Don Allphin

Jeri Allphin holds her 20-inch rainbow trout caught at Starvation Reservoir on Friday, June 21, 2019.

The annual Catch A Cure For Cancer bass and walleye tournament was held on June 22, at Starvation Reservoir, very near Duchesne. Since this was my first of (hopefully) many visits in 2019, besides the obvious charity event, I wanted to provide an update on the angling opportunities at this exciting reservoir.

All the proceeds from the tournament goes to fund summer camps for children struggling with various forms of cancer. Anglers chose to fish for walleyes, bass, or both species in a two-person team event, and although bragging rights for winning the event were certainly at play, the real winners were those cancer patients fortunate enough to attend summer camps at Camp Hobe, near Tooele. This tournament is always one of the highlights of my fishing year.

My wife, Jeri and I, fished together and had a wonderful two days on the water, though in all honesty, we froze most of the time.

“I imagined the first day of summer would be a lot warmer than this,” Jeri said, while putting on several layers of cold-weather gear. “I am going to leave most of my layers on all day.”

Starvation is a sprawling reservoir with several protruding arms breaking off a main channel that moves from southwest to northeast. Islands, humps, cliffs, and long, shallow flats make up the topography of the reservoir, with a few cabins, oil rigs, and ATV roads mostly hidden among the oak brush covered hills surrounding the water.

Initially, both Jeri and I caught some fat rainbows that took our bass lures as if they were candy. We kept two of them on Friday, filleted them and grilled them for dinner. They were large enough to not only feed us, but we shared our catch with a couple of friends, and still had enough left over to headline an Asian salad Jeri prepared mid-week after returning home.

The rainbows were still quite shallow and we caught most of the trout in less than 10 feet of water. I could imagine trolling Jake’s Spin-A-Lures at about two miles per hour all around the humps and shallow flats in the northeastern area of the reservoir. Each fish we caught were thick, meaty fish and talk about aggressive – they quite literally tore our lures apart.

The bass fishing was a different story. Due to the cold weather, the smallmouth bass seam lethargic, unwilling to chase our lures, and when they struck (in the clear water) it seemed as if they were afterthoughts. Normally, a crawdad-colored 1/4-ounce grub would be good for up to 30 or more fish per day. Not so on this trip. The 10-inch smallmouth acted as if they were the king of the cove and would defend their crown, while others seemed completely uninterested in our lures.

Our smallmouth bass came in less than 20 feet of water and wanted our lures to be dragged from shallow to deep, following the contours of the bottom. Since the reservoir was full, a lot of rock piles and ledges were underwater and they became targets for our casts.

Jeri discovered drop-shotting and caught a couple of dozen fish per day pitching her lures into rocky points and in and around rock ledges and drop offs. I, on the other hand, tried for larger fish by throwing a 1/2-ounce white and chartreuse spinnerbait to the same types of structure – rocky points and ledges.

Those that targeting walleyes found them on similar structure but much deeper. One angler reported catching 20 walleyes each day in 25 to 40 feet of water using bottom bouncers and a tiny jig tipped with a night crawler. Others threw crawdad-colored crankbaits and moved around the reservoir, not staying in one area for more than an hour.

Starvation is still producing a lot of great fish and with state park camping facilities that (in my opinion) are second to none, now is the time to enjoy the warming weather in one of northeastern Utah’s true fishing and camping jewels.

Don Allphin can be reached at don@donallphin.com

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