Head south for fat trout at Lees Ferry
Our top pick for February: Lees Ferry. Warmer southern temperatures and football-sized trout make this our top choice for late winter. Midges come off in good numbers all year long, but they receive the most attention during this month.
We would try running a boat up-river in the morning and anchoring along a good sand bar. Pick a bar that is large enough to fish for a few hours; the best spots get crowded later in the day. Look for the biggest fish to be in the prime feeding lanes. A good pair of polarized lenses will help you see them. Fish small midges in red and green tones. Black midges, like the Zebra, will hook a lot of fish as well.
Make sure to cover every inch of water so you don't miss a fish. Their strike zone can be frustratingly small - they won't move far for a bite of food. Also, use long fluorocarbon leaders so you don't spook the fish. As the hatches develop, use larger Griffith's gnats and renegades to imitate midge clusters. These little piles of bugs usually catch more fish than the standard, single midge patterns. After the hatch, try throwing a streamer to entice one of the larger residents. Make sure to include some good rain gear and a change of dry clothes. It is, after all, still winter, and the weather can change in an instant.
Ogden River - The South Fork of the Ogden can be quite fun this time of year. Midge hatches midday provide dry fly action. However, most fish will be caught subsurface. Try a Rainbow Warrior, small hare's ear, pheasant tail, brassie or disco midge in the deeper pools before and after the hatches. Spin fishermen should try smaller Panther Martins and Colorado-type spinners. Below Pineview Dam, the browns will be feeding during the warmest part of the day, with overcast days being best.
Blacksmith's Fork - Midges are the main course throughout the month of February. Try Griffith's gnats and midge clusters on top or a bead-head nymph and disco midge combination below. Spin fishermen will find a few trout willing to take a small lure.
Porcupine Reservoir - Ice fishing should be good, with a few nice bows being caught. Try fishing near the inlet at the east end of the lake in about 20 to 30 feet of water. The fish will take small jigs, Rat Finkees and small spoons. Drill a lot of holes to locate fish.
Weber River - The Weber is awesome in February. The whitefish will still be in larger groups and feeding on anything that passes by. The browns and the steadily growing rainbow population will also be hungry. Low water will make trout weary, so use long, fluorocarbon tippets to fool the fish. The best nymphs include backing bugs, prince nymphs and hare's ears. Also fish with Rainbow Warriors, disco midges, brassies and tomato midges to rock those whitefish. Spin fishermen should try brown trout Rapalas and black Vibrac spinners.
Matt Warner Reservoir - There are numerous trout in this lake and other nearby trophy ponds. Look for fish suspended in about 25 to 30 feet of water near the dam. If you are not catching fish within 20 minutes, move to a new spot. The depletion of oxygen through winter often concentrates fish. Try using small spoons and jigs.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir - Ice fishing has been good up near Buckboard. Look for big lakers concentrated over main lake humps and bars. Use glowing jigs tipped with sucker meat on fluorocarbon line, jigged in 75 to 95 feet of water, to entice these giants. Use a good fish-finder to locate structure and fish and a GPS to get back to the same spot. Rainbows will also be on the move. Go after them with a medium-sized silver or copper spoon with chartreuse hologram tape tipped with a wax worm. There may be open water on the lake's south end, but boating can be hazardous. Small craft should not venture far from the ramps as weather and wind can change quickly. Larger boats outfitted with fish finders should troll, or try jigging over structure as described above.
Green River - The A section is a lot of fun this time of year. There will be days of blanket midge hatches and hundreds of rising fish. The best patterns will be bead cluster midges, Griffith's gnats, renegades and #22 parachute Adams. Look for fish to be rising as early as 11 a.m. and going down as late as 3 p.m. Before the hatch, try fishing small bead-head nymphs, disco midges or Rainbow Warriors. After the hatch, try throwing a big streamer or zonker in pearl, amber or black.
Currant Creek Reservoir - The river below is very difficult in February, but the reservoir is incredible for good sized cutthroat and a few scattered rainbows. Look for fish suspended over deep water at about 30 feet. Try fishing a micro jig/ice fly rig tipped with a night crawler, PowerBait or wax worm. Access is difficult after storms, but within a week or so the road is drivable to the dam in a 4X4.
Deer Creek Reservoir - Ice is unsafe as of this writing. If it becomes solid, expect good trout and perch fishing. The best technique will be to jig with a rig that uses a small spoon as an attractor then offers an ice fly tipped with a waxie. Also try fishing a small jig or foxy jig tipped with a night crawler. There are some huge browns cruising this lake, and football-sized rainbows as well.
Jordanelle Reservoir - The back end of this reservoir will be frozen until at least the end of this month. The ice is marginal and always changing, so use caution. Try fishing a glow in the dark, micro tube, small spoon or ice fly tipped with a night crawler, wax worm or salmon egg.
Provo River - The middle and lower sections should be productive, with midges coming off in good numbers during the middle of the day. A local favorite to use nymphing or as a dropper is the Rainbow Warrior. Disco midges, brassies and WD-40s will also produce. Before the hatch, try nymphing with any of the above in conjunction with a small bead-head pheasant tail, sow bug or hare's ear. After the hatch, try throwing a small zonker or streamer in pearl or black. Look for the biggest fish to be feeding at the tail outs of deep pools and near the edges. Overcast days are best.
Strawberry Reservoir - Late-season ice and oxygen depletion can make finding fish difficult. But when fish are located you may get into a feeding frenzy. Try fishing a tandem ice fly combination tipped with wax worms, meal worms, night crawlers or PowerBait. Fish will be off the bottom and in 25 to 35 feet of water. Try fishing larger white or glow-colored jigs tipped with dead minnows.
Panguitch Lake - Fishing can be good during the late ice season. Look for browns and rainbows to be suspended over deeper water down about 30 feet. Fish near the dam or inlet using a Hopkins spoon or small jig tipped with a wax worm.
Fish Lake - Look for lake trout as deep as 85 feet, over humps and points. Try jigging a large tube tipped with sucker or perch meat. Splake will be down 40 to 45 feet, suspended over deep water. Use a jigging spoon tipped with perch meat or a night crawler. Rainbows will be all over the lake. Use a small tube jig or ice fly tipped with a wax worm or PowerBait. Perch will be along the edge of the weed beds. Use just about anything in your box small enough for a perch to get its mouth on. Small ice flies will be best. Tip with perch eyes or flesh to catch a few of the larger perch.
Scofield Reservoir - Trout will become more aggressive as the month progresses. Try glowing ice flies in 20 to 30 feet of water for big cutts and bows. Also try tipping all ice flies and jigs with salmon eggs or PowerBait.
Minersville Reservoir - Some nice trout survived here. The lake should stay frozen until near the end of the month. Remember the special regulations.
Hyrum Reservoir - Great for sizable perch. Some of the most productive areas have been the rocks near the dam and the flats off the beach. Also, it is often worthwhile to make the effort to cross the lake and fish the points on the south side. Some of the most productive lures are the Genz worm in gold and glow colors, Fat Boys, and small Hopkins jigging spoons. Some bluegill will be caught in 10 to 15 feet of water.
Newton Reservoir - Good for panfish through the ice. The crappie and bluegill often suspend. Perch will be on or near the bottom, often around or near gravel points. Hula flies, Ratsos and Fat Boys tipped with maggots or wax worms will be the most productive for all species. To target perch, try perch meat or a perch eyeball.
Pineview Reservoir - This lake has produced thousands of perch this ice season. Fishing will still be good, with the dam area being one of the most productive spots. After ice-off, look for the first wave of tiger muskie to roll in. These early fish are often the largest of the year and can offer a patient angler a real trophy. The best baits to use will be Slug-Os and mid-sized Rapalas fished slowly around points and coves.
Rockport Reservoir - Fishing will be spotty, with some big perch available. Look for them on both sides of the reservoir, around points and flats near deep water. Small spoons and jigs will be the most productive. Try tipping with maggots or perch eyes.
Willard Bay - Ice fishing will be fair for crappie and wipers in the marina areas. Try small, chartreuse jigs and ice flies tipped with wax worms. Ice-out near the end of the month can bring the walleye in around the south inlet and the rock dike on the north end. Fish the bottom methodically with 2-1/2-inch tube jigs and curly tails in pearl for the most productive fishing.
Pelican Lake - Bluegill have been hard to locate with the low water conditions. A good start would be to find the lake's deeper areas, seven to 10 feet of water. Try using hula flies and micro tube jigs tipped with waxies, maggots or chunks of night crawler. No official word on the effects of the low water conditions through the winter, but we will keep close tabs on this special fishery.
Red Fleet Reservoir - Ice fishing has been good for bluegills in bays with15 to 20 feet of water. Try small jigs or Rat Finkees tipped with waxies or maggots. Ice-out often occurs here in late February.
Deer Creek Reservoir - Look for walleye to start congregating around the Provo River inlet near the end of the month and throughout March. Swimming curly tail jigs in chartreuse and smoke colors is often very productive. The walleye population has been down for a few years but is on the increase again with the increase in perch. Please practice selective harvest on these valuable sport fish. Perch fishing will be good around the island and points on the west side of the lake. Small jigs and Genz worms will be the most productive.
Utah Lake - Ice-out usually happens in mid- or late February and can produce some sizable walleye. Look for them to start congregating around Lincoln Beach, Provo boat harbor, the bubble up, and numerous other creek inlets and rocky shores. Tube jigs and curly tailed jigs are tops. Color is dictated by water color. White bass move in schools, and finding them can be tough. You can sometimes catch them when walleye fishing by using a small, brightly colored fly or small jig tied tandem above a larger walleye jig.
Yuba Reservoir - Expect good fishing for jumbo perch whether there is ice or not. Genz worms, panfish fliers and small jigging spoons have been productive. Look for schools to move to more shallow water as the month progresses. Walleye fishing will generally be fair. Once the ice comes off, look for early, prespawn fish located on deepwater gravel points and flats. Try using tight running crankbaits like the Lucky Craft Staysee or swimming grubs near the bottom.
Gunlock - Water temperatures are still cold, but it is a great place to sharpen your prespawn bass skills. The rewards are consistent for a persistent angler. Some quality largemouth will be landed this month. This time of year, you will always find fish deep. There may also be some fish moving toward the shallows, usually near main lake points and secondary points or channels. Methodically work crankbaits like the CB350, or a suspending jerk bait like a pointer minnow. Also try a jig and pig combo or spider jig fished on prime structure.
Quail Creek Reservoir - February at Quail Creek can be good to downright tough. Quail takes quite a bit of time to warm up with all the run-off, but warm weather trends and stable winter conditions can sometimes get the toads to bite. Try fishing suspending jerk baits parallel to some of the deeper banks and structure, or try split-shotting tubes like those from Big Boys Baits. One of the best tubes is a Fat Boy, which is larger and made of denser material. It tends to draw a bite when others fail. We prefer crawfish colors such as watermelon, pumpkin and root beer this time of year.
Redmond Reservoir - If you are looking for a change of pace or if you have never caught a northern pike, this is a great destination. Most people find success with dead minnows fished below a bobber or right on the bottom. Productive lures are mid-size spoons and/or inline spinners. Jerk baits and spinnerbaits also work well.
Lake Mead - Striper fishing should be pretty good. Expect some good catches jigging spoons and dead-drifting anchovies. Try fishing around main lake humps and walls. As the month progresses, bass action will improve. A tournament can be won with 8 to 10 pounds of bass at the beginning of the month but takes 14 to 17 pounds by the end. Look for bass to be in early prespawn mode, stacking up on points, steep banks and small walls. Look for areas with warmer water as the temperature will increase bass feeding activity. The most productive lures are usually crankbaits like a CB350 or Bevyshad. A Big Boy Baits football jig head and a pork trailer will catch fish as well. Also, try flipping and pitching in the river mouths.
Lake Pleasant - February is one of the best times to get that trophy bass at Pleasant. Try fishing a 3/4 or 1/2 ounce football jig. Fish vertically around individual mesquite brush piles in the main lake. Working 15- to 30-foot deep flats with large, Carolina-rigged soft plastics and larger sized, Spro swim baits can also produce well. For larger numbers of bass, try drop-shotting or split-shotting tubes and finesse worms on main lake structure. Fishing with bait or using spoons can catch some huge white bass in the 3/4- to 3-pound range.