season

(Spencer Durrant)

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Spring is a great season, especially for fly fishermen. Some of the best bug hatches of the season happen during this time, and the fish are finally waking up after a long winter.

There's just one problem — with the warmer weather comes high, muddy rivers that result from the melting snow. This is what anglers refer to as "runoff season."

So what's an angler to do?

Head to these four great spots for fishing when runoff hits your favorite creeks and streams.

Tributaries to major rivers

Most rivers, like the Logan River, are currently high, off-color, and a giant pain to fish. However, the tributaries to these major rivers are often clear, cold, and uncrowded. I found one such tributary in northern Utah that yielded some beautiful cutthroat trout from crystal-clear water.

The fish aren't huge, but there's something incredibly peaceful about fishing crystal clear water and not seeing another angler for the entire day.

Spring creeks

Spring creeks do get hit by runoff, but they tend to get hit by it earlier than major rivers like the Blacksmith Fork, Logan, Weber or the Upper Provo.

These creeks are found in abundance within a few minutes of the Wasatch Front. You just have to do a little research for your area and do a bit of exploring to find a spring creek running clear. With this year's snowpack, most spring creeks I've fished have been higher than usual, but the water is still clear enough to produce a successful day of fishing.


Tailwaters, waters located immediately downstream from a hydraulic structure, such as a dam, are good year-round, but they're a saving grace during runoff season. The Lower and Middle Provo, parts of the Weber, the Green, Lower Fish Creek, the Strawberry, the East Fork of the Little Bear River, and the Ogden River are all great options for tailwater fishing when other rivers are high and muddy.

The best part about fishing tailwaters during runoff season is getting into the amazing dry fly hatches. Some monstrous fish come from the river's depths to the surface to feed on a thick blue-winged olive or caddis hatch this time of year.

Small lakes/ponds

The snowpack in Utah this year is pretty solid, and the continuous rain the Beehive State's had has made accessing high country lakes a bit difficult. However, up to around 8,000 feet, most small lakes and ponds are open water — provided you have the ambition to hike through snow to get to them.

Small lakes and ponds are great fishing this time of year because they present ice-off fishing conditions. The ice has just come off most lakes in the past few weeks, and the trout are in close to shore and very hungry. They'll eat most anything you throw at them, and some of the biggest fish you'll catch during any given year come in the middle of this ice-off season when the rivers are too muddy to fish.

Finding good water to fish when your favorite local stream — like Hobble Creek, Diamond Fork, the Logan or the Blacksmith Fork — is muddy takes a bit of time, but doing so is worth it.

Where's your favorite local place to fish during runoff season? Let us know in the comments.

![Spencer Durrant](\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Spencer Durrant \---------------------------------

Spencer is a fly fishing writer based in Utah. A member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, he's a columnist for the Standard-Examiner,, Fishwest, and Trout Life. Find him on Twitter at @Spencer_Durrant. or Instagram.


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