Scofield Reservoir has been one of Utah’s best fishing waters over the years, except when Utah chubs take it over and outcompete game species such as trout and kokanee salmon for food.
And, in recent years, chubs have been a major issue.
In the past, the Division of Wildlife Resources would have simply killed off all the fish in the reservoir and started over. And that is still a possibility at Scofield.
But, after a long public input process and much discussion, biologists have come up with a plan to introduce wiper, tiger muskie and sterile walleye into Scofield.
The idea is to give anglers other species to catch and introduce fish that could use chubs as forage.
The chub problem is nothing new. The first treatment with the chemical rotenone took place in 1958. It’s been used two other times.
Biologists also tried putting cutthroat and tiger trout to curb the chub population, with some success.
Here are the goals of the new DWR plan:
- Re-establish the family fishery with fish in the reservoir that people can catch and keep.
- Maintain and enhance trophy fishing opportunities.
- Enhance the diversity of fishing opportunities.
- Reduce Utah chub numbers.
- Increase fishing and recreational use at Scofield.
- Manage the reservoir in a way compatible with management of native fish species living downstream.
By planting the three sterile new species, biologists feel they can accomplish many of these goals.
“We need to reduce the chubs,” says Justin Hart, the DWR’s aquatics manager in southeastern Utah. “We don’t want to eliminate them completely, of course. We plan to use them to grow some big fish. But we do need to reduce their numbers.”
Hart says the new species will likely reach a catchable size by 2018, or sooner.
Meanwhile, the DWR will stock 8- to 10-inch rainbow trout, which can be caught sooner.
Rotenone treatments remain an option, if the addition of the new species can’t control the chubs.