It is time for all those cheapskate, once-a-year anglers to dig their gear out of the garage, contemplate changing the 12-year-old line on the reel — but not actually doing so — and then make their way to the crowded banks for a chance to catch "free" fish.
There is a better way than waiting for the annual Free Fishing Day each June (this Saturday): buy a license and change that line. Fishing is great in Utah throughout the year, not just in early June.
Where to fish
Free Fishing Day in Utah is being held Saturday. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is supporting the following events across the state. Anglers do not need a license on Free Fishing Day, but all other regulations will be enforced.
BEAVER: Little Reservoir » DWR and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife are holding an event at the reservoir 6 miles up Beaver Canyon from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Prizes will be offered and some fishing equipment will be available to check out and use at the reservoir.
BOUNTIFUL: Bountiful Lake » Fish With A Cop from 10 a.m. to noon. Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers and officials from the Woods Cross Police Department will help people wet a line.
CEDAR CITY: Leigh Hill Reservoir » The fishing will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the reservoir, which is found on Royal Hunt Drive at the top of Leigh Hill. DWR personnel and volunteers will be on hand to help youngsters fish and to help them keep their hooks baited.
EPHRAIM: Community Lake » The U.S. Forest Service is sponsoring a Free Fishing Day event starting with registration at 9 a.m. and fishing at 10 a.m. The lake, sometimes called Lake Hill Pond, is about five miles east of Ephraim in Ephraim Canyon.
HURRICANE: Grandpa’s Pond » Fishing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m with DWR staff and volunteers available to help anglers. The pond is on the end of 3700 West.
LOGAN: Skylar’s Pond » The Bear River Celebration and Free Fishing Day is being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Willow Park, 450 W. 700 South. Fishing equipment will be available and volunteer instructors will be on hand.
NORTHEASTERN UTAH » Free Fishing Day events for anglers of all ages will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Matt Warner Reservoir, Moose Ponds and Lower Stillwater Ponds on Rock Creek. Bring your own gear if you have it, but a limited number of loaners will be available.
PRICE: Carbon County Fairgrounds Pond » Carbon County Recreation Department staff and DWR employees will be on hand from 8 to 11 a.m. to help people fish. Equipment and bait will be provided for those who need it.
PROVO: Utah Lake State Park » The annual Utah Lake Festival is being held at the state park, 4400 W. Center St. Salt Lake County Fish and Game Association members will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help people fish.
SPANISH FORK: Canyon View Park Pond » The 35th Annual Huck Finn Day Fishing Event is being held from 9 a.m. to noon at Canyon View Park Pond, 3300 E. Powerhouse Road near the Spanish Oaks golf course. Boys are encouraged to come to the event dressed like Huck Finn. Girls are encouraged to dress like Becky Thatcher. Prizes will be given for the best costume in each category.
Free Fishing Day, however, also provides a special opportunity for inexperienced anglers and single parents to get some help baiting hooks, untangling lines and taking hero shots. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and many of the agency’s partners will be gathered on the banks of reservoirs and lakes across the state to help people experience the thrill of reeling in a fish, at no cost.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment if possible, but loaner gear is available in most cases.
Free fishing memories — priceless.
There are other ways to enjoy fish in Utah for free. But be warned that the free cutthroat viewing event at Strawberry Reservoir will only encourage people to rush out and buy a new rod.
The DWR is holding a spawning cutthroat viewing event June 14 from 9 a.m. to noon at the reservoir. Bonneville cutthroat trout in Strawberry Reservoir make their way up the tributaries each June to spawn. The fish, depending on water clarity, can be seen in the river at the visitors center, just off of Highway 40 on the road that heads into Strawberry Marina.
DWR biologists will be on hand at the fish trap and egg-taking facility on the Strawberry River just upstream from the visitors center, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Visitors can watch biologists catch the large cutthroat and then collect eggs and milt from the fish to produce fry for Utah’s hatcheries.
Anglers tempted by the sight of numerous trout in the river should know that tributaries to Strawberry are closed to fishing during the spawn. The reservoir, however, is open to fishing, with special regulations that require all cutthroat between 15 and 22 inches be released.
Utah’s free fishing guidebook is available wherever a fishing license can be purchased, and it’s online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks.
Speaking of licenses, changes are coming on July 1 that anglers should be aware of.
Here are some highlights:
• Anglers will be able to buy a multi-year license valid for between two and five years.
• Anglers can now use two fishing rods in Utah without buying a special permit. As of July 1, it will be legal for anglers to use two poles with a valid fishing license.
If you have thoughts, concerns or kudos about fishing in Utah, the DWR is looking for comments that will help form possible regulation changes in 2015.
The state wildlife agency has created a fisheries survey for anglers to provide input on spearfishing, possession limits, and other issues brought to the DWR in recent years. There is also a chance to provide your own thoughts on specific regulations.
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