DWR proposes several changes to fishing limits throughout Utah, other amendments to wildlife rules
Salt Lake City — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing a few changes to some of Utah's fishing regulations, along with a few other rule amendments, and is seeking the public's feedback.
2021–2022 fishing recommendations
The DWR conducted surveys during the spring of 2020 to get feedback from anglers across the state on these proposed changes. The majority of anglers were in support of these recommendations.
The following changes to statewide fishing recommendations are being proposed:
- Clarifying the statewide kokanee salmon limit to four total fish, including any trout caught. Clarifying that kokanee salmon are included in the statewide four trout limit that includes salmon, grayling and hybrids (a combined total). Previously anglers were confused by the regulation and many thought the limit meant four trout and four kokanee salmon, when in fact it means four total fish. This change will also clarify that anglers may not possess kokanee salmon at any waterbody statewide from Sept. 10 through Nov. 30.
- Decreasing the statewide wiper daily limit from six fish to three fish at all waterbodies. Wipers are a sterile fish and can't reproduce, so their populations are solely dependent on stocking. Decreasing the harvest would allow for more consistent numbers at all of Utah's waterbodies that offer wipers.
- Increasing the statewide daily limit for northern pike from six fish to 20 fish, with one over 36 inches. Because northern pike are voracious predators, this change would help protect native fish species and sportfish.
- Allowing anglers to use bait without a hook to fish for crayfish in waterbodies where bait is prohibited. This change is being proposed due to the difficulty of catching crayfish without the use of bait.
The following proposed changes are specific to certain waterbodies across Utah:
- Decreasing the Flaming Gorge bass daily limit from 10 fish to three fish (smallmouth and largemouth bass combined) in collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. If approved by both states, this regulation would go into effect in the Utah portion of Flaming Gorge on Jan. 1, 2021 and the Wyoming portion on Jan. 1, 2022.
- Increasing the maximum number of kokanee salmon allowed in the Flaming Gorge daily trout limit to four fish instead of three.
- Increasing the Pelican Lake bluegill daily limit from zero to 15 fish, allowing five fish to be over 7 inches.
- Creating a seasonal closure for spearfishing at Red Fleet Reservoir.
- Decreasing the daily limit at Red Fleet Reservoir from 50 for each panfish species (bluegill, green sunfish, black crappie and yellow perch) to a combined total of 50 panfish, with no more than 20 black crappie in that total.
- Decreasing the daily limit at Starvation Reservoir from 50 for each panfish species (bluegill, green sunfish, black crappie and yellow perch) to a combined total of 20 panfish.
- Adjusting the fishing closure dates at West Fork Duchesne River from Jan. 1 through the second Saturday in July to May 15 through the second Saturday of July. This change will increase fishing opportunities in the area.
- Adjusting the closure dates at Wolf Creek from Jan. 1 through the second Saturday in July to May 15 through the second Saturday of July. This change will increase fishing opportunities in the area.
- Opening part of Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City to fishing. Upstream of the entrance to Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area to the headwaters would remain closed to fishing. This proposed change would give anglers in Salt Lake City an additional fishing opportunity.
- Closing Ken's Lake to spearfishing in order to protect a vulnerable sportfish population.
- Adjusting spearfishing closure dates at Fish Lake to the first Saturday in June through Sept. 10, in order to coincide with the statewide kokanee salmon fishing closures.
Rule amendments for fishing contests and clinics
In addition to the changes in fishing limits and regulations, DWR biologists are also proposing a few changes to the fishing contest rule in an effort to streamline contest options and to remove the discrepancies between fishing for warmwater and coldwater species.
"These proposed changes will both simplify the rule and remove contest restrictions that lack biological rationale and are unnecessarily restrictive," DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. "The proposed changes also remove differences between contests for warmwater and coldwater species that exist under the current rule."
Currently, any fishing contest or tournament requires a Certificate of Registration from DWR. The proposed change would only require a COR for tournaments or contests that include one of the following:
- 85 or more participants
- Awarding $2,000 or more in prizes
- Include a live weigh-in
- A tagged fish contest
A COR would no longer be required for catch-and-release tournaments, many of which are "online" or "paper" tournaments, where anglers are only required to take a picture or measure a fish. Separate DWR rules prohibit the release of coldwater fish after they are possessed by an angler. This means that high-grading — a practice that involves keeping a fish alive in a pool or livewell until a bigger fish is caught so the smaller one can be released — will still not be allowed in coldwater fishing tournaments because the fish typically don't survive after being held. This also means that coldwater fish can not be released alive after they are weighed or measured as part of a tournament.
Fishing tournament organizers who need to obtain CORs will be able to apply for them online, beginning in 2021.
Rule amendment to waive combination/hunting license fees for deployed military
In order to show gratitude and appreciation to Utah residents who are serving in the military, DWR is proposing to waive the combination and hunting license fees for active military members who missed the opportunity to acquire a bonus or preference point while deployed. The proposal would also allow Utah military members to purchase a preference or bonus point if they missed the application period while deployed.
To qualify for the exemptions, military members must:
- Be a resident of Utah
- Be deployed for 90 days or longer outside of the continental U.S. on federal orders from military command
- Not have previously received a bonus or preference point for the species and hunt type in the same year
- Otherwise be eligible to receive a bonus or preference point
- Pay a $10 application fee per point received
- Submit an application for the exemption to DWR no later than Dec. 31 of the qualifying year of being deployed
In order to follow health officials’ recommendations to decrease the spread of COVID-19, the public meetings for these proposals will be held online. You can view the biologists' presentations and share your feedback about them here on the DWR website. The presentations can also be viewed on the DWR YouTube Channel, but comments can only be submitted through the forms on the DWR website.
The public comment period for each of the Regional Advisory Council meetings opened on Aug. 24. Public comments for the northern region and central region RAC meetings will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 30. Public comments for the southern region, southeastern region and northeastern region RAC meetings will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3.
The public comment period for the Utah Wildlife Board meeting also opened on Aug. 24 and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27. The public comments previously submitted will be shared with the RAC and wildlife board members. While members of the public can watch a livestream of each of the RAC meetings and the Utah Wildlife Board meeting, public comments will not be accepted during these electronic meetings.
The electronic meetings will be held on the following dates and times:
- Central Utah RAC meeting: Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Aug. 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northern Utah RAC meeting: Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Aug. 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southern Utah RAC meeting: Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Sept. 3 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Sept. 3 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Sept. 3 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Board meeting: Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Sept. 27 at 11:59 p.m.)