Sometimes anglers can help a fishery by keeping and not releasing their catch.
That has certainly been the case at Lake Powell, where for years biologists have encouraged anglers to keep striped bass. It has been the case at other reservoirs where species such as perch, bluegill or walleye have reproduced to the point where there is nothing for them to eat.
That situation is now occurring at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, where biologists are urging anglers to keep a limit of eight lake trout, remembering that only one of those fish can be longer than 28 inches.
Flaming Gorge is known for producing some of the largest lake trout in the country, but growth rates for the fish have diminished since the 1990s, according to Ryan Mosley, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ lead fisheries biologist at Flaming Gorge.
“In the 1990s,” Mosley says, “an 8-year-old lake trout was about 30 inches long. Today, an 8-year-old fish is about 23 inches long. On top of the decreased length, the number of lake trout in the reservoir has increased 89 percent in just the last couple of years. And we’re concerned the situation is going to get worse.”
By catching more lake trout, the biologist said that would provide more food for other important Flaming Gorge species such as kokanee salmon and rainbow trout, the primary prey for lake trout.
Mosley said the smaller lake trout make a great meal. And fishing has been good, not only from boats; even shore anglers are having good success.