19 Best Bass Fishing Lakes & Rivers in Utah

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Utah has some excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing opportunities.

Before you laugh and move on, there really are bass here. In some Utah lakes and rivers, there are a lot of bass. 

Few areas in the world offer the incredible scenery and beautiful red rock canyons you’ll experience while casting for black bass. 

Largemouth bass are found in warmer water lakes throughout the state. Smallies are more prevalent in central and northern Utah lakes as well as several rivers across the state.

With places like Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge, Utah has bucket list destinations that live up to the hype, plus plenty more locations where you can catch explosive largemouths and hard-fighting smallmouths.

Black Bass Fishing Tips

Black bass in Utah aren’t much different than anywhere else. The main thing to note is they are more into finesse baits than anything else.

Crankbaits are always a good idea to have in your box. Be sure to have an assortment of lipless, square bill, and a few deep diving types.

Finesse baits like the Ned Rig in watermelon flake or craw, either 2.75-inch or the bigger 4-inch size, will do well almost anywhere in Utah. Or toss a Senko in watermelon/red flake weightless regular or wacky rigged. Experiment with natural colors.

Drop shots with Roboworms in green pumpkin typically do well. Again, natural colors are essential.

Chatterbaits are always fun and should never be left at home. Chuck these bad boys over the grass and see what happens. If nothing at all happens, maybe switch things up.

Catch More Bass

Check out our easy to read guide, Bass Fishing: Simple How-To Fishing Techniques and Tips for more ideas of how to catch largemouth, smallmouth and other black bass.

The Best Largemouth Bass Fishing in Utah

Largemouth bass are found throughout Utah in smaller community ponds and several lakes, though for a real experience, the biggest draw here for bucket mouths is Lake Powell.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell tops our list for several reasons and is a bucket list destination for anglers worldwide for largemouths and several other game fish species.

Located on the very southern border of the state and poking south into northern Arizona, Lake Powell has everything you can think of to make it an epic destination for bass fishing.

Submerged cover, incredible rock structures, abundant forage fish, and fantastic water temps make this lake a breeding ground for big bass. In fact, Powell holds the Utah state game fish record for largemouth with a 10-plus pounder.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass both cruise through the over 2,000 miles of shoreline, eagerly snatching up weightless Senkos and Texas-rigged grubs. 

Due to its size, Lake Powell can be overwhelming.

To narrow things down, look for sloping banks. They’ll stand out because most of the lake is in steep canyon walls. These sloping banks will be covered in larger rocks and boulders.

Fish the slopes until you locate the bass, and then it’s game on. At times, the largemouths will be in deeper water lower down on those slopes. Largemouths will smash your bait, so be ready!

The rear portions of bays and coves are perfect spots to hit during the spawn. These areas are typically filled with rocks and submerged trees. Watch out for the occasional giant black crappie in there as well.

Sand Hollow Reservoir

Sand Hollow has a reputation as one of Utah’s best largemouth bass waters. It’s located near St. George in the southwestern corner of the state and offers easy access to all amenities you could hope for.

The bass fishing at Sand Hollow Reservoir can be epic.

Hooking into bass after bass in the 2- to 3-pound range is a great time. The lake holds quite a few 4- to 6-pound fish as well, with the possibility of landing a largemouth reaching into the neighborhood of 10 pounds.

Shore fishing here can be very productive using jigs or finesse baits. The islands are accessible by boat and have some of the best chances for bigger largemouth. Target them with bigger baits imitating bluegill. 

Topwater works great early mornings and evenings in the spring and summer, so be prepared.

Black crappie are often caught while targeting largies here, so anticipate bringing in a few slabs.

Also, watch out for snorkelers, as this Southern Utah lake stays pretty warm year-round, and divers spearfish here.

Pelican Lake

Pelican Lake is a medium-sized warm water lake near Vernal, in the northeastern corner of Utah. It’s a two-hour drive from this lake to Flaming Gorge.

Pelican is renowned for its bluegill. They get big and are abundant, meaning the largemouth bass have plenty of food to eat.

Plenty of grass and shallow vegetation make this lake perfect for bass, and they don’t disappoint. Try tossing spinnerbaits in the grass for some fast-paced fishing.

Big bluegill patterns should bring in the bigger bass. The bite might be slower, but the fish will be larger.

If quantity is what you’re looking for, Senkos and shallow crankbaits should do the trick; switch to a Ned rig in watermelon flake if nothing is biting.

Quail Creek Reservoir

Quail Creek Reservoir is known for its big bass. It held the state record for years before Powell took over. The big bass are still in there waiting to be caught.

Located a few miles from Sand Hollow in southwestern Utah, Quail Creek has a good population of trout planted each fall. Along with the bluegill, they make excellent forage to grow big largemouths.

Springtime through the mid-fall is the best time to target bass here. They suspend in deeper water through colder weather, though they can still be caught in the 30- to 40-foot range.

Quail Creek is going to challenge your bass fishing skills. You likely won’t have a 25-fish day. However, you might catch the next record.

With trophy fishing in mind, toss big swimbaits. Rainbow trout, shad and bluegill patterns should do the trick.

If the bass aren’t biting, fish near the dam for some big trout or head to the submerged trees for some black crappie. 

Utah Lake

Utah Lake is the biggest natural freshwater lake in Utah, and also one of the best bass fishing lakes near Salt Lake City.

It’s located along I-15 just west of Provo, stretching from Lehi to Spanish Fork, so there are plenty of spots to stop along the way. At roughly 25 miles long, you’ve got plenty of shoreline to explore.

The lake is shallow, with the deepest points only 12 feet. It’s teeming with channel catfish, walleye, white bass, largemouth, smallmouth, perch, carp, northern pike and far too many bullheads.

With the shallow water and a muddy, sediment-covered bottom, the wind turns the water a lovely shade of brown. Most people see this as a reason to avoid the lake.

But the bass like it.

There are some excellent spots around the lake in the reeds and rocky outcroppings to target bass with spinnerbaits cast toward shore into the edge of the weed lines.

Plenty of largemouth bass over 5 pounds are caught here from mid-March well into November. 

Check the current regulations to ensure you don’t keep something you’re not supposed to. There are some protected species in the lake and some tagged pike.

The Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing in Utah

It’s a tossup between Lake Powell and Flaming Gorge for the number one spot on this part of our list.

If you’re looking for more warm-water species to catch besides smallies, Powell wins. If you want to catch salmon and giant trout to go with your bass, go to the Gorge.

Lake Powell

Smallmouth bass were planted as an afterthought in Powell, which has a longer reputation for largemouths already mentioned above. A few left in a fisheries pond were transferred into the lake. Now there are millions.

Until the early 2000s, smallies were just small, thin, stunted fish in Powell. The limit was removed in 2001, and since then, they’ve grown in size.

Fish rocky points and the same sloping areas for them that hold largemouths, and you’ll have great luck year-round. Spring is the best for big fish.

Focus your efforts on coves with smaller crankbaits and crawfish imitations than you’d tie on for big largemouths, and you’ll boost your odds of catching big numbers of smallmouth bass.

Check the current regulations and recommendations for limits and how many to keep. Keeping some or all of your limit at Powell will help keep the population healthy.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir 

Flaming Gorge has everything you need for the perfect smallmouth bass fishery. The Gorge is another bucket list destination for anglers, and for a good reason.

The bass are prolific. If you find the right spot, you can have a 100-fish day. There are so many rocky points and submerged rock piles throughout the length of the lake that you can’t fish them all.

If you aren’t finding bass, move to another spot and try again. If they still aren’t biting, try a Ned rig in green/watermelon flake. Be ready to set the hook on the drop.

A personal favorite spot is next to the dam. The shoreline drops off fast to over 300 feet, and smallmouth are everywhere.

Cast further from shore for big trout cruising in 25 to 40 feet of water at the dam.

After catching bass all day, settle in for some trolling and target the giant lake trout or go for some of the lake’s famous kokanee.

Pineview Reservoir

Pineview is a quick 15-minute drive from Ogden, tucked away in the little town of Huntsville.

The fishing here can be fantastic, though there’s a ton of boat traffic during the summer. Plan to fish early morning or late in the day for your best chances.

Smallmouth bass at Pineview are aggressive, and it’s common to bring in a 3-pounder. Fish up to 5 pounds aren’t rare, and there’s probably a giant somewhere. 

The lake is broken into three arms, with the easiest shore access at Cemetery Point. Other areas have decent shore access, though the lake is best fished by boat.

Plenty of submerged brush and rocky structures provide excellent habitat for big fish, so watch your fish finder and check off rocky points and structures.

There is a good bass population there, and they will go after a drop shot, Ned rig, or a wacky rigged Senko. Crankbaits and swimbaits can also do well.

Tie on a bigger crankbait, and you just might hook a tiger muskie.

East Canyon Reservoir

East Canyon is a quick 30-minute drive from SLC from May through late October and is packed with smallmouths. There are some big trout as well, and this year-round lake even has very good ice fishing.

But when it comes to bass, hit this lake in the spring with a Ned rig, and you’ll be in for an epic session. There are some big fish to catch, along with many smaller ones. 

Throughout the summer, fishing can be hit and miss. Some days can be hot, and the next can be terrible. Once you figure the lake out, you’ll be able to bring in decent numbers each time out.

Drop shot rigs work well around the dam area and will give you a great chance of bringing in a 4- or even 5-pound smallie.

Jordanelle Reservoir

Jordanelle is a 45-minute drive from SLC, just outside Park City and Heber. There’s plenty of amenities around, and the main park has plenty for the family during the summer.

The lake has a lot of bass, and being so close to major populations, it’s a quick getaway during the week to catch some dinner.

Jordanelle will allow you to catch a lot of fish. They might not be the biggest, but some bigger ones are swimming around there. The typical catch is about 1 pound, though a day of catching 50 scrappy bass is a fantastic day in our book.

The rocky points around the lake are the best spots. Toss a green pumpkin Senko wacky rigged. Switch to a drop shot later in the day and target the same points in 25 to 35 feet of water. You’ll have your best chances of finding the big fish at that depth.

Topwater works in the mornings, and use bigger lures to attract the bigger fish. Chatterbaits off points and in coves also can do the trick.

There are rainbows, browns, splake, wipers, tiger muskie, and probably the kitchen sink, so if the bass aren’t biting, try for one of the other species. It’s among the best trout fishing lakes in Utah.

Starvation Reservoir

Starvation has some epic smallmouth action. Its only issue is that it’s pretty remote.

Located about three hours from SLC, there’s camping and some cabins available around the lake for your longer visits, but not a lot of other services. The town of Duchesne is a few miles to the east.

The fishing can be superb. Tons of smallies can be caught from shore. There’s plenty of cover and rocky shoreline for them.

Fish near the boat launches, and you should do well. There are some bigger bass in there, though the majority are between 1 and 2 pounds. 

Typical smallie tactics work well here, and the lake generally receives less pressure than other bass lakes.

If the bass aren’t biting, try for some walleye. Starvation is one of the best walleye lakes in Utah.

Deer Creek Reservoir

Deer Creek (DC) is 15 minutes from Provo and is full of smallies. The pros are that it’s great for quantity and ease of catch. The con is the bass are typically on the small side.

Take the family and spend the day at one of the state parks around the lake. There’s something for everyone, and it’s a great place to learn how to bass fish.

The entire lake is accessible from shore, so if you’re up for a hike, park near the train tracks on the northwest side and hike the western shoreline. It receives far less pressure and has bigger fish.

Some largemouth bass can be caught along that section as well.

Swimbaits, crankbaits, drop shot rigs and Ned rigs work well at DC. There’s a good bluegill population, so bluegill patterns are effective.

Try out some topwater early and late in the day for some added excitement.

The lake also has a good number of trout and walleye.

Echo Reservoir

Echo is up I-80 an hour from SLC. Its water levels fluctuate throughout the summer, though the bass fishing stays pretty consistent in warmer weather.

There are a lot of bass in the lake, and you’re apt to catch some bigger fish if you give it a good try. Smallies in the 2- to 4-pound range are fairly common.

Fish along the rocky shoreline for the best chance of landing a monster. Reeds, submerged trees, and bushes at the shallow end offer great cover for spring fishing.

Hit this lake early with a popper, and you’ll be in for an epic time. As it warms up and the fish go deeper, switch to finesse rigs like Senkos or Ned rigs.

Echo Reservoir also has one of Utah’s best yellow perch fisheries.

Rockport Reservoir

Rockport is another great spot about 45 minutes east of SLC. It’s loaded with smallies that are super active in the morning and evening. Spend the afternoon targeting trout or swimming.

The area near the dam is perfect bass habitat. Rocky cover with a gradual drop to deeper water covered with crawfish and minnows is basically a dinner bell for bass. They’re easy to catch in the morning here, though getting snagged also is easy. 

Most of the shoreline is rocky and holds bass. Fish the points, targeting the deeper water as the day wears on.

If you’re out on a boat, fish deeper in the afternoon, and you’ll still find success.

Best Bass Fishing Rivers in Utah

Four main rivers in Utah hold bass. The Colorado River tops the list, followed by the lower Green River, the Sevier and the Jordan River.

Colorado River

The Colorado River runs through the southeast corner of Utah, entering the state near Grand Junction, Colorado, before exiting at the bottom of Glenn Canyon Dam in Arizona.

Miles of fantastic fishing and epic whitewater comes between the Colorado border and the beginning of Lake Powell. It’s a vast area to search, but bass are everywhere, so keep moving until you find success.

Moab is the central hub for this area and has excellent shore access to the river. The prime fishing times here are between early March and early June, then September through late November.

Summers in Moab are hot, and that brings a lull to the bass fishing.

Fish the coves and slack waters with Senkos, drop shot rigs, crankbaits or natural worms for bass. The fishing pressure in this area is typically pretty light, so you should do well.

If the bass aren’t biting, try for the catfish. Catfish don’t mind the heat as much, and night fishing can be productive. The cats are abundant and often big. Channel cats in the 15- to 20-pound range are pretty standard, with lots more in the smaller “eater” sizes.

Lower Green River

This river system is best known as one of America’s and Utah’s best fly fishing rivers, but that’s far upriver before the Green detours into and back out of Colorado.

For bass you’ll be heading quite a bit farther south.

Start your day in the community of Green River along Interstate 70 and head to the state park there. Fishing can be good for bass as well as excellent for catfish.

The section north of the park to the Colorado border holds good numbers of smallmouth bass. Hastings Road follows part of the stream, while a smattering of boat launches and campgrounds dot some of the accessible points in remote areas closer to the state line.

Downriver from I-70 you’ll also run into fantastic smallmouth bass fishing. Hit the coves and slower waters to find them.

However, if you’re boating downriver, know that there aren’t too many options to exit the river after entering at Green River, so you’ll want to plan ahead for a long float.

Some anglers will venture on a 120-mile float through class III and IV rapids, so this is a much bigger adventure and those who embark on it need to be well-prepared.

Sevier River

The Sevier runs in sections through the middle and southern portions of the state.

In the river near Delta, an hour and a half southwest of Provo, the bass fishing can be fast. They aren’t huge, but the numbers are good.

The section runs for about 25 miles and has decent shore access for most of the way.

It’s not a huge river, so targeting the deeper sections and slower pools will give you the best chances of finding the bigger bass.

There are a lot of catfish as well as some pike mixed in.

The eastern fork of the Sevier is a blue water trout fishery running through the National Park areas, so it’s definitely worth the trip if you’re into fly fishing.

Jordan River

Jordan River runs from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake through the center of Salt Lake Valley. It has both largemouth and smallmouth bass, with some getting up to decent size.

There are several easy access points throughout its length, with community ponds planted with bass along the river.

Honorable Mentions

These reservoirs near Salt Lake City and Ogden at times can offer great fishing and produce epic bass days close to home, but they aren’t quite as good as our top list.

Mantua Reservoir

Mantua Reservoir has a nice population of both small and largemouth bass close to home for many Utahns.

Just a half hour north of Ogden, it’s definitely worth checking out and at times it would earn a spot higher on this list. The bite isn’t always consistent, though the chance of getting a decent sized bass is good.

Epic bluegill fishing can be found here as well.

Willard Bay Reservoir

Smallmouth bass at Willard Bay can be targeted from the east dike and both sides of the south marina, a short trip north of Ogden.

Fish along the dike at a 45-degree angle, and you’ll be into bass in no time. Don’t forget about the lakes excellent wiper fishing while you’re there.