Friday, May 16, 2014

Navajo Lake Gill Net Survey

Well we always save the best for last...

Wrapping up the week we are excited to share another good gill net survey report that should excite anglers this fishing season.  Early in the week Mike Hadley and a few folks with the Utah DWR made their way up to Navajo Lake to get a look at conditions there.  Many folks have been worried with the lower water levels, fearing that fish survival was poor this winter.  Take a look at this report, and more importantly the photos that follow.  Looks like once again there's some good evidence reported to prove a few of these fears wrong:

The ice came off Navajo Lake east of Cedar City a couple of weeks ago and a combination of slow fishing and a number of dead fish observed had Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologists concerned that there may have been some winterkill in the lake. Despite six inches of new snow, we rushed up to set nets in the lake to assess the situation. When we pulled the nets on May 9, we found some good news and some sort of bad news. First the good news: although there was some winterkill, including most of the rainbow trout left over after last fall, nice-sized splake (a hybrid cross between brook trout and lake trout) were fairly abundant. We caught splake up to six and seven pounds, although fish over ten pounds have been caught in recent years. Now for the sort of bad news: all the splake we looked at had been binging at the Utah chub buffet. Most splake had multiple chubs in their stomachs – the record was a 16-inch fish that had eaten 13 chubs in the last day or so. This means that many of these fish are not hungry and the fishing this spring may continue to be a little tough. Don’t let it keep you from taking a trip up there, however. Although you may only catch a few fish, you’ve got a chance to catch a big one.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technicians Aaron Esplin (left) and Josh Verde (right) show off a couple of nice splake caught and released during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Mike Hadley holds a six-pound splake caught and released during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technician Josh Verde (right) and fish biologist Richard Hepworth (right) show off some of the splake – including a seven pounder – caught during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014.

This sixteen-inch splake caught during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014, had nine Utah chubs in its stomach.
It looks like there's some great options for fishing this spring in Southern Utah!  The forecast looks great!  Where will you be fishing this weekend?

Be sure to send us some photos of your success!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Otter Creek Gill Net Survery 2014

We had a great response to the Newcastle and Minersville reservoirs gill netting studies in our last post!  It sounds like this is the kind of information that our viewers really want to see.

So to keep with our promise, here is the gill net survey report for Otter Creek Reservoir.  This is no doubt one of the hottest fishing destinations in southern Utah.  Ice fishing and even spring fishing has been tough, and I have heard several people pose the question of "where did the fish in Otter Creek go"?  Several folks have theorized that there are few fish, as the fishing has been so poor.  I recently spoke with DWR southern region aquatics program manager Mike Hadley about this theory.  Mike felt that the real issue probably had more to do with abundant food and high fishing pressure more than anything else.  The survey would be the real evidence to the issue.  I think this report will surprise many with the few fish theory:

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted a trend net survey on April 8, 2014, to monitor fish populations in Otter Creek Reservoir. We caught fat, healthy rainbow trout in the 10- to 13-inch and 16- to 20-inch ranges. The growth rate of these fish remains among the highest for rainbow trout in any reservoir in Utah. The largest trout observed weighed four pounds. Spring is a great time to fish Otter Creek. Anglers were having fair to good success this week from shore, float tubes, and boats.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technicians Josh Verde (left) and Weston Cleveland (right) show off a couple of fat rainbow trout caught and released during a trend net survey at Otter Creek Reservoir on April 8, 2014.
 Recently I have heard a few reports that fishing in Otter Creek has been picking up.  Mike assured me that there are no issues with populations of fish in Otter Creek, but that due to the feed and pressure these fish are simply being very stubborn to catch.  It's good news for such a high quality fishery, and I guess to my fellow anglers I would say keep trying, keep switching it up until you find what works.  

And if you happen to get a good catch be sure to send a picture our way!

Look for a report on Navajo Lake here Friday evening.