Utah Fishing & Outdoors, Vol. 8, #14; Oct. 10, 1994

  • Fall fishing should be excellent at Otter Creek Reservoir, and ice fishing should be good this winter.
  • The big browns are on the move in the East Fork of the Sevier below Otter Creek. Go after them with streamer flies, Rapalas or spinners.

By Dave Webb

As a general rule, I catch more trout when I fish streams than reservoirs, and bigger fish from reservoirs. But, of course, there are exceptions. Like the other day when I fished Otter Creek Reservoir and then the East Fork of the Sevier through Kingston Canyon. I was frustrated at Otter Creek, but caught a bunch of nice browns from the stream.

Otter Creek fished very well during the spring and early summer, then slowed - as it always does - when hot weather set in. Fishing usually picks up as the weather starts to cool; Otter Creek traditionally provides very good fall fishing. Many elk and deer hunters know that and make base camp at the reservoir. When they are tired of tromping the hills they kick back and relax with a fishing rod. Relax, if they can, between fighting nice rainbows.

Well, I waited for the hot weather to break and then headed down to do a feature story on the reservoir, previewing the fall action. I fished there on September 13 and had a wonderfully frustrating time.

All the conditions were bad. The water level was low and the reservoir was full of moss - making it difficult to troll or even fly fish. The water was muddy because of recent rainstorms, and strong winds every day were keeping things stirred up. The wind was so strong it was difficult to keep a boat on the water.

People putting bait down in the moss on the bottom were having fair success but nobody else was catching anything.

The moss will die back after the first frost, and the water will clear. That should bring better fishing.

DWR southern region biologist Lewis Berg expects Otter Creek to provide great fall fishing. "We recommend going out in a boat trolling. Just pull a lure - a Mepp, Krocodile, Jake's Spin-a-lure, Needlefish or Triple Teazers - behind a boat, with no extra weight. As it cools the water starts to mix and the fish come up near the surface to feed."

The north end of the reservoir is generally productive during the fall. Work the area around the Eagle's Nest on the east side, and Tamarisk Point and Lone Tree on the west side. Shore fishermen seem to do best along the dam and up around Lone Tree. Dirt roads provide easy access to the west side.

The best bait has been a marshmallow and crawler on the same hook (the marshmallow helps float the nightcrawler just off the bottom, keeping it out of the moss and up where the fish can find it. ) Powerbait has also worked well.

After being blown off Otter Creek I went down on the stream

below the reservoir and caught fish after fish. I spent a couple hours on the stream during the middle of the day and caught a dozen fish. And I missed twice as many as I caught. The action was superb. My biggest was a fat 16 incher, and I saw a bigger fish looking my fly over. Most were 8-10-12 inchers.

I tried both lures and flies successfully, but actually had the best success on a little Rooster Tail spinner. I only met one other fisherman and he had caught a few on bait.

I was fishing about mid-canyon, where the river bottom is choked by willows and wild roses. The stream is medium-sized, with lots of deep holes. There are a few accessible spots, but most holes are difficult to fish because of the brush. You can't cast a fly unless you wade out into the stream.

I seek out the least accessible holes and usually catch fish from them. If overhanging brush makes it difficult to cast to a hole, I figure it probably hasn't had a lot of pressure and will probably hold nice fish. It's worth a little time and effort to make a natural presentation there.

On a stream like this you have to wade carefully. If you splash through the water or kick up sediment you will scare the fish. Sometimes the only approach I can make is to drop a fly above the hole and let the current carry it to the overhang. I try to keep the fly on the outside edge, where it is less likely to become snagged, but that is often not possible. It's important to keep drag out of your line, but sometimes you can't in these tight spots. I'd rather run a fly over a hole with drag than not be able to fish the hole. I've caught nice fish on presentations which were far from artistic.

It takes practice to develop a technique which allows you to fish difficult holes with spinners, but it is rewarding. One of my favorite tricks is to get out in the stream, but stay on the same side as the hole, then cast a lure out into the current alongside the snag. Close your bail and let the current carry the lure down stream. This will take the slack out of your line and the lure will arch under the overhand. I then position my rod so my retrieval will draw the lure along the edge of the current, as close to the snag as possible. Usually that means pointing my rod tip toward the water and in toward shore.

Then just reel in slowly. When retrieving against the current you can work the lure very slowly, and the current will still give it action. You want to keep the lure as close to the bottom as possible, but not actually bumping rocks or logs because it will snag easily.

On medium or small streams I prefer to retrieve against the current. On larger streams or when fishing large holes with little current, I will often retrieve across the stream or with the current. When retrieving with the current you need to reel fast to keep the lure from snagging on the bottom.

In the fall it is often very effective to cast a streamer fly or a lure across a stream so it lands just inches from the far bank. Then retrieve it in short, quick bursts that resemble a minnow dashing from cover.

Browns become more active in the fall, as they prepare to spawn. They will often hit anything which looks like a minnow, or some intrusion into their territory. Fishing can be very good.

Other areas which often produce good fall brown fishing include the East Fork of the Sevier in Black Canyon, the West Fork near Hatch and up toward Mammoth and Asay creeks, and the main river just below Piute Reservoir.

The state park campground at Otter Creek is nice, with flush toilets and all. But we recommend the Otter Creek RV Park, just across the street. The park was purchased by Pat, Nancy and Lindsay White just before Memorial Day and they have turned it into a first class operation, with more improvements planned for the coming months.

Stop in at the store and talk to Pat, or call him at 800 441-3292. He'll update you on the latest conditions at the reservoir and on the stream, The store offers basic commodities plus licenses and fishing supplies.

The White's operate two motel units at the RV park, in addition to the pull throughs and tent sites. They offer fishing boats for rent, and the park has its own boat dock.

The park will stay open on a limited basis through the winter to accommodate ice fishermen, then swing back into full operation as soon as the ice comes off the reservoir next spring.

Pat was raised in New Mexico and most recently lived in Texas. He's been a rancher most of his life, but decided to sell his spread and buy an RV park. He's a pilot, and has hopped around much of southern Utah, but had never stopped at Otter Creek. He said he'd never even heard of Antimony, Utah.

Cold weather comes quickly to the high valleys in Central Utah. Most days will be mild but nights will be chilly through October. The reservoir will probably freeze in late November.

If you're out hunting deer or elk, or looking for a hot fall fishing spot, stop by and have a cup of coffee with Pat. You'll make a new friend, and you'll be back.