Flaming Gorge Reservoir Utah & a bit of Wyoming
Flaming Gorge Reservoir Utah & a bit of Wyoming
Flaming Gorge Reservoir is located in Southern Wyoming and Northern Utah. It lies between Hwy 530 on the West and Hwy 191 on the East. GPS WGS84 points are N41.496547 W109.441604 on the North end and N40.8903424,-W109.5752155 at the South end. The town of Green River WY is at the North end and the town of Vernal UT is at the bottom of the mountain to the South. The Gorge runs 91 miles and not in a straight line.
I have driven alongside the Flaming Gorge Reservoir both East and West so many times and it never fails to strike awe and wonder into my view. It is almost heart stopping. The glimpses of the water from the road and broad or stretched expanses for an overlook tug at you. You want to touch it, smell it, feel it, and most of all, just stare at it. Unless of course you are a fisher person. And then, you so want to be out there throwing a line.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir covers land in Wyoming and Utah. It stretches 91 mile from end to end. It is home to several state record for fish caught and boasts a couple of world records as well.
Being at or on the water is just being engulfed by the view of red and pink cliffs, of an immenseness that feels almost like an ocean in some spots and the Grand Canyon in others. It is big enough that if you do not pay attention you can get very disoriented as to which direction is which.
Swimming below you and enjoying the same vistas are Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Kokanee, Channel Cats, and Smallmouth Bass. A day on the water can really be fun.
Deep down between approximately 65 feet and 125 feet you will find the big Lake Trout. Along the thermometer movement from winter to summer and back the Kokanee will rise and drop. The rainbows and Smallmouth Bass are more top water down to fifty feet. And they like the shelfs and rocky outcrops. Cats like shallower warmer water. Having said that, fish do move around and temperature changes do influence them in any season.
The Gorge runs 91 miles in length ending at the Dam above the Green River with a surface area estimated at 65.6 Square miles. Water volume is estimated at 3,788,900 acre⋅ft. The shoreline is 360 miles. The deepest point is 436 feet and the overall average is 212 feet.
The following is a few of the most used boat ramps. This information is taken from the Ashley Forest Visitor Website.
A visit to Google Maps and look up “Flaming Reservoir Boat Ramps” will produce a map of several more points of access from Hwy 530 on the West side and Hwy 191 on the East side and allow you to zoom in on Forest Roads with GPS settings and good graphics.
“•Mustang Ridge is located on the southeast corner of the reservoir and is accessed from US 191 via Forest Road 184. Mustang has 73 campsites with water and a boat ramp.
•Arch Dam, on the south end near the dam, has four group sites and is by reservation only.
•Cedar Springs has a ramp, a marina, and 23 sites. It is on the south end of the reservoir and is reached from US 191; go southwest on Forest Road 183 for approximately 2 miles. Deer Run, with 19 sites, is up the road from Cedar Springs.
•Firefighters Memorial is situated high on US 191 away from the reservoir. Nestled among ponderosa pines, it has 94 sites.
•Greendale is located off US 191 near Flaming Gorge Lodge. It has four sites.
•Skull Creek, also away from the reservoir, is adjacent to UT 44. It has 17 sites.
•Green’s Lake is situated next to a rainbow trout fishery on Forest Service lands. It has 19 sites and is reached from UT 44 and Forest Road 95. Just down the road from Green’s is the 18-site Canyon Rim Campground.
•The Antelope boat ramp and 121-site campground is on the east side of the Gorge and is reached by heading north toward Wyoming on US 191 and then turning right on Forest Road 145 and driving for approximately 5 miles.
• For Lucerne Valley, go 8 miles north of Manila on Utah Highway 43 then, right on Forest Road 146; it serves as the main facility at the Gorge with 161 sites, a boat ramp, marina, boat rentals, grocery store, and picnic areas.
• The four boat-only campgrounds are in the eight-site Jarvies Canyon on the south end of the reservoir north of Cedar Springs. Gooseneck, near Red Canyon has six sites; Hideout Canyon near Sheep Creek Bay has 18 sites; and Kingfisher Island, northeast of Sheep Creek, eight sites.
• A boat ramp is located at Sheep Creek Bay, about 7 miles south of Manila on UT 44. There is no campground here.
While the Gorge lends itself to boat fishing, there are lots of areas to the North section that offer shore fishing and you can get good results particularly for Smallmouth and Rainbows. Use a rig that can give you a good distance on the cast.
The weather as you might well imagine follows a regular seasonal pattern with beautiful Summers, inspiring Springtime and a chilling Fall. The season averages temperature chart follows below. I have been there in June more than once. I have in that month in different years sweated from the heat and scraped snow off the car. The fishing was always good.
Utah Regulations can be found at “https://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2019_fishing.pdf”.
Wyoming Regulations can be found at “https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Regulations/Regulation-PDFs/WYFISHINGREGS_BROCHURE”.
The regulations contain daily limits by species. You only need one state license to fish the Gorge but you must also have a permit from the other state if you are crossing state boundaries.
Fishing is open all year long but you can well imagine the Winter can be difficult. Regulations do change from year to year so take time to check the rules.
Lures and Baits
Live baits, worms, grubs, power bait, craw dads all work. Jigs, and cranks work well. For the Flyfisher, leaches and streamers work better than other fly types. Here is the good news, the reservoir fishes well with almost anything present well. Cast and retrieve seems to be the best approach as opposed to let it sit. Jigging is jigging, ie movement.
Flaming Gorge is not a highly technical water to fish nor do the species discriminate much other than size. The Lakers and Kokanee will take the larger offerings.
Not unlike the Lures conversation, a lot of things work. Our general recommendation is to use sturdier rods and reels rather than lighter types because the fish can be large and tough. The cast and retrieve does give your rig a workout and fish on can put a very serious bend in any type rod.
The Lake Trout are not a quick catch but you can certainly tie into large ones. Catching a 25 pounder is very doable. Early Spring and Fall can find them in shallower water while other times they tend to go very deep.
Strong rods and reel with high capacity are a good idea. Down rigger set ups do well with the hooks out behind the weight 4o feet to as much as 100 feet. Flashers work well. A depth finder does make a difference. As mentioned earlier, jigging produces results. Use heavy rigs in the ¾ to 1& ½ ounce size is good. Tipping the jig with fish meat also helps, eg minnows, fish strips.
Try spots like Buckboard, Jarvies Canyon, Linwood Bay, Anvil Draw and Stateline. In Winter, Lake Trout tend to be more to the North sections moving more to the South in the Summer.
Like the Lake Trout, trolling or jigging work with the Kokanee. They tend to be attracted to color and motion action more than a search for food as such. Large lures like in the 3 to 4 inch range in bright colors like silver, gold florescent pinks and greens fit the bill very well. Keep your speeds and action up.
The depth finder pays off for locating schools and depths to chase. Summer finds them at around 30 feet and they go deeper as fall approaches. They do tend to move around the Gorge. They can generally be found off the Boat Ramp areas.
The Cats are most often found at the North end up stream of the confluence. The water is warmer and shallower. Baits rather than lures are more the ticket for catching Catfish and generally nighttime is better than daytime. And as usual, get the hook down on the floor.
The Smallies are found all over Flaming Gorge Reservoir and provide a lot of top water action. As you might well expect, crawfish imitations work very well. Spinners, small Kastmasters, plastics and worm/grub type configurations are productive. Flyfishers do well with leeches and streamers. Baitfish imitations are good as well.
Rainbows and Brown Trout
Again, like the Smallies, Rainbows are found all over the Flaming Gorge. And, they share the same spaces such as Mustang Ridge and Linwood Bay. They are easily picked up from shore or from a boat.
Spoons, spinners, small Rapala type hard lures and well as Power Bait in all the usual colors, silver – gold –black – white – greens – etc. can work their magic. One of the very nice things about the Gorge is it fishes well and does not have the difficult technical requirements of a San Juan River.
Summer months with the warmer weather does force Trout deeper so that shore fishing is less productive during that time. Icy winter on the other hand put the fish at depths of 5 to 15 feet.
This somewhat eel like fish is not found a lot of places but Flaming Gorge is certainly one of its lairs. Going deep during the day, they are often swimming closer to the surface at evening and night. Burbot are aggressive feeders. They are bottom feeders and are more available during Winter months. They are a common ice fishing target.
Pulled from the Internet: “Jigs with glow grub or tube bodies, wide hook gap, and in ¼-½ ounce sizes are recommended. Jigging spoons that glow from ¼-½ ounce weight with stout treble hooks also work well. Glowing lures that rattle and vibrate when jigged are both very productive. Burbot are not lure or line shy.”