Using corn when fishing in Utah has been against the law for several years, however the DWR has determined that corn bait is now allowed on select Utah waters while chumming is still not permitted.
Corn is an inexpensive, yet effective bait choice for Utah fishermen yet was outlawed until the beginning of 2017 when the Department of Wildlife Resources made changes on the allowance of corn when fishing. It was previously believed that corn and hominy were harmful to fish and could result in gastrointestinal problems such as bloating and intestinal blockage, eventually leading to death. Through extensive research however, it has been determined that the only risk associated with using corn while fishing is an elevated chance of a fish taking the delicious corn bait.
In a type of trial run, the DWR is allowing corn bait to be used on select Utah waters known to have carp and kokanee salmon, both of which love corn. The 2017 Fishing Guidebook defines those corn friendly waters as: “Cutler Reservoir, Deer Creek Reservoir, Electric Lake, Fish Lake, Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell, Stateline Reservoir or Utah Lake”. They also note that “throughout the pilot study, Division biologist and law enforcement officers will be monitoring these areas closely to see if the use of corn should be expanded or discontinued.”
Although using corn for bait is now allowed on a trial basis, chumming with corn is not. According to the current Fishing Guidebook, “Chumming means dislodging or depositing in the water any substance not attached to a hook, line or trap, which may attract fish.” Throwing a handful of corn or other bait in the water in hopes of attracting fish is a violation of Utah Code 23-20-3 which states “a person may not: ( . . . ) possess or use bait or other attractant to take protected wildlife”. Chumming could result in a class B misdemeanor charge as well as a violation and fine for littering in a waterway. Before heading out fishing this summer, residents are encouraged to read up on the 2017 Fishing Guidebook and contact the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources for any clarifications on current fishing laws.