Based on feedback they received from anglers, fisheries biologists are recommending changes for Utah's 2012 fishing season.
Drew Cushing, sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says biologists received more than 1,100 responses to an online survey they offered in May and June.
"The anglers who responded to the survey shared some great ideas with us," he says. "We think several of their ideas will work."
Because of the way the survey was conducted (for example, it was offered online to anyone who wanted to take it), Cushing says the survey isn't statistically valid and doesn't represent every angler in Utah. But he's still excited about the number of anglers who responded to the survey and the ideas they shared.
"Several of their ideas were really good," he says.
Changes at specific waters
Based on what they learned through the survey, Cushing says DWR biologists are recommending several changes. The following are some examples:
Willard Bay Reservoir
— Reduce the wiper limit to three wipers a day.
(Currently, anglers at Willard Bay can keep up to six wipers a day.)
Cushing says DWR personnel at the Wahweap State Fish Hatchery are getting better and better at raising wipers. (Wipers are a cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass.)
But the hatchery still hasn't reached the point where it can keep up with the demand for wipers at Willard Bay Reservoir (a popular wiper fishing water north of Ogden) and other waters in Utah that have wipers.
Until the hatchery can meet the demand, many anglers would like to see the wiper limit at Willard Bay reduced to protect the wipers that are in the reservoir now.
"We agree with the anglers," Cushing says. "We think reducing the wiper limit at Willard Bay is a great idea."
Lost Creek Reservoir
— Allow anglers to keep up to four trout a day. But not more than three of those trout could be less than 15 inches long. And not more than one of the trout could be longer than 22 inches. All trout between 15 and 22 inches would have to be released immediately.
(Currently, anglers can keep up to four trout a day at Lost Creek, no matter how long the trout are.)
Cushing says Utah chubs are causing problems at this reservoir northeast of Croydon in northern Utah. To help fight the problem, biologists want to place some "chub eaters" in the reservoir.
Cushing says the DWR will probably place Bear Lake cutthroat trout — the same species that's controlling chubs at Strawberry Reservoir — into Lost Creek.
The new trout limit — which is similar to the trout limit that's worked so well at Strawberry — would keep plenty of cutthroats in the reservoir to fight the chub population.
But the new limit would do something else, too. Because the new limit would protect all of the trout species in Lost Creek — tiger, rainbow and cutthroat — bigger trout of each species would be available for anglers to catch in the future.
Those who took the survey said they wanted more chances to catch bigger fish.
Big fish at a small water?
— Place the usual community water limit — two fish a day of any species — on seven of the eight new community waters that will open in Utah in 2012.
But at one of those waters — Hobbs Reservoir in Layton — special rules would be in place:
— Anglers could keep up to two trout each day, but the trout would have to be shorter than 15 inches long. All trout 15 inches or longer would have to be released immediately.
— Bait would not be allowed. Anglers would have to use lures or flies. Using lures and flies increases the chance that fish will survive after being released.
Cushing says the rules at Hobbs should allow trout in the reservoir to grow to a larger size while allowing anglers to keep some of the smaller fish.
Many of those who responded to the survey said they wanted more chances to catch bigger fish. "To help meet that demand," Cushing says, "we'd like to try something different at Hobbs.
"If the regulations worked," he says, "in the future, anglers could do something that's rare in Utah or any state — catch a trophy-sized fish in the middle of a large community."
Learn more, share your ideas
All of the fishing changes the DWR is recommending for 2012 are available at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
After you've reviewed the ideas, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Nov. 3 to approve rules for Utah's 2012 fishing season.