Utah Division of Wildlife Resources raises fishing limits again to prevent die-offs

Anglers can now take home twice the trout at five water bodies to avoid letting fish go to waste.

(Briana Scroggins | Special to The Tribune) Hunter Elster of Salt Lake City fly fishes in Pineview Reservoir on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. “Last year the water was up to that tree line,” Elster said as he gestured to the trees behind him. Pineview Reservoir is considerably lower than it was this time last year.

Wildlife officials have increased fishing limits at Utah fisheries in anticipation of low water levels due to severe drought conditions, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Thursday.

Utah anglers can now catch two more trout at all 57 community ponds in the state. Previously, the limit was two fish of any species. Now, fishers are allowed to keep four fish daily as long as two of them are trout. The rule will be in place until the end of August.

On May 27, DWR announced lifted limits at 10 Utah fisheries due to low snowpack and dry soil. Thursday’s announcement includes increased limits at five new water bodies that will remain in effect through Oct. 31:

  • Lower Bowns Reservoir (Garfield County): New limit is eight trout per day.

  • Middle Kents Lake (Beaver County): New limit is eight trout per day.

  • Minersville Reservoir (Beaver County): Restrictions on bait and the size of trout you can keep are removed.

  • Puffer Lake (Beaver County): New limit is eight trout per day.

  • Vernon Reservoir (Tooele County): New limit is eight trout per day.

Officials said lower water levels cause the temperature to rise in lakes, reservoirs and streams, resulting in less available oxygen than what fish experience in colder water. That can cause stress to fish, which can result in poor growth, disease and even death, according to a news release.

“We anticipate that temperatures in these ponds this summer will exceed the maximum temperature tolerated by trout,” DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said in a statement. “The intent of this regulation change is to provide anglers the opportunity to harvest and use additional fish before any potential fish loss.”

Reducing fish die-off because of increasing temperatures was also cited as the reason for the change to limits announced in May. Oplinger explained that there is danger of a “total fish loss” at the Minersville Reservoir conservation pool and said loosening restrictions for “harvest-oriented” anglers could help the fishery to “recover more quickly when drought conditions subside.”

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.

A list of all 57 community ponds can be found on the division’s website.

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