Trophy Fishing

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002

KOLOB RESERVOIR, Utah (AP) -- Kolob Reservoir is a trophy fishing spot and its Gary McKell's duty to make sure the anglers don't ruin it.

''Basically what I do is drive around and look stern,'' said McKell, a conservation officer for the Zion district of the state Division of Wildlife Resources.

At Kolob, only artificial flies and lures may be used the limit on keeping fish is one fish at least 20 inches long.

''In order to have a trophy fishery, you need to enforce a limit, and with the use of artificial flies and lures rather than bait, it is much easier to release the fish unharmed,'' McKell said.

Although the catch-and-release and one-fish limits have been in place for four years, McKell is constantly catching people breaking the regulations.

The most common violations are using bait, fishing without a license, keeping more than one fish or an undersized fish and fishing in the Kolob Creek, which is restricted for more than half of the year.

McKell has netted many offenders who were fishing in the creek. One day, he cited 13 people for fishing in the creek, which is punishable by a fine of up to $100.

Because the fish swim upstream to a gravel bed to spawn, the creek is closed from Jan. 1 to the second Saturday of July, which, this year, is July 13. This year, because of the low water level in Kolob, many of the fish don't make it very far. McKell finds the heads and tails of fish eaten by turkey vultures.

''I was told that in 1934 the creek was dry, but this is the lowest I've ever seen the creek,'' McKell said.

Although the fishing rules are posted in several places around the reservoir, people often tell McKell they didn't see the signs or simply don't bother to read them.

Although some people are unhappy with the policies at the reservoir, others are support having an area designated for trophy fishing.

Mary and Richard Jabens of Cedar City spend almost every weekend at Kolob.

Richard Jabens said that on an average day he catches 12 to 15 fish and, on a good day, up to 40. Jabens said he never keeps any fish that he has caught.

''I have fished in Yellowstone, Montana, Idaho and Utah, and on a good day, Kolob is as good as it gets,'' he said.


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