By Faith Jolley
Special to The Times-Independent
If you’d like to catch a fish in Utah’s beautiful outdoors — while social distancing, of course — but you don’t have a fishing license, Free Fishing Day on Saturday, June 6, is the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
Residents can fish at any public body of water in Utah without a license. It makes for a great family activity and is the perfect time to introduce your kids to fishing and get them outdoors. It’s a great day not only for beginning anglers to give fishing a try, but is also a fun time for experienced anglers too.
“Because you don’t need a license to fish that day, it’s the perfect time to take a family member with you and introduce them to the sport,” said Randy Oplinger, sport fisheries coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “And, early June is one of the best times to fish in Utah. All of the fish in the state, both warm-water and cold-water fish, are active and willing to bite this time of the year.”
If you are taking someone fishing for their first time, you can commemorate their first catch with a new DWR certificate. You can print out the certificate at home and fill in the details to document the occasion.
Anglers should note that while Free Fishing Day waives the requirement for having a fishing license, entrance fees to state parks and other areas would still apply. Here are some Utah lakes and reservoirs where you should have good fishing and be able to maintain social distancing while celebrating Free Fishing Day:
- Scofield Reservoir (Carbon County): Offers Bear Lake cutthroat, tiger and rainbow trout as well as tiger muskie and wiper.
- Millsite Reservoir (Emery County): Offers Colorado River cutthroat, rainbow and tiger trout and splake.
- Recapture Reservoir (San Juan County): Offers black bullhead catfish, bluegill, green sunfish, largemouth bass and northern pike.
- Blanding Reservoir No. 4 (San Juan County): Offers rainbow and tiger trout and largemouth bass.
- Enterprise Reservoirs (Washington County): Offers rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and green sunfish.
- Kolob Reservoir (Washington County): Offers cutthroat, brook, tiger and rainbow trout.
- Paragonah (Red Creek) Reservoir (Iron County): Offers Bonneville cutthroat, tiger and rainbow trout.
- Yankee Meadow Reservoir (Iron County): Offers Bonneville cutthroat, brook and rainbow trout.
- Newcastle Reservoir (Iron County): Offers rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, wiper and green sunfish.
- Kent’s Lake (Beaver County): Offers brown, brook, tiger and rainbow trout.
- East Canyon Reservoir (Morgan County): Offers rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, wiper, black crappie, brown trout, kokanee salmon, splake and tiger trout. Anglers should have success using a worm to fish for the trout, wiper or smallmouth bass.
- Mantua Reservoir (Box Elder County): Offers bluegill, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, yellow perch, green sunfish and smallmouth bass. The bluegill are typically near shore in June, so it’s good fishing for beginners.
- Flaming Gorge Reservoir (Daggett County): Offers burbot, cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, brown trout, channel catfish and common carp.
- Matt Warner Reservoir (Uintah County): Offers rainbow trout, brown trout and tiger trout.
- Red Fleet Reservoir (Uintah County): Offers black crappie, mountain whitefish, tiger trout, walleye, wiper, yellow perch, brown and Colorado River cutthroat trout.
- Moon Lake (Duchesne County): Offers brook, rainbow, tiger and Colorado River cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, splake, Arctic grayling and kokanee salmon.
- Utah Lake (Utah County): Offers northern pike (which anglers should keep unless it has a tag), black crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, common carp, walleye, white bass, brown trout and Bonneville cutthroat trout, green sunfish, largemouth bass, yellow perch and June sucker (although anglers should immediately release these since they are endangered). The white bass fishing is hot right now, and other species, like catfish, should provide good fishing action by June.
- Yuba Reservoir (Juab County): Offers channel catfish, common carp, northern pike, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, Utah sucker, walleye, wiper and yellow perch.
- Jordanelle Reservoir (Wasatch County): Offers brown trout, kokanee salmon, rainbow and Bonneville cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass, Utah chub, wiper, yellow perch, black crappie, largemouth bass, splake, tiger muskie and Utah sucker.
- Strawberry Reservoir (Wasatch County): Offers rainbow and Bonneville cutthroat trout, and kokanee salmon.
- Deer Creek Reservoir (Wasatch County): Offers largemouth bass, rainbow and Bonneville cutthroat trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, black bullhead catfish, bluegill, brown trout, common carp, green sunfish, Utah sucker and yellow perch.
While several COVID-19-related restrictions have recently been lifted, Utahns are still encouraged to practice social distancing while outdoors and should remain at least six feet away from others who may be fishing at the same body of water. If a body of water looks crowded and social distancing will be different to maintain, you should try visiting a different body of water. You should also stay home if you are feeling sick.
Wherever you go fishing on Free Fishing Day, remember to pack out what you pack in and keep the area free of trash. Also note that some facilities, like restrooms or campgrounds, may be closed due to COVID-19 — please respect those closures. Visit the Utah State Parks website for more tips on recreating responsibly.
Learn the rules
You don’t need a license to fish on June 6, but the other fishing rules in Utah will still be in effect. Make sure you know the catch limits and rules for the body of water you are fishing. The rules are available in the 2020 Utah Fishing Guidebook.
Buy a license
You don’t need a fishing license on Free Fishing Day, but a license is required any other day. Fishing licenses are valid for 365 days and can be purchased online or from a DWR license agent.
Jolley is a DWR spokesperson.