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Utah lakes bloom with fish; Where do experts recommend casting lines this spring?

By Cara MacDonald, | Posted - Apr. 19, 2019 at 12:15 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether you’re looking to boat fish or cast lines from the shore, spring marks a prime time for lake and reservoir fishing.

Lake ice is melting and the weather is warming, meaning that new fish are being born and adult fish are out and about again. Take advantage of April and May to experience fishing for a variety of different species with minimal crowding.

The Division of Wildlife Resources recommended the following lakes to kickstart fishing season:

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Location: Daggett County, 45 minutes north of Vernal on US-191.

Size: 42,000 acres

Likely catch: Kokanee salmon, Lake trout, Rainbow trout, Smallmouth bass

Flaming Gorge boasts trophy-sized lake trout and amazing salmon fishing, which makes it a popular fishing area. Though it’s famous for the aforementioned fish, Flaming Gorge also has large populations of rainbow trout, catfish and smallmouth bass, according to Visit Utah.

A fishing tournament will be occurring at the end of April, dedicated to catching trout. Anglers are encouraged to come take advantage of the spring weather and join in the action.

Learn how to best fish Flaming Gorge Reservoir and its feeder, The Green River, here.

Otter Creek Reservoir

Location: Piute County. Drive south on Highway 89 from Richfield before turning east on U-62. Drive east for 11 miles. When U-62 turns north, continue east for 0.5 miles on U-22.

Size: 2500 acres

Likely catch: Rainbow trout

This small reservoir is considered a "hidden gem" for fishing, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources. It is known for having massive Rainbow trout and very fun fishing in April and early May.

Otter Creek is a state park, so it offers other amenities like a boat ramp, camping areas, restrooms, showers, and even a fish cleaning station. Learn more about optimizing your fishing trip on Otter Creek Reservoir here.

Lake Powell

Location: Garfield, Kane and San Juan counties. There are multiple ways to get to the reservoir. See here for more detailed driving instructions.

Size: 168,240 acres

Likely catch: Smallmouth bass, Largemouth bass, Striped bass, Walleye, Channel catfish, Crappie and Bluegill

The second-largest lake in Utah (second only to the Great Salt Lake) offers a unique kind of fishing experience. Its location in the warmer, southern part of Utah makes it hospitable to spawning fish a lot sooner, so fishing season kicks off a little earlier there. In fact, March through May is considered to be the very best time of year for fishing on this reservoir.

“Lake Powell has a diverse warmwater fish community, and temperatures in April and early May should hit points where the fishing is really good,” said Randy Oplinger, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources sport fisheries program coordinator in a news release. “Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass and Crappie will begin spawning, and the spawn can be a great time to catch these species.”

For a more detailed guide to fishing on Lake Powell, see here.

Bear Lake

Location: Rich County. From Logan, drive east for 38 miles on Highway 89.

Size: 70,000 acres

Likely catches: Cutthroat trout, Lake trout and Bonneville whitefish

Bear Lake boasts large Cutthroat trout, some of which may even reach trophy size. It is the fourth largest lake in Utah and, though there are still some chunks of floating ice, it is a welcome place for boat fishers towards the end of April.

“Bear Lake is unique because it’s the only body of water in the world that has Bear Lake whitefish, Bonneville whitefish, Bonneville cisco and Bear Lake sculpin,” Oplinger said. “The two whitefish species are caught readily by anglers. The cisco is mainly caught by anglers using nets when it spawns in late January through early February, and the sculpin isn’t caught very frequently by anglers, but is an important prey fish that feeds other fish in the lake.”

Learn more about fishing on Bear Lake here.

Utah Lake

Location: Utah County. Located three miles west of I-15, take exit 268 in Provo and head west from there. The lake will be visible from the freeway.

Size: 96,600 acres

Likely catches: Bullhead catfish, Common carp, Channel catfish, Black crappie, Largemouth bass, Walleye, White bass.

Utah Lake presents one of Utah’s most diverse fisheries, offering catfish, walleye, White bass, Black bass and even multiple species of panfish, according to the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Recent fishing reports stated that ice has melted, so powerboats, sailboats, canoes and kayaks are all free to launch from any marina and get fishing. Learn more about fishing Utah Lake here.

Additional resources

Fishing in Utah

Get a fishing license

Great places to go fishing

Where are your favorite locations for fishing in the spring? Comment them below!

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