Look for sunshine and melting. Both are good signs for fishermen. And the more of each one there is the better are the chances of hooking into a sizable catch this spring.
Traditionally, one of the best times to cast a line in a reservoir is right after the ice turns to water - and not a day or two later.One reason is that the lack of an ice covering allows the waters to start warming and fish to become more active. Another is that all of the bugs and worms that have fallen onto the ice during the winter are now being released into the water. For fish on a winter starvation diet, it's a long-awaited feast.
Even at lakes without ice, such as Lake Powell, warming weather is a switch to better fishing.
According to Wayne Gustaveson, lake biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, fishing was starting to improve when a series of cold fronts brought down daytime temperatures.
"As a result, good fishing has been delayed for a week or two," he reported. "As soon as we get three good, warm days, look for fishing to really pick up, especially for bass."
Bass begin their spawn when the water temperatures start to get around 65 degrees. Currently, waters are around 60 degrees. During the spawn the bass are more aggressive and more likely to hit a passing lure.
He also noted that a rapid rise in water temperatures will also get the bluegill and crappie bitting. At the southern tip of the lake, fishermen are starting to catch stripers. Gustaveson says they're hitting anchovies, "at depth where they can't see the boat and can't be seen by anglers.
"When a school is located and starts to hit anchovies, try lifting the bait just as it disappears and see if stripers follow it back into view. It's fun watching them come up to take the bait."
There is still some ice on Strawberry. When it starts to pull away from the shore, fishing success and pressure will increase.
Because of the soft ice surface, fishermen are using skis and snowshoes to get about. Fishermen have been doing well with white or fluorescent grub-type jigs tipped with wax worm. Cutthroats are suspended in between 20 and 40 feet of water, while the rainbow are hanging in the shallow bays.
Jordanelle has been mostly ice-free this winter. What ice there was in Rock Creek Bay is now unsafe. Fishermen have been doing well for rainbow fishing from shore and float tubes using worms, Power Bait and dark Woolly Bug-gers.
Most of Flaming Gorge is ice-free. Rainbows are being caught from shore at Linwood Bay, Sheep Creek, South Buckboard Bay and around the dam. Good bets at this time of year are a night crawler hung about four feet below a bobber; using a night crawler, marshmallow or floating cheese off the bottom; or jigging with a small lure.
Fishing below the dam on the Green River has been good. The flows the past several months from the reservoir have been low and consistent, which has helped keep the fish active. Some of the best fishing has been with dry flies, mainly between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also working well have been Glo bugs, tan and gray scuds, sizes 12 to 18, and streamers such as Woolly Buggers and Zonkers.
The storm fronts that have moved through the southern portion of the state have not only slowed fishing but have kept pressure down. Fishermen at some of the smaller reservoirs report that fishing has been good, but there are few anglers there to share it with them.
Early spring, before the runoffs start, is also a good time to visit a stream or river.
Consensus is that after a few sunny days, and water temperatures warm up a few degrees, both the fishermen and the fish will come out of hiding.