Lake Canyon Lake

Colorful Colorado River cutthroat country

There is only one reason to fish Lake Canyon Lake, but one is all you need. OK, maybe there are two reasons. More on that later. Let’s start with the prime attraction: the Colorado River cutthroat trout.

Colorado River cutthroat trout

Colorado River cutthroat trout are one of four native cutthroat subspecies in Utah. As the name implies, these cutthroat are native to the Colorado River drainage and happen to be one of the most colorful trout around. The fish have serious red undertones, which become even more distinguished when they spawn in the spring. These beautiful fish only occupy 13 percent of their original range, so to find them in such numbers here is a true treat.

State wildlife officials turned Lake Canyon Lake into a brood stock fishery to help propagate Colorado River cutthroat in more of their historic habitat in Utah. Each spring biologists gather at Lake Canyon to collect eggs and milt from the Colorado River cutthroat. The eggs are then delivered to state hatcheries where they eventually hatch and are raised. The fish are then released to augment existing Colorado River cutthroat populations or create new ones.

Tiger Trout

While the chance to catch trophy-sized Colorado River cutthroat would be enough for most anglers to put Lake Canyon Lake on this bucket list, remember there is another reason to visit the remote lake. Enter the tiger trout.

Tiger trout, a sterile hybrid mix between a brook and a brown trout, can also be caught at Lake Canyon. Because they are sterile, tiger trout can focus all their attention on growing and they do it fast at Lake Canyon. The mesmerizing patterns that decorate the sides of tiger trout look like intricate mazes in the black-and-yellow color scheme of giraffes, but admittedly “giraffe trout” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. These fish are big, aggressive, and can put up a good fight—so even if they don’t quite look like their feline namesakes, they certainly have a bit of tiger spirit in them.

Trophy-sized tigers are yet another reason to head for this Duchesne County destination.

Regulations

To most anglers, brood stock translates to big mature fish, and there are plenty of them in Lake Canyon Lake thanks to special regulations.

  • Fishing at Lake Canyon is closed near the inlet stream during spring spawning, but remains open for anglers. Locals take a great deal of pride in the stewardship of the river, so please be sure stay true to their dedication.
  • Limit of two trout, only one longer than 22 inches.
  • All cutthroat under 22 inches must be released.
  • Fishing is limited to artificial flies and lures only—no bait. The system has worked out well for both fishermen and the fish themselves.

Directions

Lake Canyon is roughly 14 miles southeast of Starvation Reservoir (another great fishing destination). The lake is accessed via the Strawberry River Road off of U.S. 40. After 5.6 miles look for the Lake Canyon Road. The lake is 6.9 miles along the road.

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