Walleye and yellow perch are doing well at Starvation Reservoir

August 22, 2006

DUCHESNE - There's a rising star among the fish in Starvation Reservoir: yellow perch.

During a recent survey, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists caught yellow perch in all of their nets. "They were everywhere," said Ed Johnson, DWR fisheries biologist. "My fingertips still hurt from taking so many of them out of the survey nets."

Yellow Perch from Starvation
Large yellow perch like this 12-inch fish were fairly common in this year's survey at Starvation.
(Photo by Ed Johnson)

This is good news for anglers for two reasons: yellow perch provide another fish for anglers to catch at the reservoir, and the perch and crayfish have replaced the Utah chub in providing a forage base for other sportfish in the reservoir, including walleye, smallmouth bass and brown trout.

"We caught perch in several age categories, including quite a few that were around 12 inches," Johnson said. "Our survey showed they were well spread out throughout the reservoir. Fish were especially abundant around the points and near the weed beds."

Yellow perch have small mouths, so Johnson recommends using very small jigs tipped with pieces of worms, such as night crawlers, mealworms or pieces of perch meat, including the perch's eyes.

"Tip your lure with a piece of perch meat or a worm, and try fishing the points and the weed beds inside the bays," Johnson suggested. "In Utah, it is usually illegal to use game fish for bait, but dead yellow perch [are] allowed on some waters, including Starvation. (See the 2006 Utah Fishing Proclamation for details.)

"Many anglers catch [a yellow perch] and then slice sections off it to use as bait. Don't forget the eyes; for some reason, the eyes also seem to be preferred bait for yellow perch, so don't be afraid to try one."

Starvation Reservoir is about five miles west of Duchesne. The few anglers who have been fishing at the reservoir report catching yellow perch.

"Yellow perch at Starvation is an under-utilized fishery," Johnson said. "The perch have only come on strong in the last couple of years, so most anglers don't know about them yet. It's getting very little angling pressure. Those who do [fish for yellow perch] report good fishing, and it's just going to get better. I also think the ice fishing season is going to be dynamite."

For more information, call the DWR's Vernal office at (435) 781-WILD (9453).

Walleye aren't starving in Starvation

A recent survey by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists found the walleye aren't starving in Starvation Reservoir.

Many anglers would love to see a walleye like this on the end of their line.
(Photo by Ed Johnson)

"These fish aren't skinny," said Ed Johnson as he surveyed his catch. "We found a good, healthy population. We caught more large walleye this year, including numerous fish in the two- and three-pound range and one that weighed in at eight pounds. It's been quite a while since we caught an eight-pounder in our survey."

This was a good sign for Johnson, who had to reduce the number of walleye in Starvation Reservoir a few years ago because they had over-eaten their food base of Utah chub.

"We found fat walleye, fat smallmouth bass, fat brown trout and fat yellow perch," Johnson said. "These are all predatory game fish, and they have been eating well." Further investigation showed the fish had been eating crayfish and yellow perch.

The survey results are also good news for anglers who enjoy fishing at Starvation, which is about five miles west of Duchesne. "Starvation provides high quality fishing without the crowds that Pelican Lake and other better known waters get," Johnson said. "Anglers who like to go after warm water fish can choose between walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch."

Johnson says small 1/8- to 1/4-ounce jigs tipped with night crawlers, and trolling spinner-rigs with a worm harness, are common methods to catch walleye at Starvation. "Try jigging along the points and large walls of the main reservoir in about 15 to 25 feet of water," he said. "Another place to try [is] along the edges of the weed beds."

Johnson said the fishing has been good over the past few weeks, and it's improving.

"It's a great time to fish, and fishing will just get better as we go into the fall."

- Ron Stewart -