This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Anglers who think they know more than the biologists who manage fisheries have been a problem for years when they illegally plant new species of fish in lakes, reservoirs or rivers.

It happened again recently at Echo.

Someone illegally planted walleye, an action that could eventually either ruin the Echo fishery or force the expenditure of thousands of dollars to eliminate all fish at the reservoir and start over.

According to a news release, Division of Wildlife Resources officials learned about the illegal stocking through a fishing report recently posted on social media. Biologists conducted a netting survey, that turned up 29 young walleye.

"While some anglers might think this illegal introduction is going to provide another great opportunity for walleye fishing along the Wasatch Front," said DWR sport fisheries coordinator Craig Walker, "not so fast."

While Walker says walleye provide good fishing in reservoirs such as Starvation, Willard Bay, Utah Lake and Lake Powell, the fish don't belong in many other reservoirs including Echo.

That's because walleye, which are not a native fish, feed almost entirely on other fish and are prolific breeders capable of establishing a large population quickly.

Walker said that means they can decimate native fish population, outgrow their prey base and destroy existing sport fisheries by preying on other valuable species including rainbow trout, kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass.

The biologist explained that Echo can fluctuate annually by 30 feet due to irrigation draw-down. It lacks the cover needed to produce enough prey to sustain an expanding walleye population. The result is that the reservoir becomes filled with small, overabundant walleye and years of mediocre fishing.

Yuba Reservoir has been another water adversely affected. There, anglers introduced northern pike.

What is disappointing to biologists is that they have tried to work with anglers to provide more diverse fisheries throughout a state that was once dominated by rainbow trout.

"I would much rather work with anglers than against them", says Walker, pointing to the numerous introductions of new species the DWR has done over the past few years as part of angler-driven water management plans. Such plans have resulted in new and diverse fish communities at waters like Red Fleet Reservoir and Jordanelle Reservoir. Both reservoirs have been infused with new and different species with an eye on successful long term management."

comments powered by Disqus