In anticipation of low water at some Utah fisheries, wildlife officials are lifting daily keep limits at 10 water bodies to avoid letting doomed sport fish go to waste.
Inflows at several reservoirs in southwest Utah are expected to dry up soon thanks to low snowpacks and dry soils. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources predict fish die-offs when reservoirs in hard-hit areas are tapped for irrigation in late summer.
Low water allows water temperatures to rise, which reduces the amount oxygen in the water.
“The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease, and can sometimes be fatal to fish,” the division said in a news release.
To reduce the potential for late summer die-offs, DWR is allowing anglers to take greater numbers of fish at select reservoirs and is reducing stocking. The new rules remain in effect through Oct. 31.
“When we decrease the number of fish stocked into one lake, we will reallocate those fish to another water body where we don’t anticipate low water levels,” DWR sport fish coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “Despite low water levels in some lakes, fishing will be very good in a lot of places this summer. The number of waters where we are expecting drought impacts is very small, and we anticipate that the majority of water bodies, including the major fisheries in the state, won’t be affected.”
Utah is in the midst of one of its worst droughts on record, with more than 80% of the state currently experiencing “extreme drought.” Across the state, inflows are expected to be far below average and the state’s reservoirs on average are only about two-thirds full.
Here is a list of water bodies where fish limit have been doubled for trout, bass and other species.
Blacksmith Fork River, Cache County: Increased daily limit to eight trout from the Nibley Diversion downstream to the confluence with the Logan River.
Forsyth Reservoir, Sevier County: Increased daily limit to eight trout.
Gunlock Reservoir, Washington County: Increased daily limit to 12 largemouth bass with no size restrictions and removed limits on bluegill and black crappie.
Koosharem Reservoir, Sevier County: Increased daily limit to eight trout.
Lower Enterprise Reservoir, Washington County: Increased daily limit to eight trout and 12 smallmouth bass.
Otter Creek Reservoir, Piute County: Increased daily limit to eight trout, six wiper and 12 smallmouth bass.
Tropic Reservoir, Garfield County: Increased daily limit to eight trout.
Upper Enterprise Reservoir, Washington County: Increased daily limit to eight trout and 12 smallmouth bass.
Wide Hollow Reservoir, Garfield County: Increased daily limit to eight trout.
Yuba Reservoir, Juab and Sanpete counties: Increased daily limit to 20 fish total for the following species: walleye, wiper, trout (any species), tiger muskie, northern pike and channel catfish. No size restrictions apply to any of these species.
DWR anticipates fishing will remain excellent elsewhere and has identified 25 water bodies, including Flaming Gorge, Hyrum Lake and Kolob Reservoir, as good destinations this year.