Utah is home to some of the best trout fishing in the West. If you’re hunting for trophy trout, look no further than Utah’s incredible fishing lakes.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has established the state as a go-to fishing destination by creating aggressive stocking and management policies on most lakes. This has led to more trophy-sized fish being caught, like the 53-pound, 15-ounce Mackinaw taken from Flaming Gorge in 2020.
High mountain lakes with crystal-clear water hold rainbow, cutthroat, tiger, brook, splake and brown trout just waiting to smack a well-placed tube jig or streamer.
Catching a 25-inch cutthroat trout at Strawberry Reservoir on one cast, then bringing in an 18-inch rainbow with the next, is a thing of beauty.
Trout fishing in Utah can be as simple as using a nightcrawler and a bobber. Or you can troll with a dodger and lure tipped with bait.
The point is, you can go simple or complicated. Either will catch fish.
Certain lakes have their techniques, like at Strawberry, you’re likely to do well from a boat with a white tube jig tipped with a bit of worm. At Flaming Gorge, a nightcrawler or PowerBait in the top 50 feet will likely catch something.
Fishing from shore is usually done with PowerBait or nightcrawlers, while boats see more lure action.
Trolling with Kastmasters tipped with a piece of worm will bring in good numbers of feisty rainbows at Rockport in 30 to 50 feet of water, while fishing the same lake from shore will get you into smallmouth bass.
Jigging straight down at Flaming Gorge and Fish Lake can be very successful when targeting lake trout. Flaming Gorge, in particular, has an abundance of pups in the 3- to 10-pound range that make excellent table fare.
This article focuses on lakes and includes plenty of conventional bait and lure methods in addition to fly fishing options.
If flicking flies is where it’s at for you, be sure to also check out our complete guide to the Best Fly Fishing Rivers and Lakes in Utah.
The Best Trout Lakes in Utah
There’s always a heated discussion about which lake is the best, but for us this first entry on our full list usually stands out above the others for overall quality and reliability.
But keep reading because this list is chock full of lakes with all kinds of trout and other popular game fish, some to once-in-a-lifetime sizes. There’s a lake with big, hungry trout in whatever part of Utah you’re in.
The Berry, as it is affectionately known, is a large reservoir located about two hours east of Salt Lake City.
Most of Strawberry Reservoir’s shoreline is accessible to anglers, though it requires a hike. There are some excellent access points with ample parking and facilities dispersed around the lake.
Strawberry’s primary gamefish are rainbow and cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon.
Red shiners are the primary trout forage, though some chubs also are found.
The preferred method from a boat is working a white tube jig with a bit of worm or chub meat on the tip.
Special regulations for the Berry keep trophy trout growing each year. There’s a slot restriction: all trout between 15 to 22 inches must be released.
Trolling for kokanee is very productive, with most fish falling in the 14- to 16-inch range.
Ice fishing at the Berry is some of the best in the state, with hungry cutthroat and rainbows eagerly snatching up tube jigs tipped with wax worms or nightcrawlers. Bring an ice shelter if you have one. It gets windy here.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Flaming Gorge is a vast lake. It stretches from Utah into Wyoming and has trophy browns, rainbows, lake trout, kokanee and smallmouth bass cruising around its waters.
Shore anglers have good chances at the trout with worms and PowerBait with bubbles filled with water cast as far as you can get them.
Ned rigs and Texas rigged soft plastics work well for smallies.
Boat anglers will do well jigging from the surface to 50-feet searching for rainbows and browns.
The smaller lakers are likely to bite in this depth range as well. Deeper down, you’ll find the big boys.
The lake has recently produced a laker of nearly 54 pounds, while macks in the 20- to 40-pound range are almost commonplace. The lake has produced Utah state records not just for lake trout but also for rainbows and browns.
The Gorge is a 3 ½ hour drive from SLC and has plenty of camping, lodging, and other amenities around to make your stay comfortable and memorable.
Fish Lake is in South-Central Utah, and a 3-hour drive south of SLC will get you there.
As you enter the caldera the lake is formed in, you’ll pass the aspen grove Pando, the largest single living organism on the planet.
The lake has some of the biggest splake you’ll find around the state. Maybe not as big as Pando, but 16-pound-plus fish have been caught here.
Late fall is the best time to target these brook-lake trout hybrids on open water, though they also are very active through the ice. Find some perch to use as bait, and you’ve got the perfect dinner bell for splake.
Lake trout are everywhere in Fish Lake. One strategy is to find a school of kokanee and fish a few feet above or below it. The larger lakers will swim along, waiting for a snack to stray a bit from the school.
There are several campgrounds, cabins and private rentals at the lake. A few small convenience stores are available, and the lodge has a small restaurant.
Currant Creek Reservoir
Currant Creek is about 20 miles up the road from the Berry, but it feels like another world. The cutthroat, tiger trout and rainbows cruising its depths will keep you busy through June.
July and August find the fish heading deeper, and trolling techniques work well at that time.
In the fall, you can find tigers within a few feet of shore snacking on minnows. Toss a No. 2 Blue Fox in gold color, and you should have some luck. A fly and bobber works as well.
Like Strawberry Reservoir, Currant Creek Reservoir also can be quite good for ice fishing.
The creek below the reservoir is a fantastic fly-fishing destination to check out.
Bear Lake is 2 ½ hours north of SLC straddling the Idaho border, and it offers everything you are looking for as a destination resort.
Camping, fishing, water sports, cabins, resorts and restaurants surround a portion of the lake, though you can still find some pristine shoreline to have some alone time.
The lake has cutthroat, lake trout, Bonneville cisco, whitefish and sculpin.
The trout are the big attractions for anglers. The cutts grow to over 10 pounds, and the lakers can top 20 pounds. The water is so blue and clear that the fish look like whales as you reel them in. It’s an incredible experience.
The best approach is by boat, trolling depths between 50 to 100 feet.
Bear Lake freezes over about seven out of every 10 years, and when it does, it offers excellent ice fishing.
Porcupine, or as we call it, the Pig, is a fantastic destination for kokanee, rainbows, browns, cutthroat and splake. Located about an hour north of Ogden, this northern Utah fishery is one of the very finest trout waters in the state.
Recent Utah DWR surveys at the Pig have netted browns up to 30 inches, while anglers have been catching decent numbers of rainbows, cutthroat and browns.
If you are in the area during ice off, head to Porcupine Reservoir and fish near the ice sheet. You’ll have an epic day with a white tube jig tipped with chub meat.
Trolling throughout the spring and summer is productive for both trout and kokanee.
When targeting the big browns, find the kokes and fish just below them with some koke patterns. There are some real monsters in there just waiting for an easy meal.
Splake were introduced in 2016 and have been stocked frequently since. Splake are an aggressive predator and go after minnows and imitations with abandon.
Early and late in the year, they can be found in the shallows. Through the ice, they like chub meat or minnows on jigs.
Porcupine Reservoir offers excellent fishing year-round and incredible scenery in a beautiful mountain setting.
Early fall comes with a kokanee salmon run up the creek, which invites the local predatory mammals and birds from all around to come down for an easy meal. It’s worth the trip.
Jordanelle is just a short 45-minute drive from Salt Lake City, nestled in a valley between Park City and Heber. Deer Valley Ski Resort borders the side of the lake, and there are plenty of rentals and camping spots.
The lake has rainbows, browns, splake, kokanee, tiger muskie, wipers, smallmouth bass and perch.
The browns get big in here, with catches of 10-pounds-plus occurring often. Splake, wiper, kokanee and tiger muskie were added to the reservoir in the last few years and have been thriving.
Shore fishing for trout is decent year-round unless the lake is frozen, which doesn’t occur every year. Standard techniques work well; nightcrawlers and PowerBait are the usual go-to’s here.
Boats do well trolling in 20 to 30 feet for browns and rainbows. They go a bit deeper during the summer heat, so change your depth accordingly.
Since the lake is so close to significant populations, it gets jam-packed. Water sports are popular here, so the lake may be hectic between 10 a.m. and 5 or 6 in the evening on summer weekends.
Jordanelle Reservoir is built on the Provo River near Park City, which is one of the best fly fishing rivers near the greater Salt Lake City area.
Deer Creek Reservoir
Deer Creek, or DC, is a short 20-minute drive up the canyon from Provo or an hour from SLC. Located at the end of the Heber Valley, there’s plenty of lodging and places to get supplies nearby.
The entire lake is surrounded by public access, so you don’t need to worry about crossing private property to get to the water.
The lake is full of football-shaped rainbows in the 2- to 5-pound range, eager to rise to a well-placed streamer or leech pattern. Shore anglers do well with PowerBait.
The lake has three state parks with boat launches and gets busy in the summer. Fishing in the morning and evening is recommended in warmer weather.
The west side of the lake is the best place to target bass but is only accessible by foot. Watch for the local steam locomotive “The Heber Creeper” as it takes tours creeping down the canyon. It runs along the west side.
Scofield is another one of the best ice fishing lakes in Utah. Located about 1 ½ hour from Provo, this high-altitude reservoir is full of rainbows, cutthroats and tiger trout. The tigers get big here and take after anything resembling a chub.
Toss a minnow under a bobber, and you’ll likely bring in a tiger.
The lake is packed with red shiners, so bring along a fish trap and bread. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to fish with live minnows in Utah, so toss them on ice and be sure they’re dead before casting out.
The cutthroat and ‘bows will take minnows as well, so you’re in for a great day with red shiners. White tube jigs with red shiners are magic here. Troll or jig them and be ready for some giants to crush your line.
The tributaries are closed from January 1 through mid-July for the cutthroat spawn, but they offer great fly-fishing action once open.
The area around Scofield also boasts some excellent sightseeing and is home to one of the deadliest mining disasters in the nation’s history.
Joes Valley Reservoir
Joes Valley Reservoir has bragging rights for days. It’s home to Utah’s catch and release record 30.5-inch splake. The previous record came from Joes Valley. Cutthroat, rainbows and tiger trout also grow big here.
Two hours from Provo and three from SLC will get you into central Utah and Joes Valley Reservoir. The lake is widely renowned as a fantastic trout and tiger muskie fishery and consistently produces splake in the 20- to 24-inch range.
Hit Joes in late April and early May with a fly rod and target 20 to 25 feet of water with white, brown or olive-colored streamers for some fantastic splake and tiger trout action. Rainbows will snap up a well-placed streamer as well.
White tube jigs tipped with chub meat work well jigged through the ice or off a boat for trout and muskies.
The area is also renowned for its world-class bouldering. Plan on staying for a few days and experiencing everything it has to offer.
Several campgrounds are in the area, and the local towns cater to tourism.
Boulder Mountain Lakes
Boulder Mountain has several smaller lakes that offer trophy tiger and brook trout. Brook trout grow exceptionally large around here, including the state record 7.5-pound brookie.
Located in southern Utah, Boulder Mountain isn’t close to anywhere. It takes 5 ½ hours from SLC and about the same from Las Vegas.
Once you arrive, be sure to check in with the local tackle shop in Boulder to see what the best tactics are and where the fish are biting.
Some guides are reasonably priced in the area to help you get to the right lake and score that once in a lifetime 5-pound-plus plus brook trout.
Tiger trout are planted in the area as well and are aggressive. Toss a lure tipped with a bit of minnow or a worm, and you’ll be into them.
The mountain is in complete contrast to the surrounding area. Slot canyons and natural arches are everywhere; then, there’s a small mountain range with a peak of over 11,000 feet.
Uinta Mountain Lakes
The Uinta Mountains offer some of the best high-alpine fishing anywhere. Located an hour east of SLC, the range offers literally hundreds of lakes.
Several lakes can be accessed from roads, or you can plan a backpacking trip for an overnight or a week.
Rainbows, cutthroats, brookies, tigers and even arctic grayling will eagerly chase down a well-placed Joes Fly or Jakes Spin A Lure.
Mirror lake, one of the larger lakes in the range, has crystal-clear water filled with rainbows, brook trout and tiger trout. Plan ahead and arrive early. This lake is popular and close to the city.
Trial Lake and Washington Lake are also great trout lakes within a few miles of Mirror Lake and provide fast action for ‘bows.
Additionally, tiger trout up to 18 inches have been caught at Washington, while albino trout are frequently planted in Trial.
There are several developed campgrounds around the area, along with primitive camping.
East Canyon Reservoir
East Canyon is a short 45-minute drive from SLC from late spring through late fall. After the first snow falls, the direct route from the city to the lake is closed, adding an extra hour to the drive time.
Rainbows, cutthroat, tiger trout, splake, browns and kokanee are possible catches, along with smallmouth bass, black crappie and wipers.
Trolling for trout is the preferred method. Tube jigs with a minnow or sucker meat work well, as do other lures fished in 20 to 40 feet of water. Look for schools of kokanee to find the occasional brown, though browns are hard to come by here.
Depending on the day, the smallmouth fishing can range from good to fantastic. The best areas for bass are near the dam and the state park, while trout tend to hold in the lake’s main channel.
Rainbows can be caught from shore using nightcrawlers or garlic PowerBait. Shore access is available around most of the lake, though access can be difficult. As the name says, East Canyon is in a canyon, and the banks are steep.
The state park has camping, food, boat rentals and a boat launch. There are other camping and lodging facilities available in the area as well.
Causey Reservoir is a 45-minute drive up Ogden Canyon from Ogden. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the state, and at the end of it, you’ll find the idyllic Causey Reservoir, which doesn’t allow powerboats.
Trout fishing can range from decent to on fire at Causey. Since there aren’t powerboats, there’s no wake to worry about. Head out in your float tube for a relaxing day casting flies to eager rainbows and tiger trout.
Rapalas work well, as do other imitation minnow baits. The standard tube jig with a bit of nightcrawler or chub meat is always a good standby.
The lake fishes well throughout the year, though the best action is in the fall. Hit the lake in mid-September through mid-November for your best experience. The fish are filling up for the winter and will snap up anything in front of them.
If Causey is slow, Pineview Reservoir is just down the road, and the Ogden River is right there. Plenty of opportunities are available in the area to catch more fish.
Otter Creek Reservoir
Otter Creek Reservoir, located about 50 miles south of Richfield, and 3 ½ hours south of SLC, has some trophy rainbows, browns, wipers and smallmouth bass.
The rainbows are planted regularly and compete with the lake’s abundant chub population. The UDWR has planted wipers to help limit the chub population. Now the lake has wipers over 8 pounds, and rainbows are regularly caught over 6 pounds.
Browns have been planted here regularly, though they tend to head up Otter Creek, where fly fishing for them can be exceptional. The lake doesn’t hold as many as the creek above, but browns in the lake have gone as high as 11 pounds.
Camping is available at the reservoir, and there are other major fishing destinations nearby as well.
While these lakes might not produce as consistently, they provide great trophy trout fishing.
Electric Lake is a 2-hour drive southeast of SLC and an hour from Provo. Cutthroat and tiger trout and kokanee salmon are the main draws.
The area around the dam offers good to great fishing for tigers and cutthroat in late spring through mid-July. Once the water warms, try trolling deeper with needlefish tipped with red shiners.
When you head to Electric Lake in the late spring, be sure to bring a fish trap. The red shiners are everywhere and make an excellent bait throughout most of the state. Take a cooler of ice to keep them fresh and freeze them in baggies at home.
The southern fingers of the lake can be productive in the fall for tiger trout. Try a lure tipped with a red shiner for your best chance.
The UDWR surveys have shown tiger trout over 4 pounds in their nets, so bigger fish are in the reservoir.
Located just west of Beaver, and a little under 3 hours south of SLC, this little reservoir boasts trophy rainbows and bass.
The most productive times to fish here are from late March through June, then again from September through late November.
The water is used for irrigation in the summer, so the lake level can drop significantly. If the water is low and warm, pass this lake by and don’t stress the fish or quickly bring them to the net.
Fly fishing is the chosen method here, with streamers in black, olive and brown being the most popular colors. Casting from shore works, as does wading or using a float tube.
Lost Creek Reservoir
Lost Creek is a 2-hour drive from SLC, during which you’ll pass Rockport, Echo Reservoir and the Weber River. These are great spots to catch big trout. Lost Creek also has great fishing, though it can be a bit hit and miss.
Splake, rainbows, tigers, cutthroat, browns and kokanee are possible catches here.
The lake is wakeless, so trolling from a kick boat or kayak works well, as does casting a streamer with a sinking line.
The winter ice can bring great fishing for tigers and cutthroat in 30 to 50 feet of water. Tip a jig with sucker meat and lightly jig it a few feet off the bottom for your best chances.
There are giants in the lake. Patience, practice and perseverance will eventually pay off.