SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah's drought continues and water levels at some reservoirs and lakes drop, state wildlife officials are once again adding to the list of Utah waterbodies where they want anglers to catch more fish than what was previously allowed.
In this case, people will be allowed to catch dozens — even hundreds — of fish daily at certain lakes and reservoirs in the state.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Wednesday they've increased fishing limits at 11 lakes and reservoirs across the state. The changes are:
- Fairview Lakes, Sanpete County: Daily limit of trout increased to eight.
- McClellan Reservoir, Utah County: Daily limit of trout increased to eight.
- Mona Reservoir, Juab County: Daily limit of the combined total of wiper, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass increased to 20.
- Monticello Lake, San Juan County: Daily limit of trout increased to eight.
- Navajo Lake, Kane County: Daily limit of trout increased to 16 of any size.
- Newton Reservoir, Cache County: Daily limit increased to 100 bluegill, 100 yellow perch and 100 black crappie.
- Otter Creek Reservoir, Piute County: Daily limit increased for trout, wipers and smallmouth bass. The new limit is 24 smallmouth bass, 16 trout and 12 wipers. The division previously increased the fishing limit at Otter Creek on May 26.
- Palisade Reservoir, Sanpete County: Daily limit of the combined total of wiper, trout (any species) and black crappie increased to 20.
- Payson Lake, Utah County: Daily limit of trout increased to eight.
- Pineview Reservoir, Weber County: Daily limit increased to 100 bluegill, 100 yellow perch, 48 black bullhead and 40 black crappie.
- Towne Reservoir, Sanpete County: Daily limit of trout increased to eight.
The changes go into effect immediately and will remain in effect through Oct. 31.
The division first announced drought-related fishing limit increases in late May. It began with 10 bodies of water, such as Otter Creek Reservoir. On July 1, it increased the fishing limits at five more lakes and reservoirs and at all 57 community ponds in Utah. The limit increase at community ponds remains in effect through the end of August while all other changes remain in effect through the end of October.
In May, Randy Oplinger, the division's sportfish coordinator, explained that lower water levels from the drought heat up the water in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams, and warmer water holds less oxygen in it for fish that need it. Low levels of oxygen are tied to poor growth and disease, which can be fatal in some cases.
That's the reason behind the changes in fishing limits at the selected bodies of water.
The Utah Division of Water Resources also on Wednesday published the current reservoir containment levels in the state. It reported that statewide reservoirs are 55% full, while streams statewide are flowing 50% below normal. Among reservoirs included in the fishing limit increase Wednesday, Otter Creek Reservoir is just 17% full, while Pineview Reservoir is 30% full.
The report also shows some reservoirs are doing well following recent rain in the state. For instance, Currant Creek is 97% full and Flaming Gorge is 83% full among eastern Utah locations, while Quail Creek and Sand Hollow in southern Utah are 69% and 68% full, respectively.
Meanwhile, state wildlife biologists added Wednesday that they are considering more options at Navajo Lake to help trout that aren't just struggling with low water levels. DWR officials added that they may use rotenone this fall to help remove an "overabundant" Utah chub population that's threatened trout survival in the southern Utah lake.