Scofield -- Scofield Reservoir is always a great place to fish in late fall. But if you want to catch a big tiger trout, fishing might be better than ever this fall.
On Feb. 15, Zane Nielsen of Pleasant Grove broke a catch-and-release tiger trout record by pulling a 27-inch tiger through the ice. Nielson didn't have a scale, but he guessed the fish weighed between eight and nine pounds.
One day after that record-breaking catch, Trent Peery of Santaquin harvested a 15-pound tiger trout. Peery's fish was 32.25 inches long with a 20-inch girth.
"You never know," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, "another record-breaker might be out there."
Before winter arrives, Stettler says trout feed voraciously. "They're eager to take just about anything an angler throws at them," he says.
"Give yourself permission to take a few days off and enjoy deep blue skies, mountain scenery and the intoxicating smell of autumn," Stettler says. "And who knows -- you might be the person who catches the next record tiger trout."
Even if you don't catch the next record breaker, Stettler says plenty of tiger, cutthroat and rainbow trout are waiting for you in the reservoir. "It's a great place to take your family fishing," he says.
You can read updated fishing reports for Scofield at www.wildlife.utah.gov.
Two additional sites -- www.utahwildlife.net and www.bigfishtackle.com -- also provide good information.
Scofield Reservoir is one of Utah's most popular fishing waters. Its convenient location in central Utah puts it within an easy one-hour drive of Utah County on the west and Carbon County on the east.
Another reason for its popularity is the fact that it's a family fishery.
"You don't need a boat to enjoy the reservoir," Stettler says. "There's plenty of shoreline for a family to fish from. That's especially true in late fall, when the water temperature is such that trout move freely through the water column. In late fall, trout can be caught as easily from shore as they can from a boat."
Scofield is home to a variety of trout species, including rainbow, cutthroat and tiger. An occasional brown trout is caught too.
"A robust population of Utah chubs can be a plus for children who don't care what kind of fish they catch," Stettler says. "Just put a worm on a hook, throw it out and let your kids enjoy hours of fast fishing action."
While the kids are busy catching chubs, put aside a few for your own use.
"Chub meat is the best bait for cutthroat and tiger trout, which are highly predacious," Stettler says. "Chubs can be used effectively with a tube jig or as stand-alone bait."
On Sept. 28, Devin Christensen caught a five-pound, 23-inch cutthroat trout using a tube jig and a chunk of chub meat, proving the strategy works.
Aside from tube jigs and chub meat, other bait options are also worth trying. "Worms and nightcrawlers are almost always effective, regardless of the season," Stettler says. "PowerBait is another good standby. Chartreuse or rainbow have been good colors this year. The sparkled variety has been most successful."
Stettler says the Kastmaster and the Jakes Spin-a-Lure have been the best lure choices this year.
"When trolling," he says, "using pop gear yields the best results. Triple Teasers, Rapalas or Dare Devils have been successful too."
He says fly anglers typically do very well using woolly buggers, leech patterns and soft hackle flies.
Prime shoreline fishing locations include the dam cove, the rocky east side or along the fishermen's access on the west side of the reservoir. When still fishing from a boat, most anglers anchor off the island at the southwest portion of the reservoir.
Most recently, anglers who troll have been motoring around the shoreline. Shore anglers have been casting out as far as they can, although now that the surface and bottom water layers have mixed, casting far isn't as important as it was earlier in the year.
An effort to bring the reservoir's chub population under control has resulted in some special regulations:
A slot limit protects cutthroat and tiger trout that are 15 to 22 inches long.
If a tiger or cutthroat falls under the slot, two may be harvested. If a tiger or cutthroat trout exceeds the slot, only one may be kept.
There are no special regulations for rainbow trout.
As long as the slot limit restrictions are honored, the daily bag limit at the reservoir is four fish.
Because there are separate regulations for rainbows versus tigers and cutthroats, fish cannot be filleted in the field, and their heads and tails may not be removed.
A gill netting survey on Oct. 4 found tigers and cutthroats in the reservoir are doing quite well. "Some of the tiger trout the biologists caught weighed more than eight pounds," Stettler says. "Individuals of both species appeared fat and healthy, probably from a diet rich in chubs and crayfish."
Stettler says rainbow trout remained lower in abundance, but the rainbows that biologists collected appeared to be healthy. Utah chub numbers were similar to last year, and redside shiners were more abundant.
DWR Regional Aquatics Manager Justin Hart said the gill netting catch was close to what he expected. Hart indicated, however, that before any conclusions can be drawn, the data will have to be compiled and analyzed.
If you'd like to stay on the mountain for the weekend, check out Scofield State Park. The park offers two separate camping units equipped with modern restrooms and picnic areas. Sites for both tent and trailer camping are available. The state park also features showers and fish-cleaning stations. A gas station/convenience store is located on the south end of the reservoir.
If you enjoy camping that's more primitive, a U.S. Forest Service campground is available on the west side of the reservoir, where Upper Fish Creek empties into the reservoir. North of Upper Fish Creek is Bear Creek, which offers access to the upper reaches of the mountain along with plenty of dispersed camping opportunities.
For more information, call the DWR's Southeastern Region office at (435) 613-3700.