On June 11, any Utah water with a fish in it will be open game for anyone with fishing line and hook - any water, to anyone, with or without a fishing license.
It will be, under a program proposed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, approved by the Legislature, and so proclaimed by the governor, Free Fishing Day.This simply means residents and nonresidents of Utah will be able to go fishing on this one day and not be required to have a fishing license.
"It is," said Bill Geer, director of the DWR, "a time when kids who might not otherwise be able to fish, can go fishing.
"It would be great if our veteran anglers would take some neighborhood kids fishing. A lot of kids in our urban areas are being raised in single-parent households, usually by the mother, and they just haven't had the opportunity to learn about the outdoors and the fun of fishing."
Another reason for the free day is that license sales have dropped since a fee increase was adopted two years ago, and DWR officials hope the free day will "re-introduce" the sport to those who dropped it.
While licenses will not be checked, other rules and applied limits will be strictly enforced. Those going fishing and unfamiliar with Utah's fishing laws are urged to pick up a 1988 proclamation.
In waters without special regulations, the limit on trout is eight, the limit on bass, smallmouth and/or largemouth is six, striped bass 10, catfish eight, whitefish 10, walleye six, crappie 50, bluegill 50, bullhead 24 and there is no limit on yellow perch.
There are some waters with special regulations. The Lower Provo, for example, from Deer Creek Dam to Olmstead Diversion, is open to use of artificial flies and lures only. The limit there is two trout under 15 inches. Artificial lures and flies are also required on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. The limit there is two fish under 13 inches and one over 22 inches. On a section of the Blacksmith Fork in the eastern part of the state, artificial lures are also required and the limit is two trout under 12 inches and one over 18.
In conjunction with this special day, many of the state's fishing businesses, such as Anglers' Inn and Gart Brothers, and fishing organizations, such as Wasatch Bassmasters, Deseret Bass Busters and Utah Valley Fly Roders, will be offering free fishing clinics to the public (see related story on this page).
DWR officers say fishing is expected to be good at most Utah waters. According to Bill Bradwisch, fisheries biologist for the DWR, most of Utah's waters were planted with catchables just before the Memorial Day holidays.
"Also, we will continue our regular planting program, so fishing should be good in most places," he said.
It's likely that most of the one-day pressure will be on rivers and reservoirs close to populated areas, such as East Canyon, Rockport, Pineview and Deer Creek.
Bradwisch said he would encourage fishermen to hit some of the larger fishing waters, such as Strawberry, Willard Bay and Utah Lake. These lakes can handle the pressure and offer good fishing.
Lakes along the Mirror Lake highway were stocked for the holidays and should also offer good fishing. Many are within easy walking distance of the road, such as Lily, Tea Pot, Moose Horn and Mirror.
A good choice for warmwater fish, such as bass and bluegill, is Mantua.
In conjunction with free fishing day, Utah State Parks and Recreation will open all state parks on the June 11 to free day use. There will be no charge to use camp sites for the day. Those staying overnight, however, will have to pay the required fees.
There will also be special activities on that day at several of the parks.