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Fishing report for southeastern Utah

By Sun Advocate

ABAJO MOUNTAINS: Tommi Budd reports that ice conditions in San Juan County are unsafe. Recapture Reservoir has melted on the west side and anglers have been shore fishing for rainbow trout with some success. Pike are also being caught,using small minnow-imitating lures. Due to receding ice, Tommi warns against further ice fishing at Recapture Reservoir. The ice is too thin for safe fishing at Blanding #3 and # 4 as well. If the weather continues to warm up, shoreline fishing will be widely available.
ELECTRIC LAKE: Open water occurs on the north end around the mine’s water discharge. Springs or isolated pockets of open water may also be encountered. No recent fishing report.
HUNTINGTON CREEK: Tom Ogden fished the creek on January 13, and caught 10 small browns along open water stretches below the forks. Tom used floating line and three different fly patterns. These included a size 12 bead head Montana, size 14 bead head hares ear (gray color), and size 12 bead head serendipity (green color). Tom reports very little fishable water along the creek at this time. He observed most trout in holes, resting on the bottom, and indicates that in winter months, a fly must be drifted past a trout a number of times, before it will bite. The bite will be very light, so an angler must watch for any hesitation in the drift of the fly.
HUNTINGTON RESERVOIR (MAMMOTH): The ice pack is thick and snow-covered. Angler use has been modest. No recent report.
HUNTINGTON NORTH RESERVOIR: No report on ice fishing success.
JOES VALLEY RESERVOIR: On January 3, Ron Sorensen and Troy Johnson of Mount Pleasant caught 25, 26 and 27.5 inch splake with estimated weights, ranging from five to eight pounds. Ron repeated this feat by catching and releasing another 27-inch splake on January 17th. This latest catch will be submitted as the new Utah Catch-and-Release Record for splake, and will break the record of 20.5 inches, set in 2003 at Joes Valley Reservoir by Ryan Barnes.
Aquatics Biologist Justin Hart fished on Saturday, January 17 with a group of friends. He counted eight to ten other groups of anglers, making it the busiest day on the ice that he had ever seen. Justin said that most groups were catching splake and cutthroat trout up to 17 inches. The biggest two fish seen by Justin were a 3.5 lb., 21-inch splake and 2.5 lb. rainbow, caught by Craig Walker and his step daughter, Alley Foutz, both of Salt Lake City. Justin observed that most anglers fished with jigs or spoons of various configurations, and tipped them with chub meat. The ice was 12 inches thick with virtually no snow on top.
Aquatics Program Manager Paul Birdsey fished on Sunday, January 18. He drilled a hole in about 30 feet of water, but found the fish suspended about 10 feet below the ice. The fish he encountered were in singles, rather than schools, as is usually the case. Paul suggests that anglers fish early in the day for better success. They should be cautious in the vicinity of Seeley Creek Bay, where the ice is thin, due to the presence of underwater springs.
Regulations at Joes Valley Reservoir changed on January 1. The limit is four trout, and only one trout may be over 18 inches. Please take along a 2009 Fishing Guidebook for reference.
LAKE POWELL: Visit http://www.wayneswords.com for the winter fishing report from Wayne Gustaveson, DWR project leader.
LASAL MOUNTAINS: Mountain access is closed, except by snow machine. Aquatics Biologist Derek Elverud fished Kens Lake two weekends ago. He caught 30 trout on Friday morning, ranging from 8-15 inches. On Saturday, he iced 20 trout in the same size range. On both days, he fished in 20-25 feet of water on the south side near the parking area. Most fish were caught 10-12 feet below the ice. Derek used pink or yellow jigs, tipped with a night crawler. The bite was very light and slowed down by mid-morning.
MILLSITE RESERVOIR: Hear-say information suggests good fishing, but provides no further detail.
SCOFIELD RESERVOIR: Fishing continues to be slow at Scofield, although creative anglers are still catching fish, says Paul Birdsey, DWR aquatics program manager for southeastern Utah. Paul suggests moving from a dead hole after 20 minutes. Try fishing at different water depths and locations. Try different lures, jigs and baits. Try different colors as well. With regard to color, Paul recommends lighter colors, such as white or chartreuse when visibility is poor; and dark colors, such as brown or black, when light penetration is good. Once a hole is drilled, Paul suggests dropping the lure/bait to the bottom, cranking it up once, and then working it. If nothing happens, crank the reel again, and resume jigging. Repeat the process through the entire water column. When your bait reaching the surface, change your end tackle combination and start over. If you’ve gone through several trials with different lure/bait types and colors, and haven’t had any luck, pick up your gear and go somewhere else.
DWR Fisheries Biologist Justin Hart suggests that the secret to success at Scofield is paying close attention to the lure/bait. He fished on January 13 and caught three fat rainbows by sensing the slightest abnormalities in lure behavior. Justin says the bite is extremely light, and requires the utmost attention. Almost imperceptible line movement must be followed by a fast hook-set. Justin stresses the importance of matching the lure/bait weight with rod action stiffness. A light lure on a heavy-action rod will miss light bites. Justin also suggests rigging up slip floats as a good way to keep the lure/bait at your preferred depth.
On January 1, regulations changed at Scofield Reservoir. The limit is four trout in the aggregate. A slot limit is now in effect for tiger and cutthroat trout. No more than two may be cutthroat or tiger trout under 15 inches, and no more than one may be a cutthroat or tiger trout over 22 inches. All cutthroat and tiger trout from 15-22 inches must be immediately released. The trout you take home should not be filleted or the head and tail removed. Any trout with cutthroat markings is considered a cutthroat trout. It’s a real good idea to take along a 2009 Fishing Guidebook for reference.

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