Beginning June 20, the Division of Wildlife Resources will give bags of pre-cleaned 7- to 8-inch rainbow trout to anglers who possess a valid fishing license and to young people under the age of 14.
Those who qualify can pick the trout up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DWR's Springville office, 1115 N. Main St. in Springville.
Volunteers will process a limited number of trout for the public, and trout will be available as long as supplies last. Depending on the demand, the fish could be given out within two or three days.
The rainbow trout were raised at the DWR's Springville fish hatchery, which was closed recently after some of its trout tested positive for whirling disease. Once whirling disease is found in a hatchery, the fish from the portions of the hatchery that tested positive cannot be stocked into waters in Utah. Removing fish from the hatchery is necessary so the hatchery can be disinfected. Rather than waste the fish, they will be provided to the public.
Eating fish infected with whirling disease poses no known health risks to humans. "To put the public at ease, I want them to know that I recently had a fish meal from a private fish hatchery that was infected with whirling disease, and those were some of the best trout I've ever eaten," said Tim Miles, fish culture coordinator for the DWR.
Volunteers from the DWR's Dedicated Hunter program will clean and process the fish on June 18 and place them in a freezer at the site. Beginning June 20, licensed anglers and youth under 14 years of age (youth are not required to possess a fishing license until they're 14 years old) can then come to the DWR's Springville office and receive one bag of fish per eligible person. DWR Director Jim Karpowitz has signed an executive order allowing the donation of eight trout per person (double the regular possession limit) for this project. For law enforcement purposes, a receipt will be given with each bag of fish that explains the emergency donation program.
Although more than 600,000 rainbow trout that are too small to be cleaned (known as fingerling trout) will be destroyed and used for compost, 215,000 fingerling trout raised in Springville's indoor hatchery facilities have tested negative for the disease and will be stocked into Otter Creek and Piute reservoirs in southern Utah. The DWR recently received a stocking variance from the Utah Fish Health Policy Board to stock these fish into Otter Creek and Piute, both of which have tested positive for whirling disease.
For more information, call the Division of Wildlife Resources' Central Region Office in Springville at (801) 491-5678.