It’s famous for its world-class skiing, national parks, and that big pool of salty water. There are over 1,000 lakes, dozens of rivers, and countless streams throughout the state filled with fish.
The northern sections in Wyoming are a world-famous freestone stream filled with rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout. Here, the water is dammed beneath towering walls of beautiful red stone.
This place is designated a National Recreation Area (though many argue it should be a natural park), and it’s worth visiting for its beauty as well as its fishing (which we’ll talk more about later). The Green River below the Flaming Gorge is one of the most famous tailgater fisheries in the world.
I highly recommend getting a guide for the trip, as you’ll catch more fish and be able to enjoy more of the gorgeous river. Also, there are a few sections of the river where the rapids get to be quite dangerous, so I don’t recommend going out on your own unless you have extensive white water experience.
Though the river is not technically within the city limits, you can get to the Provo in about 30 minutes from SLC International Airport. In the Middle you will almost exclusively catch brown trout, and any other by catch will almost certainly be a Mountain Whitefish.
Size 20-24 scuds, zebra midges, and pheasant tails fished right off the bottom. The Provo River flows through the Weber Valley (where we just talked about) and enters into the Deer Creek Reservoir.
This section is, in my opinion, more scenic than the Middle, with the towering canyon walls surrounding you and the snow capped mountains in the near distance. I highly recommend the book Fly fisher’s Guide to UTAH (Amazon link) A great read for planning your next trip or exploring some new water.
The Lower has the same big browns as the middle, but it also holds large numbers of 18 to 20 inch rainbow trout. Size 20-24 scuds, zebra midges, and sow bugs fished right off the bottom just like in the middle.
I would especially focus on scuds and sow bugs Wooly buggers, articulated streamers, sex dungeons stripped across current. The Unitas Mountains aren’t Utah ’s most famous, but I’d take it to my grave that they’re the most beautiful.
But when the snow melts it reveals a plethora of lakes and streams full of hungry trout. This small body of water is filled with mostly Cutthroat and Tiger Trout, with a few Rookies mixed in.
They’re eager to take a fly, especially right after the ice off, but catching them isn’t the hard part. To start, you have to drive to the Christmas Meadows Trailhead in the middle of Ashley National Forrest.
If you need help selecting flies for Ostler Lake or anywhere else, checkout this FREE Downloadable Hatch Chart. The Weber River is another Blue Ribbon Trout fishery located conveniently near Salt Lake City.
Access to the Weber isn’t as good as the Middle or Lower Provo and you may accidentally find yourself trespassing onto private land if you aren’t careful. The Weber holds mostly brown trout at around 16-18 inches with a ton of powerful mountain whitefish as well.
The water gets extremely low and slow in the winter making it punishable, but come springtime its hot. The best places to fish the Weber are around Colville where there are plenty of clearly marked access points.
Located near the Idaho boarder, the Logan River holds a healthy population of wildly reproducing brown and cutthroat trout. It is a small river, ranging from just 15 – 30 feet wide, but the fish don’t seem to mind at all.
The Duchess River is fed by runoff and Snowbelt from the Unitas Mountains to the North. On the lower reaches of the river are naturally reproducing populations on brown and rainbow trout, and the upper elevations hold wild cutthroats.
Land surrounding the Duchess is owned both privately and by local Indian tribes, but Utah has access easements established for fishermen to get to the river. You aren’t allowed to park on the side of Highway 35 to get to the river, but there are several clearly marked public access points.
High elevations in this section hold brown and rainbow trout, and small mouth, carp, and even tiger muskie show up there further down you go. Don’t let the urban environment fool you- the Ogden River has been reclaimed and transformed into a true blue ribbon trout fishery.
The Utah Department of Wild Resources has been reclaiming and restoring this area since the early 90s to transform the East Fork into a Blue Ribbon trout fishery. This is a desert fishery filled with good-sized brown trout, rainbows, and an occasional rookie.
Located in a beautiful mountain valley, the water is surrounded by aspens and conifers teeming with wildlife. Most fishermen will spend their days reeling in cutthroat and rainbow trout, but Strawberry also provides the unique opportunity to land a Knee salmon and even small mouth bass.
As we talked about earlier, Falling Gorge is filled by the Green River that feeds it with cold mountain water. Flaming Gorge is filled with rainbow trout and that is the most commonly caught fish there.
But it’s also home to a healthy population of knee salmon, as well as good numbers of Lake Trout and a few smallmouths bass. The Fremont River is another desert trout fishery that’s located just west of Capitol Reef National Park.
Most fish caught on the Fremont will be wild brown trout, but the occasional spake, tiger, or rainbow has been known to enter from the reservoirs. This is a great location to combine with family road trips to national parks, but I’d argue it’s a worthy destination in its own right.
Tiger Muskies are a sterile hybrid strain of fish- a cross between a northern pike and a Muskellunge. Catching a Tiger Muskie with a fly rod is a huge challenge in itself, but doing it from the shore will be almost impossible.
These lakes have long held a reputation for holding some of the biggest brook trout in the state. But in the 90s, due to changing weather and poor fishing practices, these populations began to suffer.
Lower Barker Reservoir is a testament to Utah ’s division of Wildlife Resource’s effort’s to reclaim Boulder Mountain’s fisheries as trophy waters. Barker holds high numbers of tiger trout and spake that are specifically managed to trophy class fish.
Fishing in this area will require some food, water, and hiking boots, but your efforts will be rewarded. This is another highly managed trout fishery in the area that is successfully producing trophy fish every year.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is world-famous for Brighton and Solitude ski resorts, it’s beautiful hiking trails, and its incredible views. Big Cottonwood Creek, it turned out, is a badass small stream fishery.
The river holds solid numbers of cutthroat and brook trout all about 6 to 12 inches. You won’t be catching monsters here, but these fish will put a solid bend in a 3 weight rod.
This place is one of the best trophy brook and lake trout fisheries in the state, and some may even argue, in the country. This river runs out of the Northern side of the Unitas Mountains, through Wyoming and Idaho, then back into Utah before pouring into the Great Salt Lake.
It is a small stream, about 30 feet across at it’s widest points, making it perfect for wading. Big Dog Lake takes us back into the isolated backcountry of the Unitas and on another grueling hike.
Utah ’s Unitas Mountains are home to the southernmost arctic graying population in the world. If you’re willing to work for them, Big Dog Lake holds some of the biggest graying in the state.
Another awesome small stream fishery in Central Utah is the Strawberry River. Lower Fish Creek is a section of the Price River that runs into Schofield Reservoir near the town of Colton in Central Utah.
This is high desert country that most don’t expect to find a trout stream in, so this fishery is not too often frequented. Continuing the trend of undervalued central Utah desert trout streams is Hunting Creek.
I won’t point you right to them, but if you lookup Utah ’s Dr the latest shocking surveys, you’ll see some big fish. A lot of Beaver River is on private property, which totally sucks because the public access gets you to awesome fishing.
But recent efforts by the Utah Dr have transformed the Beaver River into a trophy trout stream. Rainbow and Brown trout in the Beaver River routinely surpass 20 inches.
Fly-fishing in Utah is mostly done on medium-sized trout streams, so your classic 9 foot 5 weight will be perfect. Though there are plenty of streams to wade, a drift boat or a float tube will open up more water.
Fish Utah -- Division of Wildlife Resources Make sure to check the latest proclamation for current rules regarding the location where you’re fishing.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date.
If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here: onlyinyourstate.com/nominate Fish on the Colorado near Moab, where you'll find plenty of catfish, along with bass and sunfish.
Walleye and bass are the order of the day at Deer Creek. The reservoir may contain quanta mussels, so your boat must be decontaminated before leaving.
Anglers often pull 30-pound fish from the depths here every year...and the record lake trout was 51.8 pounds! You'll find some fairly hefty brown trout here, especially in the lower portions of the river.
You'll find lots of hungry fish at Anguish Lake, including tiger, rainbow and cutthroat trout. Pine view Reservoir is nestled in the beautiful Ogden Valley.
Camp overnight at this state park, which is located near Hurricane. Fishing at Rockport can be slow during cold weather, but picks up a lot as the temperatures climb.
You'll find rainbow, brown and tiger trout, yellow perch and small mouth bass. Fish Schofield Reservoir from the shore or a boat, where you might catch rainbow, cutthroat and tiger trout.
Willard Bay is popular for water sports, but it can also make for some great fishing. Writer, editor and researcher with a passion for exploring new places.
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