Columnist Doug Larson once wrote, “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”
I feel the same every time I watch Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It.
So for all you would-be fisherman out there — not to mention experienced fisherman interested in testing new waters — here are a few things you should know about fishing Utah Lake, courtesy of Jackie Watson, biologist at the Utah Division of Wildlife.
Utahlake.gov: What are some of the more popular fish in Utah Lake, native or otherwise?
Watson: Historically there were only 13 native species in Utah Lake with cut throat trout, June and Utah suckers being the dominant, and most useful, species. These three species, and Utah Lake, were the primary food source for early Utah pioneers.
Currently there are over 25 non-native species, and June and Utah suckers are the only native species found regularly. Some of the more popular species are whitebass, channel catfish, walleye, bluegill, and crappie — all non-native.
From an angler’s perspective, which are the most fun to catch?
Every angler is different and likes to fish for different reasons. For me personally, the most fun fish to catch from Utah Lake are channel catfish (pictured) because they bite hard and put on a decent fight; black bullhead (mudcats) are similar for that reason. Walleye, don’t put up as good fight, but are my favorite fish to eat from Utah Lake. And white bass are fun because during the spawning run you can catch one almost every cast.
How do Utah Lake fish differ from other state reservoirs and lakes?
First, I think it provides the most variety of species—we have several productive fisheries versus being known just as a walleye, trout, or pike fishery. It’s a shallow, mostly wadeable lake, so a boat is not necessary. It’s conveniently located in the center of the Valley with no lengthy drive.
Finally, for the avid anglers, it’s nice because it’s under utilized. You’ll never feel crowded when fishing on Utah Lake. However, this under utilization is generally disappointing for those of us trying to manage and restore the lake.
For someone who has never fished, or hasn’t in a long time, what’s the best way to start?
For a “fresh” or “green” angler, my best suggestions are as follows: Do some homework to plan a fishing trip with guaranteed success. In all likelihood, if you get skunked your first few times out, the chances of fishing becoming your favorite hobby are slim to none. I suggest getting online and reviewing the numerous fishing blogs and message boards. Those resources will give you the fishing hotspots, what’s biting and where, and best time of day to fish.
Anglers who post to those are generally very open to sharing their success and sometimes will even let folks know what lures or bait to use. Also, use your Division of Wildlife biologists by giving us a call at (801) 491-5658. Let us know what you’re after— a lot of fish, a few big fish, species, and where you’re located. Most DWR biologists are anglers too and generally have a good idea where some hotspots will be.