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Don’t tell the fish it’s only early in April

The ice is melting — warmer water means better fishing in Utah

SHARE Don’t tell the fish it’s only early in April

It's easy to lose track of time standing along a stream bank these days, fly rod in hand and a blue-wing olive fly dancing overhead. By all signs, the calendar is wrong.

Warm temperatures, rising water and hungry fish are more typical of fishing conditions in late April to early May. But, here it is, early April and already the fishing is picking up.

And it appears now that the fishing calendar is going to stay about a month ahead of itself. Consensus is the runoff will come early, leave late and that low-water conditions will hit early this year.

As for now, fishing couldn't be better.

The ice melted early on such popular waters as Deer Creek, Echo, Rockport and Jordanelle. There is still a thick ice covering on Strawberry and Scofield. At the current rate, however, it's likely that by mid-April fishermen will be throwing flies rather than drilling holes in the ice at the two popular fishing spots.

Fishing at Strawberry, through the ice, has been productive the past few weeks. In some places, however, the leap from land to ice has been getting more difficult. Some anglers have been resorting to taking ladders and planks to bridge the gap.

Most of the fish being caught are in the 11- to 16-inch range. Fewer of the once-abundant trophy fish, however, are being pulled up these days.

The Provo River has had good fishing in recent weeks — and it also has been very busy. The fish are in their May-pattern of feeding during the midafternoon hatches, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and resting in the mornings and evenings. This has moved rush-hour traffic on the river from early to midday — around 2 p.m.

Fly fishermen are going from Woolley Buggers and streamers in the early hours, to dry flies midday, then back to stripping Woolley Buggers and streamers in the afternoon.

Anglers at Rockport say they've been catching good numbers of browns the past week.

The Green River below Flaming Gorge has also been good in recent weeks.

Byron Gunderson of Fish Tech Outfitters said most of the activity has been from Little Hole upstream, "but some of the best fishing has been reported by fishermen walking downstream a mile or so. Reports are that they're catching more fish and larger fish south of Little Hole."

Trollers have been doing well on Deer Creek pulling pop gear tipped with a night crawler, a spinner or a fly. Most of the fish have been "chunky" rainbow.

Tom Pettengill, director of sports fishing for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said he has been surprised at how rapidly water temperatures are rising. Surface temperatures at Willard Bay, for example, are already in the 50s.

The walleye fishing has been good at Utah Lake and Willard. The spawn, however, is nearly over, and fishing is expected to be slow. At Yuba, the spawn is just getting started and fishing is picking up.

Pettengill also points out that a change in fishing regulations has closed all tributaries to Utah Lake until May 1. Even with a reduction in the size of allowable hooks last year, anglers were still snagging spawning walleye.

"We warned them that if they kept snagging the walleye, we'd close the tributaries. Well, they're closed," he added.

As long as warmer temperatures continue, and water temperatures continue to rise, fishing is expected to continue to get better and better.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com