When you think about Utah, bass fishing is one of the last things that comes to mind. Utah is not known for world record-breaking bass or a destination you would travel to specifically for bass fishing. Utah is known for the gorgeous Uinta mountains and the best snow on earth! That being said, there are a few gems that hold some monster largemouth and smallmouth that make a great trip for bass fishing Utah!
These few lakes and reservoirs hold some chunky fish and at the right time of year, you could be bringing one of these swamp donkeys into your boat. Bass fishing of any kind has recently grown immensely in Utah; specifically, kayak bass fishing. Kayak bass fishing in Utah has nearly tripled in size over the past year and is a rapidly growing sport. Through my experiences with kayak bass fishing, these are my top 5 destinations for bass fishing in Utah.
Bass Fishing Utah: #5 Starvation Lake
Don’t let the name fool you, as this reservoir will do anything but starve you from an amazing bite. This 3,500 acre, heavenly bliss, is home to some of the biggest walleye and smallmouth in the state. This reservoir sits on the eastern side of Utah and hosts some of the most amazing camping and fishing adventures.
This large and deep reservoir harvests a healthy amount of 3 to 5-pound smallmouth bass. Starvation offers multiple terrains to fish from such as huge boulders to grassy flats. Fishing the flats with a ned rig and dropshot landed me multiple 18”+ smallmouth. While you will have to watch your surroundings for speed boats, Starvation hosts plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the fishing and activities all around the lake.
Bass Fishing Utah: #4 Lake Powell
While many might agree that Lake Powell should be listed as #1 on this list, as a kayaker, I list this amazing reservoir at #4. The winds and wakes can be treacherous at times and being in a kayak does not offer the best shelter. However, people travel many hours from all directions to vacation, fish, and spring break at Lake Powell. At 112-miles long, Lake Powell holds some amazing canyons to get lost in.
To accompany this large body of water, Powell holds a wide variety of fish species, from smallmouth, largemouth, striped bass, walleye, catfish, etc. Many anglers come to this desert oasis for the incredible stripers.
This incredible fish could never discredit the fact that the Utah State Largemouth Record came from these exact same waters. In 1974, a beautiful 24.25”, 10 -pound, 2-ounce female largemouth was pulled from Powell and to this day, remains the Utah State record. Further proof of why many Utahn’s would call Lake Powell the #1 destination for bass fishing. Get to Powell as soon as you can and break this 45-year-old state record.
Bass Fishing Utah: #3 Pineview Reservoir
When you mention Pineview Reservoir to locals, tiger muskie is always brought up. Pineview is known for its 50” tiger muskie and people will travel far and wide just to pull one of those magical beasts into their boat. With all of the attention lying on the muskies, this relieves some pressure off of the large and smallmouth that are cohabiting these waters.
This beautiful body of waters nestles itself in northern Utah and is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous mountains. Pineview offers deep and rocky walls to fish from by the dam and just opposite of the dam, you will find tons of trees, bushes, and foliage to flip and pitch in. These structures provide perfect housing for the large and smallmouth bass at Pineview.
You will sometimes find yourself in the middle of a school of largemouth but the shining star of this reservoir is most certainly the smallmouth in the shape of footballs. From crankbaits to wacky-rigs in 6” of water to drop-shotting in 40’ of water, you will find those powerful and aggressive bass. Pineview is the place to perfect every bass fishing technique. If you are lucky enough, you may even hook into a tiger muskie that will take you and your kayak on a sleigh ride.
Bass Fishing Utah: #2 Sand Hollow Reservoir
This is arguably the best fishery in the state of Utah. Located in the very southern part of Utah, surrounded by sand dunes and red rock, Sand Hollow is a vacation destination for a multitude of reasons. While ATVs and off-road vehicles might be the loudest attraction at this state park, the largemouth fishing has really made a name for itself in the bass fishing world. Just like most lakes, you may only have a 2 fish day or you may have a 20 fish day. Either way, you will find quality fish at Sand Hollow.
This reservoir offers enormous red rock boulder islands with large cracks that house thousands of largemouth, crappie, and bluegill. Drop-shotting into these cracks can prove to be very rewarding. Trust in your electronics and find one of the many ledges around the perimeter of the lake and troll a crankbait along the ledge. You will find some huge largemouth that stage on those ledges, looking to ambush their prey.
Utah does a great job at preserving the largemouth population here at Sand Hollow and it is proven with every trip that I make to the south. The lake does get extremely busy as it is only a 1,300-acre lake sitting on a 20,000-acre park. If you can wake up bright and early and get on that morning bite, you can have a 20-pound bag and be off the water by lunchtime. Just in time for all of the water skiers and jet skis to make their way on to the water.
Bass Fishing Utah: #1 Mantua Reservoir
Pronounced man-too-way, this small, 500-acre reservoir, has a special place in my heart. 10 years ago, a friend took me bass fishing for the first time at Mantua and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to pull up my first 3 to 4-pound largemouth. I was literally “hooked” after that day. I, along with many others, consider Mantua to be one of Utah’s best-kept bass fishing secrets. Located in a canyon, surrounded by green rolling hills and mountains in northern Utah, Mantua is by far, my #1 bass fishery in Utah
Mantua has an interesting ecosystem that is not seen in other Utah lakes. The lake is 70% lined with huge, mature trees that are submerged 2-4’ in the water. Flipping jigs or senkos at the base of these trees is almost a guaranteed bite. In the late summer, the weeds grow nearly to the top of this shallow lake. If you can paddle, pedal, or motor to a hole in those weeds, do yourself a favor and drop-shot straight down, or start the early morning off by fishing a frog and enjoy the amazing and constant blowups.
Prepare yourself for a severe case of bass thumb! Mantua will easily offer 50-60 fish days. It isn’t hard to find a school of 3 to 5-pound bass at any given part of the lake. Get out there early because it is well known that around noon, wind loves to howl through the canyon and can easily throw your fishing game off or even swamp your kayak with 4-foot rollers.
Bringing the kids along? That’s awesome because Mantua is also known for its plentiful state record-breaking sized bluegill. Throw a little jig or popper on and the kids will have fun for hours.
Mantua may not offer the largest bass in the state, but there is always a consistent amount of healthy-sized largemouth. This small reservoir has never failed to produce fish. The scenery is like nothing you’ve ever seen and is a “must” when fishing in Utah.
Bass Fishing Utah: Final Thoughts
Utah is definitely not known for its incredible bass fishing. Finding a double-digit is like finding a unicorn in our state, however, we do have some amazing fisheries that are worth checking out. Utah offers such diverse scenery from red rock deserts to snow-topped and green mountains. A multitude of species of fish can be found and caught here from bluegill to ginormous tiger muskies. If not for beautiful bass alone, come for the scenery and the experience.
Always remember to protect and preserve our bass population. Feel free to keep your legal limit and throw the rest back so they can become larger for generations to come! Always wear your PFD and tight lines!