Late fall in Utah is a special time for anglers. The waters of lakes and reservoirs cool along with the air, bringing fish into shallow waters in pursuit of forage fish.
Fish that typically are out of reach in the depths during the dog days of summer can be spotted, and more importantly caught, while cruising close to shore.
Forget down riggers and trolling. It's time to break out gear more commonly used to fish for bass and get after the big boys, and girls, of the late fall. The techniques also can be used by anglers fishing from the bank although a boat helps tremendously.
Big fish are active in the rivers as well. They are looking for big meals to stock on the fat for the winter, so think streamers and minnow-imitating lures on Utah's moving water fisheries.
Don't overlook other species when considering late fall fishing.
While any Utah fishery can heat up when the water cools, here's four places anglers should focus their efforts before the ice takes over, which traditionally happens the last week of November or early December at most places.
No Utah fishery has turned out more record fish in the past five years. Scofield has become the tiger trout (hybrid between a brook and a brown trout) capital of the West with three records set since Feb. 2012.
An 18-pound, 4-ounce tiger was caught last winter, and that fish was eclipsed this summer when a 19-pound, 2-ounce monster was landed. That's not far from the IGFA all-tackle record of 20 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in Wisconsin in 1978. There are plenty more big boys at Scofield.
A 32-inch, 14-pound tiger showed up during annual fall gill net sampling conducted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in early October. And officials watched as a larger fish in the 16- to 18-pound class swam in the shallows while they were pulling nets.
Want to hook one? Fish with large minnow-imitating lures, flies and plastics.
Few fisheries are talked about more than Strawberry when it comes to fall fishing. The opportunity to catch big cutthroat and rainbow trout keeps the reservoir crowded right up until it ices over. Fishing is best from a boat, as some of the best areas are hard to reach via foot, but shore anglers can find cruising fish across the lake.
Don't forget the slot limit at Strawberry and don't hesitate to bring rainbows home. They are there to be harvested.
Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam
The Green River fishery still is thriving after Mother Nature kicked in some high water flows in 2011. The results are some of the healthiest trout the river has produced.
While those fly fishing this time of year should be ready for any kind of action dry, nymph, egg the most likely pattern to pull up a big brown trout is a streamer.
Ryan Kelly, a long-time guide and provider of a report from the river to The Tribune's Fishing Utah blog, says streamer fishing has been picking up in recent weeks; just as pressure is decreasing. There never is a bad time to fish the Green.
The brown trout are spawning on the Green this time of year, so use caution to avoid hitting redds (their spawning areas) when wading or anchoring boats. Observant anglers also will notice rainbow trout spawning, as the Green includes some fall-spawning rainbows.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
There is a plethora of options for late fall fishing at the Gorge. Lake trout fishing can be good when fish are located, and the fishing for feisty rainbow trout seems to have become a year-round enterprise.
The new fish on the block for fall action is ugly but tasty and troublesome burbot. Fishing for them in the fall can be fast, but it also can be financially rewarding because the reformatted Burbot Bash fishing tournament starts Friday and includes a $25,000 prize for one lucky angler if the right fish is caught.
Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project Leader for the DWR, says anglers focused on burbot should head to the northern end of the reservoir in Wyoming.
Fishing from a boat in 20 to 40 feet of water off main channel points seems to be best. Mosley suggests anglers use a three-inch, curly-tailed, glow-in-the-dark jig on a white, yellow or glow jighead and tipping the rig with a small chunk of sucker or chub meat, and shine a light on it for glow. Fish the jig just off the bottom and wait for the strike.
For information on the Burbot Bash, which runs Nov. 15 to Jan. 26, visit http://www.burbotbash.com