Fishing & Ice Fishing in the Bear Lake Valley

Anglers come from miles around to enjoy the various fishing opportunities found in the Bear Lake valley. Bear Lake is home to a trophy cutthroat trout fishery where the Idaho State record cutthroat of 19 lbs. was caught. Lake trout also inhabit the lake and may grow to 30 lbs. Trolling and jigging from boats can be done throughout the year (winter and spring months being the most productive). Read the latest Bear Lake Fishing Report.

There are four endemic fish species in Bear Lake: the Bonneville Cisco, the Bonneville Whitefish, the Bear Lake Whitefish, and the Bear Lake Sculpin. The January-February spawning run of the Bonneville Cisco draws fishing enthusiast who dip nets to capture the small swift fish.

Anglers also dunk worms, cast lures and float artificial flies on many of the area lakes, reservoirs, streams and creeks. Float tubes are especially popular at Montpelier Reservoir. The Montpelier Rearing Pond has easy access for small children and physically-challenged individuals who wish to fish.

The Idaho Fish & Game Take Me Fishing Trailer visits the Montpelier Rearing Pond a couple times a summer. Fishing gear for use by the public for free, fishing instruction, and if you register at the trailer— no fishing license is necessary!

Find Bear Lake Boat Ramps on our map
Find Fishing License Vendors and Gear Stores
Explore Pugstone Sporting’s Awesome Fishing Map of Bear Lake
Bear Lake Fishing Report

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources – Bear Lake Utah Hunting and Fishing information. Buy hunting and fishing licenses.

Idaho Fish and Game – Bear Lake Idaho Hunting and Fishing information. Buy hunting and fishing licenses. Idaho fishing license vendors.

Ice Fishing

Cisco Fishing in Bear Lake in Garden City Utah
Cisco Fish Caught in Bear Lake
Cisco Fish Caught in Bear Lake

Bear Lake has four species of fish that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, with the Bonneville Cisco being the most well known. They move in close to shore to spawn in mid January and can be dip-netted through the ice. Bear Lake is ice covered four out of five years and jigging for trout and whitefish is a favorite activity for those who brave the cold outdoors to fish.

The Montpelier Reservoir is also a close place to go ice fishing. Located only minutes east of Montpelier, Idaho, active rainbow trout are the main attraction.

Have you been fishing on Bear Lake?  Please take a moment and fill out this survey to help us collect valuable fishing information for Bear Lake.

CAUTION TO POACHERS!
True Bear Lake Valley outdoor enthusiasts love and respect the wild resources that we have here. We welcome all hunters and anglers to come and enjoy, however, poachers are not welcome here! The Bear Lake valley is patrolled by both Utah and Idaho law enforcement and conservation officers. Poachers of our fish and game are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in order to protect our natural resources. Eyes are everywhere and poaching misdeeds are reported to the local authorities. If you witness any poaching activities, please call Idaho Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999, or the Utah Poaching Hotline at 1-800-662-DEER.

Bear Lake Fishing Report

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

 Water temperature continues to cool off and fishing on Bear Lake has continued to improve!  Boats can be launched at all boat ramps that are on the Utah side of the lake (Bear Lake State Park marina, First Point, and Rainbow Cove)  You can also launch boats at the inlet structure in Idaho at the very north end of the lake at the Idaho State Park.  Surface water temperature is about 50 degrees at this time. 

Fishing has been especially good cutthroat trout and also good lake trout this past week.  Some days can be slower than others, but overall the fishing is good and will only get better.  Anglers who are jigging are doing better right now than those who are trolling.  When jigging, use a ½ to 1 ounce jig with a tube, twister tail or swim bait tipped with a piece of cisco or other fish meat.  Jig right on the bottom, bumping bottom and coming up about 12-18”.  Many of the strikes are when the jig is falling back to the bottom, so pay attention to your line.  If you notice the lure/line stops sinking, set the hook and hold on!  The best luck is coming in 60-90’ of water and good spots have been along 1st and 2nd points on the east side of the lake.  However, the “rockpile” area off of Ideal Beach on the west side of Bear Lake should also start to turn on.

If you prefer to troll, use downriggers to get your Flatfish and jointed Rapalas very close to bottom or even bumping the bottom occasionally.  The east side shore from 1st Point north to the Idaho State Park should be good at this time.  Try different depths from 30-100’ of water until you find active fish.  Once you do, keep circling the general area in order to stay on the bite!

Anglers who are casting from shore are having some luck off the Utah State Park marina, Cisco Beach and off the North Beach Jetty.  When casting from shore use large (#5 or #6) Mepps or Blue Fox Vibrax spinners or large spoons like Dardevles. Try to keep the lure moving and close the bottom.  You can also still-fish in these areas using cisco, sucker or other fish for bait. 

The Bonneville whitefish should begin spawning around the Thanksgiving weekend and continue until mid-December.  These fish should be readily available to both shore and boat anglers.  If you can find rocky shoreline areas in 5-15’ of water that is the place to target these fish.  Use 1/16 or 1/8 jigs in a variety of colors (white, black and yellow are all popular) and tip the jig with a piece of worm or meal worm.  Bounce the jig along the bottom and try not to get snagged.  The whitefish get really aggressive on some days and bite very lightly on others, so pay attention.  Use a light or medium action spinning rod with 4-6 lb. line.  It even helps to use a braided line/super line with a 4-5’ long monofilament leader.  The braided lines transmit the light bites better than using all monofilament.  You can also cast small spinners (#1 or #2) or small spoons in about 1/8 ounce size.  Tipping the lure with bait can sometimes make a huge difference in catch rates.  The whitefish daily limit is 10 fish.  Don’t be surprise if you hook into a big cutthroat and/or lake trout while fishing for the whitefish.  The trout are in chasing the juvenile whitefish and sculpin which are feeding on the eggs of the spawning whitefish.  Finally, don’t be tempted to use your electric trolling motor while fishing for the whitefish since it will spook the spawning whitefish due to the clear water at Bear Lake and shallow depths where the whitefish are spawning.   Instead, anchor your boat or simply allow it to drift if there is no wind. 

Remember the trout limit is two fish.  Cutthroat trout with a healed fin clip may be kept; cutthroat trout with all fins intact must be immediately released.  The fin clip regulation will change, but not until January 2022.  Large lake trout take a long time to reach large sizes, and while they are legal to keep, many anglers are encouraging other anglers to release them.    

Garden City Community Fishery Pond

This pond has been stocked with rainbow trout and is full at this time.  There may be a few wipers still available that were stocked earlier this summer.  Anglers should use worms under a bobber or cast with small spinners.  Don’t overlook casting wooly buggers using a fly rod or cast with a fly behind a bubble.  Please use the self-service creel cards and let the UDWR know how you did fishing. 

Laketown Reservoir

Laketown Reservoir is full and fishing has been pretty good.  Road conditions to the reservoir are very good after improvements made last fall.  Cast small spinners or spoons tipped with meal worms or night crawlers.  Green or brown wooly buggers are also a good bet at this time of year.  There are no services at Laketown Reservoir, so PLEASE clean up after yourself.  It is even a good idea to bring along a small trash bag and pick up any other litter you may see.  If you do fish, don’t forget to use the self-service creel cards and let the UDWR know how you did fishing.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
371 West Marina Dr.
Box 231
Garden City, UT  84028
(435) 946-8501 phone & fax

Where else can you get 365 days of fishing, fun, food and memories for just $34 (or get a combination license for just $4 more so you can fish and hunt)? Buy your license at wildlife.utah.gov.