Bonneville whitefish

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Matt Miller
Matt Miller's picture
Bonneville whitefish

Bear Lake straddles the border of Idaho and Utah; it is of interest to species anglers because it is home to 4 endemic fish species as well as a healthy population of cutthroat trout and others.

Many of the species live deep in the lake. But at different times of year, they come to the rocky shorelines to spawn. Different species are near shore at different times of year.

In late November/early December, the Bonneville whitefish spawns on the rocky reefs. I decided that this year I would try to catch them.

We stayed in Lava Hot Springs, a nice little town with natural hot springs. There my wife and young son could relax and play while I went fishing. Due to an incoming storm and some work obligations, my fishing time was suddenly cut to one afternoon. Not ideal, but I decided to make the most of it.

I arrived at a suggested shoreline access spot. There was one family on shore who were packing up. They said the fishing had been slow all week. The temps were in the mid-20s, it was snowing and the wind was blasting.

There were a few anglers out in boats but I had the shoreline to myself. A few anglers filtered in and out for shore fishing while I was there, all remarking that it had been slow and suggesting I come back another time.

I persisted, being splashed by whitecap waves and feeling somewhat miserable. I was not doing much but snagging jigs on the rocky reefs.

I will never claim to be a great or even good angler, but I am persistent. I stuck around, trying different lures. I had a very large cutthroat swipe at a jig, but nothing else.

The sun was beginning to set, and I switched to a Mepps hoping to salvage the day with at least a cutthroat. A couple of casts later, a solid strike and I had a fish on. And as I brought it in: Bonneville whitefish!

What a cool fish. I just wish I had more time to spend. I'll be back for the Bonnevilles and now also plan to return to target the other endemics. A most excellent spot. This site has been good to me in sharing info and I'd be happy to provide more detailed instructions -- just PM me.

Goldenfishberg's picture
WOW! Persistnce pays off for

WOW! Persistnce pays off for the intrepid angler! Don't sell yourself short man you are an excellent angler. Congrats Matt, that's one hell of a cool Lifer! 

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.

HIGHFLOW1402's picture
what a catch!!!!

congrats I hope to scratch this of the ole lifelist one day!

Mike B
Mike B's picture
Dude, I think I'm more

Dude, I think I'm more envious of that fish than any other on this site. I freakin' love whitefish. I've always wanted to check out Bear Lake and I intend to some day. Your success is very encouraging. Prosopium is a tough group. Props too on setting up the family at the resort so you can go fishing ... Almost sounds like something I would dosmiley Congratulations all around. 

mike b

Eli's picture
Never heard of that species

Never heard of that species until now. Great catch!

What are the other endemics in there, other than cutthroat?




FP4LifesDad's picture
Sure, it's a member of the

Sure, it's a member of the Pontiac family of fishes haha! Nice fish Matt, great photos man thanks for sharing and congrats on a fish I'd never heard of either!!

Outdoors4life's picture
Very cool!

Very cool!

Sometimes persistence and that one last cast is what brings home the memory. Happened many times for me that way where just one more cast has made the day.


It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

andy's picture

I recently read an article about the Bear Lake whitefish and was amazed.  Catching a Bonneville whitefish is just an awesome accomplishent!  Congrats, Matt!  I'd love to fish out there some day.


Matt Miller
Matt Miller's picture
Bear Lake's endemics


Bear  Lake's other endemics are:

Bonneville cisco - these fish amass in large numbers along the shoreline in January/February. The fishery is mostly netting them and I find very little about catching them with hook and line. There are some references of them being caught through the ice.

Bear Lake whitefish - very little info on this species out there, they spawn in March. They are considerably smaller than the Bonneville whitefish.

Bear Lake sculpin - They spawn in late spring. I don't believe many people target them but I know at least one intrepid angler on this site who has caught one. They also reportedly draw in the cutthroats closer to shore.

The Bear Lake cutthroats grow quite large and are striking fish. They are considered by most to be of the Bonneville subspecies, but I think are unique enough to warrant seeking out for my quest to catch all cutthroat varieties. I came close on my recent trip but it's one of many reasons to go back.

Lake trout are introduced to the lake. Anglers catch them from shore in October.

Utah sucker, Utah chub and redside shiner are also found in the lake.

So many reasons to return to this lake and explore!

Hengelaar's picture
Well, this is just sooper

Well, this is just sooper dooper cool.

Now that I've been lucky enough to catch a few Whitefish species, I'm hooked. Add this to the want list!

Congrats on a really sweet lifer!

Fishn sure is neat