Fishing Wiki - Flaming Gorge Reservoir

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May 25 - Rating: Good - Full Report

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Current Conditions (Edit This)

Ice is retreating on the reservoir. The Utah side is mostly ice free and boats can launch from all Utah marinas. Fish are scattered in the cold water. Large lake trout are sometimes caught during the spring by anglers long-lining lures. The big macks are normally deep but at this time of year you may catch them at any depth.

Guides (Edit This)
Creative Fishing Adventures
Conquest Expeditions
Trophy Fishing Guides
Cedar Springs Marina
Flaming Gorge Fishing Co.

Nearby Lodges (Edit This)
Red Canyon Lodge
Flaming Gorge Resort

Description (Edit This)
Flaming Gorge is a large, cold-water reservoir straddling the Utah/Wyoming border. Fishing and water sports are very popular there. Flaming Gorge is one of the best lake trout waters in the US, with fish occasionally going over 40 pounds. The Utah record lake trout (51 lb 8 oz) was caught at Flaming Gorge in 1988, and there may yet be a bigger one swimming in the reservoir now. Flaming Gorge also produced Utah's record brown trout (33 lb 10 oz) and rainbow trout (26 lb 2 oz).

Flaming Gorge is also Utah's best kokanee salmon water. In addition, it supports an incredible number of smallmouth bass. Recently, burbot were illegally introduced into the drainage and are now rapidly spreading through the reservoir. Fishing for burbot can be fast in spots. All burbot must be harvested if caught in Utah, to help control their population. Burbot are a slender, smooth-skinned fish with white, flaky flesh. They are considered excellent eating.

Location (Edit This)
NE Utah and southern Wyoming
    180 miles from Salt Lake City
    40 miles from Vernal
    20 miles from Green River WY

Primary Species (Edit This)
Kokanee salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, some brown trout, smallmouth bass and burbot (ling)

Special Regulations (Edit This)
Limit 4 trout or kokanee salmon (excluding lake trout) in the aggregate. No more than 3 of these may be kokanee salmon. Limit 8 lake trout/mackinaw, only 1 of which can exceed 28 inches. All kokanee salmon caught from Sept 10 through Nov 30 must be immediately released.

Limit 6 catfish.

Limit 10 smallmouth and largemouth bass in the aggregate.

No limit for burbot. All burbot caught must be killed immediately.

No line may have more than 3 baited hooks or artificial flies in series or more than 3 lures.

When ice fishing, the size of the hole may not exceed 18 inches. A single person may use up to 6 lines without a second-pole permit when ice fishing. When fishing with more than two lines, the angler's name must be attached to each line, pole, or tip-up, and the angler can check only their own lines.

Spearfishing for burbot is permitted Jan 1 through Dec 31 (all year), 24 hours a day. Artificial light is permitted when spearfishing for burbot.

Spearfishing for other fish is not permitted between the official hours of sunset and sunrise, and artificial lighting is not permitted when spearfishing for anything but burbot.

Linwood Bay (west of a line from the easternmost point of the south shore of Linwood Bay-mouth of the canyon-to easternmost point of the north shore of Linwood Bay, Lucern Point) is closed between official sunset and sunrise, Oct 15 until 6 am on the second Saturday of December.

Seasonal Factors (Edit This)
Winters are very cold in Flaming Gorge country, but the Utah portion of the main lake usually does not freeze. Ice fishing is popular on the Wyoming portion, and on some arms and bays in Utah. Ice fishing can be very good for burbot and rainbows, beginning in mid-December. Anglers also target lake trout through the ice. Smaller lake trout range freely and are often caught by anglers fishing for rainbows. Action for larger fish is always spotty and difficult.

Since the Utah portion of the lake usually does not freeze, boat fishing is possible year-round but not common until ice and snow melt from ramps - usually in late March or April. Fishing is very good at that time for rainbows and small lake trout. Because water temperatures are cold, larger lake trout can range freely and are occasionally caught near the surface.

As the water warms, larger lake trout move deep. During summer and fall they are almost always caught deep, often down 80-100 feet. To reach them anglers jig with large, heavy hooks tipped with bait, or troll with electronic downriggers programmed to keep lures just off the bottom. Flatfish and Rapalas are effective when fished at appropriate depths.

Larger lake trout migrate toward the upper lake during winter. Many fish spawn in the Linwood Bay area, beginning in mid-October. Fishermen will cluster over humps in the bay, where the fish spawn.

Smallmouth bass become active in June and offer very good fishing into October. They spawn in mid or late June, moving shallow where they are caught easily in large numbers. As summer progresses they move deeper. They are often caught by anglers working crankbaits or jigs at various depths.

Kokanee can be caught year-round, but action is usually best during late summer and early fall when mature fish congregate near spawning areas. They hit flashy lures trolled behind a downrigger. During early summer they may be at depths of 25-30 feet. By August they may be down 60-70 feet. They can also be caught jigging vertically. A good fish finder is very helpful.

Troll a small lure just under the surface and you can usually catch rainbows year-round. Rainbows and also be caught fishing baits from shore or boat.

Burbot are commonly caught fishing a white or glo-colored jig tipped with bait, near the bottom in water 10-40 feet deep.

On the Wyoming side, the lake is in open country and wind can be a factor. In Utah most of the lake is in deep canyons where it is somewhat sheltered.

Lures and Techniques (Edit This)
Rainbows are easy to catch at Flaming Gorge. During most of the year they readily take flies, lures and baits fishing shallow or deep. During the heat of summer you need to use some technique to get baits deeper to catch fish.

Lake trout usually stay in deep water and are taken on lures or jigs. During early spring and late fall they range more freely and may be taken near the surface but most macks, including virtually all big fish, are taken down 80 or more feet. One of the best techniques is to use electronic downriggers that automatically tack the bottom and adjust the depth of lures. Heavy jigs can be fished from a stationary boat or trough the ice, and they can also be effective. However, it is difficult to hold a boat over fish if there is even a slight breeze. Tube jigs, gitzits, Rapala-like lures and other fish-imitating lures are effective.

Many lake trout migrate uplake during the later fall and downlake during the early spring.

Smallmouth are taken with a wide variety of lures and baits. One of the easiest and most common technique is to work plastic jigs along rocky shorelines. Crank baits, spinner baits, worms and many other lures/baits also take fish. This reservoir supports a large number of small bass and they are easy to catch. Larger bass are usually found deeper than the small fish and so techniques must be adjusted to get down to those fish.

Kokanee are usually caught trolling small lures at depths of 30-80 feet. The depth varies throughout the year and so a fish finder is very helpful to identify productive zones.