Law enforcement officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources held compliance check stations at Strawberry Reservoir June 22 and found several anglers in violation of the 2003 fishing regulations.
Conservation officers remind anglers to learn the fishing regulations so they can avoid receiving a citation.
The following information is extremely important considering the large number of anglers that will visit the reservoir this July 4 weekend.
The number of officers working at the reservoir has also been increased as part of a continued effort to ensure compliance with regulations at the state's most popular fishery.
While the new fishing regulations still allow anglers to keep up to four fish in the aggregate, only three can be cutthroat trout.
The three main game fish in the reservoir include Bear Lake cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon.
Anglers can have two cutthroat trout under 15 inches and one over 22 inches in their possession. All cutthroats or trout with cutthroat markings, within the 15 to 22 inch range, must be immediately released.
Thirty six anglers were written citations for violating these regulations, and 48 fish were seized during the June 22 compliance check point operation.
"Anglers should always have a fishing proclamation on hand to know the regulations, before they fish a body of water," advised DWR conservation outreach manager, Scott Root.
The proclamation can be picked up from any license agent The regulations can also be found on the division's website at wildlife.utah.gov/proclamations.
"Fishing success has been good at the reservoir and we want anglers to go home with memories of a great fishing trip, not embarrassing memories of receiving a citation for noncompliance with the regulations," explained Root. "It only takes a minute to learn the rules. We also want anglers to realize that these regulations were put into place to ensure a brighter future for this great fishery."
The Utah Wildlife Board approved the new 2003 regulations for the following reasons:
Utah chubs are becoming more prominent in the fishery. Bear Lake cutthroat co-evolved with Utah chubs and will thrive and effectively utilize chubs for food, once they have grown large enough to prey on them.
Strawberry sustains nearly 1.5 million hours of angling pressure, and Utah's anglers harvested 380,000 trout (274 tons of fish) from Strawberry Reservoir during 2001. This level of harvest is not sustainable.
Intensive angler harvest has been cropping off most of the cutthroats before they reach a size where they can effectively prey on other fishes and spawn in tributary streams.
Good populations of large cutthroat trout (greater than 20 inches) are critical to maintaining a productive sport fishery at Strawberry well into the future.
Root said that in order to achieve management goals for Strawberry, the short-term harvest of cutthroat trout had to be greatly reduced. In an attempt to make more fish available for anglers to keep, the DWR's fish hatcheries are doubling the number of rainbow trout stocked in Strawberry Reservoir during 2003 to more than one million and will stock even more, if they're available.
Catch rates should continue to be excellent at Strawberry, but the numbers of fish that anglers can keep will be greatly reduced in 2003. By 2004, there should be a larger population of cutthroat trout beyond 22 inches which will allow anglers to harvest more fish. It will take three to five years before biologists will know if increased numbers of larger cutthroat trout will stabilize the chub population at appropriate levels.
Anglers should realize that predatory trout will never completely decimate chub populations, but they can maintain a balance in the population that will sustain a healthy fishery.
Anglers can help substantially by practicing good catch and release techniques. Anglers can also help by visually knowing the differences between rainbow and cutthroat trout.
One of the most reliable diagnostic features that distinguishes these two trout species is fin coloration.
The Bear Lake strain of cutthroat trout found in Strawberry exhibits deep orange pelvic and anal fins (i.e. the paired belly fins and single medial fin behind the vent), whereas the rainbow trout has translucent pink to gray-green pelvic and anal fins that are tipped in white.
In addition, Bear Lake cutthroat have sparsely scattered, large, and very distinctly rounded spots over the upper body, with few spots on or near the head.
Rainbow trout, on the other hand, are characterized by more dense, irregularly shaped spots on the back, sides and head.
Bear Lake cutthroat often lack the bright crimson jaw slash that, at times, may be yellow, gray or even nonexistent, and the slash is not a good distinguishing characteristic.
Knowing the fishing regulations and fish identification can prevent fishing violations.