When you think of Salt Lake City, you probably imagine the endless expanse of the Bonneville Flats or the briny waters of Great Salt Lake. That’s how the city got its name, after all. But did you know that there are some incredible freshwaters nearby, too? In fact, there are hundreds of places to go fishing around Salt Lake City. Today, we present you six of the best.
Picking just half a dozen fishing spots was a hard task. We chose a mix of rivers and lakes, and made sure there are spots for shore and boat-based anglers. We also balanced local favorites with more remote escapes so that you can find the perfect one for you, however much time you have. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump in!
Are you really surprised that we’re kicking things off with the Weber? This iconic Trout river is one of Utah’s “Blue Ribbon Fisheries” – a special award the State gives to its very best waters. The river is divided into three sections, the Upper, Middle, and Lower Weber. Each section is within a 30–45-minute drive, but they all offer something a little different.
The Upper Weber River explodes with spawning Rainbow Trout in the spring runoff and stays hot into the fall with big Browns. The Middle Weber is a year-round Brown Trout fishery, with decent catches of Rainbows and Cutthroats. Lastly, the Lower Weber offers fun but challenging terrain as it flows through narrow canyons out of the mountains.
You can find a ton of useful info on the Weber River here. One other thing that’s worth mentioning right away is access. Much of the river runs through private land, but you can get to it through “Walk-In Access” areas, which will be clearly marked from the road.
Jordanelle State Park is a stone’s throw from the pretty streets of Park City, still within 30–45-minutes of SLC. This is a real all-in-one fishery that everybody can enjoy. The park is set around Jordanelle Reservoir, and is ideal for boaters and shore-bound anglers. You’ll have a ton of Smallmouth Bass, as well as Kokanee Salmon, Brown and Rainbow Trout, and more.
Like the Weber, there are three distinct regions in Jordanelle State Park. The easiest to get to is Hailstone, on the west of the lake. It has everything you need for a day on the water, including boat rentals, ramps, and even a tackle store. If Hailstone is too busy, head to Rock Cliff, on the east of the lake. You’ll find a boat launch and on-foot access, and most importantly, fewer visitors.
If you really want to escape it all, Ross Creek is the place to go. It sits on the north of the Jordanelle Reservoir, away from boaters and pretty much everybody else, too. The only way to get here is on foot or by bike, but the Bass bite makes it more than worth it. Can’t decide which region to visit? Make a weekend of it by camping in the park, and hit up all three!
Willard Bay Reservoir
So far we’ve focused on the amazing Trout fishing near Salt Lake City, but there’s much more on offer here. Enter Willard Bay Reservoir, a dammed-off section of Great Salt Lake around 45 minutes north of the city. Willard Bay State Park is well set up for fishing, with a marina each side of the lake, as well as plenty of beach access. It’s the summer playground of many local anglers, especially the boating crowd.
Willard Bay Reservoir is home to an unusual mix of fish. The kids can have a blast reeling in Crappie, Bluegill, and Sunfish, while more seasoned anglers fight Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, and big Channel Catfish. Then there’s the lake’s signature species: Wiper, aka Hybrid Striped Bass. These guys are bold and greedy and roam the lake in huge packs.
As we’ve already mentioned, Willard Bay Reservoir is most popular with boat-based anglers. This is especially true come summer, when the fish move deeper and you’ll need a vessel to reach the best spots. However, visit in spring or autumn and you can catch more than your fill without leaving land.
The Provo is a little farther from town (up to an hour, depending on where you fish) but it’s well worth the journey. This Blue Ribbon Fishery is hands down the best Trout river in the SLC area, famous for its huge numbers of fish, especially Brown Trout. Once again, you’ve got three options to choose from: the Upper, Middle, or Lower Provo River.
The Upper Provo runs out of the Uinta Mountains with fast-flowing waters and a mix of different Trout species to target. Past Jordanelle, the Middle Provo offers easy access and a staggering 3,000 fish per mile! The Lower Provo runs through the scenic Provo Canyon and is famous for its giant Browns Rainbows.
The great thing about the Provo River is the amount of access – and the sheer number of Trout. High fishing pressure in the middle and lower river has made the fish wily and tough to catch, but there are plenty to go around. If you’re up for a challenge, this is the spot for you. Otherwise, hike out to the more remote upper river for stunning scenery and fun, fast fishing.
Twin Lakes Reservoir
Summer in Salt Lake City isn’t complete without a trip up the Cottonwood Canyons. The drive alone is a must, and once you reach the top, you have miles of well-marked tracks and some of the best views you could ever ask for. What some people don’t realize is that you can also find great fishing in the many mountain lakes here. Our favorite is Twin Lakes Reservoir.
This beautiful little lake is nestled between the tops of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. It’s stocked with Bonneville Cutthroat Trout and also has plenty of small bait fish, which keep the Trout fat and happy. We’ll admit it, there’s nothing specific about the fishing here that’s better than nearby spots like Lake Silver or Lake Mary. Instead, it’s about the journey with this one.
The only way to get to the lake is to hike. The easiest access is from Brighton Resort at the top of Big Canyon. Walk up the dirt road from Milly Chalet, or take the trailhead via Silver Lake for a more scenic route. If you’re up for a challenge, you can also hike in from Little Canyon, crossing over Twin Lakes Pass. It’s a tough climb, but the views are outstanding and it takes you to the quieter far side of the lake.
Strawberry Reservoir sits high in the Uinta National Forest, around 90 minutes southeast of the city. It’s the farthest spot on our list, but it’s well worth the trip. This massive body of water features four marinas, tons of bank access, boat and snowmobile rentals, campgrounds, and even a full service lodge. The only thing missing is you!
You may be wondering why such remote waters needs so many facilities. That’s simple: Strawberry Reservoir is arguably the best Trout fishery in the state. Heck, it’s one of the best in the whole country! Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout both reach incredible sizes in these cold, clean waters. It’s not all Trout, either. There’s also a healthy population of Kokanee Salmon to enjoy.
Strawberry Reservoir is best in summer and fall. Because of its size, your best bet is to rent a boat. Don’t worry, you can also find plenty of action from shore if that’s more your thing. Getting here in winter can be slow, but if you do, you’ll find a fair few people out on the ice and a cozy lodge to warm up in once you’re done. You really can’t go wrong.
We’ve given you a taste of Salt Lake City’s fishing spots, but this is far from all of them. You can get an idea of just how many spots there are in this amazing map.
From creeks and streams to rushing rivers and open reservoirs, fish are waiting everywhere you look. In fact, we suspect that Great Salt Lake is famous because it’s the only place nearby where you won’t catch a monster. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start reeling some in!
These are our top places to go fishing near Salt Lake City, but what are yours? Drop us your suggestions, questions, and top fishing stories in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!