KSL Outdoors: Bear Lake

Often called the ‘Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its unique turquoise-blue waters. Bear Lake is an often crowded lake in the summer.

But not so much in the winter. We have the lake to ourselves today and our target is a fish not many anglers chase. The Bonneville Whitefish, and Bear Lake is the only place on Earth you can catch them.

(Adam) One thing you don’t expectis the ramp to be frozen up. We got a call from Old Coot who’s here ahead of us. He said bring some salt. The ramp is slick. So if you come up bring some chains, four wheel drive, might not get the boat out. hopefully we’ll get on the water here in just a second.

Well that should be about it and a little for good luck.

(Nathan Vanderlinden, West Jordan Angler) We are up here to try and catch the elusive whitefish I always hear about. (adam) never done it? (Nathan) Never done it, first try. A lot of people talk about it, figure I’d come up and give it a try. See what the excitement is about them. (adam) You’ve got ol Tubedude’s jigs. Yup. Bought some from him, showed my how to do it so I’m excited to try them.

(Chris Penne, DWR; Reg. Aquatics Biologist) If you are an angler and you are coming up here to target them. One of the things you are going to look for. Look for very shallow water.

(Chris) From 7-13 feet and you are going to either find them on sandy flats or cobble bottoms.

(Nats arriving at 2nd point) somewhere in here. 10 feet.

We’re fishing with an old buddy of mine, Ralph Naylor and his brother Terry. Avid anglers who fish here quite a bit. Also joining us is Nathan and his neighbor Norm. I met these guys at Sportsman’s Warehouse the night before as they stocked up on Whitefish gear. This is their first time fishing on Bear Lake and it was a chance meeting that as you’ll see, sure paid off.

Fish on. Nice little fight huh? Not too bad, I’m trying not to push it with this six pound line. 20:10 These guys can get up to be about 20 inches, but we’ll see what I’ve got here.

(net fish) nice, oh big fish. There we go. alright. Nice female.
(Chris Penne) using a kind of I guess they call a cutter bug or a paddle tail. Look at that beautiful fish.

So these guys are part of the family Salmoninae, they’re are somewhat related to the mountain whitefish that anglers will catch say on the Provo or Weber. These guys however put up a little better fight. They’ve got a little bit deeper body and they actually they taste really great.

Anglers are targeting the whitefish right now because they are spawning on the rocks anywhere from five to fifteen feet of water. The spawn usually runs from the last week in November to about December 20th.

(Chris Penne) If you miss your chance to get out on these guys, one of the neat thing is they are pretty easy to catch under the ice. They’ll be available probably about mid January through March. In some of the shallower areas.

I’ll bring him back. I’ll bring him back. (net fish) good job. A nice one. (terry) Yeah he is stout.

We were catching a few.
(nathan There we go!

but ol’ Nathan and Norm are quick learners, they’ve found the lure, the technique and are killing it.

(nathan Vanderlinden, West Jordan Angler) Red eye, sparkle on it with white. Tipping it with a worm. But that silver with clear has really been the ticket for me today. How have you been fishing it. Just really slow on the bottom. Let it sink to the bottom. Start reeling it about a foot or two and let it sink all the way back down that way you keep it close.

It’s been good, we’ve almost got our limits. (laughs) and you caught a cutt? A nice cutt, first fish of the day

That’s one of the neat things about Bear Lake. You’ve got the potential to catch, not only trophy cutthroat trout, but lake trout and then when the action is great on these Bonneville Whitefish, you can get into them as well. A really great opportunity and unique opportunity that you are not going to get anywhere else.

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