Here are 25 top places to fly fish in the State of Utah. There are several more that I did not put on the list.
The middle section of the Provo was not one of Utah’s premier trout waters before the completion of Jordanelle Dam. Before then the river suffered from minimal flows, little insect diversity, and marginal habitat. With the dam, the Middle Provo has blossomed into one of the state’s better blue ribbon waters. Cottonwood and willow-lined banks mark the middle Provo’s descent through beautiful Heber Valley. Since its transformation into a medium-sized, freestone tailwater, stream flows have improved greatly. Early in the season, the river runs high and fast.
Moving water and slick, bowling-ball-sized rocks make cleated, felt-soled wading boots a necessity. By summer, the flows are much more manageable, but the stream bottom is no less slippery. After Jordanelle Dam was completed, the most significant change on the middle Provo was the increase in the number and diversity of insects. Types of Fish: Browns and rainbows.
“High on the slope of the Uinta Mountains, the Weber River begins as a small, gin-clear trout stream. As it descends toward the valley, it quickly takes on the characteristics of a classic freestone fishery, which it remains for most of its fishable length. The Weber is one of the Uintas’ larger streams, and its proximity to major population centers makes it a very popular fly fishing destination for the “after-work” anglers and others with a little time.
From Grayling in its upper reaches to cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout (at lower elevations), you’ll find a variety of species in the Weber. The most popular and productive areas are those with the most public access between Rockport and Echo reservoirs. As the river meanders through the surrounding valley, it takes on the flavor of a true western fishery, with cottonwood-lined banks providing excellent habitat for a healthy population of trout. Types of Fish: Brown trout and whitefish. Planted rainbows and cutthroats.
This is a clear classic high-country Rocky Mountain river, complete with some absolute lunker trout if you’re patient enough to look for them.
The Bear River winds its way from the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains, south into Wyoming. Then into Idaho, then back into Utah where it terminates in the Great Salt Lake. Take everything you know or picture about the Rocky Mountain high country, and that’s what the Bear has to offer.
What you’ll catch:
Brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout all occur in the Bear River. The lower reaches are dominated by browns and rainbows – and some large massive cutthroat trout. All the while the upper areas are plumb full of brookies. Don’t let the amount of smaller fish dissuade you from paying the Bear a visit. Remember though; that all of those smaller fish mean a big food source for huge trout.
“If you like fly fishing moving water, the Fremont River provides all different types of opportunities and challenges. The upper and lower sections are famous for their large, catchable browns and hearty rainbows, but this hasn’t always been so. In the fall of 1991, the Fremont was hit with whirling disease. In an effort to control the spread of this fish crippling disease, Fish and Game biologists poisoned the river with rotenone, then planted catchable and fingerling browns.
This repair work was completed in the spring of 1995. Everyone expects this river to return to its former status as Utah’s premier brown trout fishery. ! Regardless, you should definitely try the Fremont. Types of Fish: Brown and stocked rainbow trout.
Did you know one of Utah’s most aesthetically pleasing trout streams is the Strawberry River? This small and pristine tail water fishery meanders from rifle to pool beneath the red walls and white pinnacles of a beautiful sandstone canyon. The land surrounding this unique fishery is home to black bears, cougars, and golden eagles.
In some sections, this river is as wild as the country it runs through, but don’t be fooled by its size. The Strawberry River holds some very nice fish. Types of Fish: Browns, rainbows, cutthroats, and brookies.
The Wasatch front Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Millcreek Canyon, and American Fork Canyon each hide small streams. These offer great trout fishing for mostly small rainbow and brown trout. The beauty of these small streams is that they are located just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City This is what makes them perfect for a quick getaway. Most anglers won’t find the trophy trout found in larger rivers like the Provo, Weber, and Green river. But the trout in the Wasatch Front canyons seem to be eager and willing to take most flies. Even if you are a beginning fly fisherman or are going with a guide. These spots offer the least sophisticated trout around. But beware that the wading can be tricky and the brush is tight to the water.
Green River, Flaming Gorge:
“Clean, cold, productive; what more could you want? The arch of Flaming Gorge Dam is thrust against the walls of Red Canyon by the pressure of the impounded water from the Green River. The lake is famous for huge browns and kokanee salmon, but the tailwater below is known among anglers throughout the world for its river-run browns, cutthroats, and rainbows.
Unlike the big tailwater on Colorado between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry, the Green below Flaming Gorge is accessible by foot.
Boulder Mountain, East Side:
Located southeast of Salt Lake City and northeast of Las Vegas, Boulder Mountain was until just recently among Utah’s best-kept fishing secrets. The 80-some-odd fishable lakes and reservoirs, some connected by small, fast-running streams, are similar in appearance to still waters in the Uintas, but the fish are larger.
Types of Fish: Brookies, rainbows, cutthroats, and sterile hybrids: splake, tiger trout, and brake (male brown–female lake).
Deer Creek Reservoir:
With similar scenery as the Strawberry Reservoir, the Deer Creek Reservoir attracts all sorts of water lovers and fly fishers. Located at the top of Provo Canyon, the reservoir is giant at about (3,000 acres). This means fly fishers can explore the area over and over again and not get bored. What’s more, family and friends who aren’t interested in fly fishing can enjoy the reservoir’s publicly owned shores and other water activities.
Ogden River, South Fork:
The South Fork of the Ogden River flows out of Causey Reservoir through the surrounding hills with large cottonwood stands, and into Pineview Reservoir. Although not a large tailwater by western standards, the South Fork’s relatively consistent flows, and water temperatures provide excellent hatches and, at times, some rather large trout.
Freestone in nature, the South Fork of the Ogden is one of the few streams in the state that is home to the famous salmon fly. Although present in some other local waters, this insect typically emerges during peak runoff, rendering the hatch unfishable. As a tailwater, however, the South Fork is hardly affected by runoff, making the salmon fly hatch well worth noting. Types of Fish: Brown trout, cutthroat trout, hatchery rainbow trout.
In 1980, Strawberry and Soldier Creek reservoirs were combined. These were to create what is now known only as Strawberry Reservoir or, as locals refer to it, “the Berry.” It is located east of Heber City in the meadows and aspen groves of the Uinta National Forest, the Berry offers anglers some productive fishing against a backdrop of some of Utah’s most beautiful scenery.
In 1971, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) treated Strawberry Reservoir with rotenone. They did this to rid the fishery of an infestation of chubs and suckers. At the time, this was the largest rotenone treatment in the world. Now afterward, the reservoir has rebounded to become one of the West’s best trophy still water fisheries. Types of Fish: Bear Lake cutthroats, rainbows, and kokanee salmon
Mirror Lake is a moderately sized, natural lake in the High Uinta Mountains. Due to its location, the lake usually provides more secluded and relaxing than more popular reservoir fly fishing locations. The lake is directly adjacent to a campground so that if you’re interested in spending a few days fly fishing, you can camp nearby. Here, the brook trout and rainbow trout rain supreme.
The Cache Valley has more fly shops per person than anywhere else in Utah. This is not surprising knowing the number of quality fishing waters within a short distance of this scenic rural area. Waters like Blacksmith Fork, which over the years has been one of the more productive trout streams in the state. This is a medium-sized piece of water by western standards, Blacksmith Fork is nevertheless a diverse and challenging fishery. From a small, subalpine stream gaining volume as it cascades through the canyon to the quality water of the lower river, it offers a variety of options for the fly fisher. There is a small section that has spring creek-like conditions above a small hydroelectric dam about halfway downstream.
Types of Fish: Wild brown and cutthroat trout as well as stocked rainbows.
With its source beginning in the fertile valleys of southern Idaho. The Logan River runs rich with aquatic life by the time it passes into Utah. As it flows south through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. This beautiful river passes through some of Utah’s most scenic and pristine country. It is rarely explored except by the occasional adventurous fly rodder. U.S. 89 runs along much of its course, this medium-sized, freestone stream offers excellent dry fly fishing and easy wading. Once the river’s caddis begins to emerge, trout can be lured to a variety of surface as well as subsurface caddis imitations.
The Logan is an excellent river for children to begin fly fishing. Once runoff has subsided and the pleasant days of summer have arrived, this water is as user-friendly as it gets. Types of Fish: Planted rainbows (impoundments), cutthroats, and browns.
Gooseberry Reservoir is a lesser-known body of water for fly fishers, but that’s one of its appeals. A smaller reservoir in a less-populated area of Utah, the reservoir is great for beginners who aren’t as interested in reservoirs up north
Uinta Mountains, South Slope:
The Uinta Mountains are the home to some of Utah’s fly fishing streams and lakes. Of the range’s two slopes, the south is the more heavily fished because of its proximity to Salt Lake. Easy access and many fishable waters make the south slope a fly fisher’s dream, especially if you are willing to explore. The Provo River, Currant Creek, Rock Creek, along with the Duchesne River. These drainages all begin in the alpine basins of the south slope, but the most heavily fished sections of these blue ribbon waters lie outside the wilderness area.
Large stretches of fishable water in the designated wilderness boundaries receive very little angling pressure. Types of Fish: Cutthroats and brookies as well as grayling and golden trout in several lakes. Waters off highway 150 are stocked with large numbers of rainbow and a few albino trout. Splake in Moon Lake.
If you fish Antimony Creek, you need to treat yourself to try another little gem in the Dixie National Forest—Pine Lake. Nestled in otherwise arid surroundings, this little still water is smaller than many of Utah’s better-known lakes and reservoirs, at roughly 77 surface acres. The size is one of its features that I find so appealing. Pine Lake sits in a basin at around 7,500 feet, high enough to provide some relief from the desert heat.
The lake has excellent shallows and other structure conducive to healthy insect and trout populations and is also deep enough to provide good habitat for holdover fish. Types of Fish: Predominantly stocked rainbows, also cutthroats and brookies.
Duchesne River, North Fork:
The cottonwood-lined banks of the Duchesne River, (pronounced ‘du-shane’) the largest of the Uintas’ south-slope streams, contrast sharply with the area’s predominant red sandstone ledges and terraces. The river’s excellent hatches produce some sizable trout, making the Duchesne and its tributaries a favorite destination for area fly anglers. Unfortunately, due to the wrongdoings of inconsiderate sportsmen. Private property owners have closed access to huge portions of the main Duchesne over the past several years.
Those areas that are still accessible to the public are more heavily fished. Although a stealthy angler can still be rewarded on the main river. There are many more adventurous anglers that have begun fishing the North and West Forks of the Duchesne. Types of Fish: Rainbows, cutthroats, browns, brookies, and whitefish.
In a remote area of Utah is a jewel of a stream, it is called Huntington Creek. This medium-sized tail water fishery emerges from the depths of Electric Lake. Then it winds its way through some of the state’s most scenic country. Overshadowed by a series of ridgelines exceeding 10,000 feet, this creek and its tributaries run cool. Their waters are very rich in nutrients and aquatic life. A short section of Huntington Creek just below the reservoir will challenge any angler’s skills. Here the creek’s slow, deep, and clear flow allows wary trout plenty of time to inspect your offering. If you are careful and do some low-profile wading and some delicate presentations you will be justly rewarded.
As Huntington Creek meanders downstream, it picks up speed and takes on the characteristics of a typical western freestone stream. It begins running from a shallow riffle to a pool through a large number of willows, subalpine fir, and cottonwoods. From the bridge below Electric Lake, through its narrow canyon, and down to its joining with the Left Hand Fork. Huntington Creek has a rich riparian corridor, it offers an abundance of aquatic bugs and terrestrial insects along with a variety of water types that serve as excellent trout habitat. Remote enough to keep the angling pressure to a minimum, Huntington Creek is a very consistent fishery throughout the year. Types of Fish: Wild cutthroats and browns, stocked rainbows.
Currant Creek is a small yet a very prolific piece of water for both insects and fish. Running 18 miles from the highway to Currant Creek Reservoir, the creek is a typical small, western freestone water that, despite its size, holds trout up to 16 inches. Although the surrounding countryside is not heavily vegetated, Currant Creek’s banks are lined with dense willows.
In central Utah, at the bottom of Straight Canyon, you can find one of Utah’s most scenic waters. Cottonwood Creek flows through a valley floor covered with sagebrush, juniper, cottonwood, and piñon. They are all shaded by the canyon’s towering sandstone walls.
Did you know, Cottonwood Creek is one of Utah’s lesser-known tail water fisheries? Flowing east out of Joes Valley Reservoir, the creek runs narrow and straight, as the canyon’s name suggests. At the narrowest point, you will be able to easily reach across the water; at its widest, it might be 20 feet from bank to bank.
These waters flow through a minefield of boulders that lend the creek its character and uniqueness. These natural obstacles, in a large variety of shapes and sizes. They concentrate the creek’s otherwise fairly shallow flow into pools unlike those in any other fishery found in Utah. House-sized boulders create deep, placid pools that hold the bulk of the creek’s trout. Types of Fish: Stocked rainbows and wild cutthroats and browns.
Although it is located in a remote part of the state. The Price River, spilling from the bottom of Scofield Reservoir, is another of Utah’s good tailwater fisheries. Perceived fishing pressure on the upper river (below the dam) along with muddy flows on the lower Price. This has kept many fly anglers away from this fine trout fishery.
As you travel south, you will see Utah’s spectacular granite peaks and glaciated valleys. Then along with subalpine meadows, they give way to equally breathtaking red rock. Due to the region’s arid climate, recreational and fishing considerations must often give way to irrigation demands on available water.
If you are a determined angler you can still discover some very productive trout water, as evidenced by Antimony Creek. This creek tumbles cold and clear out of the high elevations of the Dixie National Forest. Antimony Creek is typical of one of Utah’s many small streams. It is shaded by cottonwoods and dense willows and hardly 30 feet across at the most. This jewel of a freestone stream holds trout between 10 to 12 inches with the occasional trophy of 16 inches.”
The exhilarating scenery, the dazzlingly clear water, and with enough big fish to go around. This makes the Green River the premier trout stream in Utah and among the finest in all the western states. This beautiful tailwater fishery was made for drift or wade fly fishing.
The fish population estimates have diminished from the high of 22,000 in the 1980s. They are still an impressive 3,000 to 9,000 trout per mile, according to a 1998 study.
In 1869 the Green was first navigated by a team of explorers led by John Wesley Powell. In 1962 the Bureau of Land Management built the 502-foot-high Thin Arch Dam, forming Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Which generates electricity for Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Regardless of your feelings about damming free-flowing rivers, there was one happy result for fly fishers. It was the creation of one of the most productive tailwater fisheries in the world.
Types of Fish: Planted rainbows, cutthroats, and the occasional brookie. Wild brown trout, and a few whitefish.
Duchesne River, West Fork:
With regards to the North Fork River. Over the years the main part of Duchesne River has been the principal focus of local fishermen. The North and West Forks of the Duchesne River have become popular alternatives for anglers.
Together the main river, with these two branches offer more than 80 miles of immensely diverse water. Most of it is accessible to fly fishers who don’t mind a little hike. Types of Fish: Rainbows, cutthroats, browns, brookies, and whitefish