Dale Hepworth


Dale’s dad started taking him fishing with a fly rod when he was about 3 years old in 1952. His Dad was his greatest teacher, and Dale and his dad fished weekly during the fishing season and their hikes along Utah’s many streams and rivers were like educational field trips.

His first memory of opening weekend was on Mill Creek close to his grandmother’s home on 5th East and 30th south, in South Salt Lake City. During grade school years, he fished close to where he lived in Granger in a canal called “the drain ditch,” Decker’s Lake, and the old Kennecott Copper Duck Club Lake and Ponds. Dale started tying his own flies after receiving a fly-tying kit on Christmas when he was in junior high school.

As a teenager, his favorite fly fishing was for brown trout in the Weber River and Lower Beaver Creek meadows near Oakley, Utah with his Dad, and fly fishing public land within about an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. He day-dreamed about what could be done with stream banks and river channels if he had the ability to alter or manage them to benefit trout. He wanted to understand what was happening under the surface of the water more than what he could gain with his fly rod. This curiosity and interest resulted in fisheries becoming his life’s work.

After retirement from DWR, Dale remained active in conservation with Trout Unlimited and Blue-Ribbon organizations. He paints fly-fishing themes in watercolor, which he gifts liberally.


Dale graduated with a B.S. degree in fishery management in 1971 from Utah State University. He then attended Colorado State University on a research assistantship and graduated with a master’s degree in Fishery Science in 1973.

He started employment with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) in 1973 and spent 5 years working on Lake Powell where he enjoyed the diversity of a great warm water fishery and the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam during a time when the rainbow trout fishing was exceptional.

In 1978, Dale was promoted to Regional Aquatic Program Manager for the State’s Southern Region and he moved to Cedar City, Utah. This became a career position for the next 28 years where Dale pursued his long-time goal of working with a variety of fisheries, including many lakes, streams, and rivers offering great fly-fishing opportunities. Dale’s overall fishery-management goal was simply to make things better. He wanted to make sure the water supported trout and other species so they might see the fly and decide to eat it. Dale recognized that fishing licenses and a federal excise tax on fishing tackle paid essentially 100% of his career salary.

Noteworthy Management and Projects:

  • Minersville Reservoir regulations were changed to flies and lures only with size restrictions, resulting in exceptional fishing.
  • Establishment of wild brood stocks of native Bonneville cutthroat trout and Colorado River cutthroat trout at Manning Meadow Reservoir and Dougherty Basin Lake, respectively.
  • Public access along important sections of the East Fork Sevier River in Kingston Canyon and Black Canyon, including major habitat improvement work and flies-and-lures-only regulations.
  • Clear Creek during the construction of highway I-70 near Richfield, Utah. Today a better stream exists than prior to highway construction, and it currently provides excellent fly fishing for native Bonneville cutthroat trout.


  • Dale mentored more than 100 summer employees and technicians who worked with him during his 32 years at DWR, imparting his passion for fly fishing to them.
  • Dale takes friends, neighbors, kids, scouts, and church members fishing, many who are novices, with the idea to get them excited about fly fishing. When he can’t take curious inquirers fly fishing personally, he imparts his knowledge and wisdom to guide their quest in learning to fly fish.
  • Dale spoke to fly fishing clubs in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, St George, and Beaver. He spoke to natural resource classes at Southern Utah University and in local high schools.
  • Dale raised five children, four boys and one daughter, and taught all of them how to fly fish. He built four fly tying kits, with drawers and compartments, for the boys as Christmas presents, and stocked each kit with fly tying materials and tools. Dale’s son Richard is now the Regional Aquatic Program Manager in Cedar City (Dale’s old job). Dale’s son Stuart teaches fly fishing as part of a high-school class. Dale’s grandchildren now fly fish.


Dale helped author more than eighteen reports and publications about fisheries projects, conservation efforts, and restoration work in cold-water fisheries that related directly or indirectly to fly fishing, and Dale won an Outstanding Professional Paper award.


  • Employee of the Year and Outstanding Fisheries Employee, Utah Wildlife Resources, 1992.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Bonneville Chapter American Fisheries Society, 1997.
  • Employee of the Year, Aquatics Section, Utah Wildlife Resources, 1999.
  • Directors Award, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 2003.
  • Certificate of Appreciation, in Recognition for Your Support and Career Efforts in Fostering Successful Coldwater Fisheries Stewardship and Programs in Utah, Trout Unlimited, 2005.
  • Stewardship Award, Volunteer of the Year, Utah Wildlife Resources, 2015.


  • After retirement from UDWR in 2006, Dale worked part time for Trout Unlimited (TU) over a four-year period. He worked on TU’s Western Water Project, supervised by Tim Hawkes. Dale prepared 35 reports covering 43 8-digit hydrologic units that provided an inventory of all trout streams in Utah, including detailed maps. Reports provided GPS locations for major water diversions. Many of the reports estimated ranges for historic native trout distributions and current trout distribution.
  • Dale was a member of Trout Unlimited for about 10 years.
  • Dale was a member of the Bonneville Chapter of the American Fisheries Society for 30 years.

Dale supported the Blue-Ribbon Fishery Advisory Council (BRFAC). Starting in 2009, Dale served on the BRFAC council for 6 years and would have served longer except his term limits expired. Dale is proud of the many worthy projects funded during his years of BRFAC service.