Outdoors and Travel

Utah wildlife officials to treat Pelican Lake with chemical to kill invasive carp, and all other fish

First Published      Last Updated Jun 14 2017 11:20 am

There was a time when fishing for big bluegill at eastern Utah's Pelican Lake was worthy of national exposure. Anglers from all over the West came to the popular spot 25 miles southwest of Roosevelt.

But the bluegill have gotten smaller in recent years. An influx of carp in 2008 and 2009 hurt the fishing for largemouth bass as well.

"I've heard of no instances where bluegill have outcompeted carp in a fishery," says Trina Hedrick, regional aquatics manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "Everything I've read says just the opposite: Carp do well and bluegill struggle to survive."

After a number of public hearings in 2016, the DWR has decided to treat the lake with rotenone, a chemical that will kill all the fish in the reservoir.

The treatment is scheduled for the fall, depending on water levels.

"To do the treatment," Hedrick says, "we have a target water elevation we need to achieve. We'll work with the irrigation district to see if that water level will happen this year. There's also a lot of snow on the mountain right now. We'll be waiting to see how that snow translates to water levels in Pelican Lake over the upcoming year."

If water levels are too high — a distinct possibility with the heavy snowpack this year — the treatment will be too expensive and the bullrush that surrounds Pelican Lake might give carp a place to escape the treatment. In that case, the treatment would be put off until 2018.