Monday, May 6, 2013

Navajo Lake Spring Fishing

Spring is an amazing season in Southern Utah!  OK, maybe apart from the weather that will change daily as Mother Nature just can't seem to make up her mind.  While shed gathering and turkey hunting are popular draws to the area, ice-off fishing reigns as king when it comes to spring time outdoor activities in Utah's mountains. 

While we often hear of the early success on lakes such as Fish Lake, Otter Creek, Minersville, and Panguitch Lake, Navajo Lake is rarely if ever included on that list.  This year is one of those years when it is easy to get written off.  A rupture of the dike that crosses the basin drained a large amount of water off a couple of years ago, which was followed by drought years that left little water in the lake over the winter.  With the introduction of splake however, fish have been able to hold over through the low water years providing excellent spring fishing opportunities.  Check out this report from DWR fisheries biologist Mike Hadley:
Dale Hepworth of Cedar City holds a 
24-inch splake that he recently caught from
 shore at Navajo Lake.

The ice has come off Navajo Lake east of Cedar City in southern Utah. Access is good and, yes, there is some water left. In fact, the water level is rising about two inches per day thanks to snow melt. Over the weekend Richard Hepworth, Stan Beckstrom, and others reported fast fishing for splake. Lots of fish in the 16- to 20-inch range are being caught, as well as a few exceeding five pounds. This is the simplest form of fishing you can do. All you need is a rod, a hook, and a few night crawlers. First, use the night crawlers to catch a couple of Utah chubs. Then, cut the chubs into golf ball-size pieces and use those for bait. When fishing for splake in the spring look for deep areas in the lake that transition into warm, shallow areas (this is where the chubs are hanging out). Hook the pieces of chub meat (called “cut bait”) on a large hook (size 4 or bigger), making sure to pierce the skin so that the bait stays on the hook. The bait should provide enough weight to cast with; if you feel like you need to cast further, add a sliding weight so the fish doesn’t feel resistance when it picks up the bait. Throw out your bait and wait. Move your bait a little occasionally as splake will frequently bite after they see movement. If you don’t get any bites, move to another spot. This technique can work well at any lake that contains predatory trout, including splake, tiger, brown, or Bear Lake cutthroat trout. The best fishing at Navajo Lake is right now: you only have a few weeks before splake will get tough to catch. Look for the rainbow trout fishing to pick up around Memorial Day.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Stan Beckstrom shows off a big splake, estimated at over five pounds, that he recently caught from shore at Navajo Lake
 With fish like that I hope I can make it up to Navajo Lake very soon!  If you happen to make it there be sure to send us some pics!

With our shed photo contest coming to a close, stay tuned as we will soon be posting the winners of our amazing prizes!  The photos are just going into the judging phase now, I can't wait to see our winners.  Thanks to all that entered.