On July 13, prime flowing waters in this valley will, for the first time in years, be open to fishing.
Fishermen won't be able to keep any fish they catch. And, only flies can be used.Still, for those who like the challenge of working small streams with a fly rod, and believe in the idea that a fish released today will return to the line as a larger fish another day, the opening of the tributaries to Strawberry Reservoir is a great news.
The official opening will be at 6 a.m. on the 13th. Fishing will stop on Sept. 1, then reopen again on Oct. 12 and close on May 15. And, if all goes well, open again on July 13, and so on and so on.
Unless of course, says Roger Wilson, project leader at Strawberry for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, it doesn't work . . ."Then we'll have to close. I hope not. This should provide some good fishing."
Not all waters will open. Those not opening include:
All Indian Creek tributaries, Squaw Creek, Strawberry River from the reservoir to the Bull Springs road, which is about two miles west of the Strawberry turnoff, and Co-op Creek from the Strawberry confluence to Highway 40.
There will be maps available at the Strawberry visitor's center and at DWR offices, showing which streams and rivers will be open. A large number of signs have also been placed in the area to help fishermen.
"The rest (of the tributaries) will be open and that includes a large number of very good fishing waters," adds Wilson.
There was, at the mention of opening the tributaries, some opposition. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done towards the total recovery of these waters. Years of abuse from feeding cattle and sheep severely damaged the riparian areas and stream beds.
The eventual goal is to restore natural fish production in these streams, which was all but wiped out from the abuse.
Wilson says the riparian areas are recovering much more rapidly than the stream beds.
"That's usually the way it is," he adds. "You've got to stabilize the banks and flush out all the sand and silt. We're still seeing some debris on the eggs, which reduces survival. I think we're looking at 15 years or more to stabilize the steam beds.
"Our real concern is that we want to stress on fishermen to exercise proper behavior on the streams. They're still recovering, so please, tread lightly "
This includes following a few basic rule. Among them:
- Obey all road closures.
- Obey all rules and regulations set down by the U.S Forest Service and the DWR.
- Try not to trail. That is, when walking follow different routes so as not to put down obvious trails.
- Try to avoid crossing in riffle areas. These are areas where redds or nests of trout and salmon might be. Cross through pools if possible.
"If fishermen will follow these few simple rules, then we don't expect any problem or damage to the tributaries . . . That's why we decided to open them and give fishermen what we feel is an excellent fishing experience," says Wilson.
Most of the fish caught will be Bear Lake cutthroats. Samplings of the fish in the waters show most of the fish in the eight-inch range, with some getting up to 14 and 15 inches. Most of the large spawners are expected to be out of the streams and rivers by the opening day.
Some of the streams are small where others, like the Strawberry River, are between 30 to 40 feet wide in some areas.
Those fishing the areas will be encourage to know where they are and to make certain that the streams they are fishing are open.
Streams will close during those time when fish are spawning, the cutthroats in the spring and the kokanee salmon in the fall.
Between the fishing in the reservoir and working the tributaries, now, the Strawberry area offers anglers a full range of fishing opportunities.
And, if fishermen treat the water and the land with due respect, these opportunities will remain in place.