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Lower water levels at Yuba Lake in May 2021

DWR increases fishing limits at 6 waterbodies in Utah due to drought impacts, pond repairs

Salt Lake City — In anticipation of low water levels due to drought conditions and repair work that will require one waterbody to be drained, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issued emergency changes to Utah's fishing regulations on Thursday. These changes will allow anglers to catch and keep more fish at six waterbodies around the state.

Lower water levels at Yuba Lake in May 2021

Yuba Lake in May 2021.

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 species since warm water holds less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease. Sometimes, these conditions can even be fatal to fish.

These regulation changes are being made as part of a DWR strategy that allows anglers to keep more fish in specific waterbodies. (These are typically lakes and reservoirs with a high likelihood of fish die-offs due to anticipated low water levels.) Similar to last year, the DWR is again strategically determining where fish will be stocked this year, in order to either reduce or eliminate fish from being stocked into waterbodies where it is anticipated that heat and low water levels may impact fish survival.

"The best management action we can take at these waterbodies is to reduce the number of fish in these waters. That's because when water levels are low, we are more likely to maintain a fishery that has fewer fish than one that has a lot of fish," DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. "We try, whenever possible, to continue to provide a good fishing experience for anglers, up until we think that water levels will hit a critical level."

Drought-related changes

The following changes are effective immediately and will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2022. Here are the waterbodies with new increased daily fish limits:

  • Otter Creek Reservoir in Piute County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout and six wipers.
  • Minersville Reservoir in Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to four trout (with no size restrictions) and three wipers. The restriction for using legal bait has also been temporarily removed until Sept. 30.
  • Vernon Reservoir in Tooele County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Yuba Reservoir in Juab County: Increasing the daily limit to a combined total of 20 walleye, wiper, trout (any species), tiger muskie, northern pike and channel catfish (no size restrictions).
  • Fairview Lakes in Sanpete County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.

Changes related to infrastructure repairs

Spring Lake is being drained so Payson city officials can make necessary infrastructure repairs. The daily limit was initially increased on Jan. 13 with a targeted end date of March 18. However, because the lake has not yet been drained — and still has catchable fish — the new daily limit was extended until July 11 and is now being extended until Dec. 31, 2022.

Anglers must obey all area closures that may be put in place by the city or construction crews. The pond will be restocked with rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and wiper after city employees complete the repairs and refill the pond with water.

Here is the fishing limit change for Spring Lake:

  • Spring Lake community pond in Utah County: Increasing the daily limit for sportfish to eight fish. Common carp do not count toward the daily limit.

All the other rules in the Utah Fishing Guidebook regarding Utah waterbodies have not changed and remain in effect.

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