Flyfishing the Weber River for Whitefish (Photo courtesy Paul Thompson)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Mountain whitefish provide great late fall fishing
It might be cold, but the fishing season isn’t over yet. In fact, for native mountain whitefish, now is when the fishing really heats up!
Mountain whitefish are a species of fish that offer great late fall fishing in Utah. If lying on the sofa for hours to recover from Thanksgiving dinner is not your style, then consider going fishing for an hour or two on Thanksgiving Day (after, of course, the dishes are cleaned and put away)!
Mountain whitefish are a member of the salmon and trout family that’s native to the western United States and western Canada. They prefer cold mountain lakes and streams with highly oxygenated water. Whitefish are common in this habitat in many areas across the state.
Mountain whitefish eat insect larvae, insects, fish eggs and small fish. You can readily catch them using imitations of any of these.
Interestingly, mountain whitefish feed most actively during the winter and at night. They spawn from late fall to early winter, usually in stream riffles that have gravel substrate. They’re also one of five species of sport fish found in Utah’s streams that are native to the state.
(For more information about mountain whitefish, please see the Utah Data Conservation Center web site).
Where you’ll find them
Whitefish are an underutilized sport fish in Utah. In the past, many anglers have wrongly accused them of being 'trash' fish. Whitefish are far from that. Anyone who has pursued these fish knows they're fun to catch and make delicious meals. And the bag limits for whitefish are still liberal (on most waters, you can catch 10 whitefish. Please see the 2006 Utah Fishing Proclamation to learn the whitefish limit for the water you’d like to fish).
Mountain whitefish are found in many waters across Utah. For example, in northern Utah you'll find mountain whitefish in the following streams:
- Weber River. In the past 10 years, the Division of Wildlife Resources has taken some important steps to secure angler access on the Weber River. Many of these access areas offer great fishing for whitefish.
- Blacksmith Fork Fiver. Fish population surveys in this Blue Ribbon fishery show the stream has a healthy population of whitefish.
- Blacks Fork - Uintas. Fishing this drainage on the North Slope of the Uintas gives anglers a real sense of solitude. Weather conditions on the North Slope can change quickly, however; use caution when fishing this area late in the fall.
The Provo River in north-central Utah is also an excellent place to fish for mountain whitefish.
For more information about fishing for mountain whitefish across the state, contact any DWR office or fishing tackle shop in Utah.