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Description (Edit This)
Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the state in terms of surface area. It is located just west of Provo and accessible from several marinas. It is a popular play area because it is close, convenient, and because it offers good fishing for several species.
In the past, the water quality at Utah Lake was a big concern. Much improvement has been done over the past several years and today pollution is not a major problem. Fish from the lake are safe to eat.
The lake supports a huge population of carp and they constantly stir up the mud, making the water silty. That makes the water less appealing, but it is not a health hazzard.
Endangered June suckers live in the lake, and in the lower Provo River. That fish is endemic to Utah Lake, meaning it is not found anywhere else in the world. Millions of dollars have been spent improving habitat for the sucker, and the work has also benefited other fish.
Guides (Edit This)
Nearby Lodges (Edit This)
Location (Edit This)
The lake covers much of the western portion of Utah Valley, west of I-15. Major access points can be found at Lincoln Beach, Utah Lake State Park west of Provo, the Lindon Marina and the American Fork Marina.
Much of the Utah Lake shoreline is private property with limited access.
Primary Species (Edit This)
Channel catfish are the most prevalent sport fish in the lake. Huge catfish are caught on occasion, and catfishing is almost always good during warm weather months. Smaller mudcats are also numerous.
Good numbers of white bass also live in the lake. They are numerous, but run on the small side and so they don't generate much fishing excitement.
Walleye are present in the lake and provide good sport fishing.
There are limited numbers of other game fish. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish and other species are caught on a regular basis.
In short, Utah Lake provides a variety of good sport fishing. But it is the channel catfish that draw the most anglers throughout the year. Cats up to 12 pounds are caught fairly regularly and that means Utah Lake gives many fishermen the biggest fish of their lives.
More and more, people are also fishing for carp. They are fun to catch, grow big and fight hard.
Special Regulations (Edit This)
Dead white bass and yellow perch may be used as bait in Utah Lake.
Lower portions of tributaries, between the lake and I-15, are closed from March 1 through 6 am on the first Saturday of May.
Limit 6 largemouth and smallmouth bass in the aggregate. All largemouth and smallmouth bass over 12 inches must be immediately released.
All suckers must be released immediately.
Seasonal Factors (Edit This)
Utah Lake freezes solid during winter and draws some ice fishermen. What bass are the species caught most often through the ice. Now and then an angler will pull in a walleye or some other species.
Ice usually comes off the lake in late February or early March. At that time fishermen turn their attention to walleye, which soon begin staging to spawn. The walleye spawn attracts hords of anglers from mid-March through early May. After the spawn the walleye spread throughout the lake and are harder to find.
White bass spawn in May. They roam in schools. Fishing can be tremendously fast when you cast into a school of hungry fish.
Catfish success picks up in May and stays good through the summer and much of the fall. The warmer the water, the better the catfish like it.
Lures and Techniques (Edit This)
Channel catfish are relatively easy to catch in Utah Lake. They readily take traditional smelly baits fished on the bottom. Nightcrawlers, shrimp and carp meat are popular baits locally. Chicken liver, dough balls and various concoctions are popular in other areas and they also work here.
Catfish have hard mouths so give the fish plenty of time to work the bait into the back of its mouth before setting the hook. Keep the bail on your reel open so it will play out line, so the fish can take the bait and move it without feeling pressure. Use a slip sinker in front of a swivel so you have enough weight to cast and get the bait to the bottom. When the fish picks up the bait, line will play through the sinker and the fish won't feel the weight.
When you see your line moving,wait patiently and then slowly take any slack out of the line and then sweep the rod upward to set the hook.
Catfish are sometimes caught on crankbaits and jigs by anglers targeting walleye or white bass. During later May, when catfish spawn they become more aggressive and will often hit a Rapala or other large lure. That's a fun way to fish for them.
Walleye are commonly taken on jigs, crankbaits, and night crawlers fished in a worm harnesses. The best fishing during early morning and late evening hours. Walleye are light-sensitive, but that doesn't seem to be as much of an issue in Utah Lake compared to other waters. Perhaps that is because the water is murky and so sunlight is filtered. At Utah Lake walleye can be caught at any time of day.
Walleye prefer to stick close to structure. Utah Lake has relatively little structure and so fish are often found in the few favorable areas. Those spots include the Bird Island area, Lincoln Beach where there is rock on the bottom and the rip-rap found in harbors and near river mouths.
White bass roam in schools throughout the lake. When you find a school, fishing can be very vast. Schools can be found anywhere. When the fish spawn, many move into the harbors and tributaries where they are easy to find and easy to catch. That usually happens in mid or late May, and it brings fast fishing.
White bass are readily caught on small lures, jigs and baits.