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Monday, June 02, 2008

Catching Fat, Sassy Scofield Trout

I went fishing at Scofield Reservoir over the weekend and had a great time. The weather was perfect - warm but not hot. The scenery is beautiful up there. The snow is almost gone now - just a little bit in shaded areas.

The fishing, well, it was a little slow for us. We worked hard through the late afternoon and only caught three fish - two rainbows and a tiger trout. They were fat, healthy fish. Maybe too fat. Definitely well fed, apparently dining on Mayflies. Perhaps the fishing would have been better had the fish been a little more hungry...

Others we talked to reported about the same. Lots of fish in the reservoir - we could see them on the finder. But lazy fish not willing to exert much effort to bit my hook.

Except we saw one guy who was really catching them. He was fishing dead minnows on a long leader under a bobber. Scofield supports a large population of minnows (I think they are red shiners). This guy starts his day by using a minnow trap to catch a bunch, which he keeps on ice and uses as bait throughout the day. (In Utah you can fish with dead minnows, but it is illegal to use them if they are live. Also, the minnows can't be small game fish and cannot be from an endangered/protected species.)

Scofield has a lot of cutthroat and tiger trout that love to eat minnows. Since this guy was using their favorite food, a minnow the fish recognize and love, he was catching big fish all over the place.

Now, I report this with some degree of hesitancy. When I fish I normally practice catch and release, and I fish with flies or lures. When I hook a fish using a fly the hook usually penetrates its lip and is easy to remove. Fish often swallow bait and so the hook goes deep. It is very difficult to release fish unharmed if they have swallowed a baited hook.

I don't have any problem with people keeping a few fish, within the legal limit, if they really will eat them. Scofield has a good trout population and it won't hurt anything if a few fish are harvested. Indeed, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has increased the trout limit at Scofield to 8 fish, to encourage anglers to fish there. (Statewide, the normal limit is 4 trout).

That said, use minnows or other bait if you want a great fishing experience, and you will really eat the fish you harvest.

Me, I'll stick with my flies and lures. It is still early in the season. As the water warms a bit the fish will become more aggressive I'll do better there.

Here's more fishing information about Scofield, including a map and more photos.

Scofield is a beautiful reservoir with a very nice campground. It's worth a visit.

- Dave


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