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Fishing changes for 2004 approved by Utah Wildlife Board

SALT LAKE CITY The quality of trout anglers catch on a 2 1/4-mile portion of the middle Provo River should improve after the Utah Wildlife Board approved fishing regulations for Utah's 2004 season at a Sept. 11 meeting in Salt Lake City.

The board also approved changes aimed at improving kokanee salmon fishing at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The regulations approved by the board will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2004. The board, which consists of seven citizens appointed by Gov. Mike Leavitt, made its decisions after hearing recommendations from Division of Wildlife Resources biologists, citizens representing Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils and people who attended the Sept. 11 meeting.

Relaxing fishing regulations on a portion of the Provo River

The quality of trout that anglers catch on a 2 1/4-mile portion of the middle Provo River above Deer Creek Reservoir should improve after the board voted to allow anglers to use bait, and keep four brown, rainbow or cutthroat trout a day, while fishing between the Charleston Bridge and the Legacy Bridge.

This 2 -mile section covers less than 20 percent of the middle Provo River, a 10-mile stretch of river in north-central Utah that's one of the most popular fishing rivers in the state.

Until Jan. 1, 2004, anglers may keep only two brown trout a day on the 2 1/4-mile stretch, and they must continue to use artificial flies or lures only.

"Completion of Jordanelle Reservoir in the mid-1990s, and ongoing work to restore portions of the middle Provo River, have reduced sediment in the river and have greatly improved river flows and fish habitat along the entire 10-mile stretch. With the improved conditions, the number of trout in the river is increasing," said Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"At the same time, in 2002 anglers kept only one to two percent of the brown trout they caught on the middle Provo," he said. "The number of brown trout in the river is increasing and that's impacting the population. The length, weight and overall quality of the fish are declining. Some fish are also dying each fall from fungal and bacterial infections. This loss is occurring because brown trout are too abundant for the resource, and fish are in poor condition.

"If anglers will take more fish, the growth and health of the remaining fish should improve and the quality of the fish in the middle Provo should be back to where it was before it became overpopulated," Pettengill said. "Opening this section to bait anglers, and allowing anglers to keep more fish, should increase the number of fish that are kept and make the middle Provo a premiere fishery again."

On the remaining portions of the middle Provo River, the artificial flies and lures only restriction will remain in effect after Jan. 1, but anglers will be allowed to keep two trout of any species as long as the fish are under 15 inches in length. Until Jan. 1, only brown trout may be kept.

Changes to improve kokanee salmon fishing at Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Board members also approved two changes that should improve kokanne salmon fishing at Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, anglers will be allowed to keep up to six lake trout a day and harvest of kokanee salmon in the reservoir will not be allowed from Oct. 1 to Nov. 7, 2004.

"Kokanee salmon usually go through a 2-year cycle. Numbers are good for two years, then they decline for two years and then they come back up," Pettengill said. "Kokanee salmon numbers haven't increased from the last down cycle and our biologists believe predation by lake trout is the reason. There are lots and lots of young lake trout in the reservoir and we need help from anglers to reduce the population."

Beginning Jan. 1, the combined trout and kokanee salmon limit will remain at six fish, but all of those fish can be lake trout. The kokanee salmon limit will remain at three fish, and anglers will be allowed only one lake trout over 28 inches. "This regulation will keep plenty of big lake trout in the reservoir while helping reduce the number of smaller fish," Pettengill said.

The Wyoming Game & Fish Department is proposing a similar lake trout limit in 2004 for the Wyoming side of Flaming Gorge.

"Wyoming has closed kokanne salmon fishing on their side of the reservoir during the spawning season and more anglers are coming to the Utah side to fish for kokanees," he said. "That increased pressure is impacting the population. We believe this [Oct. 1 to Nov. 7] closure will protect the population and improve kokanee fishing."

 

 

 

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