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Utah DWR: Please keep the smaller lake trout caught at Flaming Gorge

Lake Trout at Flaming Gorge
Posted at 1:56 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 15:57:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY — If you catch any lake trout under 25 inches at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and other agencies are encouraging you to take it home and eat it.

According to DWR, the popular reservoir currently has too many small lake trout, and anglers can help by removing them from the water permanently.

Flaming Gorge is known to produce some of the largest lake trout in the United States, and DWR officials say removing the smaller ones will increase the fishery's overall health.

"In Flaming Gorge, lake trout larger than 25 inches primarily consume kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. If the abundant population of smaller lake trout (under 25 inches) is not reduced, there could be impacts on the salmon and rainbow trout populations, as well as fewer fish to feed the trophy lake trout," a news release from DWR explains. "We’re managing for a balanced fishery of predators and prey, and currently, there are too many predators. Reducing the number of small lake trout now will mean healthier lake trout in the future, while also increasing the survival of trout and salmon that are highly sought after by anglers.

Harvesting the smaller lake trout will leave a bigger food supply for the larger lake trout, and give anglers better chances of catching rainbow trout and salmon.

Ryan Mosley, DWR lead fisheries biologist at Flaming Gorge, said the smaller trout make great entrees.

“Many anglers don’t realize the smaller lake trout are quite tasty,” Mosley said. “They're one of my favorite fish to eat. In Flaming Gorge, only kokanee salmon rival them in taste.”

According to Mosley, an 8-year-old lake trout would've measured about 30 inches in the 1990s, but only 23 inches today.

Anglers can take 12 lake trout, including one over 28 inches, from the reservoir each day.

On April 24-25, the Mac Attack Derby will incentivize anglers to remove the smaller lake trout. Each two-person team can submit up to 48 lake trout of 25 inches or fewer to be weighed for a chance to win cash prizes. Click here for details on the derby.