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Brett Prettyman
Brett Prettyman writes about the outdoors, recreation and fishing for The Salt Lake Tribune

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Now is the time for big splake at Navajo Lake in Southern Utah

UDWR fisheries biologist Michael Hadley sent in another excellent report about fishing in southern Utah. If Navajo Lake is not on you must-fish list it should be. Here's his report.

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The ice has come off Navajo Lake east of Cedar City in southern Utah. Access is good and, yes, there is some water left. In fact, the water level is rising about two inches per day thanks to snow melt. Over the weekend Richard Hepworth, Stan Beckstrom, and others reported fast fishing for splake. Lots of fish in the 16- to 20-inch range are being caught, as well as a few exceeding 5 pounds. This is the simplest form of fishing you can do. All you need is a rod, a hook, and a few night crawlers. First, use the night crawlers to catch a couple of Utah chubs. Then, cut the chubs into golf ball-size pieces and use those for bait. When fishing for splake in the spring look for deep areas in the lake that transition into warm, shallow areas (this is where the chubs are hanging out). Hook the pieces of chub meat (called "cut bait") on a large hook (size 4 or bigger), making sure to pierce the skin so that the bait stays on the hook. The bait should provide enough weight to cast with; if you feel like you need to cast further, add a sliding weight so the fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the bait. Throw out your bait and wait. Move your bait a little occasionally as splake will frequently bite after they see movement. If you don’t get any bites, move to another spot. This technique can work well at any lake that contains predatory trout, including splake, tiger, brown, or Bear Lake cutthroat trout. The best fishing at Navajo Lake is right now: you only have a few weeks before splake will get tough to catch. Look for the rainbow trout fishing to pick up around Memorial Day.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Stan Beckstrom shows off a big splake, estimated at over five pounds, that he recently caught from shore at Navajo Lake.

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