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Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013

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Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013
I fished Panguitch Lake on Monday, 10/21. We got there late, around 10:30am and stayed until near sunset around 7pm. With a full moon and blue bird skies we were worried about catching anything. The good is that the catch rate was far better than usual for that lake. We lost track after about 30 between 3 of us (releasing all). It was pretty evenly divided between cuts and bows. They took almost any lure, including silver/blue kastmasters, silver/red super-dupers, white curly tail jigs, black/white rapalas, green/black wooly buggers, tan or green scuds and red zebra midges (these last 2 were in their guts and covered on a plastic bag retrieved from the bottom). Most fish were out in the middle of the lake in 42 feet of water, suspended around 20 - 30ft. We flyfished, anchored and moving, and trolled with spinning outfits and also leaded line. Only the surface fish would bite. The bad about the day was that all fish were between 8 - 16 inches with the majority being only 12 - 14 inches long. It is a far cry from a few years ago when every single fish (bow and cut) we caught were between 20 - 24 inches. (no exaggeration). Yes, a 27 inch tiger trout was caught there last week. However, I would surmise that the population statistics are such that 90% of the fish are under 16 inches. It was 100% for us. The fishery sure has been ruined in our opinion.
If you are a shore angler, the east and southeast coast had many fish in the 10 - 25 foot depth. There were far fewer on the north coast that day (based on sonar).
We enjoyed the relative solitude, scenery, and fresh, crisp air of the mountain. Can't say we enjoyed catching little fish. We are heading to Yuba next week to try for larger fish.
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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
I was with the guy that caught the 27" tiger last week. We fished from shore and caught all cutthroat, with the 1 exception being that tiger trout. All of the cutthroat we caught were larger than 17", and up to 21". I don't think that your numbers (90% under 16") are correct. At least not in my experience. In fact, I keep wanting to go back to Panguitch. I mentioned to my brother-in-law last night: "let's forget the second weekend of the deer hunt and go fish Panguitch Lake!".


I wonder if you were fishing too deep?


I think that Panguitch has a lot of very nice fish right now.



I couldn't help it. It just popped in there.
Dr. Raymond Stantz

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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
I don't know how it is now, but a 2 years ago (Deer Hunt) this time of year. I didn't catch a rainbow under 20 inches. The water level was low and I do not know if that is why it was so hot or not.

So it might just be the natural cycle of up's and downs. The cutties are the only fish other than a wayward brookie that can breed in that lake. I'm sure it will be fine as long as they can keep water in it.
Live life, One cast at a time
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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
I just glanced at the DWR fishing report for Panguitch Lake. It even mentioned that the larger cutthroat are moving into the shallows. I really do think flyfish4thrills was fishing too deep.


another observation: I've noticed a particular Southern Region fisheries biologist spending the majority of his spare time fishing at Panguitch. I take that as a fairly positive sign.



I couldn't help it. It just popped in there.
Dr. Raymond Stantz

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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
I haven't fished Panguitch, but I've had lots of experience with other lakes. The one thing that I have found over time is that fish tend to hang with their year class. Frequently I would be catching 12 to 14 inchers at a depth of say 15 ft, yet when I got my line down past them to say 20-30 ft I would consistantly catch 15 to 18+ inchers. And sometimes the opposite will hold true. Even areas of a lake can be segregated by fish size. When the big fish are on the banks the smaller ones move deeper.

The larger fish get first choice of feeding areas. The smaller fish move to secondary comfort/feeding zones or get eaten.

In rivers and creeks I frequently see the same thing - prime feeding area - larger fish. If you are catching a bunch of small fish in the tail of the pool, that is pretty much all that will be there. Moving upstream, if it is a big pool, the fish may increase in size as you go. A big fish may be dominating the head of the pool. Again the reverse maybe true and the big one is at the tail of the pool. It just depend on what the larger more aggressive fish wants.

When I get on a lake, I like to zig zag in and out at different depths and sample everything from the shore line to the deep water. ... unless I start catching some that I am happy with and then I may stay put in that area or depth.
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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
Thanks for all of the feedback. We didn't see fish in the shallows on sonar, but they are harder to see at those depths (standard sonar only sees a swath 1/3 its depth so at 10 feet, 3 feet wide will not hold many fish). We fished the shallows anyhow, with no luck. Targeted fish at the depths we saw them then shallower due to the inadequacies of sonar in shallow water (to be on the safe side). We also increased lure sizes to weed out the little ones (the largest spinners, then some of our larger rapalas and lucky crafts and grubs), with the same results. Maybe you can give some ideas as to other lures besides what we used to target larger fish or cutthroats?

Does anyone have access to more recent trend netting results for this lake instead of anecdotal stories? Our catch rate was consistent with the 2010 trend netting report by the DWR in 2010. In the Panguitch Lake Summary of the 2010 Survey (could only find a cached version of this thanks to Google), it states, " Good numbers of trout from 14 to 17 inches were available to anglers. A limited number of larger trout (18-24 inches), primarily cutthroat, were also present. Based upon the 2010 sampling there should be good fishing at Panguitch Lake for rainbow and cutthroat trout up to 17 inches with a chance to catch an occasional larger fish." So this also matches what I found. Good numbers from 14 - 17 (mine were 8 - 16), and a limited number of larger trout or a "chance" to catch larger fish. How much, exactly, is a chance? For us it was under 1 in 30 or 3%.

Also, from the "Panguitch Lake Evaluation as a Sport Fishery," one of the management objectives, is "2. Maintain at least 10% of the rainbow trout captured in annual trend nets as 2-year old or older fish (at least 15 inches in length)." So if only 10% of the rainbows are over 15 inches, it is going according to plan. It seems like things are right on target with the plan. I guess that the management committee should be pleased. I am not. I think it would be sad if only 10% are over 15 inches. I expect current numbers are better than the goal. However, if 30% happen to be over 15 inches, but 90% of those are between 15 and 16 inches, that is not a great improvement. You have to be careful interpreting statistics. Nothing in the plan stated a desired length of the slot protected predatory fish, only that their total population be at least 25%.


Enforcement is another problem. In that same report the biologists state, "Of the estimated 2,155 trout harvested approximately 29% were harvested illegally (fish within the 15-22 slot limit)." I would say that 29% illegal harvest in the slot has an impact on the fishery.

I know, license sales and political pressure from local businesses and government are what determine the plan, not the biologists. If I remember correctly, the biologists were the ones recommending a slot limit for all trout. However, the DWR is not immune to money as an incentive. From another survey of Kolob reservoir in 2009 (one of the few available documents on the Utah govt. website; why aren't they all there, including trend netting surveys of all the lakes that are cited in other publications???) the author writes, "A significant cost saving associated with stocking has been realized under the current management plan; however at what cost? Angler use is substantially lower than previous years. Use by nonresident anglers has decreased 50% from levels observed in 1991 and 1996 and 20% from 2009 despite improved catch rates and an increase in the average size of trout. The most apparent reason for these declines is the restrictive gear regulations and the lack of harvestable trout (those greater than 18 inches)." Does the cost of decrease in angler usage translate into a decrease in license purchases and state/dwr revenue, or do they still purchase licenses and simply fish elsewhere? Money and politics rule the game, as we all know. I guess I should be glad that there is one lake still in Southern Utah that has regulations based on trophy regs. Too bad it suffers from dewatering. (Minersville). The bait chuckers get 99% of every available water and complain about the 1% they don't get to fish their way. They fail to realize that there are larger fish at many special regs lakes BECAUSE of the special regs. Duh. Take away the regs and the fish size drops (Panguitch Lake rainbows, case in point). Even though they are content with catching and keeping little fish, they want the trophy lakes as well. The state/dwr simply want license numbers to go up while keeping most people happy (or not making some group angry). The only way to win at this game is to fish a never spoken of, hard to trek-to destination, even if it has normal regs.

End of rant. Just disappointed.
(This post was edited by Flyfish4thrills on Oct 25, 2013, 11:11 PM)
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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
Just a couple comments:

1. We fished from the bank using a bait hook and a piece of sucker. That's it. It worked well for those cutts 17 - 21".

2. Management plan / committee. Keep in mind that when you have two opposing groups with two opposing objectives you typically end up with a compromise. Ie: Panguitch Lake. Compromise can often be a good thing. BUT compromise can also mean that NEITHER group got what they wanted, and the end result was something that noone wanted. Compromise isn't always good. My comments basically say that while objectives are probably being met, but that doesn't mean that the managers are necessarily happy with the rainbow trout. I would guess that the managers would rather have bigger rainbows in there. But, the public got involved, and sometimes you have to do what the public wants -- isn't that what we're always screaming for? So, now we have it. Panguitch Lake.

3. Kolob. Harvest is a problem at Kolob. The lack of it. The lake piles up with fish up to 17", then they stop. Natural recruitment is good up there. Something needed to be done to help increase mortality. Thus, allowing baitfishing. That's not a concern to me.





My take is that I've fished Panguitch Lake more in the last 3 years than I had the previous 20. There is a reason for that: good fishing. There are some really nice fish in that lake. Could the average size increase? I think so. I think it has the potential to grow some really big fish, even with bait and some harvest. Are the current regs working? Yes, to a point. The fishery is very good, and chubs have not shown up. Some very large fish have been caught. Obviously, most of the current management plan is working. Could they be improved? Again, I think so. Maybe anglers need to voice that concern to the RACs and Wildlifeboard (and DWR).



I couldn't help it. It just popped in there.
Dr. Raymond Stantz

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Re: [Flyfish4thrills] Panguitch Lake 10/21/2013 In reply to
My husband and I absolutely killed it there this last spring (minus the killed, we catch and release everything). I'm pretty sure those big ol' fat trout haven't gone anywhere, they're just not as active right now. I think they know the dreaded winter is coming.

I've been VERY tempted to make 1 more trip there before ice on. Maybe i'll just have to make it happen. Smile