Northern Utah is littered with lakes and streams. Pick a spot in one of the dozens of canyons and national forests and you’re likely close to some prime fishing, both fly and bait. Most of these beautiful bodies of water are full of diverse freshwater fish. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is Utah’s state fish, and it can be found in various locations across the adventurous state. Cutthroats are common, but browns, brook, and rainbow trout are also swimming. And the likes of largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, bluegill, kokanee salmon, catfish, crappie, walleye, and whitefish are all to be found in at least one Utah lake or river. The following is a sample list of some of the more popular fishing spots:
Bear Lake- Holds cutthroat and rainbow trout, Bonneville and Bear Lake whitefish, mackinaw, and Bonneville cisco. A very popular family getaway for fishing and boating, Bear Lake is just a couple hours north of Salt Lake City.
Bear River- Contains rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout, whitefish, carp, and suckers. This handsome river runs through both Summit and Rich County, and offers some large fish. Catfish running up to 30 pounds can be caught near the Great Salt Lake. A good amount of the land surrounding the river is private, but most often left open for public if kept clean.
Black Fork River- Contains rainbow and brook trout. This river is best accessed through Wyoming, across the Northern slope of Uintah National Forest.
East Canyon Reservoir- Stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Just 40 miles northeast of Utah’s capitol city, East Canyon is a recommended ice fishing lake, and tends to slow down in the summer for shore-fishing.
Echo Reservoir- Holds channel catfish as well as rainbow and brown trout. Located near Coalville, Echo offers camping and picnicking, and is frequented by water skiers. Some good fishing in the fall reported though.
Little Dale Reservoir- Catch and release only lake. Use of artificial flies and lures only for the rainbow trout. Open from April 1 to October 31 with day use only.
Logan River- Contains brook, cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout, as well as some Rocky Mountain whitefish. This sparkling gem runs throughout a canyon just northeast of Logan, accessible off highway 89.
Pineview Reservoir- Largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, perch, tiger muskie, and a few trout fill this lake near Ogden. There is thick recreational boat use at times, but still good opportunities to catch some big ones.
Strawberry Reservoir- Often hailed as Utah’s best trout fishery, Strawberry is chalk full of cutthroat and rainbow trout, as well as some kokanee salmon. Located in Wasatch County, about 70 miles from the Wasatch Front.
Willard Bay- Holds walleye, channel catfish, largemouth bass, perch, and black crappie among others. This lake can be reached off I-15 at Willard. This is a favored catfishing spot, particularly in the summer. Does attract many water skiers though, so best to fish early or late in the day. Also popular for ice fishing.
There are plenty of other fishing options in Northern Utah. The Uintah mountains alone have dozens of tiny lakes and streams eager to be fished. There are regulations and limitations specific to some of these destinations, so it’s best to contact Utah Division of Wildlife Resources if you’re unfamiliar with the area. (Contact at either www.wildlife.utah.gov or 801-538-4700) They should have information on what bait or flies have been successful at specific waters. Make sure to get your Utah state fishing license, too. Nobody needs a citation while relaxing and reveling in the great outdoors. And above all, have fun! Don’t worry about catching the biggest fish in the lake or river; just enjoy the sport and the serene nature surrounding you. If you catch something, that’s just icing on the cake. Happy fishing!