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Panguitch Lake - Is back! - Utah Fishing Info
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Panguitch Lake - Its Back!

Panguitch Lake - Its back!

Biologists expect some of the best fishing in years

PANGUITCH - Just over a year ago, the scene greeting visitors to Panguitch Lake was pretty grim. Thousands of dead fish littered the shoreline following a rotenone treatment to remove Utah chubs from the lake. No fishing boats were present at the usually popular spot.

The only "fishing" at the lake consisted of a few ravens picking through the fish carcasses along the shore.

A year later, the scene at the lake is dramatically different. Thousands of fat rainbow trout and cutthroat trout ply the waters, and anglers are gearing up for some of the best fishing at the lake in decades.

"It's an amazing turn-around that shows the natural productivity and potential of Panguitch Lake," says Chuck Chamberlain, special aquatics project biologist for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"We've gone from a declining fishery that was almost totally dominated by chubs to an outstanding trout fishery in one year's time.

"And it should only get better from here."

Recent gill-net sampling and fishing reports indicate lots of 13- to 15-inch trout are available in the lake. Anglers fishing from boats and from shore have found good success using bait and lures. Some of the best lures to try include Jake's lures and flatfish (especially flatfish that have some orange color).

Trolling with pop-gear and a worm has been effective, and so has about any color powerbait. The old standard worm and marshmallow has worked well too.

Panguitch Lake is 14 miles southwest of Panguitch in the Dixie National Forest. Lodging and boat rentals are available at the lake.

Chub control
By using rotenone in the lake, biologists were able to control the chub problem.

The change at the lake is the result of a new management plan implemented in May 2006. The plan was developed by a committee of representatives from local government, businesses, sportsmen's groups, management agencies, the Southern Wildlife Regional Advisory Council and the Utah Wildlife Board.

The plan was developed to address the chronic problem of too many chubs in the lake. Chubs compete with trout and can seriously affect trout growth and survival, which ultimately affects fishing.

The first step in the plan was to remove the chubs using rotenone, a technique that has worked well several times in the past at Panguitch Lake.

A new wrinkle in the current plan is a change in the species of trout that are stocked in the lake, and some new fishing regulations.

"Although rotenone treatments are a very effective tool, they're very expensive. They can also be a traumatic experience for anglers who use the lake and for the businesses that depend on the fishing at the lake for their livelihood," says Mike Ottenbacher, regional aquatics manager for the DWR.

"The committee came up with a plan that includes some measures designed to extend the time period that anglers will benefit from the treatment. If things work out, we hope to maintain the excellent fishing at Panguitch Lake indefinitely."

The new stocking plan includes stocking more predators, such as Bear Lake cutthroat trout and tiger trout. These predators should help control the numbers of chubs when they return.

So far, it looks like the treatment has been successful in completely eliminating chubs from the lake. "We're keeping our fingers crossed," Chamberlain says.

"So far, we haven't seen any chubs in our sampling. But our past experience at the lake has shown that chubs will show up again, one way or another," he says "With adjustments in stocking and new regulations, we hope to maintain a population of larger predators that will help control the number of chubs if they show up again."

New regulations for the lake, which went into effect in January, allow anglers to keep four trout, but all trout between 15 and 22 inches must be immediately released.

"Bear Lake cutthroat start to feed on chubs when the cutthroats reach about 16 inches long," Chamberlain says. "Our past survey information shows that most of the cutthroats caught at Panguitch have been more than 15 inches long. By protecting some of these fish, we'll be maintaining some chub-eaters.

"However, most of the rainbow trout have typically been harvested before they reach 15 or 16 inches. We're hoping [the new regulations will] still provide anglers a chance to catch and keep some fish, like they have in the past."

Catch and release tips

If you plan on fishing at Panguitch Lake, you'll need to do a little planning to comply with the new regulations.

First of all, you'll need a way to measure fish, such as a tape measure. One easy way to measure fish is to mark the slot-limit lengths on your fishing rod with a piece of tape. Some anglers like to attach a measuring stick to their boat or mark a length on their float tube.

Some other equipment that will help you release fish safely includes a landing net, forceps and clippers. Some tips to help you release fish safely include the following:

For more information, call the DWR's Southern Region Office at (435) 865-6100.