For one day and one day only, Utahns who don’t have a fishing license can catch fish anyway, and (with some exceptions) don’t have to pay a dime to do so.
Throughout the vast majority of the year, 364 days, Utah Administrative Code requires that anyone 12 years of age or older purchase a license “before engaging in any regulated fishing activity.”
The code notes, however, that “a license is not required on free fishing day, a Saturday in June, annually.”
That day is June 6 this year, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, or DWR, which said in a press release that “Free Fishing Day” is an opportunity for all Utahns to “fish at any public waterbody in Utah without a license.”
“It makes for a great family activity and is the perfect time to introduce your kids to fishing and get them outdoors,” the May 22 press release said. “It’s a great day not only for beginning anglers to give fishing a try, but is also a fun time for experienced anglers too.”
Randy Oplinger, DWR’s sport fisheries coordinator, said in the press release that early June “is one of the best times to fish in Utah” due to the activity of the aquatic animals.
“All of the fish in the state, both warm-water and cold-water fish, are active and willing to bite this time of year,” said Oplinger.
This year’s DWR Fishing Guidebook notes that “all of the state’s other fishing laws and rules still apply” on Free Fishing Day.
For example, Utah Administrative Code states that anglers must “be within sight (not to exceed 100 feet) of the equipment being used at all times” with the exception of setlines, which are long fishing lines with multiple hooks attached in regular intervals.
Additionally, the code prohibits angling with more than two fishing lines except “while fishing for crayfish without the use of fish hooks” or “while fishing through the ice at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.”
Fishers and anglers are prohibited from catching a number of fish species year round, including the bluehead sucker, June sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, northern leatherside chub and Virgin spinedace.
Out of all the fishing spots in Utah County, DWR recommended Utah Lake as the place residents should turn to come June 6. The fish species native to Utah Lake that Utahns can legally catch on Free Fishing Day include the white bass, largemouth bass, brown trout, Bonneville cutthroat trout, northern pike and channel catfish, according to the state wildlife division.
There are other places in Utah Valley that provide prime fishing conditions, including in the Provo Middle River, a stretch of water that runs from the Jordanelle Reservoir in Wasatch County to the Deer Creek Reservoir.
Provo resident James O’Neal, who has caught brown trout, rainbow trout, whitefish and sculpin in Provo Middle River for 50 years, told the Daily Herald in October that “there’s nothing like it (Provo Middle River) in the whole United States.”
Tibble Fork Reservoir up American Fork Canyon is a spot north Utah County residents can fish without having to travel far. Fish species found in this reservoir include brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout, as stated on http://utahfishinginfo.com.
Since Tibble Fork Reservoir is managed by the United States Forest Service, anglers must still pay a small fee to access it, according to Explore Utah Valley.
South Utah County residents looking to fish on Free Fishing Day can do so in Diamond Fork River up Spanish Fork Canyon, which is populated by brown trout and cutthroat trout.
More information about Utah’s upcoming Free Fishing Day can be found in the DWR’s annual Fishing Guidebook.