Utah waters warming up, angling opportunities abound; Free Fishing Day

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH – Sponsored by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, free fishing events will be held across Utah on Saturday.

Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

These events are part of Free Fishing Day. You don’t need a license to fish in Utah on this day.

Catch warm water fish 

  • Cedar City – Leigh Hill Reservoir

Leigh Hill Reservoir is one of Utah’s community fisheries. To reach the reservoir, follow Royal Hunt Drive to the top of Leigh Hill.

The event runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Prizes will be offered and some fishing equipment will be available to check out and use at the pond. Utah DWR personnel and volunteers will also be on hand to help youngsters fish and keep their hooks baited. Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is co-sponsoring the event.

For more information, call the Utah DWR’s Cedar City office at 435-865-6100.

  • Hurricane – Grandpa’s Pond

Grandpa’s Pond is one of Utah’s community fisheries. To reach the pond, follow State Street to the west of town and turn north on 3700 West; continue until the pavement ends.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Prizes will be offered and some fishing equipment will be available to check out and use at the pond. DWR personnel and volunteers will also be on hand to help youngsters fish and keep their hooks baited. Buck’s Ace Hardware in Hurricane is co-sponsoring the event.

Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

For more information, call Lynn Chamberlain at 435-680-0059.

Those planning a weekend trip to other areas of Utah can find additional information on those locations here.

Catch cold water fish

Aside from Free Fishing Day, early June is a great time to fish in Utah. Warm water fish, such as bluegill, catfish and smallmouth and largemouth bass, are just starting to get active; plus, trout and other cold water fish are still active and willing to bite.

If you want to catch trout in Southern Utah, Navajo Lake and lakes on Boulder Mountain are good places to try. Both offer great fishing and easy access.

  • Navajo Lake

Access to Navajo Lake is good, and the water is rising. Right now, the lake is offering fast fishing for splake. The excellent splake fishing should continue through mid-June, and rainbow trout fishing is just starting to pick up.

Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah DWR Regional Aquatic Manager Richard Hepworth and fellow Utah DWR biologist Stan Beckstrom caught splake in the 16- to 20-inch range while fishing at the lake during the weekend of May 18, some of which weighed more than five pounds. Hepworth said catching splake at Navajo is relatively simple. All you need is a rod and reel, some hooks and a few night crawlers.

“First, use the night crawlers to catch a couple of Utah chubs,” Hepworth said. “Look for chubs in deep water that transitions to warm, shallow areas. Then, cut the chubs up and place a cut piece on a large hook, size four or bigger.”

Once you’ve placed a piece of chub meat on your hook, throw your bait out, and wait. If a splake doesn’t take your bait, moving it occasionally might convince a splake to strike. You should be able to cast the chub meat without having to add additional weight to your line. If you want to cast further, however, add a sliding weight to the line so a fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the bait. This technique can work well to catch any predatory trout: Splake, tiger, brown or Bear Lake cutthroat.

Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Navajo Lake is in the Dixie National Forest, about 26 miles east of Cedar City.

  • Lakes on Boulder Mountain

Lakes on Boulder Mountain provide great fishing and spectacular scenery. Currently, you can access the mountain’s mid-elevation waters. By July 1, you should be able to access lakes on top of the mountain. You can get to some of the lakes, such as Posey or the Barkers, by vehicle. Others require a short hike or a longer trek.

These lakes offer a variety of fish, including brook trout, cutthroat, splake, tiger trout, rainbows and even grayling. Hepworth said almost any traditional bait will work to catch them.

“Night crawlers, cut baits, jigs, flies and even a fly and bubble will all produce good results,” he said.

Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Fishing in Utah | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

You may find dead fish (ones that didn’t survive the winter) around some lakes’ edges. Hepworth said these lakes may have fewer fish in them. However, lakes where fish died during the winter can also hold some of the biggest fish.

Boulder Mountain is in the Dixie National Forest north of Boulder.

Fishing regulations

Fishing regulations vary between water bodies, so make sure you check the 2013 Utah Fishing Guidebook before your trip.

For more information about where fishing is best in Southern Utah and across the state, check out the Utah DWR’s fishing reports.

Submitted by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News
Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

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