Fun fishing despite the drought in Utah


Mar 11, 2001
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June 13, 2002

Utah DWR

Fun fishing despite the drought

Salt Lake City — Drought conditions across Utah have effected fishing this year, but anglers who are adapting to the changed conditions are finding good success.

"The lack of water has or will effect fishing at waters across Utah, from streams and rivers to some of our bigger waters," said Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "Anglers who are adapting to these changed conditions are still finding good success, however, while enjoying the peace and solitude that's always available when you go fishing."

Pettengill provides the following advice to anglers fishing rivers and streams, low and mid-elevation waters and the biggest reservoirs in the state:

Rivers and steams

Early summer is usually one of the most difficult and least productive times to fish Utah's rivers and streams, but the drought has changed that.

"We usually have high runoff into early to mid-July, but that isn't the case this year," Pettengill said. "Conditions are perfect for fishing at most of the state's rivers and streams and anglers who are getting out now are finding good success."

As water levels decrease later this summer, fish in rivers and streams will become more wary and will be harder for anglers to catch. "Don't miss out on the action," he said. "Get out and fish the rivers and streams now."

Low and mid-elevation waters

Many of Utah's low and mid-elevation waters may drop to low levels this year, but anglers who fish them before that happens should be in for a fun time.

"How low these waters drop depends a lot on how much rain we get this summer," Pettengill said. "These waters may not drop that low if we receive some good rainfall but if we don't, we'll see some very low levels at waters across the state."

Pettengill says dropping waters levels can provide advantages to anglers who keep an eye on what's happening. "Before they get real low, fishing may be super because the fish will be concentrated and the water quality will still be good, so the fish will be in good health and they'll be feeding actively," he said. "Anglers who fish these waters at the right time should be in for some fun fishing."

Anglers who miss that window will find slower fishing as low water causes water temperatures to climb and the fish become stressed and stop feeding.

While waiting for these waters to drop, shoreline anglers may want to consider fishing waters at higher elevations. "Trout have already started to pull away from shoreline areas at our low and mid-elevation waters, so now's the time for shore anglers to head to higher elevation waters," he advises. "Focus your fishing in the early morning and just before sundown, when trout come back into the shoreline areas to feed."

Pettengill defines a high elevation water as any water above 6,500 feet in elevation.

Large reservoirs

Even the state's larger reservoirs may be effected by the drought, but Pettengill has advice for finding and catching fish at them. "The changing water depths may cause fish to move to areas in the reservoirs where anglers aren't accustomed to finding them," he said. "An area that has produced real well in the past may not produce very well this year.

"Anglers who find this happening need to move to new areas until they find the fish," he said. "They also may need to change their techniques until they find some that work."

Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions for waters across Utah are updated weekly in the Fishing portion of the Division of Wildlife Resources' Web site ( Reports are usually updated by Friday each week.

"Remember, too, that any day spent fishing is better than a day at work," Pettengill says. "I hope anglers will get out and enjoy the wide variety of fishing opportunities that Utah provides, even in a drought year."

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