The views and opinions expressed in this post are mine and do not at all reflect the official policy or position of Fishwest or the fine folks that work there. Any content provided is my opinion or a twisted attempt at humor and are not intended to malign any club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything up to and including Tenkara fisherpeople. So please don’t go harass Brooke or JC or any other staff because I suggested you eat a trout. Enjoy Jeff Faulkner Presents: Utah Fishing Regulation Changes
Quick story. I lived in Hawaii some years ago and would often take people fishing. One day I had the opportunity to take a Fijian family with me. They were used to fishing with 2 liter bottles and string. Needless to say I was excited to show them some new methods. For the most part I am a catch and release fisherman and I try to be informative , read not obnoxious, about conservation and what not. Upon arriving at one of my hotspots we got lines out and settled in for a beautiful evening. One of the boys hooked in to a nice little Christmas Wrasse and brought it in with ease. He was glowing, pure stoke. I unhooked it, thanked the little fish and sent it back on its way. The little boy absolutely lost his mind. Hysterical doesn’t even begin to describe the poor child. In between sobs I heard hum say, “I was gonna eat that.” Moral of the story. People fish for different reasons and that’s ok.
Back to the Regs…
The mission of the DNR is “Serve the people of Utah as trustee and guardian of the state’s protected wildlife.” As such they are constantly working on their Strategic Plan. To read more about the Strategic Plan on the Utah DNR go here: https://wildlife.utah.gov/strategic-plan.html/ The mission of the DNR is complex, but we will look at it from the point of fishing for this article.
The DNR is constantly monitoring fish populations and assessing species of fish across the state and all types of bodies of water. As such they make changes to rules and regulations as often as they deem necessary. Drought conditions, harsh winters, invasive species, wildfires, contaminations and many other factors contribute to fish populations and planning of aquatic ecosystems. If you are the type of person, like me, that goes down some nerdy mathematical rabbit holes you can read a paper produced by the USDA called Techniques for Sampling and Monitoring Natural Resources or wildlife here https://www.fs.usda.gov/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr126.pdf . Rabbit holes aside sampling and population planning is a main reason the DNR making changes. This year brings with it some changes.
If you like to fill a cooler this is a good year. Keeping fish is as divisive a topic as any. I prefer to have a close relationship to my food and am not averse to keeping a fish now and again. The DNR based on a detailed management plan has decided to increase the limits in certain waters throughout the state. This is done for either drought conditions or propensity for winter kill. Either way there are plenty of opportunity to keep fish with the new regulations in effect. There are some great opportunities to get closer to your food.
Another fascinating yet controversial decision is to remove the protection of the native Roundtail Chub and classifying them as a sportfish. The Roundtail Chub is endemic to the Colorado River basin, meaning they exist nowhere else in the world. The Roundtail chub was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1991, and it was protected in Utah at that time. However, in 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Roundtail chub from the list of threatened and endangered species. This removal didn’t mean you could fish for them. They were moved to a list of prohibited fish species to fish for in Utah. Well, that has now been removed and you can target the Roundtail chub once again. Not only that, in some bodies of water you can even keep two per day. I have never caught one, but they are said to be good predators that readily eat frogs, insects and crawdads. So if the Roundtail chub has been on your bucket list, lace up your boots, tie on your favorite fly and get after it. Populations and full regs are listed
Also of note, if you have that one friend who always wants you take them fishing but will never buy a license for one reason or another, then take a note. June 10, 2023 is this years free fishing day. Take someone out and show them the wonders of nature.
Earlier in college career I did some work in the Wildlife Biology field. It is fascinating and grueling work. I for one appreciate the DNR and the work they do keep hunting and fishing as a viable part of our lives and heritage. If you disagree with regulations changes then by all means get involved. Utah’s DNR holds Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and has time for comments and feedback. Keep in mind that these are professionals that are trying to serve a wide variety interests that include, but are not limited to, fishing enthusiasts, hunters, bird watchers, artists and the list goes on, but their most important commitment is to the animal populations for both now and for our future. If this is something that either inspires you to help or raises you ire then please get involved. More information about RACs and how you can get involved can be found here https://wildlife.utah.gov/about-us/public-meetings.html .
Get educated, know your stuff, be responsible. You can get a copy of the 2023-24 Guidebook here at the DNR Rules and Regulations page. https://wildlife.utah.gov/fishing/fishing-regulations.html