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Fishing, parks free for all Saturday
Program aims to get families hooked again

Fishing will be free on Saturday. As free as it gets, anyway. Same with spending the day in one of Utah's state parks. It's free.

One day each year, rules to own a fishing license or pay park day-use fees are waived.Free Fishing Day started 19 years ago in an attempt to reintroduce fishing to families.

Saturday, Utah will be joined by 46 states, along with Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in offering no-license-needed fishing.

Utah's state parks came in with their donation several years ago. This Saturday all visitors will get free day-use privileges at any of the 43 parks, which includes This Is the Place Heritage Park. Fees for overnight camping and golfing will be payable on Saturday.

The idea behind a free day, of course, is to introduce, or in some cases reintroduce, fishing opportunities.

The cost of a license, $26 for anadult age 14 and older, is enough to keep some people away from the banks of a river or lake.

In truth, a season fishing license can be a real bargain. At $2.50 a pound for fresh, whole trout, someone who enjoys fresh fish can recover the cost of a license in one day and, in fact, with one fish.

While the license requirement is lifted for the day, other regulations related to special limits and fishing methods are still in place. Those fishermen unfamiliar with Utah's fishing regulations are encouraged to pick up a 1999 Utah Fishing Proclamation.

Because of the expected pressure on Saturday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will step up its stocking program before the weekend, says Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR.

Some of the more popular waters will receive an extra dose of new fish.

Also, there will be special ceremonies at the Farmington Pond to dedicate a newly completed fishing pier, which was paid for, built and donated by the Salt Lake County Fish and Game Association. The pier was designed to accommodate the physically challenged, elderly and small children.

Volunteers from the SLCFGA will also be available at the pond on Saturday to assist anglers.

The DWR is suggesting people may want to visit one of its six state hatcheries -- Fountain Green, Glenwood, Mammoth Creek, Midway, Springville and Whiterocks -- that are open daily between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They can also call one of three hatcheries -- Mantua (435-7223-6579), Egan (435-4225-3547) or Loa (435-836-2858) -- to make reservations for a tour.

For the less-experienced anglers, it is recommended that they visit one of the more popular reservoirs and use traditional fishing techniques on Saturday.

Power Bait molded on a treble hook in a glob about the size of a dime is a tested and proven method of fishing. Good Power Baits to try are the rainbow colors. Half of a nightcrawler threaded on a No. 6 bait hook is one of the oldest and surest methods of catching fish. To keep the bait off the bottom and in view of the fish, tip the end of the hook with a mini-marshmallow.

The more inexperienced fishermen also may want to use a softer-flexing trout rod instead of the stiffer bass rod. The softer rods aren't quite as harsh on a cast, which allows the bait to stay on the hook.

Some of the more popular places to fish on Saturday will include:

East Canyon -- Always a good place to try, especially around the dam and inlets. Limit is four fish. Good with Power Bait and nightcrawlers.

Pineview -- Good fishing for crappie and perch using small feathered and plastic jigs suspended 3 to 5 feet below a bobber.

Jordanelle -- Fishing from shore has been fair to good for those using Power Bait. Good place to fish. Good access and lots of fish. All smallmouth bass must be released.

Deer Creek -- Will be planted for Saturday. Picking up some nice rainbow on Power Bait and nightcrawlers.

Flaming Gorge -- Fishermen are doing well from shore for rainbow using nightcrawlers fished about 4 feet below a bobber and also nightcrawlers tipped with marshmallow and floating cheese fished off the bottom.

Scofield -- Fishing has been excellent with Power Bait and nightcrawlers.

Currant Creek -- Fishing has been picking up in recent weeks and good catches are being reported. Another good spot for traditional baits.