Fall is an awesome time to fish the Gorge.
Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project Leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, sent in this report.
It's coming, autumn is right around the bend. You can feel the chill in the morning, see leaves with tinges of yellows and reds, and even kokanee are starting their transformation, from silver to red and sleek to humpbacked. See the pic of my kids holding kokanee which vary in appearance; including males with their pronounced lower jaw or kype which develops during the spawn. It's been an awesome summer of fishing, but fall is exciting too, offering it's own opportunities.
Kokanee are closed to possession starting September 10th, leaving very little time! With the spawn rapidly approaching, the bite can be inconsistent and come in flurries. Anglers are still catching kokanee reservoir-wide, but down in the canyon region, Sheep Creek Bay, Hideout, and near the dam have been best. Also try near the mouths of Eagle and Carter Creeks. Look for most of the kokes to be a little shallower now, between 40-50 ft, but also more concentrated in small schools. The same tackle applies- silver dodgers and pink or orange squids or spoons like Needlefish, Rocky Mountain Tackle Vipers, and Triple Teazers. Vertical jigging can be very productive this time of year too, using jigging spoons like P Line Kokanators or Northland Buckshot spoons.
Lake trout fishing, especially for pups (smaller lake trout) is picking up. Look for active fish along main channel points, humps, and breaks. They can be stuck close to the bottom or hovering in schools 10-20 ft above. Either way, marked fish can be very aggressive. Last weekend I found several schools along the islands near the dam and each group produced one or two fish before the school wised up and moved on. Northland Buckshot spoons in fire tiger or watermelon tube jigs were effective, as long as they were tipped with a small chunk of sucker meat (1/2" square). Many of my hits came on the drop, so as soon as I tightened my line, the fish was already holding the bait. There are also a lot of smaller pups (~12-14-inches) hanging out in shallower water side-by-side with rainbow trout and kokanee. These youngsters, are very aggressive and tasty, so don't be shy about catching and harvesting a few. Harvesting small lake trout now, will only help ensure kokanee for and healthy lake trout for the future.
As the water cools, rainbow trout and smallmouth bass will move back into the shallow water to feed on bugs and crayfish. As of last weekend, rainbows were schooled up in 30-50 ft of water along rocky, main channel points. Trolling pop gear or casting jigs will produce bows. Tip baits with worms, Powerbait, or Gulp. Cast jigs for smallmouth bass, and go heavier and deeper for the bigger fish. Curly tailed grubs or tube jigs in earthtones are a good bet. Also try drop shotting small 4-inch worms to entice reluctant fish.
Water temps have now cooled back into the mid to upper 60s. Have a good Labor Day and be safe on the water!