Though New Year’s Resolutions seem buried in the recent past, I’m sure many of you resolved to make 2019 the year to catch more fish. Let’s explore a couple of ideas that just might seal the deal on making this year the best angling year ever.
Although I’ve mentioned the stocking reports produced by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) in previous columns, it is difficult to express how important those reports are when planning fishing trips throughout the year.
The UDWR reports exactly where and when fish are stocked in our many and varied waters in Utah. From streams and rivers to reservoirs, lakes, and community ponds, the stocking report shows how many, how large, and the species of fish stocked in Utah waters. Armed with this information and regardless of your angling experience, knowing where and when to fish is crucial information to better your chances to actually catch those fish.
Go to wildlife.utah.gov and click on the fishing heading at the top of the page. A drop-down list will appear. Click on Stocking reports and the current UDWR activity will appear with the following information: water name, county, species, quantity, average size, and date stocked.
How should you use the information?
Allow me to provide two specific ways to utilize this information. Obviously, if you plan to fish small lakes, streams, and community ponds, knowing exactly when fish will be stocked will give you an advantage should you choose to fish immediately after the fish have been released. Now, if they have stocked keeper-sized fish, you should be able to catch those fish almost at will (using Powerbait, worms, lures, or even flies).
The second way to use the stocking report information is to pay attention to the size of fish being stocked, then, plan your fishing trips to target the larger fish (already in the water) that will be eating the fish that were recently stocked. I do that every year on Flaming Gorge and Strawberry reservoirs. On Flaming Gorge, I watch to see when the UDWR stocks rainbows (3 to 10 inches long) and prepare to catch the lake trout that feed on the smaller trout. Some of my best days on Flaming Gorge came within a week or two or the UDWR stocking small rainbows in the Lucerne area of the reservoir. In fact, in by book Fishfinders, published by Amazon Kindle, I show screen shots of small rainbows with huge lake trout coming through the schools eating the smaller fish.
On Strawberry, I watch to see when the UDWR stocks sterile rainbows (7 to 10 inches) and plan my trips to coincide with the fish releases. There are few things more exciting than catching huge cutthroats with 10-inch rainbows hanging out of their mouths
So, watching the stocking reports can help you catch larger fish that those being stocked. The simple truth is that fish eat other fish. In many lakes, streams, and reservoirs, when fish are stocked the dinner bell rings for the larger fish in the area.
Finally, in order to catch more fish in 2019, try to plan trips to last more than just a few hours. The more time you can spend on the water, the better your chances will be to be successful. One of the reasons professional bass anglers (like me) practice before a tournament is to get to know the current conditions and to locate schools of active fish.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone a day or two without many bites only to discover on day three or four of practice exactly what the fish want to eat and therefore begin catching fish at will.
Spring is finally here, and as the ice comes off the reservoirs, you get your boat out of moth balls, and are ready for some fishing action, take some time to look at the stocking report, plan your trips, and you very well may make 2019 your best angling year ever. Good luck.