Anglers help state wildlife agencies move smallmouth bass at Flaming Gorge
Sometimes there are simple answers to tough questions. Ryan Mosley, Flaming Gorge Project Leader for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, sent in this report of an effort to restore smallmouth bass numbers on the north end of the lake where they are thinning and removing some where they are thick in the canyon section of the reservoir. Here's his report of the late May effort.
Since burbot became established in Flaming Gorge, the numbers of smallmouth bass have declined on the Wyoming side of the reservoir due to predation on small bass and competition for food (crayfish). Although burbot are found in the canyon (UT) portion of the reservoir, their numbers remain relatively low. As a result, smallmouth bass are very abundant with bass hiding behind almost every rock during the summer months. A smallmouth bass transplant project was completed on Flaming Gorge (May 30th) in coordination with Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD), Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Trout Unlimited, Cowboy Bass, Wyoming Bass Federation, Utah Bass Federation, Utah Bass Nation, and generous members of the public. Forty anglers operating 20 boats, volunteered their time and gear to hook-n-line bass for UDWR and WGFD. Collections focused on the Jarvies Bay area where bass densities are high. Collected bass were hauled to one of two agency transport boats, where biologists measured, tagged, and loaded fish into large oxygenated tanks. A total of 359 of these bass were moved to one of two release sites, 30-40 miles uplake. In addition, 26 bass were tagged and released in Jarvies Bay to compare the two marked groups. Fish were tagged with fluorescent green Floy tags (looks like a spaghetti noodle) that each have a unique 4-digit number. If caught, anglers can record the tag number, location caught, and length and call the phone number on the tag to report the catch. The tagged bass can still be released so it can continue to provide data upon future recaptures. Both UDWR and WGFD are interested in assessing growth, movement, and survival of these tagged smallmouth bass in Flaming Gorge, assisting the agencies in monitoring the success of the transplants and future management of the fishery. Thanks to all the participants in making this project a success, Ryan