There are times, when it peaks, when people come from across the nation to fish for trophy bluegill at this Uintah County oasis. As a result, Utah officials have listed Pelican Lake as one of the state’s Blue Ribbon fisheries. The state catch and release record bluegill came from Pelican in 2007. At 11 5/8 inches, it was longer than the 2 pound 7 ounce caught and kept record.
Bluegill, like many panfish populations, run in boom and bust cycles. When fishing is good, it rocks. When the population crashes it takes a while for the fishing to pick back up. Fishing for bluegill is pretty simple. Most anglers fish with nightcrawlers or other bait under a bobber, or use small jigs tipped with bait. Bluegill grow very quickly in their first three years of life, then sort of level off, which can affect their reproductive cycles. Some of the longer-lived individuals can reach more than 10 years old.
There are other options at Pelican as well. Largemouth bass are a fun option at all times. It is hard to beat the thrill of watching big bucketmouths slam topwater lures, and it is a common sight at Pelican. Spinnerbaits and plastic lures are other good choices at Pelican when fishing for largemouth.
The bass fishing can be very enjoyable in the autumn, as the fish are gobbling up bluegill in an attempt to fatten up for the winter. Using baits that imitate bluegill will work well until the first few freeze cycles.
Bullhead catfish, channel catfish, and green sunfish are other possible catches at Pelican Lake. Winter access is also possible for the bold angler— the lake sits below 5,000 feet—and a few notable catches have been made below the ice.
One thing to look out for at Pelican Lake are the bugs. In the summer, the sun can be scorchingly hot and if that wasn’t bad enough, the biting flies more than live up to their names. Swimmer’s itch is also a problem in the hot summer months—so the point here is that Pelican Lake is best visited in the spring or autumn, or even early winter. Bluegill boom cycles can, of course, change all the rules. Bring bugspray, sunscreen, and a good attitude if you come to visit in the summer!
Regulations and Camping
The Bureau of Land Management provides a boat ramp, but there are also other ramps for smaller craft around the lake. Primitive campgrounds are available at Pelican.
Pelican is roughly 25 miles from the cities of Roosevelt and Vernal (Read the story: Vernal Equinox) accessed on State Road 88 for five miles south off of Highway 40.
Learn more about fishing in Utah