Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Otter Creek Gill Net Survey

Well, I'm hearing it on Facebook for sure, as I am a few hours late getting this posted and I've been promising an exciting picture of a good fish!  Getting ready for the pinewood derby took priority tonight, as I need to get a few things caught up before I head in for a minor surgery Friday.  Well, I guess the title gives it away, we are talking about Otter Creek Reservoir.  So, I will get right to it.  Here is Mike Hadley's report (Utah DWR southern region aquatics biologist) of the recent gill net survey conducted at the reservoir just this past Monday:

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012, in order to monitor the condition of the trout fishery. As always, we found plenty of fat, healthy rainbow trout. The two predominant size groups are ten to twelve inches and sixteen to eighteen inches in length. As a bonus, we caught--and were able to release--a 29-inch, 11-pound brown trout. Browns are not very abundant in Otter Creek Reservoir, but they can grow to impressive size when they start feeding on Utah chubs. 
Division of Wildlife Resources fish technician Steven Price (left) and John Spens of Circle Valley Anglers fly shop (right) show off a couple of fat, healthy rainbow trout caught and released during a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012.
There is a fair amount of fishing pressure at Otter Creek Reservoir right now because spring is one of the best times of year to fish there. Shore anglers are finding more success than trollers because most of the hungry, active trout are cruising along the shoreline. However, the reservoir is full, so finding a spot to fish from shore can be a little tough with all the flooded brush. A float tube can help you access some of those brushy areas. Look for trolling to get better as the water warms and fish move to deeper water in May.
Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Mike Hadley shows off a 29-inch, 11-pound brown trout caught and released during a gill net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 10, 2012.

Right now is a great time to visit Otter Creek Reservoir, before the heat of the summer sets in.  Spring fishing is usually always good, but summer can slow as the water levels drop due to irrigation demands, and the hot summer temperatures in this open valley bottom heat up.  One caution with spring fishing at Otter Creek, sudden gusty spring winds are known to hit the lake quite regularly, as the valley sits in a perfect north/south alignment to funnel those springtime south winds.  Be careful on this open lake, there have been a lot of accidents in the past to boaters.
So, what will you catch in Otter Creek?  Most likely rainbow trout, possibly a cutthroat, obviously an occasional brown trout (photo above), and the DWR has also recently stocked tiger trout, smallmouth bass, and wipers.  The DWR has high hopes that these predator fish will help control the population of Utah chubs, which have began to reappear in the lake in recent years.

Antimony, Utah

Antimony Mercantile
Otter Creek Reservoir is located just north of Antimony, Utah, a short 15-20 minute drive east off of highway 89, as you turn off onto highway 62 and follow it east for 11 miles to the junction of Utah highway 22.  The lake sits a half mile east of the highway 62/22 junction.  Otter Creek State Park offers a paved parking lot and boat ramp, as well as campsites, toilets, showers, and a fish cleaning station.  The Otter Creek Marina (headquartered right across the street from the state park) offers tackle, bait, boat rentals, camping supplies, and great food.  Be sure to stop in and check out their photo board to see some of the nice fish pulled from the lake.  Also, take the 10 minute drive south on highway 22 and visit the small town of Antimony, Utah.  This farming community holds a special place in my heart (home to my grandmother's family) and some of the best food around!  Visit the Antimony Mercantile and get yourself one of the best burgers around, the Antimony Burger.  Breakfast at the "Merc." is also a treat, and you won't want to miss out on the hospitality, and get an earful from the local folks that stop by.  Also, be sure to check out their photo boards to see the trophy fish, elk, and deer that have graced the parking lot of the Merc!

You will also find great ATV trails in the area, on both the Boulder and Dutton mountain ranges (Dixie National Forest).  Be sure to visit the Otter Creek/Antimony, Utah area this summer!  And bring your appetite for the outdoors, and good food!