Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gill Net Surveys at 3 Popular Reservoirs

You can tell that the ice is coming off of the high country lakes now!  I have been bombarded with phone calls and emails about some of the higher lakes throughout the area, and yes, a lot of them are accessible now.  I have my sights set on a couple this weekend.  Hopefully I can get some great video and pictures!

Until the, Mike Hadley, Aquatics Biologist for the Southern Region, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, has provided us with not one gill net summary this week, but how about 3 southern Utah lakes?  Hold on, don't get to excited!  While one report is very good, I'm afraid the other 2 lakes are not doing so well.  Here's the report:

During May 1-3, 2012, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) conducted gill nets surveys at three reservoirs in south central Utah in order to monitor fish populations.
 
Koosharem Reservoir: On May 1, UDWR found healthy rainbow, cutthroat, and even a few brook trout in Koosharem Reservoir. Most trout were 14 to 17 inches in length, with the biggest at 21 inches and four pounds. Trout numbers were not high, but the fish were in good condition. Utah chubs, however, were very abundant, making up a significant portion of the fish biomass sampled during the survey. With such a high density of chubs, fishing is often tough at Koosharem, but patient anglers willing to put in some time can give themselves a chance to land a trout exceeding 5 pounds.
 
Mike James (left) of the Quiet Fly Fisher fly shop in Loa and Dave Barnhurst (right) of the Glenwood state fish hatchery show off a couple of nice rainbow trout collected during a gill net survey at Koosharem Reservoir on May 1, 2012.
 Forsyth Reservoir: Good numbers of splake and tiger trout were observed in Forsyth Reservoir on May 2. 14- to 17-inch fish were most dominant, with a couple of tiger trout exceeding 20 inches and 3 pounds. Unfortunately, we also found lots of small yellow perch. These fish were illegally introduced to the reservoir around 2008 or 2009 and are quickly increasing in abundance. While perch fishing may be fairly good for a couple of years, they will eventually begin to have a negative impact on the trout fishery. Once that happens, chemically treating the reservoir to remove all fish and then starting over from scratch will be necessary to remedy the situation. This presents another example why the illegal transport and introduction of fish can have frustrating and costly consequences.
Healthy, 14- to 17- inch splake (top) and tiger (bottom) trout were collected during a gill net survey at Forysth Reservoir on May 2, 2012.
 
Mill Meadow Reservoir: At Mill Meadow Reservoir, we found the usual assortment on May 3--wild brown trout, yellow perch, and large Utah suckers. The suckers were so large (some weighing nearly 6 pounds) that they dominated the biomass of fish caught during the survey. Most brown trout ranged from 10 to 16 inches, though one 22-inch fish was observed. Yellow perch ranged from 7 to 10 inches. Of the fish species that are actually stocked in the reservoir, we found just one splake and three rainbow trout. These fish having been struggling in recent years in the face of competition with perch and suckers.
  
It isn't pretty, but it is reality. Lots of large Utah suckers were collected during a gill net survey at Mill Meadow Reservoir on May 3, 2012. Division of Wildlife Resources fish technician Steven Price holds up a couple of suckers that weighed nearly six pounds.
 Thanks for the reports Mike!  Hopefully people learn from the mistakes of illegally introducing fish into a body of water.  Hopefully we see these fisheries bounce back in the future, once treatments can be implemented and we can start over again.  Please keep your fishing reports coming in if you have them!  suhuntandfish@gmail.com