Boating Conditions great at Utah Lake

Utah Lake State Park managers report great water levels of approximately nine feet deep, with seven feet in the boat harbor. Boating conditions are excellent, with a water temperature of 76 degrees.

Until mid-November, the Utah Lake State Park bridge at the Provo River is under construction, but access is still available to Provo's boat harbor by taking Geneva Road to 620 North, then heading west to the park. Detour signs are posted until construction ends.

Park staff report that fishing for catfish has been excellent, while walleye, channel catfish, and largemouth bass has been steady. Camping is available for $17 per site, per night and includes drinking water, modern restrooms, hot showers, barbeque grills, fire pits, and a sewage disposal station. For more information, call (801) 375-0731.
Lake Trout and Kokanne Salmon Changes Proposed for Flaming Gorge

Anglers are encouraged to attend the upcoming Regional Advisory Council Meeting to discuss 2006 Fishing Regulation changes at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at Springville Junior High School, located at 165 S. 700 E in Springville, topics include the lake trout limit at Flaming Gorge Reservoir possibly increasing to eight fish.

All of the DWR's fishing proposals will be available for review by early August at the division's Web site ( http://www.wildlife.utah.gov ). Those who attend the meetings can learn about the proposals and provide suggestions. Citizens representing Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets Sept. 8 in Salt Lake City to approve Utah's 2006 Fishing Proclamation.

Changes are aimed at growing larger lake trout and more kokanee salmon at Flaming Gorge under proposed recommendations. Flaming Gorge proposals for 2006 include:

- Raise the lake trout limit to eight fish. The lake trout limit at the reservoir is currently four fish. Only one of the lake trout could exceed 28 inches in length.

- Require anglers to release all kokanee salmon caught from Sept. 10 through Nov. 30. Currently, anglers must release all kokanee salmon caught between Oct. 1 and Nov. 7.

- Set a burbot limit of 25 fish. Anglers would be required to keep and kill any burbot they caught.

Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, reports that an abundant population of small lake trout is causing problems for lake trout and kokanee salmon in Flaming Gorge. The lake trout are competing with each other for food, which is slowing lake trout growth. The abundant lake trout also are preying heavily on the reservoir's kokanee salmon. Pettengill commented, "Anglers can help correct the problems, and we need to get the regulations changed to allow them to do that. We want to allow anglers to keep lots of small lake trout, but we also want to protect the larger fish in the reservoir by not allowing anglers to keep more than one lake trout over 28 inches."

If these proposals are approved, Pettengill hopes anglers will take advantage of the regulation and keep lots of smaller lake trout. "There are lots of five-pound and smaller lake trout in Flaming Gorge," he said. "They're much easier to catch than the larger fish are, and they're great to eat. They're not as greasy as the older fish, and they have a great flavor."

In addition to allowing anglers to keep more lake trout, the DWR also is proposing increasing the period of time when anglers must release kokanee salmon in the fall. "We've found that lengthening the time anglers must release kokanee salmon saves more fish than reducing the daily kokanee salmon limit by one fish does," Pettengill said. "If we can reduce the number of kokanees kept during the fall spawning period, more kokanees will be able to spawn and anglers should find more fish to catch during early and mid-summer, which is one of the best times of the year to catch kokanee salmon."

An additional proposal, that would help both kokanee salmon and lake trout, is a requirement that anglers keep and kill burbot. "Burbots are a cold water predator that were illegally introduced above Flaming Gorge and have found their way into the reservoir," Pettengill said. "They can reach 15 to 18 pounds in weight. One thing the fishery doesn't need is another large predator preying on kokanee salmon and competing with lake trout for food."

Utah's burbot regulation is the same regulation Wyoming has established for its portion of the Gorge. Pettengill noted, "Burbot are an unattractive fish, but they're very good to eat. We hope anglers will eat the burbots they catch."For more information about the meetings, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Decline in Cougar Population Means Fewer Permits

Fewer cougar hunting permits will be available for Utah's 2005 -2006 cougar hunting season, following recent decisions made by the Utah Wildlife Board.

Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, reported, "An effort has been underway in Utah for years to reduce the number of cougars in the state, and it appears those efforts have worked. Now we're shifting the emphasis from trying to reduce the number of cougars to maintaining a balance between cougars and the deer, bighorn sheep and other animals cougars prey on."

Applications for limited entry cougar hunting permits will be available by Sept. 27 and applications must be submitted no later than Oct. 12 to be included in this year's Cougar Draw. Results of the draw will be available by Nov. 16 and harvest objective cougar permits go on sale Nov. 7.

Despite plenty of snow that made it easy for hunters to track cougars, the number of cougars taken by hunters during Utah's 2004 - 2005 season fell 30 percent from the previous year. Hunters took 319 cougars last season, compared to 447 the year before. The 319 cougars hunters took last season is the lowest number taken since the 1992 -1993 season.

In addition, the average cougar taken last season was 2 years old. The average age of cougars taken since 1995 has been 3 years old. "Those statistics tell us a couple of things," Bunnell said. "First of all, hunting conditions were good last year, but hunters took the fewest number of cougars they've taken in more than 10 years. That tells us the number of cougars in the state has declined dramatically.

"The average age of cougars taken by hunters also has fallen, from an average age of 3 years old to an average age of 2 years old. That tells us the cougar population has fewer older animals, which is another indication that cougar populations have declined "There's no question the state's cougar populations have been affected by our management strategy over the past 10 years," he said. "Now it's time to back off a little and focus on maintaining the cougar populations we have and balancing cougar populations with the animals they prey on. That's the direction spelled out in our Cougar Management Plan."

To achieve that balance, the board approved 143 limited entry hunting permits for Utah's 2005 - 2006 season. Last season, 263 permits were approved. The board also approved a total harvest objective (or number of cougars to be taken) of 478 cougars on Utah's harvest objective units. Last year's objective was 527 cougars.

Based on the past success of hunters on both limited entry and harvest objective units, the DWR estimates 250 to 300 cougars will be taken in Utah during the 2005 - 2006 season, which begins Nov. 23. Board members also approved two changes that should improve hunting on Utah's harvest objective cougar units:

* On 20 of Utah's 38 harvest objective units, the first 11 weeks of the season will be reserved for hunters who draw a permit to hunt the units. This "limited entry" part of the hunt will end Feb. 12, 2006.

The harvest objective portion of the hunt, where an unlimited number of hunters can buy a permit to hunt the units, will run from Feb. 18 to June 4 on the 20 units.

The hunt on any unit could close earlier than June 4 if the number of cougars to be taken on that unit is reached before June 4.

"This change will provide better hunting opportunities for cougar hunters," Bunnell said. "In the past, the first few weeks of the season have been a zoo on units that received good snowfall. A lot of hunters would show up to hunt these units and no one ended up having a good experience.

"Limiting the first 11 weeks of the season to hunters who draw a permit to hunt the areas will provide those hunters with a chance for a quality hunt," he said. "It will also give them an opportunity to be more selective and not take females and young lions."

* Starting this season, hunters who buy a harvest objective permit can hunt on any harvest objective unit in Utah that's open to hunting.

In the past, hunters could choose up to three units and could hunt only on those units. Also, for the first time, cougar harvest objective permits can be purchased at the DWR's Web site ( http://www.wildlife.utah.gov ) and from online hunting license agents across the state.

"This change will make it easier for hunters to obtain a harvest objective permit and find a place to hunt," Bunnell said. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4737.
Canada Geese Can Be Hunted into late January This Season

Canada goose hunters could enjoy some of the best hunting in years after the Utah Wildlife Board recently voted to close Utah's 107-day Canada goose season for two weeks in December and then reopen the season and allow it to run until late January 2006.

To become official, all of the rules the board adopted must meet federal guidelines established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The USFWS is expected to approve its final waterfowl season frameworks in late September.

In addition to extending the Canada goose season, board members also approved another 107-day duck hunting season, from Oct. 1, 2005 through Jan. 14, 2006. Pintail ducks are doing well enough now that there will not be a split season for pintails this year. The daily pintail limit will remain at one bird, but pintails may be taken throughout the season.

All of the rules approved by the board will be available in the 2005 - 2006 Utah Waterfowl Proclamation by early September.

Extending Utah's Canada goose season into late January could provide hunters with some of the best goose hunting they've seen in years. The first part of the goose season runs Oct. 1 through Dec. 1. The season will then close, but will reopen Dec. 17, 2005 and continue through Jan. 29, 2006. Tom Aldrich, waterfowl coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources., commented, "We think Canada goose hunters, especially those along the Wasatch Front, will be excited about the change."

Aldrich says as soon as the hunting season starts in October, many of the Canada geese in Utah head for urban areas where they spend most of the season. In January, the geese begin moving back to the marshes in preparation for the breeding season. Data the DWR has collected from four independent harvest surveys across the state shows the number of Canada geese taken by hunters starts to climb in early January.

Aldrich added, "Even more geese will leave the urban areas later in January, and we think hunting will get better and better as the month progresses. Canada goose hunters should enjoy some great hunting this season, and I think they'll take more geese."

Aldrich says there are four times as many geese in Utah now as there was 30 to 40 years ago. Many of these geese are causing problems at golf courses and other urban areas where they spend much of the fall and winter, and where they can't be taken by hunters. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Summer Car Tips shared

In response to high temperatures throughout the state of Utah, AAA is warning motorists about heat-related dangers. In extreme heat a parked car can become a virtual oven. The combination of extreme heat, direct sunlight and closed windows can heat a car up to about 190 F. To put that in perspective, health experts advise that chicken should be cooked to 175.

"The heat in Utah has made this an uncomfortable summer," said AAA Utah spokeswoman, Rolayne Fairclough. "This kind of heat can also cause expensive damage to cars and make breakdowns more likely, adding insult to injury."AAA Utah would like motorists to follow some easy tips to prevent drivers from being injured and reducing the damage caused to your car by extreme heat.

Using a reflective sunshade in the windshield can cool the interior of a car by an average of 43 F. Sunshades reflect sunrays by blocking the sunlight coming through the windshield, helping to reduce the heat and block 99 percent of damaging UV rays. Also, a sunshade can help protect a car's interior, preventing possible fading, cracking or discoloration. Here are some other easy tips to follow to protect your car from the hot summer sun:

Park in the shade whenever possible.

Use a fabric-based steering wheel cover to help protect your hands.

Open doors and let the air circulate in the car for a few minutes before getting into the car.

Set your air conditioner to regular or fresh air before switching to maximum cooling.

Motorists should also do a complete checkup of the vehicle for conditions that often develop into problems in hot weather. Areas to check include:

Tires - Examine tires for uneven and excessive tread wear. Make sure all tires, including the spare, are properly inflated.

Belts and Hoses - With the engine off, look for worn or cracked belts and damaged, blistered or soft hoses.

Antifreeze/Coolant - Inspect the antifreeze/coolant level and condition. Make sure the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.

Motor Oil and Lubricants - Check the oil and lubricant levels and condition. If you are planning to drive in extreme conditions such as hot weather or while towing a heavy trailer, switch to motor oil with higher viscosity. Check your owner's manual for specific oil and lubricant recommendations.

In addition to performing the automotive checkup described above, AAA suggests motorists carry an emergency kit in case of breakdown. The kit should include a flashlight with extra batteries, a warning device such as flares or reflective triangles, heavy gloves, water, coolant, jumper cables, and a first-aid kit. A cellular phone provides an easy way to call for emergency assistance.

When driving in extreme heat, it's also important to pack enough water for all passengers in the event your car experiences an unexpected breakdown. AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance and financial services to more than 130,000 members.