“The Carribean of the Rockies” freezes over, on average, seven out of 10 years. The years that Bear Lake becomes a miniature sea of ice, with 48 miles of shoreline, anglers fish for trophy cutthroat trout, lake trout and two fish species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: the Bonneville whitefish and cisco. This northern lake sits right on the Idaho border and hits its ice fishing peak in January.
In January, the Bear Lake Monster Winter Bash takes place and anglers work for their 30 fish limit while fried fish and a chili cook-off await on shore.
Where to Stay: Logan
The largest natural mountain lake in Utah sits above 8,800 feet and when temperatures turn downright cold, the ice fishing begins. Located in Fishlake National Forest, pick any corner of the lake and you’ll find it dotted with ice tents as anglers look to catch the giant lake trout that Fish Lake is famous for — up to 30-40 pounds — or hop on the perch bandwagon.
Fish Lake holds its Annual Perch Tournament to help reduce the lake’s more than 4,000,000 perch. There’s no limit of perch take-home and during the tournament prizes abound.
Where to Stay: Richfield
The Flaming Gorge Reservoir, in the northeast corner of the state, provides more than 350 miles of shoreline and is home to a large variety of fish. Catches most popular in the winter include lake trout, rainbow trout and burbot.
Heard of the “Burbot Bash”? This non-native species has a tasty white meat and it’s all about catch-and-keep. The burbot threaten the native species so each winter there is a competition to rid the reservoir of as many burbot as can be caught. Prize money and a stash of good eating define this annual competition in Flaming Gorge.
Where to Stay: Vernal
Scofield State Park
Got trout? Noted as one of Utah’s Blue Ribbon Fisheries, Scofield State Park (Read: "Fishing Scofield State Park") is one of Utah’s most popular and productive places to drop a line for trout. Primary species include cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and tiger trout. Winter visitors have full access to the reservoir, but all other state park facilities are closed, so come prepared with everything you need.
Where to Stay: Helper or Price
The scenery, award-winning cutthroat and rainbow trout and kokanee salmon all make Strawberry Reservoir one of the favorite ice-fishing locations in Utah. The marina plows the seven miles of road from I-40 to the lodge as a service to anglers and also offers a snowmobile shuttle service (drop-off and pick-up) and onsite rental equipment.
Learn more about Strawberry Bay Marina and their services.
Where to Stay: Heber Valley