Thursday, 07 June 2012 09:00
Fun fishing that's close to home
Did you know that some of the best fishing you'll find anywhere in Utah might be only 15 minutes from your home?
Community ponds are great places to fish with your family.
Photo by Tonya Kieffer
Utah is home to 49 community fishing waters. Most of the waters are found in cities along the Wasatch Front (from Logan to Santaquin) and in and near Cedar City and St. George. But cities that are outside those areas—including Helper, Monroe and Huntington—have ponds too.
The 2012 Utah Community Fishing booklet is filled with information about the ponds. The free booklet is available at wildlife.utah.gov/cf.
The community waters provide anglers of all ages, from young children to senior citizens, a convenient, inexpensive and fun place to fish.
And the fishing itself can be really good!
Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the DWR stocks catfish into most of the ponds once every two weeks until July. (In July, the water and air temperature gets too hot to transport catfish from a catfish grower in the East and stock them successfully in the ponds.)
When they're stocked, the catfish are about 17 inches long and weigh about 1 pounds each.
In addition to the catfish, most of the ponds have bluegill and largemouth bass in them. The bluegill can provide fast fishing that lasts all day. Largemouth bass aren't as abundant in the ponds, but when you catch one, get ready for an exciting fight.
(Because largemouth bass aren't abundant in the ponds, Cushing encourages you to release any largemouth bass you catch.)
Cushing says it doesn't matter whether it's spring, summer or fall, the ponds almost always produce good fishing. "Agreements we have with each city allow us to keep a stable amount of water in each pond," he says. "Having stable water levels, and placing lots of fish in the ponds on a regular basis, means fishing at the ponds is almost always good."
And you don't need to know advanced techniques or have fancy equipment to catch the fish—a fishing rod and reel, some nightcrawlers, a hook and some sinkers, and maybe a bobber or two, are about all that's needed.
To catch fish at the ponds, Cushing says placing a worm on a hook, casting it out and letting it rest on the bottom of the pond is all you need to do.
You can also place a bobber a few feet above the hook, cast the hook and the bobber out, and let the worm dangle under the bobber. "Fishing with a bobber is fun," Cushing says, "especially if you're fishing with kids. Kids love to watch the bobber move as a fish takes the bait."
A third method is also very simple—attach a wet or dry fly to the end of your line and place a clear plastic bubble, filled with water, about five feet above the fly. Then cast the fly and bubble out, and slowly retrieve it back.
If you use these simple techniques, you should wind up with a catfish, a bluegill or a largemouth bass on the end of your line.
And any of these techniques will also put plenty of rainbow trout on the end of your line too. After taking a break in July, the DWR will start stocking catfish again in August. Then, when the water temperature cools at the start of September, the DWR will stop stocking catfish and will start putting rainbow trout into the ponds.
Trout stocking will continue until the waters freeze in the winter.
Fishing versus other activities
Cushing says in these tough economic times, taking your kids fishing at a community pond will not only build better memories than taking them to a movie—it might save you some money.
He says children under the age of 12 fish for free in Utah. "And for only $5," he says, "kids who are 12 to 13 years old can buy a license that allows them to fish for 365 days from the day they buy the license."
If you decide you want to catch some fish too, the cost for a 365-day fishing license for those 14 to 65 years old is $26.
"With a license and some basic fishing gear," Cushing says, "you and your kids can have a great time. And you'll build memories that will last forever."
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