Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project Leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, sent in this report. There is, in my opinion, never a bad time to fish the Gorge.
Summer is here and the water temps continue to climb (currently in the mid-60s). As water temps climb, a thermocline develops, offering a thermal refuge for cold water species like kokanee, rainbows, and lake trout. Although these species may spend short periods closer to the surface feeding, much of there time is spent in the deeper, cooler water. Many of the kokanee and even some rainbows we've caught this past week have been in 40-60 ft. Bigger kokanee have been caught on the deeper end of the range.
Kokanee fishing is still very good, with more larger 4-year olds being caught (up to 4lbs up north, and 2.5 lbs to the south). This past week, there's been some variability in the color of the lures, meaning one day orange seems to be the ticket but another day pink is the go-to color. Have a variety of squids in oranges, pinks, and even chartreuse and if one color is not working try another until a pattern develops. Silver dodgers should be mounted ahead of the squid to provide the action. Different reflective tapes on the dodger offer a variety of flash depending on light conditions. Vary boat speed by doing S-turns, but 1.8-2.0 mph is a good place to start.
Rainbow trout will be caught while trolling for kokanee, but the highlight this summer is the abundance of cicadas in the lower reaches of the reservoir. Top water rainbow fishing is hot right now, especially early in the morning. Have a fly-rod rigged with a cicada presentation or spinning rod with a small castable popper. Rainbows and even bass can hardly resist either presentation!
Lake trout fishing is picking up, but spotty throughout the reservoir. If you mark a large group of lakers the best option is to hold position and drop a vertical presentation such as a jigging spoon (chartreuse) or 3-tube jig (white) in weights heavy enough to get down to 70-100 ft and feel the strike (3/8-1/2 oz). Tip your lure with a small chunk of sucker meat and vary jigging activity until you determine the behavior of the fish. Sometimes subtle jigging provokes a hit, but other times fish hit when the jig is bounced along the bottom aggressively. Mix it up to develop a pattern.
Smallmouth bass are very active right now, especially in the Canyon reach where bass densities are highest. Some fish are still sitting on spawning beds guarding their eggs/fry, and others are "slamming" cicadas on the surface. A variety of jigs, top waters, and jerk baits will all catch fish at one time or another. While sight fishing bass last week, we had more success enticing larger bass with finesse presentations, using a drop-shot rig with a small 4-inch sand colored worm. Put the drop shot in the bed, and lightly bounce the rod to wiggle the worm. Watch for the fish to strike, set the hook, and hold on! Small jigs and even top waters are the most fun, especially for young anglers. These lures will provide the most hits and opportunities to catch numbers of bass.
Fishing is really good now, and if one species isn't working, move to the next until you find one that is!
Good luck, Ryan
The attached picture is Clint Sampson holding a nice lake trout jigged in Jarvies Canyon. Photo by Ben Carswell.