You may be surprised that Utah Lake can be one of the best bass fisheries in the state of Utah. Some anglers even think the next state record could be found at this lake (and I believe them). Although recent water levels haven’t helped, this lake can be lights out. Especially in the spring. But it can also be a tough bite at times, depending on the time of year and the conditions for even the most advanced angler. Fishing the right baits with the right techniques is a game changer that can be the difference in having a day you’ll never forget and one that you wish you would.
Over the years through trial and error and getting tips and advice from other Utah anglers, I have compiled and refined this list of the best baits and techniques for catching largemouth bass at Utah Lake.
The squarebill is a well known shallow running crankbait. This lure can be irresistible for largemouth bass at Utah Lake. The key to fishing the squarebill crankbait effectively is to make sure your bait maintains contact with the bottom. It is also a fantastic bait for fishing around all types of cover and you will see the most strikes as it reflects of rocks, brush, stumps and other structure.
Crankbaits come in all sorts of sizes, colors, depths, wobbles, sounds, and shapes. With Utah Lake’s dark muddy waters, you want to maximize the visibility of your lure by using bright and or dark colors. Chartreuse and dark colored crankbaits are a staple here. Orange/red crawdad patterns can work great (especially in the spring), and white colored crankbaits with a black back work nicely as well.
The sound of the crankbait is also important to keep in mind. You will want to be throwing a crankbait that puts off a lot of sound. It’s good to have a mix of different sounding crankbaits, but generally for Utah Lake the noisier the better. Having a nice rattle to your crank bait will help the bass track down your lure and get you that reaction strike from these Utah Lake bass.
The size of the crankbaits bill will determine the depth it will dive. The bigger the bill, the deeper the bait will run. With Utah Lake being a shallow lake with an average depth around 10 ft (although in recent years it’s probably much lower) You will want to throw a shallow (0-4ft) to medium (5-9ft) diving crankbait, depending on what spots you’re are fishing.
How to fish Squarebill crankbaits
The most common way to fish a squarebill crankbait is to simply cast and reel in with a steady retrieve, while making sure to keep the bait at or near the bottom. Most bites come from the erratic action this bait can have as you bang it into rocks and it ticks the bottom or deflects off structure. After a few casts if this isn’t working you can also try mixing up your retrieving speed as this may trigger the bass into biting. But the more erratic action you can make the bait have as you are reeling it in the better.
Where to fish Squarebill crankbaits at Utah Lake
The squarebill crankbait is going to excel mostly in the boat harbors. The Provo, Lindon, American Fork, and Saratoga Springs harbors are all great choices. Focus specifically on targeting rip raps (a shoreline made of rocks). You will find the bass hanging around these areas that will not be able to resist an erratic crankbait as it deflects of the rocky shoreline and other structure.
Target These Areas:
- Boat Harbors
- Rip Raps/Rocky Shorelines
- Around Docks
Square Bill Recommendations
- Strike King KVD Rattling Square Bill Crankbait (Black Back Chartreuse, Bluegill, Natural Red Craw)
- River2Sea Ish Monroe Biggie Square Bill Crankbait
- Jackall Squarebill Crankbait
- Storm Arashi Rattling Square Bait
- Booyah Flex 2 Crankbaits
Square Bill Rod & Reel Set-Up
Most anglers prefer to fish a square bill on a medium power fast action rod. Ideally, you want a rod that will give you both power and have some bend. The length of your rod can be a personal preference, but typically you will want to have a rod that is around 7ft. You want a reel that has a smooth drag with a medium gear ratio between 6.1:1 thru 6.4:1. The medium speed will help you fish the bait quickly while allowing your bait to spend more time in the strike zone.
Budget Friendly Squarebill Setup..
- Rod- Dobyns 7′ Crankbait
- Reel- Shimano Casitas 150
- Line- 12 lb Sunline Assassin Fluorocarbon
Ideal Squarebill Setup..
- Rod- G Loomis IMX Pro 845 CBR
- Reel- Shimano Chronarch MGL 150
- Line- 15 lb MaxCuatro Braid
Use the line brand of your choice, but just make sure that you use fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon gives your line low visibility and is extremely sensitive, allowing you to feel your baits every move. Use anywhere from 10-20-pound test. I have found using 12-pound test to be effective and have never had any issues.
- Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon 12lb-16lb
- Stren Fluorocast 100% Fluorocarbon Line 12lb-17lb
Texas Rigged Soft Plastics
The Texas Rig is a bass fishing method used for fishing soft plastic lures. It’s weed-less nature makes it an ideal bait for pitching and flipping into Utah Lake’s heavy cover. The standard set up for this rig includes a bullet shaped weight (some anglers add a bobber stopper before this to keep the weight from sliding) threaded onto the line, followed by a hook (typically an offset worm hook). Here are some things to keep in mind when fishing the Texas Rig at Utah Lake.
Most anglers use a tungsten weight when fishing a Texas Rig. The tungsten weight is much denser than lead and will reduce the size of your presentation while allowing it to fit through small spaces more easily. The weight depends on what type of structure you are fishing. At Utah Lake I typically will fish a 3/8 to ½ oz bullet weight.
Tip: When fishing in muddy water, adding a glass bead can be a big advantage by adding more sound and getting you more bites.
When Texas Rigging most soft plastic baits, you will want to stick with a wide gap hook for most all applications. This style of hook will help maintain a consistent presentation and save a lot of baits. The wide gap hook also allows the hook to lay flush with the bait preventing snags. The best overall hook has got to be the Gamakatsu Offset EWG Worm Hook (Size 1/0 to 4/0 depending on the size of your bait).
Black and Blue. Regardless of what soft plastic bait you decide to go with you can’t beat the black and blue color combination at Utah Lake. It’s hands down the most effective color. With that being said, it’s not the only color you should use. There are a million different types of soft plastic baits you can Texas Rig. Be sure to experiment with different profiles and presentations. Here are the baits that I have found to be most effective:
- Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver (Black/Blue Flake, Black/Red Fake and California 420)
- Gary Yamamoto Double-Tail Hula Grub
- Yamamoto Senko
- Zoom Baby Brush Hog
- Strike King Rage Twin Tail Baby Menanc Grub
Tip: Dark colors works best (Dark Green, Black & Blue/Red,). The dark color makes the bait easier for fish to see in Utah Lake’s muddy water.
Where to fish a Texas Rig at Utah Lake
The great thing about the Texas Rig is that it can be extremely versatile. You can pretty much fish this bait anywhere. The best and most popular way to fish the Texas Rig at Utah Lake is by pitching and flipping the bait into structure. If you have access to a boat, go fish Mud Lake and Powell Slough. These channels are stacked with fish and can be the best place to use a Texas Rig. If you don’t have access to a boat this bait also works extremely well in the boat harbors. American Fork, Saratoga and Lindon are all great harbors to fish.
- Mud Lake
- Powell Slough
- American Fork Boat Harbor
- Lindon Boat Harbor
- Saratoga Boat Harbor
Texas Rig set-up
At Utah Lake you are most likely going to be using the Texas Rig to pitch and flip your bait into heavy cover. For this reason, you are going to want to have a medium to heavy action rod with a fast tip. You’ll want a rod that will allow you to easily set the hook on these fish and get them out of that heavy cover. A high gear ratio reel will also be ideal for this method. This will allow you to quickly pick up any slack when you get a bite and allow you to get the bass in the boat faster. Heavy line is also going to be important in these situations. You can use braided line (50lb-80lb) with a fluorocarbon leader (15lb) or just use straight braid or fluorocarbon (20-30lb). The braid gives you the most power and has zero stretch while the straight fluorocarbon is less visible in the water and can be more sensitive. The combo gives you the best of both worlds, but just use whatever you are comfortable with.
An all around great Texas Rig set up includes:
- Rod: Medium Heavy 7ft
- Reel: 7.1:1 thru 8.1:1
Line option 1:
- Braid (30-80lb) + Fluorocarbon leader (15lb-20lb)
Line option 2:
- Straight Fluorocarbon: Sunline Flippin FC (16lb-25lb)
How to fish a Texas Rig
With a Texas Rig you will want pitch/flip/cast it out on slack line and pay real close attention to that line and where it entered the water. Look for the line to jump, twitch, pop, or do anything unnatural that you didn’t cause, and that might be a good indication that a bass has picked up your bait and is on the move. If this is the case, put your rod tip down and reel in the slack and set the hook.
When you make your pitch, flip, or cast, let the bait fall all the way to the bottom (you will know you have hit the bottom when your line goes slack). Once your bait is at the bottom you can work it by slowly dragging the bait towards you with your rod (you will only use your reel to reel in your slackline)
This bait can be more versatile than most anglers think. The most effective way to fish this rig is by pitching and flipping it into the tullies (Mud Lake is the best place to use this bait). You can also have success working this bait along the banks and flipping and pitching it under docks and into other structure.
A spinnerbait is a big love for many anglers and for good reason. It’s a fun, super versatile bait that can be a big producer at Utah Lake. The spinner bait excels on overcast or windy days. But like any bait there are a lot of different variations, and each style has a time and a place. The great thing about this bait is that it gives you a ton of versatility and is weedless. You can fish it anywhere in the water column and at any speed. You can pitch and flip it or fish along the banks. The spinner bait will shine on cloudy and windy days.
The size of your spinner bait is mainly dependent on the depth you are fishing and how big of a profile you wish to present to the fish. I typically will fish a 1/2 oz or 3/8 oz spinnerbait and both work great at Utah Lake.
Even with low water visibility I have found that a white spinnerbait can work extremely well. Try and match the hatch with your spinnerbait. Bluegill and white bass color patterns work well. Black and blue/red also work great.
Having the right blade on your spinnerbait is important. In most situations I recommend fishing a spinnerbait that has Colorado or Willow blades. There are pro’s and con’s to both. The Colorado blade has a wide rounded profile that will give off more vibration and travels through the water at a slower rate. The louder thumping sound the Colorado blade produces makes it ideal for Utah Lake’s dirtier water. But don’t sleep on the Willow blades at Utah Lake. The Willow blades have a narrower, elongated body that excels at producing flash and is also more snag free resistant. As far as the blade colors, stick with gold or dark colors, these best fit Utah Lake.
Trailers are not always used, especially anglers targeting bass in clear water or when they want to present a smaller profile. However, its best to user a trailer when fishing at Utah Lake. A well-chosen trailer can add contrast to your bait and give it a bigger profile making it easier for the bass to track it down. Matching the color of the trailer with to the spinnerbaits’ is important but you also want to add some contrast as well. You can’t go wrong with using a chartreuse colored trailer, but make sure that you are using a mixture of colors that match the bait fish. In this case it would be bluegill, perch and white bass. The other thing to keep in mind is that your trailer may cause your spinner bait to run differently. For example, if you use a big curly tailed grub it may cause your spinnerbait to be off balance.
Where to fish a spinnerbait at Utah Lake
Because the spinnerbait is so versatile, you can pretty much fish it anywhere. It’s a great bait while fishing from the shore as well as out on the boat. You can bang it into rocks and bushes on the bank or flip it into structure and around docks. You can fish this bait anywhere bass can be found.
A spinner bait is so versatile that you can really fish it on most any reel. For larger, heavier spinner baits you will want to make sure that you are fishing it with a baitcaster. My preferred set up when fishing a spinnerbait is to fish it on a lower gear ratio (6.9.1). This allows me to have a slow to medium retrieve and I just like to barely get those blades.
Fluorocarbon is the preferred line choice. The pound test will depend on the type of structure and area you plan on fishing. I will typically throw anything from 12lb-15lb test.
How to fish a spinnerbait
The best advice to fishing a spinnerbait effectively is to mix it up. Not one retrieve is going to work all the time. You should always be switching it up until you find something that works. Here are a few methods you can experiment with at Utah Lake:
Cast the bait out along the shore or in shallow cover and with your rod tip down slowly reel it back. You want to sure that the bait is just moving fast enough to keep the blades spinning. This method works great in submerged cover or in deeper water.
In this technique you will be targeting the top of the water column. This method requires a faster retrieve and you’ll want to keep your bait about 1-2 ft from the water’s surface.
Bump and Thump
This technique is great for triggering bass. Simply throw your bait out and as you bring it in, bump and thump it into anything you can. The deflection and erratic motion made by bumping the baits blades can be irresistible to any bass nearby.
Pitching and Flipping
Fish the spinner bait as you would a jig. Flip it into small breaks in the tullies or into any structure that you can find. The bumping and flash of the spinnerbaits blades will trigger the bite.
Revenge Deep Runner Double Willow Spinnerbaits (chartreuse, black, bluegill patterns)
Revenge Colorado Willow Spinnerbaits (chartreuse/white, black, bluegill patterns)
The black and blue flipping jig is one of my all-time favorite baits for targeting largemouth bass at Utah Lake. I think I have caught more fish on this bait than any other bait and it’s one that every angler should have tied on.
My go to colors for jigs at Utah Lake:
- Green Pumpkin with Purple
- Molting Craw
- Supermat Brown
- Norcal Craw
There is always some on the water adjustments that need to be made depending on what the fish preference is and what type of cover you are fishing. I will typically fish a 1/2 oz and a 3/8 oz jig depending on what cover I am fishing and if the fish have a preference.
There are many things to consider when selecting a jig trailer. The right trailer is an important piece of your bait. It will dictate the fall rate, action, and overall profile that your bait will present to the fish. I love fishing the black and blue and dark colored trailers. Here are my favorite jig trailers for Utah Lake:
- Dry Creek Double Tail Grub
- Yamamoto Double Tail Grub (black and blue)
- Sweet Beaver
- Rage Craw
- Rage Bug
Where to throw a flipping jig
- Mud Lake
- Powell Slough
- Boat Harbors (American Fork is one of my favorites)
- Jordan River
- Rod Medium Heavy (Rod- Exage 7’2″ medium heavy)
- Reel- Casitas 150
- Line- 15 lb (AbrazX Fluorocarbon 15lb)
- Dirty Jigs Luke Clausen Compact Pitchin’ Jig (black and blue)
- Black Angel Lures Flipping Combat Jigs
How to fish a Jig
If you have never pitched and flipped a jig it may take some practice. Here is a great video that goes over learning how to pitch and flip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OklvPueR9xs
Top Water (Poppers and Buzzbaits)
Fishing top water is one of my favorite ways to catch largemouth bass at Utah Lake. There are many top water options to choose from, but I found the most success fishing with poppers and buzzbaits (I know a ton of anglers that do really well on the frog). These top water baits are definitely a seasonal bait that excel in the late spring/summer when water temps are high and can be effective in the fall as well. Nothing will get you more hooked on bass fishing than seeing a large mouth come up out of the water and nail your top water as you are bringing it in.
Top Water Recommendations
Buzzbaits – Are a great bait for flushing bass out of heavy cover and out from shallows. It is also a great bait for fishing in muddy water and at night. Fishing a buzzbait can produce some big bass. Its loud, mostly weed-less, and is a lot of fun to fish. When fishing this bait, simply cast it out and reel it in making sure that the bait remains on the surface with the blades spinning. Try mixing up your retrieving speed and have a blast casting this bait.
- Revenge Buzzbait
- Persuader Clacker Buzz
Poppers – This is a fun bait throw and can be deadly in the early mornings and evenings. The mouth of this bait is where it gets its name from. This is what allows the bait to spit up water and give it its action as you pop and twitch it when you retrieve this bait. To fish a popper, simply cast out the bait and give it subtle twitches and slack line, and the popper is going to grab that water and spit it out. As far as your cadence, you are going to want to mix it up and figure out what the fish want. I will typically give it two or three subtle twitches and pause it for a few seconds or so and give it a few more.
- Rebel Pop’R
- Megabass Pop Max
- Storm Chug Bu
Since you will be fishing on the surface of the water, you want to make sure you are fishing with a line that floats. I use both monofilament (12-20lb) and braided line (30-50lb). Both of these lines float, allowing these baits to run right and on the surface.
Where to Fish Topwater
You can really fish these top water baits anywhere there are largemouth bass, here are some of my favorite places to throw these baits:
- American Fork Boat Harbor
- Lindon Boat Harbor
- Saratoga Boat Harbor
- Provo Boat Harbor
Top Water Rod & Reel Setup
- Rod: 6’10” Medium
- Reel: High Speed Reel
- Line: 15-20 lb Monofilament
These top 5 bass fishing baits have all work great for me over the years and have been battle tested at Utah Lake. I hope you have found this article helpful in some way, go out and give these baits and techniques a go at Utah Lake. I can’t wait to see what you catch. See you out on the water. Tight lines!