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Catch Big Brown Trout in Northeastern Utah

Brown Trout are fun to catch
Brown Trout are fun to catch

Cooler temperatures bring the big ones to fishable waters

Vernal – Beautiful fall colors aren't the only reason anglers are fishing Red Fleet, Starvation and Steinaker reservoirs right now. Many of them know fall is one of the best times of the year to catch brown trout—especially big brown trout.

"Fishing for big browns at the reservoirs isn't always fast," says Ron Stewart, conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, "but having a chance to catch a five- to 10-pound fish is worth the effort."

Active fish

As fall progresses, cooler water temperatures make the water at all depths of the lake or reservoir more attractive to trout. These temperatures bring big fish to areas where anglers can catch them by casting from shore or trolling from a boat.

"These large predators are actively feeding, getting ready for winter," Stewart says. "In the case of brown trout, fall is also when they spawn. That makes them even more active and willing to strike your bait or lure."

Stewart says that, at most waters, just before the water freezes and just after the ice leaves in the spring is the ideal time to hit the waters. Brown trout are most active around sunrise and sunset. When the light level is low, big browns move into shallow water to feed on smaller fish. Serious anglers even continue fishing after dark.

Shore fishing

Stewart says fishing in the right areas is the key to catching fish from the shore.

"Anglers will have to do some scouting this year as extremely low water levels in the reservoirs have left a lot of favorite fishing places high and dry," he says.

Anglers should look for an area where a river or stream enters the lake or reservoir or one with underwater structure, such as ledges or rocks.

"Streams that flow into a body of water really attract browns because they're the areas where browns spawn," Stewart says. "Rocky points are ideal because the fish will often follow the shoreline, and a point brings them in close to shore anglers. Graveled slopes are also attractive; browns will search these areas looking for young-of-the-year fish (this year's offspring) to eat."


While you can catch big brown trout from the shore, many anglers prefer trolling from a boat. To most anglers, trolling means fishing from a motorized boat, but you can also troll from a canoe or a kayak. Stewart recommends trolling close to shore; over channels in the lake or reservoir; around areas where streams enter the lake or stream; and across mud flats.

Try using a medium- to large-sized flatfish, Rapalas, spoon or crankbait trolled about 150 to 200 feet behind your boat. Stewart also suggests trolling a bit faster than normal.

"Trolling faster gives your lure more action, which can help fish see it in low-light conditions," he says. "Also, remember that browns are predators. Trolling your lure faster might convince the browns that their prey is escaping. They'll likely hit your lure harder if they think it's trying to get away."

Big fish

Stewart says Utah anglers have caught brown trout weighing up to 26 pounds in Utah reservoirs and streams in recent years. He says Red Fleet, Starvation and Steinaker aren't the only places in Utah where you can catch a big trout or walleye this fall.

"Almost every big water in Utah has the potential to produce big fish," he says, "so just look for a big lake or reservoir near you."

More information

You can stay updated on the best fishing this fall by checking the fishing reports at www.utahfishinginfo.com/dwr/fishingreports.php. Updates and information are also available at utahwildlife.net and bigfishtackle.com.