Scofield Reservoir fishing heats up after ice-off

April 25, 2006 - Scofield Reservoir fishing heats up after ice-off

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.

One of Utah's best fishing waters, Scofield Reservoir is less than an hour's drive from Spanish Fork or Price.

The easiest way to reach the reservoir is to travel on US-6 out of Spanish Fork or Price. Turn west off of US-6 at Colton and travel about 10 miles on SR-96 to the reservoir.

Fast fishing

Fishing at Scofield is usually best just after ice-off. That's when hungry trout, trapped under an ice sheet all winter long, finally gain access to the water's surface and to food.

A fishes' winter metabolism surges in the spring, stimulating a feeding frenzy of sorts. Because insects aren't active until early summer, trout are more easily enticed by offerings from anglers, such as nightcrawlers, salmon eggs and other commercial baits.

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

Shoreline angling 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!

Simple equipment

In early spring, trout can be caught easily on just about any kind of tackle. A "Barbie" rod and reel tipped with a worm is as sophisticated as an angler needs to get!

Although nightcrawlers are the best all-around fish catchers, you may want some additional insurance. Take along some PowerBait and cheese hooks. It wouldn't hurt to buy a jar of salmon eggs either.

If you prefer artificial lures, the best are the Jake's Spin-A-Lure, Kastmaster and Triple Teaser. The best spring fly pattern for Scofield is a brown or green sparkle leech from size 6 to 10.

Another good spring bait is a dead minnow. Redside shiners can be caught in minnow traps at Scofield and put on a hook. Remember that only dead minnows may be used, however.

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.

This is an important point, because if you want to "hook" your kids on fishing, fish only when the bite is fast and frequent. Kids can develop patience elsewhere. Fishing should be non-stop fun!

The "Scofield Special"

Sgt. Stacey Jones, a Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer who works at Scofield, says many anglers also catch a lot of larger fish using a bait known as the "Scofield Special."

The "Scofield Special" is an egg sack created by using the eggs of a pregnant female trout. Once a pregnant fish is harvested and counted in 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 and then attach the netting to your fishing line with the hook buried inside the sack (much like you would use a chunk of PowerBait to conceal a hook).

Jones says it's critical that the egg sack is the size of a marble. Anything larger is a waste and a turnoff for the fish. The natural predatory nature of trout brings them right in. This bait is especially deadly for larger cutthroat trout.

If you're going to use fish eggs as bait, please remember this: 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 if you 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 "hook mortality." This happens when anglers catch and release fish using treble hooks. It is very important that fish caught on a treble or barbed hook be kept and counted as part of your bag limit. Barbed hooks increase fish mortality significantly when the fish is caught and released.

When the fishing activity is hot, most anglers want to keep fishing through the day. If you plan on fishing through the day, use single hooks, rather than double- or treble-barbed hooks.

"It's not uncommon to check anglers along the shoreline in the spring and see a dozen or so dead fish floating near the shore," Jones said. "This is a direct result of hook mortality. Fishing is so good that people want to keep at it all day, trying for that eight-pound trout.

"Anglers need to understand that when they throw a barbed hook-caught fish back, it is the same as wasting wildlife. It is very important that anglers either change hook types when fishing with bait or eggs sacks, or keep the first four fish they catch."

Three kinds of trout

Scofield Reservoir is populated with rainbow, cutthroat and tiger trout.

The tiger trout were introduced for the first time last fall and should be catchable-sized this summer.

The DWR stocks more than a half million fingerling (three-inch) rainbow trout each year. These tasty fighters are the fisheries' mainstay.

Cutthroat trout reproduce naturally at Scofield. In the spring, cutthroats switch to a spawning mode and swim up the tributaries to deposit and fertilize eggs. Scofield's tributaries include Mud Creek, Fish Creek, Pondtown and Bear Creek.

Please remember that the bag limit is four fish at Scofield, and the tributaries flowing into Scofield Reservoir are closed until the second Saturday in July every year to protect the spawning cutthroat trout.

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. 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. But time slips away. Kids grow up and leave home.

Give your kids some of childhood's sweetest memories. Take them fishing. And remember, fishing at Scofield in the spring is great!