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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's statewide drought impacted fishing over the past year, resulting in state wildlife officials increasing some fishing limits this year.
The reason behind that decision in some of the state's bodies of water was that low levels result in warmer water and warmer water holds less oxygen. Lower oxygen levels made it difficult for the affected fish species to survive and thrive.
Despite all that, there were plenty of fishing opportunities in Utah in 2021. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported that it stocked a little over 9.6 million fish into more than 600 bodies of water in the state throughout 2021 in an effort to enhance fishing opportunities and boost native fish populations.
And four people were able to rewrite the state's record books over the year. Their catches now have a place in a book that dates back to the early 1900s.
Three of the records were within Utah's catch-and-release category, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. It all began on Jan. 17, when Travis Hobbs caught a 31-inch Bear Lake cutthroat trout, a special native to Bear Lake and its tributaries. It broke a record of 27½ inches set on Memorial Day 2020.
Then, on March 12, Colby Woodruff caught a 32-inch walleye at Bear River, besting the previous record of 31½ inches that Enich Mockli caught at Starvation Reservoir in 2002.
Brett Bardsley snagged the largest Colorado River cutthroat trout in state history on May 15. The 19-inch trout he caught at Pine Creek Reservoir toppled a 15½ inch Colorado River cutthroat trout that Ace Teller caught at Lake Canyon Lake in November 2020.
The final record came within the state's catch-and-keep category, and it was actually broken twice in 2021. Tavin Quigley caught a 15-pound, 4-ounce wiper at Newcastle Reservoir on April 8; however, the record lasted less than two months.
The new record is a 29¼-inch long wiper with a 23⅝-inch girth. The fish, captured by Trevor Cooper at Newcastle Reservoir on May 23, weighed in at 15 pounds and 5 ounces.
There were 11 records set in 2020 — nine that still remain in place heading into 2022.
All fishing records can be reported to the DWR through its website. All catch-and-release fish must include a photo with a fish next to a measuring device with a witness confirming the catch in writing. Catch-and-keep records should include length, girth and weight, measured by a certified commercial scale — with two independent witnesses outside of the angler's family or fishing parties.