New trout limit at Scofield Reservoir

Scofield – The trout limit at Scofield changed this year. But
you wouldn’t know it if you saw the number of trout some anglers
are trying to keep.

“If the anglers who are doing this understood the damage they’re
doing to the fishery by not obeying the limit, I think they’d start
obeying it,” says Brent Stettler, region outreach manager for the
Division of Wildlife Resources.

New limit

The new limit at Scofield allows you to keep a total of four
trout. But you may have only two cutthroat or tiger trout under 15
inches long in your four-trout limit. And your four-trout limit may
not include more than one cutthroat or tiger trout over 22 inches
long.

All cutthroat and tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long must
be released immediately.

Fighting chubs

The Utah Wildlife Board approved the new limit to keep plenty of
tiger trout and Bear Lake cutthroat trout in the reservoir. Both of
these fish — especially the Bear Lake cutthroats — are effective
chub eaters.

And that’s what Scofield needs right now — fish that can keep an
exploding Utah chub population in check.

Gill net surveys

Stettler says during spring gill net surveys in 2006, DWR
biologists found an average of two chubs in each net they pulled
in. The next year, that number rose to 26 chubs per net. In 2008,
the number jumped to 205 chubs per net.

If the chub population keeps growing, the trout population in
the reservoir could be affected dramatically.

“The problem with chubs stems from anglers who use live minnows
as bait,” Stettler says. “Some escape the hook. Others are dumped
into the water at the end of the day. Over time, the minnows
reproduce. The result is a reservoir full of unwanted fish.”

Stiff penalties

Stettler reminds anglers that anyone who moves fish from one
water to another is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor. And anyone who
fishes with live minnows is also guilty of a Class A
Misdemeanor.

“The reason [for the heavy penalty] is that it costs millions of
dollars to treat and restock a reservoir,” Stettler says. “Even
after the reservoir has been treated, restrictive regulations have
to be imposed to protect the reservoir from a resurgence of
unwanted fish.”

DWR Lieutenant Carl Gramlich identifies another issue worth
mentioning. “More and more anglers are collecting eggs from trout
[to use as bait],” he says. “Many of these eggs are later returned
to the water.

“The 2009 Utah Fishing Guidebook states that eggs may not be
taken or used from fish that are then released. Eggs may be
stripped only from trout that are kept and counted as part of your
daily bag limit.”

Share your fishing ideas

DWR biologists are already collecting ideas for possible fishing
regulation changes for 2010. They’ll continue to collect ideas at a
series of public meetings will be held starting May 12.

Those meetings include a May 13 meeting at the John Wesley
Powell Museum in Green River. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

If you have ideas about fishing rule changes you’d like to see
at Scofield or any water in Utah, you’re encouraged to attend the
meetings and share your ideas.

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