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Utah Lake's Bird Island

Key Features: One of the better places on Utah Lake to fish for walleye, big channel cats and white bass.

A gravel bar extending south and east from the island attracts spawning walleye. (Anglers have anchored floating, homemade buoys to mark the bar.) After the spawn walleye move into deeper areas and structure near the island.

Catfish can be found all around the island. They will start to become active in May, when the sun is warming the water. Catfish action will become very good during June and stay good through the summer.

Location: About 2.25 miles north of the Lincoln Beach boat ramp, near the south end of Utah Lake. There is a small stand of trees on the island, which can be seen vaguely from Lincoln Beach.

We Visited On Friday, March 20, 1998

Water Temperature: 45 degrees

Weather: Calm, sunny, mild

Water Level: High. The island is completely submerged. Trees extending from the water are the only indication it is there. (Most years the island consists of a small amount of earth and rock above the water level.)

Success: Only a few walleye were in the spawning area when we visited. The forecast called for warming days and so we expect the spawn will be in full swing when you get this issue. Spawning action will probably peak at Utah Lake about the end of March, remain strong for a couple weeks into April, then tapper off.

There were eight boats working the gravel bar southeast of the island, but we only saw a couple fish caught. It was impressive to see the boats line up along the bar in a straight line extending out into the lake. It was almost like military jets flying in formation. Anglers new to the area can readily identify the productive line during the walleye spawn because there will almost certainly be boats lined up there.

The catfish action should start to become good in May. White bass action will become very good in late May and June, but it will be spotty. Find a school and the fishing can be very fast.

Strategy: During the walleye spawn work the gravel bar using jigs or Rapalas. Cast into shallow water and work your lure out into deep water, keeping it as close to the bottom as possible. The first and last hours of daylight are the most productive.

After the spawn work jigs or nightcrawlers down into the rocks in deeper water around the island.

Typically, walleye are most active during periods of low light, and they like to stay near structure. But these rules are not iron clad at Utah Lake. The murky water inhibits light penetration and so the walleye stay more active, even through the middle of the day. They tend to roam freely.

Most of the year the best approach at Utah Lake is to fish for a variety of species. During the spawn you are pretty much restricted to walleye because other species have not yet become active. But as summer approaches walleye can be hard to find they roam freely and are not concentrated. Fish for walleye during the early morning or late evening, then fish for catfish or white bass during the day.

Catfish action is almost always good on a warm evening. Put shrimp, worms, chicken livers or prepared baits on a hook in front of a slip sinker, cast it out and let it sit. Keep the bail on your reel open. When a fish picks up the bait the line will start to move. Let it move freely no resistance until you figure the fish has the bait well back into its mouth. They close the bail and yank hard to set the hook.

White bass can be caught on small spinners or pieces of worm.

Hazards: The murky waters of Utah Lake makes it impossible to see rocks and other hazards, even if they are only a couple feet deep. At Bird Island shallow rocks extend out 50 yards or more in most directions around the island. The gravel bar to the SE is so shallow that you cannot cross it in a boat for about 200 yards out from the island. There is also a shallow, rocky shelf to the west of the island.

There are shallow rocks near the mouth of the boat ramp channel at Lincoln Beach. There is a buoy in the mouth of the channel. Stay close to it, on either side, they turn north and proceed out into the lake. There are rocks just to the southeast of the buoy, and along the edges of the channel.

Adjacent Areas: Walleye also spawn along Lincoln Beach, around the bend from the boat ramp. (See map.) Catfish and white bass action is usually good along the beach through late spring, summer and early fall.

The beach is a popular area to fish, picnic, and play in the water. It's close to town and so it makes a great place for a quick get-a-way.

There will be people drinking and parting along the beach on summer evenings, particularly on weekends. Many people think the ultimate in life is to fish for channel cats, rod propped up on a forked stick, while they lean back in a lawn chair, beer can in hand, with some burgers on the grill. Lincoln Beach is that kind of a place.

The water is shallow along the beach. Many people wade out thigh-deep before casting, so they can get their bait out into deeper water. The bottom is mucky and so wading is somewhat difficult.

Some people get out in float tubes in the deeper spots - particularly during the walleye spawn, then work the gravely areas.

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