Drought conditions trigger emergency fishing regulation changes across the state

SALT LAKE CITY —  The Utah Department of Natural Resources (DWR) has issued several emergency changes to Utah fishing regulations in response to ongoing drought conditions across the state. These changes will allow anglers to catch and keep more fish at six water bodies around the state.

Drought impacts fish by reducing the amount of water available in lakes, reservoirs, and streams throughout the state. Smaller amounts of water heat up more quickly, which is problematic for fish species since warm water holds less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease. Sometimes, these conditions can even be fatal.

These regulation changes are being made as part of a DWR strategy that allows anglers to keep more fish in specific waterbodies. (These are typically lakes and reservoirs with a high likelihood of fish die-offs due to anticipated low water levels.)

“The best management action we can take at these waterbodies 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,”

DWR 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 immediately and will remain in effect until September 30, 2022. 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 September 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 January 13, with a targeted end date of March 18. However, because the lake has not yet been drained — and still has catchable fish — the new daily limit was extended until July 11 and is now further extended until December 31, 2022.

Anglers must obey 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. 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.

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