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5 reasons Utah has the most underrated fly fishing in the West

By Spencer Durrant, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Apr 6th, 2018 @ 1:41pm



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ON THE RIVER — Utah is the second-driest state in the country, which is probably why it's not at the top of the must-visit list for most anglers. What Utah lacks in its amount of water, though, it makes up for in quality and variety of fish.

Utah offers a unique fly fishing experience, where you could realistically catch a tiger muskie, splake, cutthroat, brown and rainbow trout in a single day of fishing. And that's not taking into account the variety of bass and other warm-water fish available in the state.

Whether you're looking to start fly fishing and need ideas on where to go or you're a veteran angler in search of new adventure, Utah has something for everyone.

Variety

Utah boasts 28 different sport fish species, ranging from green sunfish and wiper to northern pike and catfish. While catfish are a bit of a challenge to catch on a fly rod, all other species make for great sport fish targets.

Thanks to a consistent stocking schedule from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, many lakes and reservoirs around the state have multiple species in them. This offers anglers the opportunity to catch many different fish from the same body of water.

Carp fishing

Some fly anglers don't think carp count as a sport fish, and they're listed as a "nonnative nongame fish" in the 2018 Utah Fishing Guidebook. Despite that, it's become popular enough for fishing industry leaders like Orvis and In The Riffle to produce tons of content on the subject.

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Utah Lake is a popular carp fishing destination, though parts of Flaming Gorge Reservoir can be great for it as well.

Unspoiled wilderness

Colorado and Idaho may boast more water than Utah, but the Beehive State's preeminent high country is hard to beat. The Uinta Mountains house over a thousand natural lakes, and who knows how many streams and rivers. About half of those lakes are said to hold fish.

What's really unique, though, is how close these lakes are to each other. You can hop from lake to lake, searching for fast fishing for pan-sized brook trout or an elusive high-country trophy trout.

World-class fisheries

The Green River, below Flaming Gorge Dam, consistently ranks at or near the top of many "Best Trout Rivers in America" lists. Strawberry Reservoir has a regional reputation for its cutthroat and kokanee salmon fishing. Every so often a giant rainbow trout shows up as well.

In addition, places like the Orvis-endorsed Falcon's Ledge Fishing Lodge in eastern Utah draws visitors from across the country, as does Lake Powell.

Big brook trout

Back in 1971, the state record brook trout of 7 pounds, 8 ounces was caught. The current accepted world record is a 14-pound, 8-ounce monster caught in 1915 by one of the first scientific expeditions into the Labrador area of Canada.

Since that time, anglers have searched high and low for another monster. One might have been caught in 2007, but these days, a good brook trout is in the 6- to 8-pound range, and the places where massive fish like that are found is almost exclusively in Canada.

The opportunity for the biggest brook trout in the lower 48 states likely lies in Utah, where the state's shrimp-filled lakes allow for long periods of growth. And who knows? The state record brook trout may be broken soon.

What's your favorite part about fly fishing in Utah? Let us know in the comments.


Spencer Durrant

About the Author: Spencer Durrant

Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoors columnist, and novelist from Utah. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, TROUT Magazine, Hatch Magazine, and other national publications. He's also the Managing Editor of The Modern Trout Bum. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.

Spencer Durrant

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