The Flaming Gorge area offers some of the best fishing in Utah, for a wide variety of fish species. Even relatively inexperienced fishers usually catch fish here, because the waters are so productive. Professional guides are available for trips at Flaming Gorge, the Green River and into the Uinta Mountains.
Fishing Flaming Gorge
Flaming Gorge itself is very popular and very productive. It is famous for big lake trout - the Utah state record weighed a whopping 51 pounds, 8 ounces. Rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass and burbot are also numerous and relatively easy to catch. Brown and cutthroat trout and other species are present in the reservoir in lesser numbers.
Fishing can be good from shore in some spots but most anglers say the best success comes by fishing from boats. Trolling and jigging are effective techniques for the lake trout and rainbows. Virtually all kokanee caught are taken trolling. Standard bass fishing techniques work for the smallmouth, which are often caught by anglers working jigs and crankbaits along the lake's rocky shorelines.
Fishing The Green River
The Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam is a renowned brown trout fishery. Special regulations protect the fish and allow them to grow big. Fly fishermen are attracted to the river, but spinning gear can also be productive. Natural baits are not allowed. Limited harvest is allowed; check the Utah fishing proclamation for the latest information.
The Green is a large river and foot access is limited. The most productive way to fish is from a drift boat. Such boats allow you to move from productive run to productive run, crossing from one side of the river to the other. Anglers cast while the boat drifts along, or anchor the boat near productive spots.
Boats with motors are not allowed to operate on the river. Some anglers float down the river in float tubes, or on personal pontoon craft.
The river includes some relatively mild whitewater. The rapids can range up to Class III, depending on flow rates.
People also fish by hiking riverbank trails to promising spots and then wading into the river. Some begin at the dam and fish their way downstream. Others drive to Little Hole and fish up or downstream. The Browns Park area also attracts some wade fishermen. The number of fish per mile is lower in the Browns Park area, but there are some big brown trout down there.
Because the Green is a big river, it is impossible to wade across it in this area. It is very difficult to swim across.
The Uinta Mountains offer hundreds of fishable lakes and streams inhabited by hungry trout. Cutthroat and brook trout are common here but there are also rainbows in some waters. Streams and lakes at lower elevations offer brown trout.
Arctic grayling inhabit some high elevation lakes. In past years there have been a few golden trout, but they are very difficult to find.
Calder Reservoir, located on Diamond Mountain south of Flaming Gorge, is considered a blue-ribbon fishery for cutthroat and rainbow trout.
Steinaker Reservoir, to the south near Vernal, is considered a blue-ribbon water with good fishing for rainbows, brown trout, largermouth bass, bluegill and green sunfish.
There are literally hundreds of good fishing waters in this area. Most visitors focus on the bigger, well-known waters and so some lakes and streams receive relatively light pressure.
Several waters in this area offer good ice fishing. Flaming Gorge itself is slow to freeze because it is so deep. The upper lake usually freezes solid shortly after Christmas. On the Utah side, ice may form down into Lucerne Bay and maybe all the way to Sheep Creek, on cold years. The area near the dam usually has boatable open water all through the winter.
Lake trout, rainbows and burbot are commonly caught through the ice at Flaming Gorge.
Fly fishermen get out on the Green River year-round. Trout are not as active during the dead of winter, but they can still be caught by anglers who adjust to winter techniques.
The Flaming Gorge Dam was built to allow outflow to be drawn from various depths, and that capacity is used to optimize the temperature of the water in the river below the dam. As a result, trout grow rapidly in the river and stay active longer into the cold months.
It is fun to explore here, to find good fishing off the beaten path.