Fishing in the Top of Utah

Oct 1 2013 - 1:16pm

Images

(Standard-Examiner file photo)
Clark Stanger makes a cast while fly-fishing on the Weber River near the Wanship Exit on I-80 in 2003.
(Standard-Examiner file photo)
Clark Stanger makes a cast while fly-fishing on the Weber River near the Wanship Exit on I-80 in 2003.

If there's one word that accurately sums up the fishing scene in the Top of Utah, it would have to be diversity.

From fly-fishing for colorful, feisty cutthroat trout in crystal-clear mountain streams to dropping stink bait into the warm, murky depths of low-lying reservoirs in pursuit of hungry catfish, the region offers something for anglers of all stripes.

"We're blessed to have such a wide range of places to fish around here," said Phil Douglass, northern region conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "Just about any kind of freshwater fishing you're looking for, you can find it here."

Many of the different fish species found in Top of Utah waters are here by human design. Decades of fisheries' management, including breeding and stocking programs, have introduced locals to exotic species such as the tiger muskie.

The tiger muskie, which ranks among the state's largest sport fish, was first introduced into Utah waters in the 1990s. The sterile hybrid species can grow to exceed 50 inches and 30 pounds, and Pineview Reservoir near Ogden has become one of the premier tiger muskie fisheries in the western United States, drawing anglers from Salt Lake City and beyond who hope to become the next state record holder.

The Top of Utah is home to several blue ribbon fisheries -- a designation given to waters that have extraordinary natural characteristics and sustain healthy fish populations. Parts of the Logan, Ogden and Weber rivers have been given the blue ribbon designation, as have Bear Lake and Pine-view, and others like the upper Blacksmith Fork River are ripe for the label.

The area also has a thriving community fisheries program, where locals can fish close to home in a suburban setting. Community ponds from Logan to Bountiful, and many points in between, offer a convenient and inexpensive way to introduce kids to fishing.

Finding your own favorite place to get a line wet takes personal exploration, but here are some favorite spots among locals that reflect the diversity of the Top of Utah fishing experience:

* Willard Bay: Popular among boaters and shore anglers alike, Willard Bay is a hot spot for bass and walleye fishing. Willard is famous for the wiper, a cross between a white bass and a striped bass. In the summer, wipers congregate in masses to feed voraciously in what is known as a "boil," when the fishes' frantic activity makes the water surface appear to be boiling.

* Weber River: The largest river along the Wasatch Front is known as a premier trout fishery. Rainbow and cutthroat trout can be caught here, but many anglers come in search of some of the biggest brown trout that can be found in moving water in the state. Several reservoirs along the river provide a good flat-water experience as well.

* Bear Lake: This popular summer destination draws anglers in search of lake trout, Utah's biggest fish in terms of sheer mass. Bear Lake is also popular in winter, especially during the annual cisco run in February, when people come to catch the small fish by the thousands simply by dipping a net into the water.

* Mantua Reservoir: This picturesque reservoir in Sardine Canyon contains a mix of bass, sunfish and trout. It is widely regarded as one of the best fisheries for bluegill, which are small but undeniably delicious when filleted and fried.

Contact reporter Jeff DeMoss at 801-625-4263, jdemoss@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @jkdemoss.

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