Thursday, April 29, 2010

Melting Ice, Hot Fishing at Scofield Reservoir

Scofield -- Fishing that will keep your kids excited—and you pulling fish out of the water from the comfort of your lawn chair—is about to begin at Scofield Reservoir.

Scofield is one of Utah’s best trout fishing waters. And it’s less than two hours from the Wasatch Front.

The easiest way to reach the reservoir is to travel on U.S. 6 out of Spanish Fork. At Colton, turn west off of U.S. 6 and travel about 10 miles on state Route 96 to the reservoir.

Fast fishing
Fishing at Scofield is usually best just after the ice has melted. That's when hungry trout, trapped under a sheet of ice all winter long, finally gain access to the water's surface and to food.

A fishes' metabolism surges in the spring. That surging metabolism stimulates a feeding frenzy of sorts in the fish. But the insects trout eat aren't active until early summer. So the nightcrawlers, salmon eggs and other commercial baits you toss to the trout are even more enticing to them.

From late April until June, the water temperature is comfortable near the shore, so the trout move in close to shore to school. It's a great time for lawn chair anglers to compete successfully with anglers who are fishing from boats, float tubes and pontoon boats.

Fishing from the shore is especially good for energetic youngsters who get bored easily and need to run around a bit. It's easier to entertain your kids if they're not confined to a boat!

Fishing tips for Scofield Reservoir, including the best baits to use, the best times to fish and how to create the “Scofield Special”—a bait that lures in big cutthroat trout—are available at

The tips are also available in a Division of Wildlife Resources news release at .

Simple equipment
In early spring, you can catch trout easily using just about any kind of tackle. A "Barbie" rod and reel tipped with a worm is as sophisticated as you need to get!

Although nightcrawlers are the best all-around fish catchers, you may want some additional insurance. Take along some PowerBait and cheese hooks. A jar of salmon eggs is a good bait to take with you.

A dead minnow is another good bait to try in the spring. You can catch redside shiners and Utah chubs at Scofield using a minnow trap. You can also catch Utah chubs on a rod and reel using small hooks and nightcrawlers.

After you’ve caught some minnows, please remember that the minnows must be dead before you can place them on a hook and use them as bait.

If you like to use artificial lures, Jake's Spin-A-Lures, Kastmasters and Triple Teasers are the best to use at Scofield. Spinners and crankbaits are also effective for the tiger trout and Bear Lake cutthroat trout in the reservoir.

The best spring fly pattern for Scofield is a brown or green sparkle leech in a size six to 10.

Fish in the morning or evening
As a general rule, you'll find more success if you fish during the early morning or late evening hours. Trout suffer from a midday slump. When the sun is high, the trout rest. Like many wild animals, trout feed most actively at dawn and dusk.

The time of day you fish is important if you want to "hook" your kids on fishing. You need to fish only when the bite is fast and frequent. Kids can develop patience elsewhere. Fishing should be non-stop fun!

The "Scofield Special"
Sergeant Stacey Jones, a Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer who works at Scofield, says many anglers catch a lot of big fish at Scofield using a bait called the "Scofield Special."

Jones says the "Scofield Special" is an egg sack created from the eggs of a pregnant female trout. Once you’ve harvested a pregnant fish and counted it as part of your daily bag limit, you can remove the eggs and use them as bait.

To create a "Scofield Special," wrap the eggs in a small piece of netting. Then attach the netting to your fishing line with the hook buried inside the sack. (This is much like placing a chunk of PowerBait on your hook.)

Jones says it's critical that you make your egg sack the size of a marble. Anything larger is a waste and a turnoff to the fish.

Jones says the natural predatory nature of trout bring them right to this bait. It’s especially deadly for larger cutthroat trout.

If you're going to use fish eggs as bait, please remember that you must keep the fish you harvest the eggs from. It is illegal to "squeeze" a fish for eggs, and then release her. The trout will die.

The only lawful way you may use fish eggs is to keep and count the fish the eggs are removed from as part of your bag limit.

Use single hooks
An unfortunate aspect of spring fishing at Scofield is the high amount of "hooking mortality" that takes place.

Hooking mortality happens when anglers catch fish using treble hooks and then release the fish. As long as the fish is legal to keep, it’s very important that you keep and include any fish you catch on a treble or a barbed hook as part of your bag limit. Using barbed hooks greatly increases the chance that any fish you catch and release will swim off and die.

"Anglers need to understand that when they throw a fish they caught on a barbed hook back into the water, it’s the same as wasting wildlife,” Jones says. “It’s very important that anglers either change hook types when fishing with bait or egg sacks, or keep the first four legal fish they catch."

If a fish has been deeply hooked, Jones says it’s better to clip the fishing line and leave the hook inside the fish. “Hooks that are left inside a fish will quickly rust and disappear,” she says. “Clipping the line greatly increases the chance the fish you catch and release will live to be caught again another day.”

Three kinds of trout
Rainbow, cutthroat and tiger trout are the three trout in Scofield Reservoir.  DWR biologists introduced tiger trout to the reservoir in 2005. Some of these fish are five pounds or larger now. The DWR stocks 80,000 seven- to nine-inch rainbow and Bear Lake cutthroat trout, and 120,000 four- to five-inch tiger trout, every year.

Please remember the trout limit at Scofield:
- You can have four trout in any combination. But not more than two of those fish can be cutthroat or tiger trout less than 15 inches long. And not more than one can be a cutthroat or tiger trout over 22 inches.

- All cutthroat and tiger trout from 15 to 22 inches must be immediately released.

- You can keep rainbow trout of any size.

- You may not fillet fish, or remove their heads or tails, until you get home.

- The tributaries flowing into Scofield Reservoir are closed until the second Saturday in July to protect cutthroat trout that spawn in them.

Take your family fishing
When was the last time you took your family on a fishing trip? For most of us, it's been too long.

“A family retreat to a lake, pond or stream is a great way to strengthen family ties and ease tension,” Jones says. “We live in a hustle-and-bustle society. Often times, we get so busy that we put off having fun.

“There are so many obligations that seem to take a higher priority,” she says. “But time slips away. Kids grow up and leave home.

“Give your kids some of childhood's sweetest memories. Take them fishing!”

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