WILDLIFE

Utah increases fishing limits due to drought, low water levels

Jul 2, 2021, 9:31 AM
warm weather trout...
FILE: Brown trout caught in Utah's Uintah Basin. Utah wildlife officials are increasing fishing limits on state waterways because of the drought and low water levels. (Photo: DWR)
(Photo: DWR)

SALT LAKE CITY — Call it an unexpected benefit of the ongoing drought: Utah anglers will see increased fishing limits due to low water levels across the state. 

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Thursday additional changes to the state’s fishing guidelines. Those changes, which become effective immediately, will allow anglers to keep more fish at additional waterbodies around the state. 

Drought means increased fishing limits

The changes were made in anticipation of low water levels caused by drought conditions and hot water temperatures. Drought conditions impact fish by reducing the amount of water available in streams, lakes ands reservoirs throughout the state. 

Lesser amounts of water heat up faster and warm to higher temperatures. That can be problematic for fish because warmer water holds less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish to the point that it can be fatal.

To offset that problem, the DWR is increasing daily fish limits at certain fishing holes around the state.

Fishing holes with increased limits

All community fishing ponds in Utah: There are 57 community fishing ponds around the state. The fishing limit for all these fishing locations will be increased by adding a two-trout bonus limit. This means that at community fishing ponds, anglers can keep a four-fish maximum, at least two of those must be trout.

“Community fisheries are small ponds, and we anticipate that temperatures in these ponds this summer will exceed the maximum temperature tolerated by trout,” said DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger. “The intent of this regulation change is to provide anglers the opportunity to harvest and use additional fish before any potential fish loss.”

Additionally, the DWR also made changes Thursday to the following fishing locations, which will be in effect until Oct. 31.

  • Vernon Reservoir, Tooele County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Lower Bowns Reservoir, Garfield County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Middle Kents Lake, Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Puffer Lake, Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Minersville Reservoir, Beaver County: Removing the restrictions on the use of bait and the size of trout you can keep.

“This summer, we are anticipating very low water levels at Minersville Reservoir and are expecting it to kill some fish,” Oplinger said. “There is a conservation pool at Minersville, but it can’t sustain the current amount of fish in the reservoir. We would like additional fish to be harvested to reduce the total amount of fish, so that some will survive in the conservation pool. While using bait to fish has previously been illegal, we want to open up Minersville Reservoir to anglers who are more harvest-oriented, so they can help reduce the amount of fish. This temporary regulation change is intended to protect the fishery and prevent a total fish loss, so the fishery can recover more quickly when drought conditions subside.” 

Other rules still apply, even in drought

The DWR reminds all anglers that all other state fishing rules and guidelines have not changed remain in effect. 

Those interested should visit the DWR website for additional information regarding the fishing guidelines.

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Utah increases fishing limits due to drought, low water levels