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Drought hammers Utah, but you can catch more fish

Angling limits raised at multiple Utah reservoirs

The Jordanelle Dam in Wasatch County. The water levels at the reservoir are low due to drought.
The Jordanelle Dam in Wasatch is pictured on Friday, July 16, 2021. The water levels at the reservoir are low due to drought.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah’s wildlife managers just upped the fishing limits at 11 reservoirs across the state due to declining water levels brought on by the extreme drought.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources based in Salt Lake City says the smaller amounts of water heat up more quickly and reach higher temperatures, which is problematic for fish because warm water holds less oxygen than colder water. The combination of high temperatures and low oxygen can stress fish, causing poor growth and disease, and can sometimes be fatal.

So for the third time this summer, angling limits have been increased at multiple bodies of water in emergency action taken by the division.

As an example, the trout limit has been upped to eight fish at Fairview Lakes in Sanpete County and at McClellan Reservoir in Utah County.

Anglers at Pineview in Weber County can catch a daily limit of up to 100 bluegill, 100 yellow perch, 40 black crappie and 48 black bullhead.

A full list of impacted waterbodies is available at the division’s website.

The latest drought update issued Wednesday by the Utah Department of Natural Resources said even though the monsoon season has brought episodic flash floods to central and southern Utah, it has not put much of a dent in the drought.

“Low water levels at many reservoirs across the state continue to have widespread impacts on water quality, water supplies, wildlife, recreation, agriculture and the environment,” said Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Brian Steed.

“We have received some much-needed rain in some areas, which helps water our landscapes and improves dry soils, but is not sufficient to pull the state out of drought.”

Reservoir storage across the state averages 55% of capacity and continues to drop. Thirty of Utah’s largest 42 reservoirs are now below 55% capacity and several waterbodies are infested with harmful algal blooms.

The lakewide warning advisory for Utah Lake remains in place, and a danger advisory has been issued by the Utah County Health Department for Lindon Marina. Visitors to the marina should avoid swimming, skiing or boating in the lake, and pets and children should not be allowed in the water.

Seven boat ramps are currently closed at six state parks, including Antelope Island, Echo, Millsite, Piute, Willard Bay and Yuba. Caution advisories have been issued for eight additional state park boat ramps as well.

Boaters are advised to check conditions before they head out. Information on boat ramp closures is available at the state park’s website.

A majority of water districts are ending the irrigation season early and most homeowners have been cut back to watering twice a week.