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Breeding Stock Protected in Red Fleet Reservoir

150 crappie released into Red Fleet Reservoir on April 8
Walleye fry, crappie. These crappie are among 150 crappie released into Red Fleet Reservoir on April 8.

You may not keep yellow perch or crappie until July 1

Vernal – An emergency fishing change at Red Fleet Reservoir should help ensure that yellow perch and crappie-released into the reservoir this spring by the Division of Wildlife Resources-can spawn successfully. If the fish spawn successfully, there's a good chance they'll establish themselves in the reservoir and provide anglers with great fishing in the future.

Until July 1, all yellow perch and crappie caught at the reservoir north of Vernal must be released immediately. Starting July 1, you can keep the perch and crappie you catch. The statewide limit, which is the limit that will be in effect at Red Fleet, is 50 yellow perch and 50 crappie.

Ron Stewart, regional outreach manager for the DWR, says protecting the recently stocked yellow perch and crappie is important to the future of the fishery. "These fish are the breeding stock, the future of the Red Fleet fishery," he says. "Since they are few in number, only 1,050 yellow perch and only a few hundred crappie, we need every fish to stay in the reservoir to ensure the spawning effort is successful."

Biologists brought perch and crappie to the reservoir just before the fish started their annual spawn. They hope the fish will find suitable spawning habitat in Red Fleet and have a successful spawn this spring. "Four months of protection, under the rule change, should help this effort," Stewart says.

Red Fleet was treated with rotenone in October 2015 to remove all of its fish. In November, hatchery personnel with the DWR started restocking the reservoir. Eight-inch cutthroat trout, and 10-inch rainbow trout, were the first fish to go in. Wipers (a sterile cross between a white bass and a striped bass) were also placed in the water. The wipers were five inches long when they were stocked.

"More cutthroat and rainbow trout, along with wipers that are 10 inches long, should be stocked soon," Stewart says. "Putting 8- and 10-inch fish in the reservoir should provide anglers with some good fishing opportunities, for smaller fish, this summer."

Sterile walleye are another fish that was placed in the reservoir this spring. In mid-March, biologists started collecting walleye at Willard Bay Reservoir in northern Utah. After removing eggs and milt (sperm) from the fish, the walleye were released back into Willard Bay. After fertilizing the eggs with the milt, a pressure treatment method was used on the eggs to produce the sterile walleye. Up to 5 million sterile walleye fry, each measuring about a 1/2-inch long, will be stocked into Red Fleet this year.

"We stocked 750,000 sterile walleye fry this week," Stewart said on April 7. "As other batches hatch, the fry will be tested—to ensure the fish are sterile-before they're placed in the reservoir. Hopefully, we can reach the 5 million mark this year."

You can learn more about how biologists and hatchery workers create sterile walleye by reading a blog post at the DWR's website. The post is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/blog/2016/stocking-sterile-fish.

In addition to the yellow perch, crappie and walleye fry that were placed in the reservoir this spring, mountain whitefish and fathead minnows are also scheduled for stocking this spring and summer.

For more information about fishing at Red Fleet Reservoir, call the DWR's Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.