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Brett Prettyman
Brett Prettyman writes about the outdoors, recreation and fishing for The Salt Lake Tribune

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Flaming Gorge Fishing Report - Spring jigging for rainbows

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Flaming Gorge Project Leader Ryan Mosley has spent some time on the reservoir lately. Here is his report.

The daytime temps are climbing, ospreys are showing up and rebuilding nests, insects are hatching, and rainbow trout are getting even more active on the reservoir. Spring is definitely here. It's a great time of year to fish, especially when you pick those special days when the air temps are comfortable, the wind is calm, and the fish cooperate.

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We fished a couple of times last weekend and were happily rewarded with all the above. Reservoir surface temperatures in the canyon region are still around 40F in the main channel, but are about 5F warmer in canyons and coves where the water is shallower and more protected from wind driven mixing. It's here that invertebrate life (zooplankton and insects) is currently most productive, and fish will quickly respond to these increasing forage opportunities. Some rainbow trout are also preparing for the spawn, when they seek out areas with flowing water or shallow, rocky shoreline areas with mixed flooded vegetation.

We found two types of rainbows- those occupying shallow water, feeding on emerging insects like midges, and those concentrated over deep water along canyon walls (see pic) feeding on zooplankton. Both had one thing in common though, they were hitting jigs! We caught several fish on variations of crayfish colored marabou jigs and also 4-inch Gulp or Powerbait minnows (see pic). Spoons, crankbaits, and flies will also work. For shallow fish, cast and let the jig fall on a tight line but retrieve the jig with occasional jerks and pauses. Most of the hits come on the fall or pause, so it's imperative to keep a tight line to either see or feel the strike. Deep fish can also be caught via this method, just make sure to let the jig fall longer to get down to the fish. Another option for deep fish is to jig them vertically, by watching the graph and dropping the offering to the depth of the fish. When using unscented jigs, try adding some bait like Gulp eggs or a meal worm for some flavor. Either way you fish them, it can be productive, a lot of fun, and in the end rainbows make great table fare.

Being the surface temps are still cool, lake trout can also be caught close to the surface using these same methods. Early or late in the day increases your chances of success.

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