Utah has some epic yellow perch fishing locations. Incredible lakes tucked away in the high alpine air are teeming with these delicious panfish.
With that said, Utah has a bit of a yellow perch problem. Or, more specifically, Utah has an abundance of yellow perch waiting for anglers.
Once the hard deck sets in and anglers can do some ice fishing, it’s perch on. Yellow perch certainly can be caught the rest of the year, but many anglers are off pursuing trout, kokanee and other game fish and tend to leave the perch alone.
Places like Mantua, Fish Lake, Deer Creek, Rockport, and Pineview hold large numbers of yellow perch.
The feisty little fish do incredibly well wherever perch have been planted in the state. They’re so prevalent in some waters that limits are either set at 50 fish or are removed completely.
Double-check the local regulations before you head out to the lake. You don’t want to catch a bucket full only to find they have a ten fish limit. Some lakes have well-maintained populations that don’t require excessive harvesting.
Tips for Catching Yellow Perch
Yellow perch are a schooling fish, which means when you find one, you’ll find more. They tend to school by age range, which means smaller, younger fish school together, and the larger fish school separately.
Younger perch school in higher numbers since they’re more prevalent. Once you find the school, you can have fast action for as long as you want to stay on them.
Yellow perch don’t take much finessing to catch. Put a bit of worm on the hook tip with enough weight to sink it to the proper depth, and you’re set. Yellow perch rarely, if ever, feed at night.
Perch bite on almost anything, including bits of other perch. If you run out of bait, pop a perch eyeball on the hook, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you catch the next one.
Other baits that work well are mealworms, wax worms, and other fish meat. Add some flash to the presentation with an attractor about a foot above the bait. If you’re fishing with your friends, you’ll catch more and have bragging rights at the fish fry.
Small streamers work well for fly fishing, as do San Juan worms. Basically, anything that resembles a minnow or a worm will bring yellow perch in.
You’ll find even more yellow perch fishing tips and techniques in our easy angling guide.
The Best Yellow Perch Fishing in Utah
There are some genuinely epic spots in Utah to catch these little fighters. Most lakes with yellow perch offer at least reasonable catch rates, and some are just plain epic.
Here are the ones we recommend most heartily.
Fish Lake is located three hours south of Salt Lake City and is on top of a mountain. The perch are everywhere.
A weed bed lines the western half of the lake, which provides the perfect cover for yellow perch. At times they can overpopulate, causing the catch rate to skyrocket. Catching 100 perch in a day is incredible, even if they’re stunted at 4 to 6 inches long.
There are bigger perch in there, but on the average year, they tend toward the smaller size. You’ll have no issue catching them whether fishing from shore, boat or ice. Ice fishing for perch is the most popular way they’re targeted in Utah.
Some of the best spots are along the south side of Twin Creeks and along the southern end of the lake in the weed beds.
Fish Lake also has other angling options as well, including being one of the better kokanee fishing options in Utah.
Hyrum has some fantastic yellow perch fishing, and as a bonus, it’s easy to get to and easy to set up for ice fishing. It’s about 75 miles north of SLC, just outside the city of Hyrum.
The lake is relatively small, at 300 acres, but it’s easy to get out on, and the perch catch rates are always high. They average 8 to 10 inches in length, though bigger ones are caught regularly.
Use ice flies tipped with wax worms, or in the summer, use a green crappie jig with a bit of nightcrawler on the hook. The area by the boat ramp is always a good spot, and along the southern end can be productive.
There are bluegill and a lot of trout in there as well.
Mantua has good to great fishing for yellow perch. It’s a quick hour’s drive north of SLC and is very popular all year long. Ice fishing is popular here, and some days can see a few hundred anglers catching perch and trout.
The east side of the lake is a good spot along the shoreline in the spring. As summer heats up, the perch move deeper. Target them in 15 to 25 feet of water, usually two or three feet from the bottom.
If the perch aren’t biting, change your bait. Then, if they still aren’t biting, it’s just not your day.
Besides perch and trout, Mantua has a decent bass fishery and is among the better spots in Utah to catch bluegill.
Echo is an hour’s drive east of SLC and has yellow perch, bass and rainbow trout. The perch and trout are very active under the ice and can make for an epic day.
While the bass fishing here in warmer weather can rate among the best in Utah, they aren’t interested in cold, so they ignore most things in winter.
Head to the state park and fish along the rocks. From the park around to the dam is all prime perch habitat.
Fishing throughout the summer is also very good. Cast from shore along the service road to the dam and slowly retrieve if there are no waves or wind. If it’s windy, let the bait sit.
The trout will eagerly take your yellow perch offerings through the ice, though they are less interested in the summertime.
Deer Creek Reservoir
DC was once the top yellow perch fishery in Utah. It was almost impossible to catch anything else in Deer Creek. Now it’s been appropriately managed, and the perch numbers are way down to a reasonable level.
There’s plenty of perch in there, don’t get me wrong. You’ll find hundreds of anglers out in the winter pulling them through the ice, along with some big trout.
The state park areas are always productive. From a boat, the entire eastern shoreline in 15 to 30 of water can be fantastic.
Deer Creek has multiple fisheries to keep you busy, including one of the state’s better lake fisheries for trout including rainbows and browns, and a white bass population biologists would love for you to reduce.
When everything lines up right, and Utah isn’t in a drought, Yuba can be epic.
It’s a two-hour drive south on I-15 from Salt Lake City and has plenty of pike and perch. You’ll probably catch a few carp as well.
The area by the dam is typically the best spot since it will stay fuller than the rest of the lake.
Painted Rocks is the other spot to try.
During good water years, perch can be over a foot in length at Yuba, though at times, you’ll be lucky to catch anything but a sunburn.
When they are running bigger, you might catch perch ranging up toward the Utah state record caught here. That hefty perch was 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
Yuba also can be one of Utah’s best fishing spots for wipers (a sterile cross of white and striped bass).
Rockport has yellow perch that bring the crowds in the winter. A quick 45-minute drive from SLC will have you sitting on the ice with approximately half of the ice anglers in the state. It’s simply one of the best ice fishing lakes in Utah.
But there’s plenty of room and plenty of fish to catch.
Start out on the east side near the campgrounds and the cliff area. Head out to 30 feet of water and fish a foot off the bottom. Use a flasher about 6 inches up the line, and you should do very well.
The perch are around all year, though they are overlooked in the summer for other, bigger fish like the smallmouth bass and rainbows in the lake.
The reservoir as well as the Weber River here are excellent fly fishing spots for trout.
More Yellow Perch Fishing
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) also suggests that perch catches can at least be fair at the following locations:
One of Utah’s all-around excellent fishing spots has an established population of yellow perch that can be caught all year, including through the ice.
This Park City-area reservoir also is among the best in Utah for a variety of other game fish, from trout and kokanee to bass and wipers.
This more remote location, about 120 miles from SLC near Duchesne, also has a variety of fishing opportunities.
It’s perhaps is best known as one of Utah’s best walleye fishing lakes.