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DWR increases fishing limits at 6 waterbodies due to drought impacts, pond repairs

Jul 8, 2022, 11:42 AM | Updated: 1:47 pm
Otter Creek is one of the areas that will see an increase of fish anglers can take with them. 
Phot...
Otter Creek is one of the areas that will see an increase of fish anglers can take with them. Photos courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is issuing emergency changes to Utah’s fishing regulations.

The changes come as DWR prepares for low water levels because of bad drought conditions. The changes allow anglers to catch and keep more fish at six water bodies around the state.

“We’ve got extremely low water levels at these reservoirs, and we’ve got to be dropping even more as the summer goes on,” said Aquatics Program Manager Richard Hepworth. “Instead of letting those fish wash away, die because of increased temperature, low water, low oxygen… it’s better to allow people to harvest them.” 

This isn’t the first time Utah has increased the fishing limits. 

“Last year, we did quite a few,” said Hepworth. “What we did last year really helped us going into this year. The number of fish can get high over time… and there can be big die-offs.”

Increasing the number of fish allowed to be harvested, wildlife experts say eliminates the competition among the fish, and helps the ones left survive.

Low water levels cause the water to heat up more quickly. And warmer waters are problematic for fish since warm water has less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease.

These conditions can kill off the fish. Waterbodies with less water have a higher likelihood of fish die-offs.

Similar to last year, the DWR is again strategically determining where fish will be stocked this year, in order to either reduce or eliminate fish from being stocked into water bodies where it is anticipated that heat and low water levels may impact fish survival. 

“The best management action we can take at these water bodies is to reduce the number of fish in these waters. That’s because when water levels are low, we are more likely to maintain a fishery that has fewer fish than one that has a lot of fish,” Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “We try, whenever possible, to continue to provide a good fishing experience for anglers, up until we think that water levels will hit a critical level.”

Drought-related changes

The following changes are effective through Sept. 30. Here are the water bodies with new increased daily fish limits

  • Otter Creek Reservoir in Piute County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout and six wipers.
  • Minersville Reservoir in Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to four trout (with no size restrictions) and three wipers. The restriction for using legal bait has also been temporarily removed until Sept. 30.
  • Vernon Reservoir in Tooele County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Yuba Reservoir in Juab County: Increasing the daily limit to a combined total of 20  walleye, wiper, trout (any species), tiger muskie, northern pike and channel catfish (no size restrictions).
  • Fairview Lakes in Sanpete County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.

Changes related to infrastructure repairs

Spring Lake is being drained so Payson city officials can make necessary infrastructure repairs. The daily limit was initially increased on Jan. 13 with a targeted end date of March 18.

However, because the lake has not yet been drained, the lake still has catchable fish and the new daily limit was extended until Dec. 31, 2022. 

Anglers must comply with all area closures that may be put in place by the city or construction crews. The pond will be restocked with rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and wiper after city employees complete the repairs and refill the pond with water.

Here is the fishing limit change for Spring Lake:

  • Spring Lake community pond in Utah County: Increasing the daily limit for sportfish to eight fish. However, common carp do not count toward the daily limit.

All the other rules in the Utah Fishing Guidebook regarding Utah waterbodies have not changed and remain in effect.

Related: Free Fishing Day will allow Utahns to fish without license

Aimee Cobabe and Kira Hoffelmeyer contributed to this story.

 

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DWR increases fishing limits at 6 waterbodies due to drought impacts, pond repairs