PROVO — A rather popular fishing spot at Utah Lake State Park was closed off for good this week due to safety concerns caused by hooks left on law enforcement mooring lines. The discarded hooks have been a problem for the past few years, park officials said.
The roughly 150 to 200-foot area being closed is near where the park’s two boats and a U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary boat dock, located behind the park’s main building. Park officials typically see people fishing there daily. The decision to close it off was announced Sunday and signs informing anglers that the area is closed to all fishing are expected to be posted later this week, according to Josh Holt, manager of Utah Lake State Park.
Other fishing areas in the park's harbor will not be affected by the closure.
Holt said, on occasion, those fishing in the area will cast their lines, and their hooks will get caught on the docks or the mooring lines. It's already happened twice this year. Since the dock has a locked gate, they can’t get onto the dock and unhook their lines from the ropes used to keep law enforcement boats docked.
“They end up breaking their line, and now those hooks are stuck in our mooring lines, and when we go out — especially at night on a rescue, where there’s calls of somebody in the water or a boat taking on water, and we’re in a hurry — we’re hurrying and running our hands across those lines to try and get our boat off as quickly as possible and we find those hooks in there,” Holt said.
No law enforcement official has been injured by a wayward hook, but each hook left on a mooring line runs the risk of minor to more severe injuries, or even diseases like tetanus.
“We know it’s not malicious. We know it’s a simple accident,” Holt said. “Just for the safety of the park rangers going out on emergencies, as well as the people we’re trying to go save, we just decided the area right there next to that dock, we’d just close it down to fishing.”
Many who responded to the park’s Facebook post announcing the decision have been understanding; others felt like it’s an overreaction.
“Sad to hear it but clearly the way to go,” one person wrote.
Another person even suggested a ban on all fishing in the harbor.
As for Holt, he gets why some would be frustrated. He said it’s one of his favorite fishing spots as well.
“We hate taking away recreational activities, and it’s not something we want to do,” he said. “For safety reasons, it was deemed necessary on this one. We’re not mad; we just need to make sure everyone is safe.”