UTAH HUNTING

Waterfowl hunting

2017 waterfowl hunt opener conditions

Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area and Layton-Kaysville

Marsh and water conditions

During the fall of 2016, Gilbert Bay (located in the south arm of the Great Salt Lake) had decreased to a level of 4192.6 feet above sea level. Currently, the Great Salt Lake has increased slightly to a level of 4193.2 feet above sea level. Although conditions have improved, sportsmen should watch out for hazards, multiple changes in vegetation, and large expanses of mudflat outside the diked units in the open waters of Farmington Bay, Layton-Kaysville wetlands and the Great Salt Lake.

Wetland conditions are fair outside the diked units and excellent inside the diked units. Specifically, all units are at hunt-level capacity. Unit 1 and Unit 2 produced large amounts of Sago pondweed, which will provide plenty of forage for migrating waterfowl within and outside of the rest area. The Turpin Unit produced decent amounts of pondweed on the eastern portion, but there are lower levels on the western half due to a carp infestation. (A carp treatment planned for winter 2018).

The habitat in the interior sheet-flow wetlands and impoundments are in great condition because of aggressive herbicide treatments and cattle grazing on invasive phragmites. For example, over 500 acres of phragmites were treated on the Turpin secondary unit during fall 2016, the area was mowed and crushed during winter 2017, and then treated again during fall 2017. The area has mostly recovered to native vegetation and bird use should be excellent in this area.

Wetland vegetation structure, however, is in poor shape along some areas of the shoreline below Crystal and Turpin units because of phragmites encroachment. Wetland vegetation is in much better condition below the dike towards the northeast end of the Turpin unit because of extensive cattle grazing. In addition, 1,200 acres of phragmites were treated with herbicide on the northwest side of the Turpin unit this fall, and should be in much better shape for fall 2018.

During August 2017, crews completed 300 acres of phragmites control work on the new unit, directly north of the airboat launch and west of the Unit 1 dike. In winter 2018, the dead standing phragmites will be mowed and crushed in this area. In addition to new phragmites treatments, all dike lines and other areas accessible by track machine, road vehicles and airboats were treated with herbicide in August 2017.

Cattle were used to manage phragmites along the northeast side of Unit 1, northeast of Turpin, Miller Unit, east of management headquarters and on the sheet-flow wetlands west of the south parking lot. In 2015, a permanent four-strand barbwire fence was constructed along the dike on the north side of Turpin to contain cattle. Sportsmen should use the walk-through gates at all of the appropriate crossings for wetland access north of Turpin.

Construction of the new unit (directly north of the airboat launch and west of the Unit 1 dike) was completed in 2016. The waterfowl maintenance crew will be working to improve grading and slope on the new unit during fall 2017. They will be spreading gravel on top of the dike to make it more accessible to managers and the public.

During the summer of 2017, Farmington Bay staff grew row-crops of sorghum directly behind our office for bird and sportsman use. Several wheat fields will be planted this fall, and upland vegetation rehabilitation projects will also take place. Specifically, managers will be planting upland mixes near the Great Salt Lake Nature Center, and south of the east Crystal Pond. Finally, sportsmen will notice construction of the Great Salt Lake Nature Center. The new Nature Center should be completed by spring 2018.

Marsh conditions at Layton-Kaysville are fair to poor because of phragmites encroachment and low water.

Access

All of the access points to Farmington Bay will be open on September 21, 2017. Boat hunters are encouraged to use the north entrance to launch into Unit 1 and Turpin. There is access for small boats at the south entrance. Because of submerged hazards, a wakeless boat speed is recommended in all of the fresh water impoundments. Make sure you consider how well you'll be able to retrieve birds before you choose a place to hunt.

There is a posted ATV corridor available. The corridor is located at the north entrance and is next to Goose Egg Island. When the parking lot is full, there will be no more access allowed. Users must obey posted signs.

Access to Gaily and Layton-Kaysville wetlands will be open two days prior to the youth hunt on September 23, 2017.

Bird use

There are currently large numbers of ducks and geese at Farmington Bay, and fair numbers of ducks and geese at Layton-Kaysville marshes. Managers anticipate an increase in bird use and distribution within our impounded wetlands because of good to excellent habitat conditions.

Waterfowl hunters can expect to see large numbers of cinnamon teal, gadwall and pintail early in the season. Diving ducks typically show up later in October. Swans are typically harvested at Farmington Bay in larger numbers during mid- to late-November. Dark goose hunting typically improves during the extended goose hunt. The 2016 opening weekend average at Farmington Bay was just over two ducks per hunter. This year's opener should provide similar, or better, hunting.

General information

  • All of the areas listed above are open for hunting.
  • The northwest corner of Unit 1 at Farmington Bay is a waterfowl rest area and is closed to hunting and trespass.
  • The area west of the main entrance road to the first right bend in the road, and north of the road until you get to Goose Egg Island, is closed for education purposes.
  • Shooting is prohibited at Farmington Bay within 600 feet of all dikes and any road open to motorized vehicles.
  • Airboats are prohibited within diked units.
  • The South Crystal unit is motorless unit.
  • Camping is allowed in parking areas only. Open fires are prohibited. Please clean your campsite so that we can continue to allow camping.
  • ATVs must stay within the posted corridor. Failture to do so will result in a citation.
  • The hunting blind for people with disabilities is by reservation only. Contact Jason Jones at 801-451-7386 for reservations.