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Fish biting as spring kicks in

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PROVO -- The hint of spring this past week has prompted fish to bite and more and more fishermen to get out and encourage them.

On the Provo, for example, the hardest part about fishing has been finding enough room for a backcast without hooking your neighbor.Good weather and good fishing and a long, cold winter indoors have resulted in a rush on river space, especially this past weekend. So much so, in fact, many Provo diehards are even being forced to move to other waters to find some casting room, such as the Weber and Ogden rivers.

This is the time of year when fishing starts to move up the scale. Warmer waters make fish more active. Also, the introduction of runoff waters brings fresh food sources into both streams and reservoirs.

Fishing on the Provo has been both crowded and good in recent days. Some of the best flies have been small nymphs, midges and the larger sowbugs.

The Weber has been especially good the last few days for whitefish and browns.

The Green River below Flaming Gorge has also picked up in recent days. One fishermen reported enjoying some of the best fishing "in several years." A good fly has been Blue Wing Olive.

Because runoff is already starting to flow into the rivers, mornings are the best time to fish flowing waters above reservoirs. Waters below reservoirs can be fished any time of the day.

Wipers are starting to show up at Willard Bay. The wiper is a mix between a white bass and striped bass. A new fish here in Utah, the hybrid has become a very popular catch in other parts of the country. Good lures for wipers would be small silver spoons, white jigs and white flies like a Zonker.

The North Marina is open, but the South Marina won't open until April 1. Some of the best fishing has been around the North Marina in the evenings.

The walleye are still in the pre-spawn stage at Willard, but are starting to look for hooks in Utah Lake. Good lures would be white, yellow or chartreuse curly-tail jigs.

There are some special regulations those fishing the Provo River inlet should be aware of. Fishing hours, for example, are confined between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Also, all hooks must be able to pass through a 9/16th-inch hole. This a new regulation targeting fishermen trying to illegally snag the spawning walleye.

There are still a few places left where the ice is thick enough to support fishermen. The best ice fishing has been at Strawberry and Scofield. In some places, there is still 30 inches of ice covering Strawberry. Some of the best fishing has been with yellow or green jigs tipped with a wax worm or night crawler. There have been several fish in the five-pound class caught recently. The limit on Strawberry is four fish, but only one may be larger than 18 inches.

Scofield fishermen have been doing well dropping Velveeta cheese and Power Bait through the ice in 12 to 15 feet of water.

At this time of year, fish begin to move into shallower water, probably anticipating the melting of the fringe ice and the release of new food into the water.

Lake Powell has been slow, but as the temperatures start to warm, the fishing will heat up rapidly. A few weeks ago, for example, striper fishing around Hite was excellent but then quieted down.

A sign, said Wayne Gustaveson, fish biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, "That the flurry let us know that there are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Dirty Devil near Hite and the canyons close by." He said schools of fish are also prowling around Navajo Canyon and Warm Creek and in the backs of Bullfrog and Hall's bays.

Good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass is still a month or more away.

One of the first places in the state reporting red-hot fishing is Bear Lake. Best success is being reported from fishermen going after rainbow and trolling Rapalas and flatfish along the eastern shores. Working lead-head jigs in 30 to 60 feet of water has also been good.

Still a hot spot for kids is Pineview. Fishing for perch in 10 to 12 feet of water has been excellent. What works best for perch is a small icefly tipped with a chunk of perch meat. Some of the fish have measured from seven to 10 inches.

As temperatures continue to rise, fishing will continue to improve, which will give fishermen all the excuses they need to re-spool the reel and restock the fly box.