Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Native Cutthroat Trout Restoration-and Important News

Wow, a lot has been happening this week, and I'm just glad to be home for a few days to compile a lot of it on here for you.  First of all, I need to start this post off by welcoming our newest sponsor, Vortex Optics!  Vortex is quite simply the finest optics brand out there right now, in my mind!  I'm thrilled to have Vortex on board as "the official optics of Southern Utah Hunt and Fish" for the next 2 years!  Look for Vortex products featured in our posts as we take their amazing optics with us throughout our travels!  Be sure to visit their website,  I guess this means I have to keep this site going now, no question about that!

I also have some important news to share that will effect us all as we head out into the outdoors this summer.  The entire State of Utah will go into level 1 statewide fire restrictions tomorrow, Thursday June 13th.  While many question this restriction (yes, what is a camp without a fire, right?) let me tell you first hand that as careful as you may be, it is VERY easy to loose control of a campfire right now, even as you take all precautions you can.  I recently returned from a fire where I saw the fire consume it's way through green aspen stands and meadows, places we use on normal years to stop or slow a fire's progression.  Embers from the main fire lofted through a fairly light breeze to ignite new fires over 500 yards from the main fire.  The 1,200 acre Lake Creek fire and the over 2,000 acre Lost Lake fire (both located on the Boulder Mountain) were both human caused fires that not only caused damage to our timber stands, but also threatened those recreating near the fire.  Keep your eyes out for those around you that may be careless with this restriction, don't be afraid to speak up, or you may just see your favorite hunting hole burn up this year.

Now on the lighter side, Mike Hadley from the Utah DWR has offered up a little information to us about the Division's native cutthroat trout restoration efforts.  Cutthroat trout (Colorado River and Bonneville strains) once flourished in the mountain streams and lakes throughout Utah.  These strains were nearly wiped out as other trout species moved into those waters.  A beautiful fish to catch, they are a must on your list for the serious (or not so serious) angler.  Take a look at what Mike has to say about this year's recovery efforts:

Native Cutthroat Trout Spawning in Southern Utah
Cedar City -- Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists recently conducted spawning operations at three lakes in southern Utah.  This effort will help preserve and restore native cutthroat trout in the southern part of the state.

This colorful male Colorado River cutthroat trout was collected during the fish spawning operation at Dougherty Basin Lake on Boulder Mountain.
Biologists began the operation by collecting eggs from spawning Bonneville cutthroat trout at Manning Meadow Reservoir on Monroe Mountain. They also collected eggs from Colorado River cutthroat trout at Dougherty Basin Lake on Boulder Mountain and Kolob Reservoir near Zion National Park.

After being fertilized at the lakes, the eggs were taken to the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery where they will stay until the “eye-up” stage, which usually takes two to three weeks. Then the eggs will be transferred to other hatcheries where they will be hatched and the fry raised until the fish are ready to be stocked in lakes and streams all over southern Utah.

The fish trap at Manning Meadow Reservoir on Monroe Mountain catches Bonneville cutthroat trout attempting to run upstream to spawn.

Most of the fish will be stocked this fall when they are two to three inches long. The rest of the fish will be stocked in spring 2013 when they are six to seven inches long. These “wild” brood populations in Manning Meadow, Dougherty Basin and Kolob are a vital part of Utah’s native cutthroat trout program.

Eggs are stripped from a female Bonneville cutthroat caught at Manning Meadow Reservoir.

Thanks for the report!  Mike also notes; "We're still waiting for final egg counts, but all indications are that we had a fairly good year." 

If you find yourself in Southern Utah, be sure to make your way into a lake or stream that holds these beauties!  There has been a little controversy among anglers however.  Brook trout were the popular species for years in the area, but many bodies of water have seen the removal of non-native fish, in favor of stocking native cutthroat back into the system.  I am torn on this idea...I love catching these native cutthroat, they truly are a beautiful fish to catch, and I believe they should be in those waters.  However, I find I hardly ever catch a cutthroat that compares to the average size of brook trout I used to catch in many of those lakes and streams. 

So, I want to know what you think.  What would you rather see, native cuts, or brook trout?  Let's have a discussion about this!  Please comment below, or on our Facebook page (look for the "Cutthroat vs. Brook Trout" thread there).
I can't wait to see where this discussion takes us!