Many fishing options await Memorial Day anglers

(Phil Douglass/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
Kyle Hardman tows his son Kyler at Mantua Reservoir. Bluegill fishing at...
Story by Standard-Examiner staff
May 21, 2013
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For many families in Utah, fishing on Memorial Day weekend is a family tradition.

As this year’s weekend nears, Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said there are waters throughout the state that are easy to access and have large numbers of healthy fish.

In Northern Utah, now is a great time to fish from shore for bluegill and largemouth bass at Mantua Reservoir. Cushing said these fish are in shallow water right now and they’re very aggressive, so they’ll keep biting for a couple of weeks after Memorial Day. The reservoir is ringed by a gravel dike that provides easy access to fishing spots.

For trout, Cushing suggests visiting East Canyon Reservoir. DWR biologists have stocked a large number of trout in East Canyon than can be caught from the shore or from a boat. Boat anglers might catch some smallmouth bass, too.

In Central Utah, look for good white bass fishing at Utah Lake from this weekend through mid-June. Cushing also suggests fishing from shore for bullhead and channel catfish. As the water warms, white bass and the two catfish species will move toward areas where rivers and streams enter the lake. Anglers targeting the streams and inlets should try using white jigs and silver spinners.

Deer Creek Reservoir also looks promising for the holiday weekend. Biologists stocked the reservoir with trout last fall and this spring. To catch one of these rainbows, Cushing suggests fishing PowerBait near the water’s bottom. At Deer Creek, fish from shore, boat or a float tube.

In Northeastern Utah, Cushing said Memorial Day weekend is the best time of the year to fish at Pelican Lake. The lake has some of Utah’s largest bluegill, with fish up to 10 inches long. A fly and bubble, or a chartreuse jig, should result in a bluegill or a largemouth bass on the end of your line.

Anglers at Starvation Reservoir have been catching rainbow trout up to 23 inches long this year. Cushing said the rainbows stocked last fall should be around 16 inches now. The reservoir also has a healthy population of brown trout. You can usually catch these browns with a Rapala that looks like a fingerling rainbow trout.

Cushing said Scofield Reservoir is the must-fish water in Southeastern Utah. Tiger trout, and Bear Lake and Bonneville cutthroat trout, are found in good numbers and healthy sizes in Scofield. The cutthroat and tigers probably won’t hit on PowerBait, so try a dead bait or spinners and jigs instead.

Biologists have been stocking Huntington North Reservoir with wipers for four years. Now, the biggest of these fish weigh up to five pounds. Cushing suggests a white jig or a spinner for anglers hoping to catch a wiper from shore. The reservoir also has largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.

In Southern Utah, Paragonah Reservoir is an excellent wild rainbow trout fishery. This water’s large population of wild rainbows includes fish up to 14 inches long. Anglers have been reporting excellent fly-fishing from the shore and near the inlet.

Anglers at Sand Hollow Reservoir can find largemouth bass up to four pounds and some big bluegill. A fly and bubble, or jigs and crankbaits, should get bites.

For Utah anglers who don’t have a lot of experience, a bit of research can go a long way towards helping you catch fish. Anglers can stop by a local sporting goods store and ask about locations. Then, doing a bit of research about the species in the waters you learn about can help make your trip to those waters a success. Different species require different gear, and the sporting goods store employees can help you decide what you’ll need to bring.

Take steps to avoid bear encounters

A fun weekend camping with your family and friends can turn tragic if you do things that lure bears into the area where you’re camping.

Fortunately, it’s easy to keep bears away. Make sure you keep your campsite or cabin area clean and free of litter, and don’t leave food out where a bear can get it.

Black bears are the only bears that live in Utah. John Shivik, game mammals coordinator for the DWR, said the bears are usually scared of people and will do anything they can to avoid us.

“That can change, though,” Shivik said, “if a bear starts to associate your campsite or cabin area as a place where it can get food.”

He said bears have an incredible sense of smell, and they have no problem eating the same kinds of food people eat.

The key to keeping bears out of your campsite or cabin area is cutting down on smells that might attract bears. Specifically, Shivik said campers should store their food and scented items, such as deodorants and tooth paste, in areas where bears can’t get them. Trailers and car trunks are good examples.

Other precautions including keeping cooking grills clean, cleaning anything used to prepare, eat or clean up food, and keeping campsites or cabin areas clean and free of food scraps and other trash. And of course, never feed a bear.

Shivik said a bear may not visit your campsite while you’re there. But the food you leave out and the litter you leave behind could bring a bear to that same area after you leave, and that could create a serious problem for people who camp in the area after you.

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