Spring is quickly approaching in Southern Utah and for anglers the excitement of bass fishing is mounting as they begin dusting off tackle boxes, preparing rods and reels, and spending time sorting through lures.
Of course, there are some tricks of the trade that will help the beginning bass fisherman and even some veterans enjoy Southern Utah’s best bass fisheries. After bass fishing for 12 years in this region I have a few tips to share.
What kind of bass do you want to catch?
Determining the bass you want to catch is critical because different kinds of lures are used for different species. Largemouth bass fisheries are located near the St. George and Hurricane areas. Smallmouth bass are spread throughout the entire southern region. Largemouth bass are more sought after because of their large size. Smallmouth bass are not as easy to catch but provide a great sporting experience because of their aggressive nature. Both of these fish are more easily caught from a boat, however, a good number of bass can still be hooked from the shore.
Get The Right Gear.
Using the correct fishing line, rods, and reels, can increase your success no matter what kind of bass you are after. Start with rod selection. I believe the best choice is a 6’6” rod that is listed as medium or medium/heavy. Light or medium/light is not recommended because of the inability to set the hook with a flimsy rod. When selecting a reel I recommend starting with a spinning reel. This is the most common fishing reel and is easy to use. Next you will need to buy fishing line. Use 8lb-10lb monofilament line. It is cheap and easy to learn on. Don’t be overwhelmed by the selection of gear to choose from. Stay within your budget and keep it simple.
Find the right spot.
Southern Utah bass fishing holes include, Sand Hollow, Quail Creek, Gunlock, Newcastle, Enterprise, Minersville, Piute, and Otter Creek reservoirs. More information on these reservoirs can be found at wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/. You can also check out the Utah Fishing Guidebooks on their website. This will give you information on the limit of fish you can keep and any other restrictions on these bodies of water.
It is always important to know the laws whenever you travel to a new fishing hole. Talking to experienced local fishermen will also be a valuable source of information. This article can help with general knowledge of the bodies of water and what to use, but the more information you gain from local’s will increases your chances of catching fish. Some detailed information on these reservoirs should help you decide where to try.
Sand Hollow State Park is located near Hurricane. Take Hurricane exit (Exit 16). Travel east on Hwy 9 for about four miles to Sand Hollow Road and then turn right. Travel south for about three miles and turn left at the park entrance. This place is full of largemouth bass and has some of the best bass fishing in the state. Bass here are very aggressive and there are a lot of 10” to 12” inch fish to entertain young anglers. This is a great place to learn how to bass fish.
Trevor Johnson from Parowan UT catches his first largemouth bass at Sand Hollow State Park. Photo courtesy of Daniel Camp.
A good bait to start with is 4” to 7” inch Power Bait Worm in green pumpkin or watermelon color. Using a standard jig head will work best. Another favorite bait is the Gary Yamamoto Senko. It is available in a variety of colors and sizes. It is best fished without weights and is one of the best to use when fishing from shore. Creature or crawdad plastics can also catch a lot of bass. Stay with the green pumpkin and other natural colors when fishing these baits. When selecting hooks I prefer Gamakatsu hooks, they are good hook at a reasonable price. Swim-baits, spinner-baits, and crank-baits are also very effective when used properly. These baits and hooks can be found on line or in most local sporting goods stores.
Quail Creek State Park is located about 13 miles NE of St George. Take exit 16 from I-15. Take Utah Hwy 9 for about three miles and follow the signs. This lake features largemouth bass with fewer small fish, but if you’re after a trophy largemouth this is the place to go. Most of the plastic baits that work at Sand Hollow will work here. Using a Norman D22 crank-bait in a variety of colors can also be productive. Although fishing can be slow at times on this lake, with a little patience you have the chance to catch the fish of a life time.
Greg Camp catches a nice Largemouth bass during the spring at Quail Creek State Park. Photo courtesy of Daniel Camp.
Newcastle Reservoir is located 30 miles west of Cedar City. Travel SR-56 until you reach the town of Newcastle. Turn left on Main Street, and follow the signs until you reach your destination. Smallmouth bass are the primary reason people go to Newcastle to fish. It can keep an angler entertained for hours. Smallmouths are different in that they typically don’t eat large baits. Use the same techniques that you would for largemouths, just downsize. Smallmouth bass love the colors chartreuse and white. I use a 3” curly tailed jig in these colors whenever I am looking for smallmouth bass. Newcastle is a great place to try and is a quick drive from the Cedar City area.
Newcastle Reservoir, Dan Camp and his son Revin catching a smallmouth bass. Photo courtesy of Dan Camp.
Minersville Reservoir is located 12 miles west of Beaver, UT. You can also travel north from Cedar City on Minersville Hwy (SR-130), and follow the signs. Minersville is a well-known fishery with plenty of beautiful smallies for everyone in your group. This is also a great place to stay for a couple of days because of its modern campsites. I use a variety of different baits here, but a Rapala 4” inch Rainbow Trout Husky Jerk is my favorite lure when the fish aren’t active. Be prepared with a variety of baits to help you find out what the fish are biting.
Dan Camp shows off his smallmouth bass at Minersville reservoir. Photo courtesy of Daniel Camp.
These lakes have a healthy number of bass and are worth a try. Always check weather conditions before you travel to any lake; wind, rain, and snow can cause big issues while fishing. Also, remember to check the Division of Wildlife website for fishing reports. Be safe and enjoy you time fishing for bass!
Read more about Dan Camp’s fishing adventures in Southern Utah at his blog Southern Utah Fishing.