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Sevier Bridge Reservoir is also known as Yuba Lake. The name is pretty much interchangeable for the locals, so if you are looking for directions, someone should be able to help you get there. The lake is one of several reservoirs created along the Sevier River, and it is used primarily for irrigation of local farms and for a nearby power plant. It is the fourth largest artificial reservoir in Utah.
Sevier Bridge Reservoir was created in 1914. Prior to the construction of the dam, the Sevier River simply meandered through the canyon at the current site of Yuba Lake and on through the desert to Sevier Lake. Due to the heat, much of the water was lost to evaporation. Since water is a hot commodity in this region, especially if you ask a local farmer, the reservoir was created in this deep canyon between the Valley Mountains and the San Pitch Mountains. Water levels can drop, in extremely hot summers, to the point that there is exposed mud on the floor of the canyon. This is rare, but it does happen occasionally.
Sevier Bridge Reservoir has been known across the nation for its superb fishing. But, it has also been known as the worst fishing in Utah. This cycle has been going on for decades, with 7-10 years of great fishing followed by 10-15 years of poor fishing. In order to correct this cycle, and to maintain the tourist trade in the area, the Utah DNR (Department of Natural Resources) along with several other agencies developed a plan to create an artificial reef with over 2000 dying Christmas trees and constructed habitat models.
In 2001, the trees were collected, placed, and anchored along the shore of Sevier Bridge Reservoir in over 20 spots. When the spring thaw came and made the lake swell, the trees broke through the ice and sank to the bottom. This method has been tried in the past, but for various reasons, it was not successful in reviving the fish population. This time, however, the trees were placed perpendicular to the shore, which allowed the reef to remain underwater whether the water was low or high. The reef and the models together worked to create ideal spawning locations for perch, which are the favored fish of the area. Walleye and the larger fish are unable to eat the eggs, and the perch are thriving. The plan seems to be going strong, and fishermen are rejoicing over the news. Perch, walleye, northern trout, rainbow trout, carp and tiger trout are now thriving in Sevier Bridge Reservoir.
Sevier Bridge Reservoir is completely open to public use, though 50% of the land surrounding it is privately owned. There are multiple public access launches around the lake, and they are all free. Painted Rocks State Access and Yuba Lake State Park are favorites with locals and visitors. Both have campsites available as well as picnicking and a boat launch each. Painted Rocks is free, but Yuba Lake State Park entry carries a fee with it. Though swimming is not allowed, due to high phosphorous and other chemical levels, fishing and boating are unrestricted. The fish caught in the lake are consumed, with no ill effects. The lake is currently classified as hypereutrophic, but nothing is being done at this point to counteract the high nutrient level. Funding is the main barrier, but since the land surrounding the lake is used mostly for grazing animals, it may be a losing battle.
Yuba Lake is primarily used for fishing, boating, and crop irrigation, and if you are looking for something else to occupy your time, there are several other recreational activities that can be enjoyed in the area. The Little Sahara Dunes Recreation Area is nearby, as is the Pony Express National Historic Trail. Topaz Mountain offers the chance to search for semi-precious stones, and a road trip on the Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway will leave you with lasting memories of breathtaking views.
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