Enterprise Stories – Gone Fishin’

As the dark night sky slowly shifts to the gray dawn of early morning, the numerous camp sites surrounding the Upper and Lower Enterprise Reservoirs begin to come to life. Though the early morning air is cool, the chill does not dampen the excitement of the waiting crowd. The water appears as glass, just beginning to reflect a perfect late spring day. With the tick of the clock, fishing lines are cast into the water, and another fishing season has begun.

Lower Enterprise Reservoir 2007 - PC: Stacee Seegmiller

Lower Enterprise Reservoir 2007 – PC: Stacee Seegmiller

While those of us today find it hard to imagine the reservoir with a crowded shore line or the water full of boats, this used to be the norm on the opening day of the fishing season. Until 1985, fishing in the state of Utah was limited to a season of about five to six months. Beginning near the end of May or the first of June, the season lasted until sometime in November.

The opening of the fishing season was a much-anticipated event in Enterprise. Many families from town camped at the reservoir to have a spot to fish at first light on opening morning. Similar to the general deer hunt, the opening of fishing season was a time for families to create memories and spend time together. Away from life’s worries and distractions, these times are remembered with fondness. My dad, Scott Truman, describes how the reservoir was the place to be when the fishing season began for the year. “Town would almost empty for opening weekend. It seemed as if everyone you knew was at the reservoir, and the shore would be lined with people,” he recalls.

Throughout the season, fishing was enjoyed by the young and old alike. My dad remembers, when he was young, there were several ladies in Enterprise who enjoyed fishing. These ladies would grab their lawn chairs, fishing poles and knitting and off they would go for an afternoon of fishing. After casting their lines in the water, the ladies devised a way to alert them of a catch. They would each lean their pole against a rock so the top of the pole was out of the water and dirt. Then they would take a small rock and place it on the reel to hold the pole and fishing line in place. On top of this rock, they would set an empty pop can. If a fish took the bait, the tug on the line would knock the pop can off the small rock. This way, the ladies could sit back, visit and knit while waiting for the fish to bite.

Though the mental picture of older ladies sitting along a shoreline, knitting and gabbing while waiting for fish to bite, is humorous, it is also nostalgic, reminding us of a time when work could wait, when people slowed down and took time to enjoy being with each other. Because that’s what fishing is all about: connecting with nature, connecting with each other and making memories. As the American columnist, Doug Larson, said, “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.”

People fishing at the Enterprise Reservoir, date unknown PC: Washington County Historical Society

People fishing at the Enterprise Reservoir, date unknown PC: Washington County Historical Society

For those wanting to give fishing a try for the first time, or maybe the first time in a long time, circle June 10th on your calendars. This day is Free Fishing Day in Utah. No licenses are required this day, so take the kids out and make some memories.

Detail of fishing license fees in Utah:

From wildlife.utah.gov

From wildlife.utah.gov

Stacee Seegmiller

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