DWR recommends bait fishing changes
Archery hunt strategy will also be discussed
Utah is the only state in the West that doesn’t allow anglers to use corn for bait. That might change in 2017, though. Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending a two-year pilot study at eight waters in Utah. The study would help biologists determine if corn should eventually become a legal bait in the state.
Photo by Ron Stewart
Using corn for bait — and relaxing smallmouth bass regulations at Jordanelle Reservoir — are among several fishing changes DWR biologists are recommending for Utah’s 2017 and 2018 seasons.
A non-fishing item is also up for discussion. The Utah Bowmen’s Association (UBA) has asked the DWR to gather public input about a UBA idea. The UBA wants to know if the public supports an idea that would allow those — who draw a once-in-a-lifetime hunting permit — to exchange the permit for an “archery-only” permit.
Those with archery-only permits could hunt once-in-a-lifetime species — using archery equipment — during dates that are outside the regular once-in-a-lifetime hunting dates.
Learn more, share your ideas
You can see all of the biologists’ fishing recommendations — and the archery hunting item — by downloading the PDF RAC packet.
After you’ve reviewed the ideas, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Sept. 29 to approve rules for Utah’s 2017 and 2018 fishing seasons.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:
- Central Region
Sept. 6, 6:30 p.m.
Department of Natural Resources, Boardroom
1594 W North Temple, Salt Lake City
- Northern Region
Sept. 7, 6 p.m.
Shepherd Union Building, Room 404
3848 Harrison Blvd, Ogden
- Southern Region
Sept. 13, 7 p.m.
Beaver High School
800 W 200 S, Richfield
- Southeastern Region
Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E Main ST, Green River
- Northeastern Region
Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N Vernal Ave, Vernal
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available on our website.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.
Corn as bait
Earlier this year, DWR biologists posted a fishing survey at the agency’s website. “Would you support the use of corn as legal bait in Utah?” is one of the questions the survey asked. A total of 3,210 people answered the question. Seventy percent of them said yes.
Randy Oplinger, cold water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, says corn is a cheap and easy bait to use. “I think that’s one of the main reasons anglers would like the chance to use it as bait in Utah,” he says.
But doesn’t corn harm fish that ingest it? “That’s something many anglers have believed for years,” Oplinger says. “Study after study has shown that isn’t the case; fish can easily ingest and process corn. It doesn’t pose a threat to fish.”
So, if corn doesn’t hurt fish, and it’s an inexpensive and easy bait to use, why isn’t it allowed in Utah? Oplinger says biologists have two concerns.
“Chumming (tossing bait into the water to attract fish) is illegal at every water in Utah except Lake Powell,” he says. “Corn is an easy bait to chum with.”
Biologists are also concerned about more litter at fishing waters in Utah. “We don’t want to see empty corn cans and discarded corn lining the banks of waters in the state,” he says.
Despite their concerns, biologists are willing to give corn a try. They’re recommending a two-year pilot study at selected waters in Utah. The waters that have been selected have kokanee salmon or common carp in them. “Corn is an effective bait for both species,” Oplinger says.
In 2017 and 2018, biologists are recommending that corn be a legal bait at the following waters:
- Cutler Reservoir
- Deer Creek Reservoir
- Electric Lake
- Fish Lake
- Flaming Gorge Reservoir
- Lake Powell
- Stateline Reservoir
- Utah Lake
During the two-year study, biologists will work closely with DWR conservation officers to determine if allowing the use of corn has led to any negative results. “If we find that it has,” he says, “we can recommend not allowing corn as bait in 2019.”
Smallmouth bass at Jordanelle
Biologists are also recommending a change that will allow you to keep larger smallmouth bass at Jordanelle Reservoir — if you’re lucky enough to catch one.
Currently, you can keep up to six smallmouth bass at the reservoir southeast of Park City. But only one of the bass can be longer than 12 inches.
Starting in 2017, biologists recommend keeping the six smallmouth bass limit but eliminating the 12-inch size restriction. “We want to encourage anglers to keep a full limit of smallmouth,” Oplinger says, “even fish that are over 12 inches.”
Oplinger says Jordanelle’s smallmouth bass population has gotten so large that the fish are small in size. “Most of the smallmouths are 11 inches or less in length,” he says. “Right now, trying to keep larger smallmouth in the reservoir isn’t the answer to growing bigger fish. Removing smallmouth from the reservoir, even the larger ones, is the answer.”
Removing smallmouth will provide more food for the remaining smallmouth bass, allowing them to grow to a larger size. To help speed that process along, biologists stocked two predators into Jordanelle this year.
“Over the past two months,” he says, “we’ve placed tiger muskies and wipers into the reservoir. These predators should prey heavily on the smaller smallmouth, leaving more food for the remaining smallmouth to eat and grow to a larger size.”
Eliminating the 12-inch size restriction at Jordanelle was favored by 61 percent of the 3,705 anglers who responded to a question about the change. Eleven percent of the 3,705 anglers were opposed to the change. The remaining anglers who responded to the question did not have a preference.