ST. GEORGE — The Utah Division of Wildfire Services announced last week that the Utah Wildlife Board, a panel of seven individuals appointed by the governor, voted to allow anglers to use corn as bait anywhere in Utah beginning Jan. 1.
Currently, corn can only be used at eight bodies of water in Utah, including Lake Powell. These waters were previously approved by the wildlife board for corn use as a part of a two-year pilot study that started in 2017. Prior to this, Utah was the only state in the West that outlawed corn as fishing bait.
A survey of 3,210 anglers done by DWR biologists in 2016 showed 70 percent favored changing regulations to allow corn-use.
Corn itself is considered inexpensive and easy bait to use, Randy Oplinger, DWR sport fisheries coordinator, said in 2016 prior to the pilot study.
“I think that’s one of the main reasons anglers wanted a chance to use it as bait in Utah,” he said.
There have been concerns about increased littering and anglers using the corn to chum for fish, which remains illegal.
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“After two years of study, officers are happy to report that they haven’t seen any negative impact from allowing anglers to use corn as bait,” according to the DWR.
Oplinger said anglers who responded to a survey earlier this year had the same observation.
“A total of 1,636 of the 4,718 anglers who responded to the survey had fished at one or more of the eight waters in the past two years,” he said. “Only 3 percent of them had witnessed any kind of negative impact from allowing anglers to use corn as bait.”
There has been a worry among some anglers that corn is actually harmful to fish. This is not true, Oplinger said.
“That’s something many anglers have believed for years,” Oplinger said. “Study after study has shown that isn’t the case. Corn doesn’t harm fish.”
Corn is considered good bait for catching trout, carp, bluegill and perch.
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