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Front Page » August 4, 2005 » Sports » Fish changes proposed for Flaming Gorge
Published 3,718 days ago

Fish changes proposed for Flaming Gorge

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The lake trout limit at Flaming Gorge Reservoir would increase to eight fish and the period of time that anglers would be required to release kokanee salmon would be lengthened under recommendations the Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing for Utah's 2006 fishing season.

The DWR will present the proposals at an upcoming series of public meetings.

All of the DWR's fishing proposals will be available for review by early August at the division's Web site (

Those who attend the meetings can learn more about the proposals and can provide their input and suggestions. Citizens representing Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets September 8 in Salt Lake City to approve Utah's 2006 Fishing Proclamation.

The Southeastern region's meeting will be August 17 at 6:30 p.m. and will be held in the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River at 885 E. Main Street.

Big lake trout and more kokanee salmon should be available in the future at Flaming Gorge under recommendations the DWR is proposing. Among the DWR's proposals at Flaming Gorge for 2006:

•Raise the lake trout limit to eight fish. The lake trout limit at the reservoir is currently four fish. Only one of the lake trout could exceed 28 inches in length.

•Require anglers to release all kokanee salmon caught from Sept. 10 through Nov. 30. Currently, anglers must release all kokanee salmon caught between Oct. 1 and Nov. 7.

•Set a burbot limit of 25 fish. Anglers would be required to keep and kill any burbot they caught.

Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, says an abundant population of small lake trout is causing problems for lake trout and kokanee salmon in Flaming Gorge.

The lake trout are competing with each other for food, which is slowing how fast the lake trout can grow. The abundant lake trout also are preying heavily on the reservoir's kokanee salmon.

"Anglers can help correct the problems, and we need to get the regulations changed to allow them to do that," Pettengill said. "We want to allow anglers to keep lots of small lake trout, but we also want to protect the larger fish in the reservoir by not allowing anglers to keep more than one lake trout over 28 inches."

If the proposal is approved, Pettengill hopes anglers will take advantage of the regulation and keep lots of smaller lake trout. "There are gobs of five-pound and smaller lake trout in Flaming Gorge," he said. "They're much easier to catch than the larger fish are, and they're great to eat. They're not as greasy as the older fish, and they have a great flavor."

In addition to allowing anglers to keep more lake trout, the DWR also is proposing increasing the period of time when anglers must release kokanee salmon in the fall.

"We've found that lengthening the time anglers must release kokanee salmon saves more fish than reducing the daily kokanee salmon limit by one fish does," Pettengill said. "If we can reduce the number of kokanees kept during the fall spawning period, more kokanees will be able to spawn and anglers should find more fish to catch during early and mid-summer, which is one of the best times of the year to catch kokanee salmon."

An additional proposal, that would help both kokanee salmon and lake trout, is a requirement that anglers keep and kill burbot.

"Burbots are a cold water predator that were illegally introduced above Flaming Gorge and have found their way into the reservoir," Pettengill said. "They can reach 15 to 18 pounds in weight. One thing the fishery doesn't need is another large predator preying on kokanee salmon and competing with lake trout for food."

Utah's burbot regulation is the same regulation Wyoming has established for its portion of the Gorge.

"Burbot are an unattractive fish, but they're very good to eat," he said. "We hope anglers will eat the burbots they catch."

For more information about the meetings, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

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