Bigger lake trout and more kokanee salmon should be available in the future at Flaming Gorge Reservoir after the Utah Wildlife Board approved some fishing rule changes. The changes will take effect Jan. 1.
The Flaming Gorge changes were among several regulation changes board members approved for Utah's 2006 fishing season.
All of the changes will be available in Utah's 2006 Fishing Proclamation, which will be available by early December.
The changes at Flaming Gorge include:
The lake trout limit will be eight fish. Only one of the lake trout can be longer than 28 inches.
Anglers must release all kokanee salmon caught from Sept. 10 through Nov. 30.
A burbot limit of 25 fish will go into effect. Anglers will be required to keep and kill any burbot they catch.
Currently the lake trout limit at the reservoir is four fish, and the period when anglers must release kokanee salmon is Oct. 1 to Nov. 7.
Tom Pettengill, sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR, said an abundant population of small lake trout is causing problems for lake trout and kokanee salmon in Flaming Gorge.
The lake trout are competing with each other for food, which is slowing how fast the lake trout grow. The abundant lake trout also are preying heavily on kokanee salmon in the reservoir.
"Anglers can help correct the problems, and the new lake trout regulation will allow them to do that," Pettengill said. "The new regulation will allow anglers to keep lots of small lake trout, but will protect the larger fish by not allowing anglers to keep more than one lake trout over 28 inches."
Pettengill hopes anglers will take advantage of the regulation and keep lots of smaller lake trout.
"There are gobs of five-pound and smaller lake trout in Flaming Gorge," he said. "They're much easier to catch than the larger fish are, and they're great to eat. They're not as greasy as the older fish, and they have a great flavor."
In addition to raising the lake trout limit, board members lengthened the period of time in the fall when anglers must release kokanee salmon.
"We've found that lengthening the time anglers must release kokanee salmon saves more fish than reducing the daily kokanee salmon limit by one fish," Pettengill said. "If we can reduce the number of kokanees kept during the fall spawning period more kokanees will be able to spawn, and that should result in more kokanee salmon for anglers to catch in the future."
A requirement that anglers keep the burbot they catch should also help kokanee salmon and lake trout in Flaming Gorge.
"Burbot are a cold water predator that were illegally introduced above Flaming Gorge and have found their way into the reservoir," Pettengill said. "They can reach 15 to 18 pounds in weight. One thing the fishery doesn't need is another large predator preying on kokanee salmon and competing with lake trout for food."
Utah's burbot regulation is the same regulation Wyoming has established for its portion of the Gorge.
"Burbot are an unattractive fish, but they're very good to eat," he said. "We hope anglers will eat the burbot they catch."
Pettengill says anglers will most likely catch burbot while ice fishing.
For more information, call 801-538-4700.