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Fall colors at Brough Reservoir


Fall colors at Brough Reservoir

Little reservoir produces big trout.

VERNAL - Fall is a great time for color. And for most of Utah's anglers, there are few colors they'd like to see more than those on a big brown or rainbow trout.

Fall Rainbow at Brough Reservoir
Fall Rainbow at Brough Reservoir
Photo courtesy of Ron Stewart

Fall is also a good time to check out new fishing waters. There are fewer anglers in the fall, and the fishing can be red hot.

One place where the fishing has been very hot this fall sits in the middle of the desert south of US-40 in northeastern Utah.

"Brough is a little sleeper of a reservoir that few know about," says Ed Johnson, fisheries biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "Those who fish at the reservoir in the fall often find that they're the only ones at the reservoir, or one of only a few groups."

The lack of anglers is somewhat surprising because the reservoir produces some big trout.

Growing big trout

"Brough was full of stunted bass just a few years ago," Johnson says. "We [UDWR] treated it a few years ago with rotenone. Then we restocked it with salmonids [trout]. Our goal is to produce a fishery with big fish. We often refer to this type of management as 'trophy' management.

"We've kept the brown and rainbow trout stocking rates low to reduce competition among the fish. That produces bigger fish. By changing the regulations to a catch-and-release, flies-and-lures only restriction [bait is not allowed], and setting a size limit of 22 inches, we've managed to get some nice fish in just a few years.

"Last week, a group of us caught fish in the one- to three-pound range. The fish we caught averaged around one-and-a-half to two pounds."

How to get there

"The reservoir is south of highway 40 between Gusher and Vernal," Johnson says. "From US-40, turn south on highway 88 to Pelican and Ouray. Just before you reach a farm, you'll cross under some big metal power lines; when you do, start looking for a Brough Reservoir sign on the fence line to the west. It should be close to a wooden telephone pole line.

"From there, follow the dirt road through the gate, and then look for the small fish signs that will lead you to the reservoir.

"Brough is a small reservoir in the middle of the desert," Johnson says. "There is nothing there. You can camp anywhere. Camping is free but there are no restrooms, drinking water, boat ramps, tables...nothing. It's completely undeveloped."

Johnson says during high water, you can launch boats from the rocks on the north side of the reservoir. "But during low water, it gets pretty muddy or too rocky, so I do not recommend trying to launch a boat," he says. "It's a good way to get stuck, and there isn't anyone around to pull you out."

Johnson says fishing at the reservoir will remain good until the water company begins filling it. Then the fishing will slow as the water gets murky. But you can still catch fish; it's just harder.

The reservoir is also open to ice fishing, but remember that you may not use bait.

For more information, call the UDWR's Northeastern Region office at (435) 781-9453.