Fishing is picking up for Utah's littlest and its biggest fish.
Latest report indicates that the little cisco have started to move onto Cisco Beach on the east side of Bear Lake.Reports also show that at the opposite end of the state, anglers are catching some of Lake Powell's biggest trophies - the striped bass.
According to Bryce Nielson, fisheries biologist at Bear Lake for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, some fishermen began catching cisco through the ice along Cisco Beach on Wednesday. The cisco run, he said, is on.
"We should start seeing the peak by the weekend and things should start tapering off by next week. We cut holes in the ice and saw some of the fish moving in. No one was out fishing early Wednesday, however," he reported.
This is the earliest the cisco have started their annual spawning run in four years.
Nielson said that the fact that the lake is so low, and that the lake is frozen, could account for the early run.
He also pointed out that despite earlier thinking that the cisco only spawn on Cisco Beach, he has found that the cisco spawn "all over the lake."
"It's just that the attention is on Cisco Beach. Also, the eggs have a better chance of survival on the beach because they can filter into the rocks and escape predation," he said.
Traditionally, some of the biggest fish to come out of Lake Powell are caught from November through January.
Back on Nov. 20, in fact, Fred Paulson of Center, Colo., set a new lake record with a striped bass that weighed 40 pounds, 2 ounces. He caught the fish near the Hite Marina.
In 1989, Bill Hook set a record with a 40-pound striper caught in late October. The previous record was a 39-pound, 12-ounce striped bass caught on New Year's Day in 1987.
According to Wayne Gustaveson, fisheries biologist at the lake for the DWR, a good shad spawn has produced a large number of stripers in the 11/2- to 6-pound range.
Gustaveson expects good fishing through the winter, with the best fishing coming in the spring.
"The best fishing will probably be near Glen Canyon Dam the last two weeks of April, depending on when warm weather arrives," he said.
Anchovies remain the best bait. Spoons and white jigs tipped with grubs also have been catching fish.
Gustaveson suggested fishing in 40 feet of water in the backs of canyons over channel beds.
He also predicts better largemouth, smallmouth and walleye fishing in the spring.
"When the lake levels come up and stay up there will be an increased population, with submerged vegetation providing nutrients and shelter," he said.
There is currently a striped bass contest going on at the lake. Those registering the largest striper at each of the four marinas - Wahweap, Bull Frog, Hall's Crossing and Hite - each receive a $200 cash prize.
The person with the largest overall catch will receive a $500 prize. Currently, Paulson's record is leading in that category.