About 13 miles east of Salt Lake City in the western Wasatch Mountains is Little Dell Reservoir. Little Dell is located alongside Utah State Route 65, about one mile northeast of Interstate 80. The elevation at the surface is about 5,800 feet. The average depth for the reservoir is about 82 feet, and maximum depth is just over 200 feet.
What Makes It Great
Nothing beats Little Dell Reservoir for a quiet, relaxing day away from the city. Little Dell Reservoir was originally planned to be used only as a municipal and industrial water supply, but because of the overwhelming recreational demand it was turned into a fishery. The reservoir is an impoundment on Dell Creek. It stores water from Dell Creek and diverted water from Parleys Creek—located immediately downstream. The reservoir and recreation area is operated and maintained by the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities.
Special regulations keep most anglers away as Little Dell only permits artificial flies and lures, and it’s closed to the possession of Cutthroat Trout. The Bonneville Cutthroat Trout is a threatened species and has inhabited the Little Dell Reservoir for many years, and this is why Little Dell has catch-and-release and no-bait regulations. Angling can be spotty as this reservoir is rarely stocked with fish. Some of the best fishing is where the creek enters the lake. Copper, gold, black, and orange spoons and spinners work well. For fly anglers, bright-colored streamers or dark-colored leech patterns work best.
Who is Going to Love It
Not just fishermen, but anyone who wants a little solitude away from the city will enjoy Little Dell. Because if its close proximity to Salt Lake City, residents may still enjoy a bit of sunshine after a post-work fishing excursion during the longer days of summer. Nothing relaxes quite like a day of fishing, and the beautiful, pastoral surroundings of Little Dell Reservoir only add to the experience. Mountain Dell Golf Course is also nearby, so fishermen who also enjoy golf (and golfers who enjoy fishing) can combine the trip and make a day of it.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There is a state provided parking lot with a $5.00 per car day use fee. Do not park along Hwy 65. The north side of the reservoir is easily accessed from the parking lot. There are 56 picnic tables, 135 parking spaces and two places to launch non-motorized boats by hand. If you want to fish other parts of Little Dell, you’ll have to hike or use a non-motorized boat to get to a different fishing spot. You will need a fishing license.
Other restrictions exist, such as no potable water services directly from the lake, no swimming, bathing or washing within the lake, picnicking limited to restricted areas, and limited day-use only. And, as with any of the Salt Lake City watershed areas, you’ll have to leave Fido at home.