Fishing Southwest Bass

Sand Hollow State Park   |  Eric Erlenbusch
  • Weather: Partly Sunny, 80F

Driving south from Salt Lake City, the landscape gradually begins to change. But the change feels most dramatic on the 3,000-foot descent from Cedar City into the St. George area, with less vegetation, undulating hills giving way to sharp-edged rock formations, and a deep red color dominating the views. Welcome to the Zion National Park region of southwestern Utah.

St. George and the surrounding area are a mecca for adventure in the Southwest. But it’s not just hiking, mountain biking and motorized recreation on tap here: Enthusiastic anglers, too, will find plenty to keep them busy.  

Sand Hollow State Park

Technically located in the town of Hurricane, Sand Hollow State Park is a desert oasis. The $10 entry fee will let your family play all day. A large slick rock and sand dune off-road area is popular among ATVs and dirt bikes (rentals can be arranged in nearby St. George). But, the real draw to Sand Hollow is its 1,300-acre reservoir, which is popular for boating and swimming, and — heads-up, anglers — also is chock-full of largemouth bass.

Considered by many in fishing circles to be the best place to learn to fly fish for bass in Utah, Sand Hollow has a very healthy population that is generally quite willing to take a fly. And the warm climate of the St. George area makes it a year-round fishing destination.

During the winter months, the most popular method for finding the reservoir’s bass is to fish with full sinking lines from a boat. There is an incredible amount of sub-surface structure in the reservoir, and it is generally most productive to work flies near these defined features. Once the water begins to warm up in the spring and early summer, the metabolism of the bass will rev up, and they will move into the shallows to forage. During this time, wade anglers can do well working the shallows with floating lines, wooly buggers, and poppers.

Quail Creek State Park

Quail Creek State Park features a renowned largemouth reservoir. Here, fish in fewer numbers but larger in size are the name of the game. If anglers are willing to put in the time, Quail Creek can be a great place to hook into some trophy-sized largemouth.

Depths in the reservoir can reach 120 feet, but the bass sit in the upper sections of the water column. Still, full sinking lines will be the most solid bet. Often, there will be structure in Quail Creek that is too deep to see. Groups of bass tend to congregate in these areas, so if you start getting into fish, work the spot thoroughly before moving on to a new location.

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