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Fewer but bigger fish to be stocked this year

Fishing for trout at a community fishery
Fishing for trout at a community fishery

SALT LAKE CITY - If you like fishing for large fish, this is your year. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will be stocking fewer fish in some Utah waterbodies this year, but the fish will be larger.

Fish stocking numbers in Utah have been pretty consistent since 2014. However, research has shown that reducing the numbers of fish that are raised and then stocked allows hatcheries to focus on producing higher quality fish that survive better after being stocked, according to DWR sportfish coordinator Randy Oplinger. As a result, fish stocking numbers will be reduced by about 3% this year, another 6% next year and another 7.8% in 2021. The total number of fish stocked each year will remain constant after that, Oplinger said.

"Idaho made a similar switch about five years ago and found that after they started stocking fewer fish, their hatcheries started producing larger, better quality fish, and anglers started catching more fish," Oplinger said. "We expect the same here in Utah. So, we will stock fewer fish, but doing this will actually make fishing better."

While overall there will be fewer total fish stocked, not all lakes and reservoirs will see changes in their stocking numbers. All the waterbodies that are traditionally stocked were evaluated, and only select lakes will receive fewer fish this year, Oplinger said.

"Some waters will receive no reduction, and the reduction might be up to 50% in other waters," he said.

About 90% of the fish stocked by DWR are rainbow trout. And biologists anticipate that the fish stocked in the reduced waterbodies this year will be about 2 inches longer than in previous years.

DWR Springville Hatchery manager Richard Hartman said 14 community ponds located in Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties will be stocked with rainbow trout next week. The majority of the community ponds along the Wasatch Front are stocked with fish raised at the Springville Hatchery.

Here are the three ponds that will receive the most fish during next week's stockings:

Bountiful Lake: This community fishery will be stocked with 1,500 rainbow trout. It is located at W. 1600 North in Woods Cross. It is open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m.

Smith Family Pond: It will be stocked with 700 rainbow trout and is located at 2500 W. 4000 North St. in Farr West.

Adams Reservoir: This reservoir will be stocked with 500 rainbow trout. It is located at 1799 E. 1000 North in Layton.

Anglers should note that while these fisheries will be receiving the most fish during next week's stockings, Bountiful Lake and Adams Reservoir are larger community ponds (both at 50 acres) and so the stocking density is lower. For anyone taking kids fishing, Smith Family Pond will offer better opportunities to catch fish because it is smaller (7 acres) and the stocking density is higher.