Drought, hot temperatures prompt increased fishing limits at additional Utah waterbodies
Note: The section for Minersville Reservoir has been updated to clarify that the trout limit is four fish.
Salt Lake City — In anticipation of low water levels due to drought conditions and hot water temperatures, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issued more emergency changes to Utah's fishing regulations Thursday. Those changes will allow anglers to catch and keep more fish at some additional waterbodies 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 and warm to higher temperatures, which is problematic for fish because warm water holds less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease, and can sometimes be fatal to fish.
In an effort to reduce any potential fish die-off in some of the waterbodies with anticipated low water levels, the DWR is increasing some of the daily fish limits to allow anglers to catch and keep more fish in these specific waterbodies.
Here are the waterbodies with increased daily fish limits or modified regulations:
All community fishing ponds in Utah: There are currently 57 community fishing ponds across the state. The fishing limit for all these waterbodies will be increased by adding a two trout bonus limit. This means that at community fishing ponds, anglers can keep a four fish maximum with the stipulation that at least two of those fish are trout. This change is effective immediately and will remain in effect until Aug. 31, 2021.
"Community fisheries are small ponds, and we anticipate that temperatures in these ponds this summer will exceed the maximum temperature tolerated by trout," DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. "The intent of this regulation change is to provide anglers the opportunity to harvest and use additional fish before any potential fish loss."
The rest of the below changes are also effective immediately and will remain in effect until Oct. 31, 2021.
- Vernon Reservoir, Tooele County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout
- Lower Bowns Reservoir, Garfield County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout
- Middle Kents Lake, Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout
- Puffer Lake, Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout
- Minersville Reservoir, Beaver County: Removing the restrictions on the use of bait and the size of trout you can keep. The limit is four trout.
"This summer, we are anticipating very low water levels at Minersville Reservoir and are expecting it to kill some fish," Oplinger said. "There is a conservation pool at Minersville, but it can't sustain the current amount of fish in the reservoir. We would like additional fish to be harvested to reduce the total amount of fish, so that some will survive in the conservation pool. While using bait to fish has previously been illegal, we want to open up Minersville Reservoir to anglers who are more harvest-oriented, so they can help reduce the amount of fish. This temporary regulation change is intended to protect the fishery and prevent a total fish loss, so the fishery can recover more quickly when drought conditions subside."
All the other rules in the Utah Fishing Guidebook regarding Utah waterbodies have not changed and remain in effect.
This is the second round of emergency fishing changes made thus far this summer, with the previous regulation changes this year taking place in May at 10 waterbodies.
While it is anticipated that these reservoirs will have lower water levels due to drought, here is a list of additional waterbodies where fishing is not expected to see any impacts and should still be good this summer. Visit the DWR website for additional things that anglers should be aware of while fishing this year.