Salt Lake City – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing some changes to rules related to fishing in the state, including rules for spearfishing and private fish ponds. The public is invited to provide feedback on these proposed changes at several upcoming public meetings and online.
After receiving feedback from local spearfishers who wanted additional spearfishing opportunities, DWR conducted a survey of anglers and also evaluated some bodies of water around Utah that needed to increase harvest of certain fish species. As a result, DWR recommends the following changes for spearfishing in Utah:
- Clarify that spearfishers are permitted to use underwater diving equipment while spearfishing.
- Allow spearfishing for Utah perch in all bodies of water that currently permit fishing.
- Allowing spearfishing for northern pike and white bass in Utah Lake, with no spearfishing limits on either species. Northern pike have been introduced illegally and are having impacts on June suckers, an endangered fish species found only in Utah Lake and its tributaries. White bass are abundant in Utah Lake and will provide another opportunity for spearfishermen.
- Allowing spearfishing for northern pike in the Jordan River (with no maximum harvest while spearfishing) to help remove illegally introduced species.
- Allowing spearfishing for northern pike in all Utah Lake tributaries west of I-15 — except the Provo River and the newly created Provo River Delta — in an effort to protect the June suckers that spawn there. This includes American Fork Creek, Bear Creek, Dry Creek, Hubble Creek, Spanish Fork River, Spring Creek, and Spring Run Creek. There will be no harvest limit while spearfishing for northern pike in these areas.
- Allowing the fishing of common carp in Jordanelle Reservoir.
- Permitting spearfishing for smallmouth bass at Quail Creek Reservoir.
“These proposed changes provide additional opportunities and will help address illegal fish introductions where spearfishers can target certain species,” said Randy Oplinger, DWR Sportfish Coordinator. “By removing the catch limit for some of these specific species, spearfishers can help reduce illegal fish that cause problems in these bodies of water.”
Amendments to the rules of the private pool
Previously, the rule governing the use of fish in private ponds and aquaponics facilities in Utah was complex and confusing.
“This recommended update to the rule will help reduce complexity and simplify the language to make it easier to understand,” Oplinger said.
Part of the proposed rule change would also allow certain species of fish to be stocked in special, screened, off-channel ponds, outside the Virgin River drainage, without the need for a certificate of registration. These stockable fish will include sterile salmon (such as trout, salmon, char, whitefish, and grayling), tiger muskie, mop, triploid (meaning they are completely sterile), bluegill, sterile black crappie, and sterile yellow perch. These are all sterile fish species, which means they cannot reproduce. If they somehow escape from their surroundings (or private pond), they will not be able to establish breeding populations in other nearby bodies of water and potentially impact native fish.
Other proposed changes include:
- Allowing white sturgeon in an aquaponics facility without a certificate of registration, provided other rules are also met.
- Request a registration certificate for a golden shiner in a private pond or aquaponics facility (previously, a registration certificate was not required).
- Requiring private fish producers to provide their customers with a DWR letter certifying that the fish is sterile.
- Clarification in the rule that it is illegal to release fish into other bodies of water and can result in a Class A misdemeanor.
Recommendations public meetings can be viewed virtually or in person. You can watch biologist’s presentations before meetings and share your comments on the DWR website. Presentations are also available on DWR’s YouTube channel, but comments can only be submitted through forms on the DWR website.
The public comment period opened on August 15 for each of the five Regional Advisory Council meetings and the Utah Wildlife Council meeting. Public comments submitted within the online comment time frames listed below will be shared with members of the RAC and Wildlife Management Board at each individual meeting. Members of the public can choose to watch the meetings online or attend in person. If you wish to comment during the meeting, you must attend in person – online comments will only be accepted until the deadlines listed below.
The meetings will be held on the following dates and times:
- Central Utah RAC Meeting: August 29 at 6 pm at the DWR Springville office at 1115 N. Main Street in Springville. (Comments must be submitted online by August 24 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northern Utah RAC Meeting: August 30 at 6pm in the Weber County Commission Rooms at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden. (Comments must be submitted online by August 24 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southern Utah RAC Meeting: September 5 at 6pm at the DNR Richfield City Complex at 2031 Industrial Park Road in Richfield. (Comments must be submitted online by August 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC Meeting: September 6 at 6pm at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main Street in Green River. (Comments must be submitted online by August 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeast Utah RAC Meeting: September 7 at 6 pm at the DWR Spring Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. In Vernal. (Comments must be submitted online by August 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Council meeting: Sept. 21 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Comments must be submitted online by September 12 at 11:59 p.m.)