UTAH (ABC4) – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has announced some emergency changes to the 2022 Utah Fishing Guidebook, allowing anglers to catch and keep more fish in six waterbodies throughout Utah.

The changes reportedly come as a result of low water levels due to drought conditions and repair work.

DWR states that drought impacts fish by reducing the amount of water available in lakes, reservoirs and streams, which causes the water to heat up more quickly and warm to higher temperatures.

The higher temperatures are problematic for fish species since warm water holds less oxygen than colder water, according to DWR.

Officials say the combination of high temperatures and low oxygen levels can stress fish, causing “poor growth and disease,” and sometimes, can be fatal to fish.

The regulation changes are reportedly being made as part of a DWR strategy that allows anglers to keep more fish in specific waterbodies (typically lakes and reservoirs with a high likelihood of fish die-offs due to anticipated low water levels).

DWR states that, similar to 2021, they are “strategically determining where fish will be stocked this year,” with the goal of either reducing or eliminating fish from being stocked into waterbodies where severe drought impacts are anticipated.

“The best management action we can take at these waterbodies is to reduce the number of fish in these waters. That’s because when water levels are low, we are more likely to maintain a fishery that has fewer fish than one that has a lot of fish,” DWR Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “We try, whenever possible, to continue to provide a good fishing experience for anglers, up until we think that water levels will hit a critical level.”

DWR announced that the following changes are effective immediately, and will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2022:

  • Otter Creek Reservoir in Piute County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout and six wipers.
  • Minersville Reservoir in Beaver County: Increasing the daily limit to four trout (with no size restrictions) and three wipers. The restriction for using legal bait has also been temporarily removed until Sept. 30.
  • Vernon Reservoir in Tooele County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.
  • Yuba Reservoir in Juab County: Increasing the daily limit to a combined total of 20 walleye, wiper, trout (any species), tiger muskie, northern pike and channel catfish (no size restrictions).
  • Fairview Lakes in Sanpete County: Increasing the daily limit to eight trout.

In addition to the fishing changes, DWR states that Spring Lake is being drained so that Payson city officials can “make necessary infrastructure repairs.” Officials say that the daily limit at the lake was initially increased on January 13 with a targeted end date of March 18, however, because the lake has not yet been drained and still has catchable fish, the new daily limit was extended until July 11 and is now being extended until December 31.

The pond will reportedly be restocked with rainbow trout, channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and wiper after city employees complete the repairs and refill the pond with water. The Spring Lake community pond in Utah County will have an increased daily limit for sportfish to eight fish (common carp do not count toward the daily limit).

All other rules in the Utah Fishing Guidebook remain in effect.