Jordanelle Reservoir, located between Heber City and Park City just off of Highway 40 should be a great place to fish either from the shore or from boats from now until Thanksgiving. Let’s take a quick look at why it’s on my short list for some great fall fishing action.
Jordanelle Reservoir was filled to capacity for the first time in 1995. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) stocked smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow trout along with yellow perch. Since the Provo River was dammed to form the reservoir, fish that were already in the Provo River became part of the mix. Brown trout, long established in the Provo became an instant draw for anglers in those early years.
Highlights of the first 10 years of fishing Jordanelle (for me) were being able to catch largemouth bass on the surface in late October, and seeing the smallmouth bass explode in size and numbers. The largemouth bass would chase chubs and perch in and around the flooded timber in the backs of coves, and the smallmouth would also rush to the surface to find topwater lures from sunrise to sunset this time of year.
My son, Mark, caught his personal best smallmouth during that magical stretch, a 7.25-pound monster that took a topwater lure in mid-September near the dam.
Due to the huge population of forage species, specifically chubs and perch, all of the sport fish in the reservoir thrived.
Then, everything changed.
Within a few years, the huge smallmouth bass disappeared, the largemouth bass disappeared, and the perch and chubs followed suit.
For several more years, other than some fine trout fishing, Jordanelle became a small fish bonanza. You could catch dozens of 8-inch smallmouth bass but would rarely catch one longer than 14 inches. Even professional anglers struggled to catch 12-inch fish consistently.
During those years, I rarely fished Jordanelle except for a couple of very specific bites, both of which targeted browns, and large rainbows. The brown trout fishing has been spectacular at times even through the rough times but now, the introduction of kokanee salmon and wipers to the mix of sport fish in causing a major resurgence of larger fish.
Right now, and all the way through November, if you were to throw suspending jerkbaits off points and in the backs of coves all over the reservoir, brown trout, rainbows, and cutthroats will be eager to bite because they are all chasing minnows, kokanees, perch and even chubs are now being seen in schools.
Shore angling, especially in the Provo River Arm should be solid. I really enjoy throwing a two-leader rig with Powerbait on the shorter leader (30 inches) on a size 16 treble hook, and a nightcrawler tipped with marshmallow on the longer leader (40 inches). Fill a clear bubble 3/4s full of water, make long casts and allow the rig to drift a bit with any wind that might be present.
If you wanted to use jerkbaits from shore, it might pay to take waders, try to get a few yards off shore and cast parallel to the bank off points. The trout or bass will be setting up to ambush schools of immature kokanees or other small fish and they cruise the Provo River channel.
Wipers are also active this time of year and although on Jordanelle, that is a hit-and-miss opportunity, don’t hesitate to throw jerkbaits, white grubs or Gitzits any time you see surface activity. Those in boats can look for schools of wipers mostly in the northern section of the reservoir although they really can be found anywhere.
My favorite way to target schools of wipers is to drop a P-line Laser Minnow spoon to them after spotting them on your fish finder. Just like last week’s column, spoon fishing in the fall on Jordanelle can be great for wipers, rainbows, browns, and even smallmouth bass.
Don’t forget Jordanelle this fall; it should be a great time. Good luck.