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25000 Wipers Stocked in Jordanelle Reservoir


The Utah DWR stocked 25,000 Wipers into Jordanelle Reservoir
The Utah DWR stocked 25,000 Wipers into Jordanelle Reservoir

Tiger muskie and kokanee salmon stocked earlier this year

Park City – An "extreme makeover" is happening at Jordanelle Reservoir.

The latest installment happened Aug. 25, when Division of Wildlife Resources fish hatchery personnel and biologists placed 25,000 two-inch wipers in the reservoir southeast of Park City.

A wiper is a sterile cross between a striped bass and a white bass. The hard-fighting fish will do two things at Jordanelle: provide anglers with fantastic fishing and increase the size of smallmouth bass by eating some of the smaller ‘smallies’ in the reservoir.

Mike Slater, regional aquatics biologist with the DWR, says the smallmouth bass population in Jordanelle mostly fall into three size classes: those around six inches in length, which are about one year old; those around 12 inches, which are anywhere from three to six years old; and those over 16 inches, which are six years of age and older.

Slater says the current population has a lot of smallmouth bass that are "stacked up" below 11 inches or so. To thin the bass population, tiger muskie (a sterile cross between a muskellunge and a northern pike) were also stocked into the reservoir recently.

"As the wipers and tiger muskies mature," Slater says, "they’ll eat a portion of the smaller bass. Removing the smaller fish will free up food that will allow the bass that remain in the reservoir to grow larger in size."

Slater says an online survey the DWR conducted in 2015 showed anglers want a smaller population of larger fish in Jordanelle as opposed to lots of bass less than 12 inches long.

Providing anglers with bigger smallmouth bass to catch isn’t the biologists’ only goal at the reservoir; they want to improve trout fishing too.

"In the future," Slater says, "we’ll stock 12-inch rainbow trout instead of 8-inch trout that have been stocked in the past. Placing bigger rainbows in Jordanelle will result in fewer rainbows being eaten. And that should increase the number of trout anglers catch."

Plan for the future

All of the work that’s happening at Jordanelle is part of a management plan put together by a work group and the DWR.

The 15-member work group included representatives from state resource agencies and numerous sportsmen and fishing groups. The group assisted DWR biologists in updating and developing a fishery management plan for the reservoir that will provide anglers with a quality fishing experience. It took biologists and the group six months to write the plan.

"Stocking wiper into the reservoir helps fulfill one of the goals identified in the plan," says Chris Crockett, regional aquatic manager for the DWR.

Wipers being stocked into Jordanelle Reservoir
Wipers being stocked into Jordanelle Reservoir

Crockett says creating a stable forage base of fish in the reservoir, and creating diverse fishing opportunities through stocking kokanee salmon, tiger muskie and splake (a sterile cross between a brook trout and a lake trout) are also parts of the plan. So is enhancing the reservoir’s current smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and brown trout fishery.

Tiger muskie, kokanee salmon

Wipers aren’t the only fish introduced to Jordanelle this year. On July 12, a total of 9,000 six-inch tiger muskies were also stocked into Jordanelle. Placing tiger muskie in the reservoir addresses several objectives in the management plan, including "increase size structure of smallmouth bass," "expand fishery to include a trophy apex predator," "expand species for additional opportunities" and "increase diversity of species that anglers can target."

Approximately 60,000 kokanee salmon were also stocked in Jordanelle in April. In the future, even more kokanee—about 250,000 each year—will be stocked in the reservoir.

Slater says kokanee salmon help fill an underutilized niche in the reservoir.

"Kokanee primarily inhabit the pelagic/open water zone and prey on zooplankton," he says. "Past surveys at the reservoir revealed a healthy, underutilized zooplankton community. Stocking kokanee addresses several objectives within the management plan, including increasing the forage base."

Kokanee are fertile (they can reproduce). Kokanee production will not only create a chance to catch a salmon, but the young kokanee will provide food for other predators in the reservoir.

"Another goal in the plan is to place more species into the reservoir so anglers have more opportunity," he says. "Placing kokanee salmon does that too."

Increasing watchable wildlife opportunities is another goal in the plan. Slater says kokanee salmon will accomplish that also. Kokanee, which turn bright red during their fall spawning run, swim upriver to spawn.

"The Rock Cliff arm of the Provo River will be a great place to watch kokanee in four to five years," Slater says. "In addition, kokanee that die and decay after spawning will provide more nutrients for the reservoir."

Sterile fish

Wiper, tiger muskie and splake are all sterile species. Use of sterile fish helps the DWR provide diverse fishing opportunities, increases the ability to react to changing management and stocking needs, and helps protect sensitive species.

"Since sterile fish do not reproduce," Slater says, "we have better control over the number of predators in the reservoir. For example, if the number of sterile predators in the reservoir gets too high, and they’re causing other fish populations to stunt, we can simply reduce the number of sterile predators we stock and then let harvest or other management actions decrease the number of predators in the reservoir."

For more information about fishing at Jordanelle Reservoir, call the DWR’s Central Region office at 801-491-5678.