Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Despite its enormous size, this immense body of water is often overlooked by anglers as they drive past it on their way to their favorite trout pond.
Many trout anglers don't fish Utah Lake because they're unfamiliar with how to fish for warmwater species. Other anglers are concerned about the lake's water quality. The lake is shallow and when the wind kicks up, it stirs up sediment in the water that gives the lake a murky appearance.
Anglers have little to be concerned about, however. The Utah Division of Water Quality has found no evidence that fish in Utah Lake have elevated toxic pollutant levels and the water meets state water-quality standards for recreational use, including swimming and boating.
While walleye, channel catfish and white bass are the main draws at Utah Lake, a growing number of largemouth bass anglers are also learning about the healthy numbers of big "bucketmouths" in the lake. Several panfish, including perch and crappie, also are available to anglers.
The fish in the lake are not only diverse, many of them are also large. During the summer, it's not uncommon to catch several channel catfish that weigh more than five pounds. One angler recently reported catching two catfish that weighed more than 15 pounds each.
Obviously, if an angler wants to catch big fish, they need to use a heavier pound fishing line. One of the most popular techniques for catching catfish or walleye at Utah Lake is to place a large circle-hook through the side of a dead red-sided shiner minnow and fish it along the bottom.
The summer is also one of the best times of year to catch the lake's numerous white bass. Action lures and bait alike can entice the white bass to strike. Anglers can catch as many white bass as they like since there is no limit on the number of white bass that can be caught. (For more information about fishing regulations at Utah Lake, obtain a copy of the 2005 Utah Fishing Proclamation. The proclamation is available from licensed agents and the DWR's Web site at wildlife.utah.gov.)
Largemouth bass anglers are often secretive about Utah Lake. What many anglers don't know is that the lake provides ideal bass habitat. Many bass over five pounds can be caught by casting a bass lure towards the edge of vegetation and retrieving the lure back to your boat.
Although anglers at Utah Lake must release all largemouth and smallmouth bass that are more than 12 inches long, bass anglers love catching these big fish. They're also excited that the water level at the lake is up this year. The higher water has submerged more vegetation, providing the bass with more cover and increasing the chances that bass fishing will be even better throughout the year.
"Trout anglers should know that most of the warmwater species in Utah Lake are extremely tasty because of their white, flaky meat and the lack of bones in the filets," says Scott Root, Central Region conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
"I'm a recent convert to fishing for warmwater species of fish," Root says. "I enjoy fishing at Utah Lake after catching trout at another fishery because my family enjoys having a selection of different fish filets at dinner. It's great to have a variety of breaded or grilled catfish, walleye and bass fillets to accompany our trout fillets. We've also incorporated more fish into our diet because fish is low in fat and provides many health benefits."
In addition to its fishing, Utah Lake has many updated and renovated facilities that are drawing crowds and acclaim. Most of the facilities around the lake have been improved in recent years.
Utah Lake State Park, five miles west of I-15's Provo Center Street exit, has been renovated. A new visitor center is the highlight of the new facilities. The visitor center includes informative displays that cover several topics, including the area's history and the endangered June sucker, which is found only in Utah Lake and nowhere else in the world. Improved camping facilities, bathrooms, a newly constructed jetty (to improve the state park harbor and reduce sediment), a fish cleaning station, pavilions, the adjacent Provo River paved running trail and other improvements make the state park a perfect vacation spot.
Lincoln Beach, located on the south end of the lake, also has been improved. The Division of Wildlife Resources, in cooperation with Utah County, excavated the marina and access channel and built a new concrete boat ramp, courtesy docks, public restrooms and a fish cleaning station.
Two additional boat harbors - the Lindon Boat Harbor on the east side of the lake and the City of Saratoga Spring Marina on the west side - also have been improved with similar facilities. The DWR provided more than $600,000 to the Lincoln Beach, Lindon Harbor and Saratoga Springs improvement efforts.
The color of Utah Lake's water ranges from sky blue to a beautiful shade of emerald green. With the right lighting, and mountain ranges such as Mount Timpanogos in the background, Utah Lake presents breathtaking scenes that attract landscape painters and photographers alike.
In addition, the habitat at Utah Lake attracts numerous species of wildlife, including hundreds of bird species, making it one of the state's best birding spots. Its excellent scenery, fishing, facilities and wildlife make Utah Lake a perfect place to discover!