Enjoy Solitude and Family Fishing on Memorial Day


Late May and June is a perfect time to take your kids fishing for bluegill at Mantua Reservoir.

DWR Press Release

If you’re like a lot of Utahns, you’re ready to get outside, enjoy some sunny weather and catch some fish.

As you make plans for Memorial Day weekend, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources have some “inside information” to share about fishing waters you might want to consider visiting.

Randy Oplinger, sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, says Utah has literally hundreds of fishing waters. “It can be challenging to pick a water that best meets what you’re looking for,” he says. “Fortunately, our biologists know these waters like the backs of their hands. And they’re happy to provide direction.”

Oplinger says many anglers are looking for one of two things: a close-to-home water that provides them and their kids with a good chance to catch fish, or a water that provides good fishing in a peaceful and quiet setting.

From Memorial Day weekend through the end of June, the following waters should be the very best waters to fish in Utah this year. Oplinger places the waters into two categories: “best family fishing waters” and “places to fish and get away from it all.”

Best family fishing waters

“Early summer is the perfect time to get outside and fish with your family,” Oplinger says. “And it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced angler and members of your family are just getting started. Many lakes in Utah provide fishing opportunities that can be enjoyed equally by anglers with various levels of experience.”

Oplinger says many of these waters are near some of Utah’s largest cities. That makes them great places for a quick afternoon trip. “Other waters have campgrounds,” he says, “which makes them a great place for a weekend getaway. Several of the best, family-friendly waters have nice fishing piers, restrooms and boat ramps.”

So, which waters are the best waters to consider taking your family to from Memorial Day weekend and through early summer this year? Here’s Oplinger’s picks, along with some brief information about each one:

·         Mantua, Pineview and Willard Bay reservoirs (Northern Utah)

·         Strawberry Reservoir (North-central Utah)

·         Currant Creek and Starvation reservoirs (Northeastern Utah)

Mantua, Pineview and Willard Bay are north of Salt Lake City and within an hour’s drive of the state’s capitol. Oplinger says all three provide great fishing for warmwater fish.

“Right now is an ideal time to catch largemouth bass at Mantua and smallmouth bass at Pineview,” he says. “In the next few weeks, bluegill fishing should pick up at Mantua, and fishing for wipers should pick up at Willard Bay. Also, May and June are great months to catch tiger muskie at Pineview.”

Strawberry Reservoir is about 90 minutes from Salt Lake City. The reservoir provides some of the best trout fishing in the country.  “Strawberry produces a lot of large cutthroat and rainbow trout this time of year,” Oplinger says. “And June is a great time to catch kokanee salmon at the reservoir.”

Currant Creek Reservoir is just a short drive beyond Strawberry Reservoir. It’s another great trout fishery. “During surveys last fall,” he says, “our biologists found a lot of large tiger trout in the reservoir. Those tiger trout should be hungry and easy to catch this time of year.”

The final family-friendly water—Starvation Reservoir—is just west of Duchesne.  “Starvation is one of the best places in Utah to catch walleye,” Oplinger says. “And May is a great month to catch them at the reservoir.”

Oplinger says the family-friendly waters on the list provide opportunities for those who like to fish with bait and those who like to fish with lures. “These waters provide great opportunities for both boat and shore anglers too,” he says. “These family-friendly waters have something for everyone.”

The species available to catch also vary greatly among the waters.

“Depending on where you go,” he says, “you and your family might catch trout, bass, walleye, bluegill and even tiger muskie.”

Places to fish and get away from it all

While some Utahns will be looking for a close-to-home place to take their family, others will be looking to beat the crowds and find solitude while enjoying the early-summer weather in Utah’s backcountry. Oplinger says some of the best, most scenic, least crowded waters in Utah include the following:

·         Lost Creek Reservoir (Northern Utah)

·         Flaming Gorge Reservoir (Northeastern Utah)

·         Joes Valley Reservoir (East-central Utah)

·         Navajo Lake (Southwestern Utah)

Lost Creek Reservoir, located near Morgan, is less than 90 minutes from Salt Lake City. It’s not heavily fished, and lots of large cutthroat and rainbow trout are available to catch.

Ironically, Flaming Gorge is one of Utah’s most popular reservoirs, but it’s also a place where you can find solitude. “If you have a boat,” Oplinger says, “it’s easy to motor out into the reservoir and get away from everyone else. May and June are great months to catch rainbow trout, lake trout, kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass at Flaming Gorge.”

Joes Valley Reservoir is about an hour south of Price. “It’s one of a handful of waters in Utah that have splake, which are a cross between a lake trout and a brook trout,” he says. “Fishing for splake can be great at Joes Valley this time of year.”

The final water on the list—Navajo Lake—is about 45 minutes east of Cedar City. “It’s another great place to catch splake,” he says.

Oplinger says some of the waters on his list are close to home while others are perfect places for a weekend trip.

DWR website

As you scanned through the list, you may have noticed waters you’re not familiar with. You can learn more about them at www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots.

When you arrive at the web page, click on the water you’re interested in. In addition to receiving a fishing report, you’ll also receive information about the water itself, including how to reach it, the type of facilities you’ll find and the fish you’ll likely catch.

In addition, two of the waters on the list—Starvation and Steinaker—are Blue Ribbon waters in Utah. You can get detailed information about them by visiting the DWR’s Blue Ribbon page at www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots/blueribbon.php. Once you arrive at the page, click on either water.

Visiting www.wildlife.utah.gov/hotspots is also a great way to stay up-to-date on fishing at the waters. If you’d like to receive the fishing reports via email, that’s possible too. You can subscribe to them at www.wildlife.utah.gov/about-us/subscribe-to-updates.html.

Two additional websites—bigfishtackle.com and utahwildlife.net—also provide current fishing information for waters across Utah.

Fishing basics

If you’re new to fishing, you can learn the basics online. One of the best websites to visit is Take Me Fishing.org. To learn how to fish, or brush up on your skills, visit www.takemefishing.org/how-to-fish/how-to-catch-fish.

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