October 9, 2008
New Rules for Utah Anglers in ’09
By For the Deseret News
The Utah Wildlife Board recently approved rules changes that should provide more fishing opportunities in Utah and protect fish populations in an effort to provide better fishing throughout the state.
Starting Jan. 1, anglers can use up to six poles when fishing through the ice at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. A new trout limit will be in place at Scofield Reservoir, and a change in the slot limit at Panguitch Lake will allow anglers to keep more rainbow trout. Anglers must also keep and kill all of the walleye they catch at Red Fleet Reservoir.
Board members approved the changes at their Oct. 2 meeting in Salt Lake City.
Division of Wildlife Resources biologists say the Utah chub population in Scofield Reservoir has increased dramatically over the past two years. To try and keep the population in check, biologists will stock Bear Lake cutthroat trout into the reservoir starting in spring 2009.
Putting Bear Lake cutthroats in the reservoir will give it two "chub eaters" -- the Bear Lake cutthroat trout and tiger trout that are in the reservoir now.
To keep plenty of large predatory Bear Lake cutthroats and tiger trout in the reservoir, the trout limit at the reservoir will be lowered to four trout. Starting Jan. 1, the four-trout limit can include two cutthroat or tiger trout under 15 inches in length and one cutthroat or tiger trout more than 22 inches long. All cutthroat and tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long must be released immediately.
There will be no special regulations for rainbow trout. The four- trout limit at Scofield can include rainbow trout of any size and length.
"We put Bear Lake cutthroats in Strawberry Reservoir after we treated the reservoir in 1990," says Roger Wilson, cold-water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR. "The cutthroats in Strawberry have been protected by a limit that's the same as the one the board passed for Scofield. The cutthroats have kept the chub populations in Strawberry in check. We hope they'll do the same thing in Scofield."
Biologists are anxious to see which of the two trout is the most effective predator -- Bear Lake cutthroat trout or tiger trout. "The information we gain will help us control chub populations better in other areas of the state," Wilson says.
Starting Jan. 1, a rule that's similar to the one at Scofield and Strawberry will also be in place at Panguitch Lake.
The limit of four trout that's been in place at Panguitch Lake for several years won't change. But starting Jan. 1, that four- trout limit can include rainbow trout of any size.
"In the past, anglers had to release all trout that were between 15 and 22 inches long," Wilson says. "This change will allow anglers to keep more rainbows."
The four-trout limit can also include two cutthroat or tiger trout under 15 inches in length and one cutthroat or tiger trout more than 22 inches long.
All cutthroat and tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long must be released immediately.
Burbot and walleye
Illegal fish stocking could greatly affect fishing at two popular waters in northeastern Utah.
Someone illegally placed burbot in a drainage above Flaming Gorge Reservoir several years ago. Now the burbot have made their way into the reservoir. Then just last spring, a large number of walleye started showing up in biologists' gillnets at Red Fleet Reservoir.
To promote the harvest of illegally introduced fish, board members passed the following:
-- Anglers must keep and kill all the walleye they catch at Red Fleet Reservoir. The DWR enacted this keep-and-kill policy as an emergency change in 2008. It will continue in 2009.
-- At Flaming Gorge Reservoir, anglers already must kill every burbot they catch. Starting Jan. 1, anglers can also use up to six poles to fish through the ice at the reservoir. They will not need a second pole permit to fish through the ice. However, they will need a second pole permit to fish with more than one pole when the water is open at the reservoir, including when the water is open in the winter.
Wilson says the ice-fishing season is the best time of year to catch burbot at the reservoir. "They're not an attractive fish, but burbot are a great fish to eat," he says. "This rule change will help the fishery and allow you to take more burbot home to eat."
Starting Jan. 1, anglers can also underwater spearfish for burbot at Flaming Gorge 24 hours a day, throughout the year. They can also use artificial lights at Flaming Gorge, but only when pursuing burbot.
These underwater-spearfishing changes should result in more burbot being taken.
Tiger muskie at Newton
Newton Reservoir has joined Pineview Reservoir as the two waters in Utah where anglers can't keep tiger muskies.
Tiger muskies are a cross between Northern pike and muskellunge. Anglers commonly refer to muskellunge as "muskies."
Earlier this year, the DWR closed Pineview Reservoir to the possession of tiger muskies with an emergency closure. This closure will continue in 2009. The closure will help ensure plenty of tiger muskies remain in the reservoir until biologists can secure a disease-free source of tiger muskies.
"It took some searching, but we found muskies in South Dakota that don't have any diseases," says Drew Cushing, warm-water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR.
"We'll bring the muskies to Utah in mid-October and start raising them at a new hatchery in Salt Lake City. Then we'll bring Northern pike from Recapture Reservoir to the hatchery and breed the pike with the muskies.
"We could be stocking tiger muskies again in two to three years," Cushing says. "Until then, the closures at Pineview and Newton will keep plenty of big tiger muskies in those waters for anglers to catch and release."
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