DWR Press Release
Heber City – Deer Creek Reservoir has received more than 100,000 rainbow trout in just the past few months. But that isn’t the only reason Division of Wildlife Resources biologists have picked the water as the top spot to take your family and friends fishing in Utah this spring.
The ability to catch trout easily from shore; easy access to miles of shoreline; uncrowded conditions on the water; and restrooms, picnic areas and boat ramps at Deer Creek State Park are among the reasons too.
“On top of all of that,” says DWR Regional Aquatics Manager Chris Crockett, “the reservoir isn’t crowded in the spring.”
The picturesque reservoir, which is only 30 to 45 minutes from Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley, draws huge crowds of recreational boaters, including wake boarders and jet skiers, in the summer.
“But in the spring,” Crockett says, “about the only people on the water are a few anglers fishing from boats. It’s a great time to fish from a boat at the reservoir. And there’s miles and miles of shoreline to fish from too.”
In addition to Deer Creek, Randy Oplinger, DWR sport fisheries coordinator, says four other waters in Utah—Willard Bay Reservoir, Strawberry Reservoir, Settlement Canyon Reservoir in Tooele and Little Montes Reservoir in Vernal—stand out as places that are close to urban centers and should provide great family fishing this spring.
Deer Creek Reservoir
Crockett says personnel from the DWR’s Midway and Glenwood state fish hatcheries stocked 77,000 rainbow trout into the reservoir last fall. The fish were 11 inches long when stocked.
In February, hatchery personnel also stocked more than 30,000 rainbow trout that were more than seven inches long. “There’s no shortage of 10- to 14-inch rainbow trout to catch,” Crockett says. “Rainbow trout up to 17 inches are also common at Deer Creek.”
Finding a spot to catch trout is easy: just park in one of the pull offs along U.S. Highway 189, and take a short walk to the shoreline. You can also pay a day-use fee and fish from the shore at developed state park areas.
If you want an even more solitary experience, park in the parking lot just west of the dam, and then walk along the trail that gives you access to the northwest side of the reservoir.
“It doesn’t matter which shoreline you decide to fish from,” he says, “all of them should provide good fishing for trout this spring.”
If you want to fish from a boat, the main state park boat ramp, on the south end of the reservoir, is open now. And the Island state park ramp should open at the beginning of May.
If you fish from a boat, Crockett cautions you to wear your personal floatation device (life jacket) at all times. The water temperature at Deer Creek is in the low 40s, and winds coming up from Provo Canyon can pick up in the middle of the day.
Several species of fish live in Deer Creek. Two of them—rainbow trout and walleye—stand out as fish that should provide great fishing at the reservoir this spring.
Crockett says rainbow trout are just starting to get active. “It’ll take longer for the walleye to fire up,” he says, “but, by early to mid-May, the walleye should be spawning in rocky shoreline areas, including Rainbow Bay, Wallsburg Bay and in the Provo River inlet area near Charleston. When they do, they’ll move closer to shore and become more aggressive. Walleye fishing should be great in May.”
It doesn’t matter whether you’re fishing from shore or from a boat, anywhere along the shoreline—in water that’s 10 to 30 feet deep—is the area to fish at Deer Creek in the spring.
“The shoreline on much of the west and east sides of Deer Creek drops off fast,” Crockett says, “so, even if you’re fishing from shore, you’ll have no problem targeting areas where the fish are holding.”
Crockett provides the following tips to help you catch rainbow trout and walleye at Deer Creek this spring:
If you’re fishing for rainbow trout from shore, PowerBait is an excellent bait to use. Three colors—rainbow candy, orange, and salmon peach—work especially well at Deer Creek. And, don’t forget corn: Deer Creek is one of eight waters in Utah where you can use corn as bait this year.
To fish PowerBait or corn, crimp a sinker or two about 12 to 18 inches above your hook, place the PowerBait or corn on your hook, and then cast it out. Let the baited hook sink to the bottom of the reservoir, and then watch your line closely; if it starts to twitch, set the hook and reel your fish in.
If you’re fishing for rainbows from a boat, Crockett suggests trolling a Jake’s Spin-A-Lure, a rainbow- or yellow perch-colored Rapala, or popgear and a worm. “This technique may also land you a nice brown trout,” he says. “Deer Creek has some big brown trout in it.”
One to one-and-a-half miles per hour is a good speed at which to troll for rainbows.
“Everyone has their favorite trolling routes,” Crockett says, “but if you’re new to the technique, target shelves, drop offs and areas adjacent to points. Try different depths and lures until you start catching fish.”
Fishing from a boat allows you to troll the shoreline areas until you find the walleye. But you can also catch walleye from shore.
“From late April through May,” Crockett says, “walleye congregate closer to shore as they prepare to spawn. When they move close to shore, shore anglers have a great chance to catch a trophy walleye.”
During gillnet surveys in fall 2016, biologists caught walleye that were up to 28 inches long and weighed over nine pounds. “We also caught good numbers of walleye in the 16- to 20-inch range,” he says.
A Maniac Minnow or a lead head jig, with a curly tail grub threaded on the hook, are great lures to try. Simply cast the lure out, and then retrieve it back with a slow, steady retrieve.
“Placing a piece of nightcrawler on your hook will also increase the chance that a walleye takes it,” he says. “You can also catch smallmouth bass and trout at the reservoir, using the same technique.”
If you’re fishing from a boat, Crockett suggests trolling crankbaits that imitate rainbow trout or yellow perch. “One of my favorite lures is a trout pattern Rapala crankbait,” Crockett says.
Rocky drop offs are some of the best areas to try.