Bear Lake

It's the “Caribbean of the Rockies” named for its amazingly blue, prolific waters

The second-largest natural freshwater lake in Utah, Bear Lake (also, Bear Lake State Park) straddles the state lines of Utah and Idaho. Perhaps it’s the incredible azure color of the water, but pulling a fish up from the depths of this stunning alpine lake sure makes it look bigger than reality.

And there are plenty of fish to to pull up, including:

  • Bear River cutthroat trout
  • Lake trout
  • Bonneville cisco
  • Bonneville whitefish
  • Bear Lake whitefish
  • Bear Lake sculpin

Where to Fish

Most anglers opt to fish from boats, but you can have success at the Bear Lake State Park Marina and along the east shore of the lake near Cisco Beach.

Lake trout and cutthroat can both be caught while using downriggers between 50 and 100 feet with large spoons and Rapalas near Cisco Beach, Rainbow Cove and the Bear Lake Marina. Jigging is also a popular method once fish are found with sonar. Some anglers tip their lures and jigs with Bonneville cisco or sucker meat.

If you are hoping to land a lake trout on a fly rod, then you have a decent chance at doing so from a kick boat while the fish are spawning in the late fall. Cisco Beach is a good place to launch and fish.

Bear Lake in Winter

Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

by Ben Whisenant

It all started decades ago with the “Cisco Disco” and has grown to include a polar plunge, chili cookoff and winter festival known as the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest. The January charitable event is awfully cold, but it still draws people from throughout the region for an unforgettable weekend at a northern Utah treasure.

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Cisco Disco and Ice Fishing

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual family friendly fundraising event held in January. As part of the celebration is the “Cisco Disco,” a fishing competition centered around the Bonneville Cisco's habit on spawning each winter and coming in close to shore. Read the story

Averages suggest that Bear Lake freezes over seven out of every 10 years, and when it does, you can ice fish for both trophy cutthroat trout (over 10 lbs) and lake trout (up to 20 lbs). You can also ice fish for two species of fish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: the Bonneville Whitefish and Cisco. The Cisco can be dip netted or try jigging your pole at “the ‘rock pile’ area near Ideal Beach Resort or off of the artificial rock piles just north of the Utah State Park Marina. 

What's Nearby?

Regulations

Catch limits

To promote a trophy fishery at Bear Lake, you are only allowed a daily limit of two trout. To protect wild native cutthroat, fish with all their fins intact must be released. Trout with one or more healed fins clipped may be kept. 

Reciprocal permits

Anglers with a valid Utah fishing, combination hunting license, or valid Idaho fishing license can fish anywhere on the lake. You can use two fishing poles anywhere on the Utah side of the lake. However, if you want to fish with two rods on the Idaho side of Bear Lake, you must have a two-pole permit for Idaho. In addition, if you are launching from the Idaho side of the lake. you must have a current Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker on their watercraft.

For the latest regulations, consult the Utah Fishing Guidebook 

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