Nephi — Right now is the best chance you'll have all year to catch a big northern pike at Yuba Reservoir.
Division of Wildlife Resources biologists recently finished a netting survey at the reservoir in north-central Utah. They were excited by the numbers and the size of the pike they caught. During an eight-hour period, they netted more than 100 northern pike.
"This is, by far, the highest northern pike sampling result we've ever seen at Yuba," says Don Wiley, regional sport fish project leader for the DWR.
The average length of the pike sampled was 24 to 25 inches. But Wiley says the reservoir contains pike that are more than 40 inches long and weigh more than 15 pounds.
Although you can catch pike throughout the year, one of the most exciting times to fish for pike is immediately after the ice has left the water. Compared to many other warm water species, pike stay fairly active, even in cold water.
Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, says the pike in Yuba are currently in water that's three to six feet deep. "They're looking for places to spawn," Root says, "and they're starting to feed aggressively. Now is the perfect time to get outside and target one of these monsters."
Root says the pike will likely stay in shallow water near the bank for up to a month. To catch these fish, he suggests using a lure that looks like a yellow perch.
You can keep up to six northern pike of any size at Yuba. Because the reservoir doesn't have a lot of prey in it, biologists encourage you to keep some of the northern pike you catch. Keeping some fish will help maintain the water as a trophy northern pike fishery.
Known for their large size, aggressive nature and fast-paced fight, pike are growing in popularity with Utah's anglers.
Reeling in a large northern pike can be difficult because of the fish's size and its needle-like teeth, which can break your line. Anglers often use steel leader to prevent a trophy fish from breaking their line. A larger diameter fishing net (with handle) is helpful to lift a pike from the water. Needle-nosed pliers are also important for getting the hook out of the pike's mouth.
Northern pike are quite tasty, but they're also "boney" and a bit challenging to filet. "There are several resources on Google, YouTube and other websites that will help you learn how to catch, filet and cook northern pike," Root says.
You can read updated fishing reports for Yuba Reservoir at the DWR's hotspots fishing page. Two other websites that provide good information are www.bigfishtackle.com andwww.utahwildlife.net.
If you have questions about fishing at Yuba, call Yuba State Park at 435-758-2611 or the DWR's Central Region office at 801-491-5678.