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DWR encouraging anglers to keep fish instead of releasing them

Anglers fishing on the Provo River in March 2005.
Anglers fishing on the Provo River in March 2005.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News archive

SALT LAKE CITY — The number of fish that anglers keep in the state is down dramatically over the past 10 years, and the Division of Wildlife Resources says it’s hurting anglers.

Nearly all, 95 percent, of the brown trout that are caught in Utah are released and 90 percent of the black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) that are caught in the state are released, according to the DWR.

Twelve years ago, anglers kept 16,000 walleye at Willard Bay Reservoir. In 2012, only 1,500 walleye were kept.

"You may not realize it, but catching and releasing fish — on waters where you're allowed to keep some fish — is working against you,” said Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR. “Until anglers start keeping some fish, the fish aren't going to grow to the size that many anglers want. Many of Utah's waters simply have too many fish."

The DWR is proposing several changes for next year, including eliminating the “home” possession limit. Getting rid of the limit the number of fish an angler can have in his or her freezer at home might be one way to encourage anglers to keep more fish, the DWR said.

All of the division's fishing proposals for 2015 are available online. People can let their Regional Advisory Council members know their thoughts by attending your upcoming council meeting or by sending an email to them.

More information is available at wildlife.utah.gov.