Mike Hadley, an aquatic biologist with the UDWR in southern Utah, sent in this report from a recent survey at Navajo Lake.
The ice came off Navajo Lake east of Cedar City a couple of weeks ago and a combination of slow fishing and a number of dead fish observed had Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologists concerned that there may have been some winterkill in the lake. Despite six inches of new snow, we rushed up to set nets in the lake to assess the situation. When we pulled the nets on May 9, we found some good news and some sort of bad news. First the good news: although there was some winterkill, including most of the rainbow trout left over after last fall, nice-sized splake (a hybrid cross between brook trout and lake trout) were fairly abundant. We caught splake up to six and seven pounds, although fish over ten pounds have been caught in recent years. Now for the sort of bad news: all the splake we looked at had been binging at the Utah chub buffet. Most splake had multiple chubs in their stomachs – the record was a 16-inch fish that had eaten 13 chubs in the last day or so. This means that many of these fish are not hungry and the fishing this spring may continue to be a little tough. Don't let it keep you from taking a trip up there, however. Although you may only catch a few fish, you've got a chance to catch a big one.Photo captions:Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technicians Aaron Esplin (left) and Josh Verde (right) show off a couple of nice splake caught and released during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014.Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fish biologist Mike Hadley holds a six-pound splake caught and released during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014.Utah Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries technician Josh Verde (right) and fish biologist Richard Hepworth (right) show off some of the splake – including a seven pounder – caught during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014.This sixteen-inch splake caught during a trend net survey at Navajo Lake on May 9, 2014, had nine Utah chubs in its stomach.