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Your Bear Lake fishing guide

May 30, 2024, 3:39 PM | Updated: Jun 10, 2024, 1:50 pm

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

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This article about the Bear Lake fishing is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau


Bear Lake’s pristine lake waters make it a special place to fish. You might go home with a big catch by preparing ahead of time! Use this fishing guide to Bear Lake to help you plan before you head up to the water. 

Bear Lake boasts an esteemed Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat, renowned for the 19-lb Idaho State record catch. Lake trout can also reach weights of up to 30 lbs. While anglers can fish from their boats all year round, the winter and spring seasons often offer the highest yield. 

Keep reading to learn more. 

What kind of fish can you catch in Bear Lake?

There are several types of fish you can catch in Bear Lake.

  • Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus Clarkii): this trout is distinguished by its crimson slash under the jaw, deep orange fins, and large round spots on the upper body. 
  • Lake trout/Mackinaw (Salvelinus Namaycush): these fish are gray-brown with light-colored spots and a deep forked tail fin.
  • Bonneville cisco (Prosopium Gemmifer): smaller, pearly-silver fish with a pointed mouth and gold stripe. Most cisco are between 6-8 inches.
  • Bonneville whitefish (Prosopium Spilonotus): members of the trout family, these fish have gray-blue spots along their sides and grow up to 16 inches.
  • Bear Lake whitefish (Prosopium abyssicola): these are similar in appearance to the Bonneville whitefish yet are about half the size.
  • Bear Lake sculpin (Cottus Extensus): these fish have no scales and appear like a tadpole with bright blue eyes on its head.

Where to fish

While most anglers choose to fish from boats, you can also fish from the Bear Lake State Park Marina or near Cisco Beach. 

You can also fish in many of the region’s nearby lakes, reservoirs, streams, and creeks. The Montpelier Rearing Pond is popular for children or people with physical challenges who still wish to fish. 

The best time to fish

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing, though spring and winter offer the greatest harvests. No matter what time of year you go, however, first light to mid-morning is the prime time to catch. 

The best time of year to fish depends on what type of fish you are after. Many fish mentioned will hide in the deeper, cooler waters during the warm summer months. This is especially true for the Bonneville whitefish, which anglers catch well into the fall season. 

Sculpin and Cutthroat spawn in the spring from March to June. In the fall, Lake Trout come to shore at the marina, making it an excellent spot for night fishing. 

In January, when Bear Lake holds its annual Monster Winterfest, Cisco fish are highly sought after. If the lake freezes over, it becomes a popular spot to ice fish. 

What to pack

All anglers must have a valid fishing license to fish on or near the lake. A Utah Fishing license, combination hunting license, or Idaho fishing license will allow you to fish anywhere on the lake. If you plan to fish on the Idaho side by boat, you must display an “Idaho Invasive Species Fund” sticker. 

Here’s what else you want to ensure you have on hand before heading out. 

  • Rods and reels: jiggers are preferred for fishing in the deeper waters 
  • Tacklebox
  • Bait: Cisco fish meat is what many locals swear by
  • Pocket knife
  • Sun protection
  • Snacks

Be sure also to check the Utah fishing guidebook before you head out for more details.

Related reading: 

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

This is a sponsored article brought to you by KSL News Radio in conjunction with the advertiser. The advertiser paid a fee to promote this article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of KSL News Radio, its parent company, or its staff.

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Your Bear Lake fishing guide