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Paragonah (Red Creek) Reservoir

Paragonah (Red Creek) Reservoir
Paragonah (Red Creek) Reservoir


Paragonah Reservoir (also known locally as Red Creek Reservoir) is a small impoundment located 8 miles east of the town of Paragonah, in Iron county, in southwestern Utah. Access is by gravel road (Forest Road 078) that is typically passable by car, unless wet. The reservoir lies within the Dixie National Forest. Paragonah Reservoir lies at the forest transition zone from juniper and pinion pine to aspens and firs. There are no developed campgrounds nearby, though dispersed camping is allowed in the area and two pit toilets can be found at the reservoir. The dam impounding Red Creek was built for irrigation use, though the Utah Division of Wildife Resources owns a small conservation pool that prevents complete draining and helps sustain water levels for fish.

The fish population of Paragonah Reservoir has undergone a drastic change in recent years. Prior to 2017, the reservoir was dominated by a population of wild rainbow trout that spawned in Red Creek. Due to high competition, these fish experienced somewhat slower growth and most did not exceed 15 inches in length. The Brian Head fire burned across the headwaters of Red Creek in summer 2017. Subsequent rainstorms washed floods of ash and sediment into the reservoir, killing about 90% of the rainbow trout. These floods also did extensive damage to Red Creek, limiting its value as a spawning ground for trout.

In fall 2017 and spring 2018, Paragonah Reservoir was re-stocked with tiger and Bonneville cutthroat trout. The tiger trout, in particular, experienced exceptional survival and now provide good to fast fishing. Growth is expected to improve in the future as anglers harvest some of these fish and reduce competition for food and space. Because tiger trout are sterile, their numbers can be controlled by stocking and growth potential can be improved over that of the previous rainbow trout population. Bonneville cutthroat trout will also be stocked on occasion to provide variety to the fishery.

The Paragonah Reservoir tributaries have long had a seasonal closure (Jan 1 to the second Saturday in July) to protect spawning trout. Although Red Creek currently does not support many trout, it is anticipated that stream recovery in the next decade will again allow for cutthroat trout to swim up from the reservoir to spawn. Accordingly, the seasonal closure on the tributary remains in place.

Notes: Paragonah Reservoir offers opportunities for fishing from shore, float tubes, and small boats. There is no developed boat ramp, though trailered boats can be launched at the south end of the reservoir when the reservoir level is high enough. Tiger and cutthroat trout can be readily caught on lures, flies, and natural baits. Boat anglers typically troll flashy lures like Kastmasters and Jake's Spin-a-Lure. Spin anglers should also try spinners, marabou jigs, tube jigs, or a woolly bugger trolled behind a bubble. A 3-inch Gulp minnow on a 1/8-oz jig head can be deadly for tiger trout. Fly anglers should do well with streamers and nymphs, but also watch for evening hatches during the summer months. Tiger and cutthroat trout are not as susceptible to manufactured products like Power Bait, so bait anglers should focus on natural offerings like night crawlers.

Access to Paragonah Reservoir is good throughout spring, summer, and fall. Spring and fall often provide the best fishing of the year, though summer fishing should still be fair to good during most years. The road is not plowed during the winter, so access is usually restricted to snowmobiles and ATVs. Ice fishing can be very good if you can get there.

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  1. Iron County - Take Paragonah Exit off I-15. Turn east on Center Street and follow road up canyon

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