After five years of drought, many of Utah’s lakes had very low water levels until this spring, which means improved fishing for many Utah waters.
Many lakes and streams suffer from problems of overpopulation of some fishes, such as the white bass in Utah Lake, where too many of them turn out to be smaller, “stunted” fish, resulting in very liberal fishing regulations. For this reason, there are no size nor bag limits on white bass in Utah Lake.
These “panfish” are normally less than ½ pound and 10 inches long—too small to warrant harvesting them for the table.
Low water levels over the years has allowed larger fish-eating-fish and birds to reduce the population of these fish, resulting in less competition, and larger white bass are now worthy of sport and table.
With these bigger bass available this year, plus easier access to them, how does one take advantage of this limitless, renewable food resource?
Very few fish are easier to harvest on a hook than white bass—they’re so aggressive they’ll bite on anything! One of the most convenient times to catch them is during their spring spawning run in May, when they congregate along the rocky jetties of Utah Lake’s various marinas.
Fishing tackle can be extremely simple, making this fish perfect for children and fly fishers, and although the females are larger, males are more aggressive and catchable. Almost any brightly colored lure works great to hook these hard-fighting fish.
Because spawning males are likely close to shore, casting is often not necessary. Simply hanging such a jig in the water in front of you, and moving it side to side, can result in fish after fish, especially in the low light of early morning or evening.
Catch and release of white bass in Utah Lake should not be practiced in order to increase the average size of this prolific species. The excess catch can be buried in the garden to help grow better tomatoes that will go great with those extra frozen bass fillets later in the year—yummm!