Fishing Forum
Skip to Content


Fishing Forum > Utah Fishing Forum : Utah Fishing General >

DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard

Report Post | Register to Reply
DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard
After reading some of the statements and comments on the issue of dead walleyes and illegal harvest of walleyes at Willard I sent a link to the thread to Chris Penne of DWR. As always, he was prompt to respond and put together a fairly lengthy and informative reply.

Thanks again, Chris

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks Pat and Chris,
Appreciate the fast detailed response. Chris how does the recruitment numbers vary for natural spawned eggs verses the planting efforts from these eggs that are harvested? I guess what I expect is even though you take 30 million eggs, you most likely return more fish to the lake than would have resulted if the fish would have just naturally spawned... Is that true? Thanks Jeff
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks again Pat for contacting Chris about this issue and posting his response.

Chris- Thank you for responding so quickly and addressing many of our concerns. You guys and gals do a great job but some time we don't tell you that enough.


BFT administrator and moderator

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [SkunkedAgain] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I am attaching a copy of the marking report for 2017 referred to by Chris. It should provide some answers to your questions. But, as Chris has pointed out on other occasions, it is virtually impossible to track any given batch of hatchlings once they enter the lake ecosystem. Any numbers would be pure guesswork.

What is not guesswork is that there is a significant difference in the hatch and survival rate of eggs kept in a hatchery environment and those allowed to chance it in the wild. Good aeration, constant temps and a lack of predation in hatcheries just gotta result in more eggs surviving to the fry stage. But once they are flushed into the lake they are all subject to the same vicissitudes of walleye life.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks to Pat for following up and thanks to Chris for his quick response.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [SkunkedAgain] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
SkunkedAgain wrote:
Thanks Pat and Chris,
Appreciate the fast detailed response. Chris how does the recruitment numbers vary for natural spawned eggs verses the planting efforts from these eggs that are harvested? I guess what I expect is even though you take 30 million eggs, you most likely return more fish to the lake than would have resulted if the fish would have just naturally spawned... Is that true? Thanks Jeff

Hey Jeff, Chris read your question on the board and sent me this response to post for all to read:


In answer to Skunked Again's question - we can't tell exactly what the hatch rate is, which you touched on but there is an important detail we can tell, which is how many of the young walleye in our nets each year were stocked by DWR. In 2015, about 88% of the young walleye netted were fish we stocked. This suggests we created a solid year class on a year when survival of naturally recruited walleye was lackluster. It also tells us that the 500,000 fry we stocked fared much better than the millions of eggs deposited in the reservoir. We didn't have great luck in 2016, but neither did the naturally recruited fish. As I mentioned, it's rare to have two strong year classes of walleye in a row so no surprise there. In 2017, both naturally reproduced fish and stocked fish did very well and about 53% of the young fish in our nets were stocked fish. Considering we only stocked 500,000 fish, I would say having those fish represent just over half of the new recruits that year is really good when compared with the millions of eggs deposited. So all in all, it is clear that the eggs we are taking, hatching and stocking as fry have a much better shot at survival compared to the eggs deposited in the reservoir. We're not looking to replace natural reproduction, just skim off the top and enhance it with the supplemental stocking.

Chris
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks Chris and Pat
I know the stocking program sure helped the steelheads on the salmon and I'm sure like you say in time we'll see it on the walleye as well. Just seeing the number of anglers now catching eyes should be proof that things are getting better. Fun to go after walleye and actually catch some. Thanks again. J
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
My first thought when I read about the dead walleyes was DAMN SNAGGERS!! because I've seen dead walleye in both the inlet channel and harbor in the long ago past that had snag scars. One even had a big treble hook (like about a 4.0) that had broken off sticking out of it.

Sure wish they would simply close the channel from March 1 through May 31.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
TubeDude wrote:
In 2015, about 88% of the young walleye netted were fish we stocked.

How can you tell they were stocked, do you ask them?

Seriously though, how can you tell? Clipped fin or some other kind of marking? It would be interesting to know when you catch one if it was stocked or natural. Are the same markings used in other reservoirs as well for walleye?
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks tubedude and Mr. Penn for taking the time to help all of us to understand what is going on at Willard. This fishery is very important to a lot of us because we have spent a life time of fishing it. However, the issue with the inlet channel is still a huge problem for a lot of us. I still can't see the justification for opening it during the spawn, we don't allow fishing the tributaries that Kokenee spawn in so why Willard. This is to simply protect the species while they complete their reproduction process. There is plenty of access to fish Willard during the walleye spawn without interfering with the inlet channel where the walleye are stacked like a cord of wood during this time. These walleye are so vulnerable at this time that it just isn't fair for them, that is why fishermen are able to snag and bag so easily. The people that want the inlet channel open need to realize that these walleye are in there for a reason and closer at this time(March 1st thru May 31st) is important to the species. Closer of the inlet channel is a no brainer if we as sportsman and fishermen have any respect and appreciation for the walleye in Willard.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Dunn13] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I agree. They will close a trout stream six months out of the year to protect cutthroat trout. Walleye are tasty. More is always better.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [T-DOG91] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks for taking the time Pat; much appreciated as always. And Chris - you da man! Pretty much says it all. But the haters are still going to hate and spew their hatred on here - don't cha know? Cool


LEAVE THE DAMN CHANNEL OPEN. IT HAS VIRTUALLY NO EFFECT ON THE OVERALL POPULATION OF WALLEYE IN WILLARD BAY. PERIOD.


Boy, that should generate some heat.



Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
So if you want the channel to remain open I would like to hear your reason for it. Closing the channel for 3 months out of the year is a very small price to pay for what it does to help the walleye. The reason for it being opened is rediculous, we're saying that it gives more fishing opportunity for other fishermen. No, there is enough of Willard for people to fish without disturbing the spawn. I fished Willard for many of years around the dikes and done very well on the walleye without having to fish the inlet. Leaving the inlet open during this time of year is just ignorance towards the fishery, there is no logical reason for it.
I'm sorry dubob there's just no justification for it that makes sense!
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Chris-
I appreciate your response!

First I want to explain my love for Walleye and Willard Bay. As a young boy 8 years old (And Through out my youth) myself and dad spent countless days and nights chasing Walleye! Both Trolling and casting from shore. These memories are priceless to a father and son....
Now being 46 years old I love the time I spend at willard chasing Walleye with my son and re-living the times spent with my father.

Lets talk about the inlet channel-

You CANNOT close the channel due to a handful of violators! Its like closing I-15 because some folks drive to fast?
These fish due bite at this time and yes some get snagged but can be released. It gives the average guy without a boat a good chance at legally catching a Walleye.

The group of us fishing this past Thursday evening did call in Friday and report these individuals snagging and gave personal descriptions and vehicle descriptions. I also offered my phone and asked "If there is anything I can personally do to help I'm more than willing" These groups of folks need to be nipped in the bud ASAP at the beginning of the season.

Ok now for the questions-
I'm quoting your report...

As one of the most popular sport fish in North America (USDOI 2001), walleye were introduced to the reservoir shortly after its completion and soon established a viable naturally reproducing population.

You state in this paragraph that Willard Bay has a "Established viable naturally reproducing population".


Within the same paragraph you state-

While this practice is particularly common in North America, supplemental stocking in waters where walleye have a naturally reproducing population is rarely successful, with success being reported in about 6% of cases (Kerr 2011).

So the question here is if Willard has a established viable naturally reproducing population and stocking in such a water is "Rarely successful" and success being reported in the 6% range is the DNR really doing justice at Willard?

Do we have any data on the fish that were chemically marked as of yet? Should we continue this program assuming results? Has "One" Chemically marked fish been checked in 2018 at Willard Bay?

I could see repeating a
In Reply To:
program after data has proved results but we continue each year without knowing yet???

Chris, Im just a concerned Fisherman I by NO means wish to insult and hope I'm not coming across that way. Please feel free to PM myself your email address for direct contact.

Thank You,
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
What a great write up. Thanks for getting a hold of them for that TD. I might just have to take Chris up on that invite to check out the process at the South Marina and let BrigfishJr get a little biology lesson.


"Only dead fish go with the flow."
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Dunn13] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Dunn13 wrote:
TubeDude wrote:
In 2015, about 88% of the young walleye netted were fish we stocked.


How can you tell they were stocked, do you ask them?

Seriously though, how can you tell? Clipped fin or some other kind of marking? It would be interesting to know when you catch one if it was stocked or natural. Are the same markings used in other reservoirs as well for walleye?

Read this. Chemical marking. And yes, this is a widespread practice. But the DWR folks have special lighting and equipment that allows them to check for marking. Regular anglers do not.

So yes, you do have to ask them. But don't be surprised if they don't answer. Walleyes are notorious for keeping their mouths closed to fishermen.


WILLARD MARKING 2017.pdf (679 KB)
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
RABBLE ROUSER.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
TubeDude wrote:
RABBLE ROUSER.


Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [perchound] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
perchound wrote:
So if you want the channel to remain open I would like to hear your reason for it. Closing the channel for 3 months out of the year is a very small price to pay for what it does to help the walleye. The reason for it being opened is rediculous, we're saying that it gives more fishing opportunity for other fishermen. No, there is enough of Willard for people to fish without disturbing the spawn. I fished Willard for many of years around the dikes and done very well on the walleye without having to fish the inlet. Leaving the inlet open during this time of year is just ignorance towards the fishery, there is no logical reason for it.
I'm sorry dubob there's just no justification for it that makes sense!
No malice, disrespect, or ill will intended towards you personally, but you've already stated that "there's just no justification for it that makes sense!" There is a ton of evidence available to the contrary, but none of it will change your opinion about it. So it isn't worth my time to show you the evidence when I know up front it will fall on deaf ears. And for the record, I don't have a dog in this fight. I have NEVER fished the channel and have no intention to do so in the future. But I AM 100% in favor of leaving it open. Tight lines to you Sir. I truly hope you have a great season on Willard this year.

Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [gooseguts] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
It seems you may have missed the part in Chris Penne response where over 50% of the gill net samplings have been from the supplemental planting of walleye fry. Which apparently is rare but is working favorably at Willard Bay.
Rod P
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Pat and Chris,
thank you both for taking the time to educate us on Willard Bay Walleye.

Willard has become my home waters and I spend a lot of time there both from shore and boat.

I have mixed feelings about the inlet and I will rely on the Division to do what is best there.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
dubob wrote:

There is a ton of evidence available to the contrary, but none of it will change your opinion about it. So it isn't worth my time to show you the evidence when I know up front it will fall on deaf ears.


Bob, you call it the way you see it. I like that.Smile


"If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago."
- Zane Grey
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
It's quite obvious that what I'm saying is falling on deaf ears as well, if you would really listen to what I'm saying you would look at it differently. However, you choose to not use any common sense toward the issue of disturbing the walleye spawn. It's all about allowing the walleye to spawn without disruption, is it really that hard for you to get it?
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [perchound] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
perchound wrote:
It's quite obvious that what I'm saying is falling on deaf ears as well, if you would really listen to what I'm saying you would look at it differently. No, I would not. I hear exactly what you are saying and fully comprehend what it means to you. However, Sir, you are dealing strickly on emotions, not facts. It has already been scientifically proven and so stated that the spawn in the channel is 100%, absolutely, a wasted effort by the fish. Science has proven that 99.9% (well, maybe as low as 99.5% Wink) of the eggs deposited in the channel will NOT be fertilized. Therefore, comma, fishing -or NOT fishing - in the channel will have absolutely zero effect on the overall walleye spawn in Willard as a whole. And if you weren't so tied up in your emotions over this issue, you would listen to the facts and act accordingly. As the old saying goes, the truth will set you free. And the facts will tell you the truth.

However, you choose to not use any common sense toward the issue of disturbing the walleye spawn. It's all about allowing the walleye to spawn without disruption, is it really that hard for you to get it? Again, the facts do NOT support your emotions on this issue. Disrupting the spawn in the channel will NOT have ANY impact on the success of the spawn for the reservoir as a whole. Those are facts and no amount of emotional posturing by you and others on this board is going to change that. Your emotions on this issue will not let you listen to any other outcome except the channel must be closed.
Nice try, but MY common sense is exactly where it needs to be. And that is looking at the FACTS and forming MY opinions based on those FACTS and NOT my emotions.
Come up with some FACTS that prove my facts are wrong, and I'll be happy to listen. Nothing wrong with my ears that my $8,000 set of hearing aids won't cure! Cool



Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
IS THAT A FACT!

Dubob, you are so full of yourself that you fail to hear or see anything other than what you choose to. There's your FACTS!
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wiperhunter2] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
People fish crappie ,trout,perch,everyother fish while spawning.I say let them fish the canal,maybe put a slot or size limit during walleye spawn to protect the females.The dwr job is to provide quality fishing opportunitys and sell license to keep fishing and hunting alive.I have a boat and can catch alot of walleye after the spawn,where other anglers might not have.Utah has great fishing and i think the dwr does a great job of supplying opportunitys,that said they have meetings and they are not beyond reproach.The issue i have had fishing early walleye at willard is water level.I would like to ask why has willard always so low during the walleye spawn?I have fished willard off the dike for over 30 years and it seems like now all the walleye run up the river to spawn.Why is willard not full like pineview to have more spawning area?I know willard is fuller than the past years, but there have been many years lately that no dike rocks are even in the water.The north side of the inlet as next to the main lake is a forest now,it was never like that in the past.I have a a theory that because of low water years few walleye spawn in the main lake anymore.I dont like combat fishing so i dont fish in the canal,but i have seem to have lost fishing the spawn in the main lake one of my very favorite things to do.I am not a biologist and would like a dwr biologist to respond about willard water levels concerning early main lake walleye.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishroof] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
fishroof wrote:

The issue i have had fishing early walleye at willard is water level.I would like to ask why has willard always so low during the walleye spawn?I have fished willard off the dike for over 30 years and it seems like now all the walleye run up the river to spawn.Why is willard not full like pineview to have more spawning area?

Welcome fishroof and thanks for posting. Willard Bay, like almost all reservoirs in Utah were built for water storage for culinary water, irrigation or flood control. The water level is maintained based upon these higher needs and mother nature, not for the benefit of anglers. Keeping water in the higher elevation reservoirs allows the maximum opportunity to use the water for culinary or irrigation later in the year.


"If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago."
- Zane Grey
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [perchound] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
perchound wrote:
IS THAT A FACT!

Dubob, you are so full of yourself that you fail to hear or see anything other than what you choose to. There's your FACTS!
Nice comeback. Full of wisdom, intelligence, and wit. You've beaten me into submission. You da man Perchound!


Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Hi Bob -
I have read Chris's report and the comments on this thread. If I understand correctly half the Walleye netted are from the egg hatching program by DWR and other half are from natural spawned surviving fry. The report said that over 140M eggs are deposited around the shorelines by the fish (meaning not just the channel). I am assuming that your point is that of the naturally spawned serviving fry, most of them are coming from shoreline eggs and not necessarily from the channel. Is that correct? You also stated that of the Walleye that actually attempt to spawn in the channel, 99.5% of those will not be furtilized. I think I understand your point that the channel it's self is not the major producer of naturally surviving fry, but I am an currious as to why you say that of those going up the channel less than 1% will be fertilized? Thanks for any clarification you want to give. I am somewhat new to this body of water but I want to understand the issues.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Optimizer] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
When the channel was opened to fishing (from shore only, as boats are never allowed up the channel), there were some heated discussions on BFT over this issue. DWR personnel weighed in with the science behind their deciding to open it along with the survey data they collected that supported that decision. The science presented back then was that the channel bottom environment (silt) was NOT conducive to a successful fertilization of ANY deposited eggs. In other words, NONE of the eggs would ever survive in that environment. In other words, the fish spawning in the channel do NOT produce any offspring. Allowing fishing there during the spawn will have NO impact on new fish production. Those are the facts that Perchound and others refuse to accept. Close it, or don’t close it; it will not have an impact on the overall population of the walleye population in Willard. I vote for keeping the channel open to allow LEGAL fishermen, women, and children, an opportunity to LEGALLY catch a walleye from shore. I have not, do not, and will not ever condone illegal snagging.

Smile
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I'm 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” - Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Dr. Seuss
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks for sharing this TD.


Thanks to Chris for a well written, informative and patient response to a fickle fishing public! Keep up the good workSmile
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Optimizer] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
The science behind the decision to leave the inlet open is that any fishing and/or harvest will have a negligible impact on walleye numbers in the reservoir. In other words, scientifically there is no reason to shut it down. Reasons to shut the inlet down to fishing would be purely social reasons. Personally, I have always believed that unnecessary regulations should be avoided.
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishroof] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Welcome to the site fishroof. Not sure if you are responding to me or what but since I never said anything about not having the channel open, I'm going to assume you are just making your comment to those that don't want the channel open. To answer your other questions, "I would like to ask why has willard always so low during the walleye spawn?". As others have mentioned that is a result of how much water gets used the year prior, because in most years we have not had the full runoff occur when the eyes spawn. Second question,"Why is willard not full like pineview to have more spawning area?". This has been answered as well but I'll repeat that answer and add a little, first Pineview is a smaller lake than Willard, so it fills faster but in general, the folks that monitor water levels in our lakes always fill the upper lakes first before filling the lower lakes. You made several other statements that I think are incorrect but I understand that is your point of view. Good luck with your eye fishing at Willard this year.


BFT administrator and moderator

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
That is such a heated discussion and I believe that the walleyes that spawn in the channel really do nothing to contribute to the overall addition of grown up walleyes in Willard Bay. No argument there Dubob. I do have a problem with people taking out fish that they have snagged and taking more then the limit. I think that is why people get heated. I go down to inlet often i don't live far and have never really witnessed snagging or really anyone taking over the limit. I have of course heard about it and such. I haven't been down there much in the late evening. maybe that is when it is happening. Its difficult for the DWR to be down in the evening with all of their other duties. Why not close the inlet say at 8pm until 6 am or something like that. It would allow people to fish the inlet but maybe get us out of this heated topic and the DWR would be able to govern it better. I wish there was a great solution to appease everyone but that is impossible
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [goose_716] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Goose716-
Thats the BEST solution I've heard in awhile! Close it down at sunset re-opens at sunrise!!!!!!!!!

Just like Lucerne Bay in protecting spawning lake trout from being snagged.
People who fish honestly can still go after it and the snaggers go home packing..

Lets turn this into something positive by providing solutions to the issues!

Great suggestion......
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wiperhunter2] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
See what ya went and started WH2, lol. The annual BFT Willard walleye debate. Thanks Chris for your informed and learned response. Always good to hear from someone in the know.
I have a question--why doesn't the DWR just collect the fish from the inlet for the eggs and save some of those big fish from being snagged? Seems like it would be easier to net or trap them there than anywhere else on the lake. That way all those eggs don't go to waste and some of those big females can go back in the lake instead of a snaggers bucket. The inlet still remains open and everybody is happy, except of course the snaggers. Does that make sense or are am I missing something here?
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
It's all good, as you said it seems to be an annual thing, the walleye debate, guess it was just my turn to start it off this yearWink. On that other thread, a member mentioned that the DWR were collecting the fish from the inlet and saved some of those big fish from being snagged, unfortunately they collected them in a gill net and a lot of them died as a resultFrown. I liked another members idea, that the DWR should build a fish trap, like they do for the salmon at Strawberry. They could trap the eyes there at the inlet, collect their eggs and milt, then release them. Gill nets to a fine job of catching the fish but a lot more die with that method. I did read that they collect eyes in several locations around the lake, so a more diverse amount of fish can be used, so the fish trap might not be the answer for collecting fish around the entire lake but it would be good way to use those fish that spawn in the inlet.


BFT administrator and moderator

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wiperhunter2] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Hi All,

Just a few quick comments. DWR has actually been using hoop nets in the inlet channel to capture fish and not gill nets. See attached for a pic of what a hoop net looks like. These nets funnel fish into them and then hold the fish in the throat of the net until we empty them. There is none of the entangling that is involved with gill nets so these are a great gear for keeping fish alive and in good shape. Hoop nets are most effective in flowing water, so they are rarely employed in lakes and wouldn't be a good alternative to gill nets there. This is our first year using the hoop nets in the inlet and though they've been quite successful, the gill nets in the main reservoir still catch a majority of the fish.

While I have not been out there myself working on the hoop nets, I am in contact with those that have been working them almost daily and have not heard of any walleye mortality associated with these nets. The walleye aren't the only fish utilizing the channel this time of year, so these nets do sometimes have quite a few catfish and other spiny fish in them. I think in those cases some fish do get a little banged up, but they usually recover just fine. We do release fish we catch in these nets, but very few of those have been walleye as most of the walleye we catch are transported to our spawning operation. We do occasionally release male walleye that are surplus to our spawning needs that day, but most of the fish that are released have been catfish, yellow perch, and crappie. Since I was not there to see fish that people think were dead after being caught in these nets, I can't totally dispute those claims, but I think the fish were most likely recovering when released and it took them a while to regain equilibrium after being held in the hoop net and possibly bullied by some catfish.

Regarding utilizing the inlet more. This is a good thought but there are a couple things to consider that limit its utility. First, the inlet is only productive for part of the walleye spawn and the proportion of the walleye population that uses it is considerably less than that of the fish that spawn along the shorelines . With this in mind, relying on the inlet alone would considerably limit our egg take. Second, the inlet is only productive as long as the there is considerable flow going into the reservoir. Our catch of fish usually dries up in the inlet about half way through the spawn, which is another reason we can't rely solely on its use.

Thoughts on a fish trap like at Strawberry - this probably isn't feasible since we're dealing with water that is generally much deeper than that of the river at Strawberry. Second and probably most important, the inlet of Willard is considered part of the critical embankment of the reservoir, which means it would be very difficult for us to justify drilling or digging into the inlet with the federal water authorities and their safety personnel for the sake of netting more fish. It may seem like a small thing, but those authorities are cautious of anything that could even slightly compromise the integrity of the water structures as there is a lot at stake in terms of human safety and water security.
image/jpeg hoop net.jpg (26.6 KB)
(This post was edited by cyprinus_23 on Apr 6, 2018, 3:01 PM)
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wiperhunter2] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Seems it would be pretty simple to stretch a net or fish traps across the entire inlet and eliminate the problem of wasted eggs and snagging. If they are being wasted anyway, and/or snagged, why not net or trap them all? Seems like common cents to me. Hope that play on words doesn't get me called to the carpet by the grammar police--haha. See what else you started....
Like I have suggested to people for a while now--if you are just complaining to hear yourself talk, or post, and don't have any constructive solutions to a problem then that's all it is complaining and nobody wants to hear it so “please don’t complain” Wink
(This post was edited by remo_5_0 on Apr 6, 2018, 4:29 PM)
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks Chris for that detailed response. That hoop net looks like a great netting system that helps remove most of the mortality associated with gill netting. I had a feeling there was a good reason that a fish trap wasn't being used in the inlet but since I had not read about a proposal like that before, I thought I would bring it up, after another member mentioned it. Projects like that I'm sure would be very expensive and the cost of making a secondary inlet stream and make it shallow enough to be effective, just to catch the smaller numbers of eyes spawning there, would not be worth it from the sounds of it. As you mentioned it's not all up to the DWR anyway, anytime the feds get involved in anything, it can cause a big headache for everyone involved. Thanks for everything you guys do, not only to make Willard a better fishery but to answer our questions.


BFT administrator and moderator

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [dubob] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Bob, I agree with you. Not all fishermen own boats and this is their best chance to catch a few fish. Also, as you noted it has minimal impact on the overall fishery. If they want to close the inlet during the spawn, my suggestion would be to close the entire lake during the spawn.



Larry

...one flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest...
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks Chris for your insightful comments. As usually is the case, there is a lot more than meets the eye. Glad you guys have already thought of what was brought up about inlet netting. Those hoop nets look like they do the trick.

Out of curiosity a few questions come to mind. What do you estimate are the number of walleye running up the inlet to spawn? How many are the hoop nets catching? Are the other species of fish in your nets spawning also, possibly the perch anyway, or are they just going along for the easy meal? With the high water there ought to be a good natural spawn this year. Should be excellent fishing at Willard and other lakes for a few years.

I think you guys are doing an excellent job. Now if mother nature can just keep the water levels up...
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [FatBiker] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Don't they close fisheries in other states for the spawn?
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
As a blanket rule.....no. It is common in other states to manage individual waters and as a result some lakes are open and others are closed.

We should allow our DWR biologists to manage our waters the way they see fit since they are the ones most educated on the specifics of each body of water within their geographic areas of responsibility. They have done an incredible job of providing a diverse fishing experience and they have also done a great job of listening to anglers and considering their requests as well. Sometimes anglers don't get everything they want and that is OK.

It is good to hear science and facts from Mr. Penn instead of emotions and knee jerk reactions.
As was stated:
1-The fish in the inlet are just a small portion of the walleyes spawning in the lake overall.
2- They see little success in their spawn due to environmental challenges within the inlet itself.
3- The DWR law enforcement officers have reported a near 98% compliance rate from those anglers fishing the inlet during the spawn and those numbers can be backed up with factual data.

There is an emotional feeling about it from many anglers on this forum, but they don't bring a lot of data and science to the table in regards to their feelings of why the inlet should be shut down, they just bring feelings (kinda reminds me of the gun control debate). I completely understand their passion as they love Willard bay fishing and in their mind it is being exploited by those that they are labeling "the masses" and "happy harvesters". Anglers are competitive in nature as it is, and many won't even tell you what they caught a fish on because of some strange belief that if they do then all the fish will be caught and it will ruin the fishery, so seeing or hearing about others catching "buckets" of THIER walleyes will make them flip out. Of course, the walleyes aren't being caught out, but appearances can be deceiving.

So......as much as I respect the opinions (and many of those fisherman, by the way) and feelings of those that are opposed to leaving the inlet open during the spawn, we must also consider the feelings of those that want it open and not vilify them and accuse them of wanting to break the law and overharvest when Law enforcement and biologists can prove with data that this is not the case.

For the record, I suggested in another thread that the DWR close it between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am during the spawn and it would make law enforcement easier and still allow those that aren't trying to fish on the sly to enjoy trying to catch fish from the inlet during the spawn. That seems like a common sense approach that should be good for those on both sides of the debate.

Feel the way you want about it everybody, but please don't attack each other on this board or any other for that matter over an issue that has indisputable facts to show why it is scientifically acceptable to allow fishing in the inlet. We are all entitle to our opinions, but in the long run we are not enemies just because we have different feelings about this subject. Let's finally put this to rest after these last few years.

Mike
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [gmwahl] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Mike,

I totally agree with most of what you said. Sorry I misspoke about the fishers closing I meant individual waters during the spawn.

I think the main issue of some wanting to close the inlet is the fact that a few, not all or even the majority of, fishermen are snagging and possibly over harvesting. I doubt many on this forum or anyone who is a responsible sportsman would advocate for the snagging of spawning walleyes. However, it is a legal practice for salmon in many places. But the salmon are going to die anyway so its a wash. Even if the fish taken out of the inlet are minimal in the overall scheme of things I think it rubs a lot of people the wrong way when people are taking advantage of the situation. This is just another case of a few bad apples ruining it for the majority of folks who try to be good sportsmen or women--although I doubt there are very many women out there trying to snag eyes.

That bering said I am not in favor of closing the inlet for the good reasons already stated. What I am in favor of is when the ethical fisherpeople who are out there--I have never fished the inlet during the sapwn or any other time-- see someone committing illegal acts they should tell those scofflaws to knock it off or the DWR will be called. Some self policing by the people that the illegal activities affect might go a long way towards curtailing it. Closing it at night might be an alternative that would make it easier to police both for the ethical fishers and the DWR. People should stand up for what affects them and illegal taking of wildlife affects us all. It just too bad a few people don't see it that way.

I also think that if the DWR continues its excellent efforts to trap the fish in the inlet and not waste the eggs and fish heading to the inlet that that effort could go a long way towards alleviating the issue. Maybe then this won't be a yearly topic of discussion.

Dave
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I agree Dave.

I haven't spent loads of time there during the spawn, but when I have been there I have seen people watching each other and even some (The irritating blow hards) yelling out loud at every fisherman that hooked one to make sure it's not snagged. I myself have confronted two guys for a fish that they kept that was snagged by the head, but clearly not in the mouth.

I hate to see a few bad apples ruin it for all and I liken it to people wanting gun control just because a few idiots shoot a school up. By and large I think most people are ethical and will do the right thing. It's up to the rest of us to keep an eye out and rat out the violators and all will be well. And for Pete's sake, when we do catch somebody doing it illegally let's not be loud and make it uncomfortable for everybody else, rather lets confront others peaceably and within the law. Nobody needs to be hurt over a fish. Okay, I'm off my soap box now!

I wish more people thought the way you do dave!

Mike
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [gmwahl] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Hey Mike, you make valid points. As most folks on this board know, I have stated my opinion that the inlet should not be open to wholesale harvest of the vulnerable walleyes during the spawn. But I readily admit that my stance is based more upon emotion than logic.

I do not fish the inlet...at any time during the year. First of all, I don't need that many new friends. Second, I have always equated fishing for spawning fish when concentrated and defenseless to the clubbing of baby seals on the ice...by fur hunters. Sure, it allows a harvest by folks who have neither the skills, knowledge or ability to pursue them around the lake like others. But it is largely lacking in anything close to "sport".

I do not begrudge legal and ethical anglers catching and keeping even a full limit of walleyes...legally...when they are massed up like that. But it rankles my old angler's soul to watch mindless and intentional snagging activities...with no release of anything caught...fair or foul.

You state that YOU have not spent a lot of time at the inlet...nor have you witnessed what others have described. And you question whether or not those practices actually happen. No data? You may choose to discount or not believe my statements, but I can attest to having witnessed hundreds...if not thousands...of walleyes leaving Willard in the buckets of those who have no respect for laws and regulations.

My observations go back to the 1970s, when there were no restrictions either. And it was rare to ever see a CO...in uniform or plain clothes. At some point it was recognized that there was a wholesale slaughter going on and the inlet was closed during the spawn...until recently. Now the "happy harvesters" are back...with cell phones and other means of communicating and warning each other when unknown new arrivals show up.

The lawless harvest does not go on 24/7. A lot of it happens after midnight...when a weighted spoon with a big treble can hang a walleye on almost every cast. Buckets are filled quickly and the "anglers" boogie before the morning shift shows up. I have not been there this year but have been the two years previously. And I am tapped in to reports from several other "regulars" who have also been known to "force feed" a few fish.

In short, it does happen...regardless of DWR stats on 98% compliance. Heck, there is probably 110% compliance when there are two DNR trucks in the parking area and uniformed COs plainly visible. What I am saying is that there are bursts of heavy harvest...when the world is not watching. At least closing this area to nighttime fishing would be a good move to reduce the worst of the offenses.

There are lots of walleyes in Willard...at least by today's standards. I got spoiled fishing Willard before i moved to Arizona in the mid '80s. 30 to 40 fish days were not unusual...with very few of the fish measuring less than the 20" slot size. You could keep 6 walleyes, but only 2 over 20". Most trips ended with 2 "small" walleyes about 5-6 pounds and many larger ones released...and nothing under 20".

That's why I get emotional about this. It is a rare trip when I catch more than a couple of walleyes, and it is also rare to catch one over the low 20 inch mark. That is, unless you snag the big females at the inlet.

To repeat, I do not begrudge law-abiding anglers and/or their kids the right to have a shot at fish they might not otherwise be able to catch. But it makes my blood boil to know that many of the bigger fish I would like to catch post spawn will never make it back out into the lake...because of illegal fishing activities.

CRASH! Just fell off my soapbox.

Peace.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: My recent experience at the Willard spillway In reply to
I sold my boat last winter and don’t have another yet. I have never fished the inlet and with all the discussion about it, I decided to give it a go a few days ago (Thursday, 4 April).

I fished the inlet from 2:00pm to near sunset. I had a prime location next to spillway. I threw hundreds of casts with jigs. Every color and shape. I even sweetened them with worms and smell jells on occasion. The whole time I also ran mussel meat on a sinking line with slip bobber. There were probably 15 people there on average but many coming and going throughout the day. Nobody (including myself) got a single bite. I can assure you “no walleye were hurt” during this experience. In fact no fish of any kind were hurt during this experience. There had been two warm days since the Monday cold spell so I thought I would give it a go. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny. No jacket needed in the afternoon. The water was flowing nicely through the spillway. Surface water temp in the channel was 49 degrees. DWR was netting Walley earlier in the day at the south Marina.

Now let me tell you about the other aspects of this experience for me. I was wondering about the people and their attitudes. I was so impressed about how nice everyone of them were! I could tell they were all law biding anglers. The first person I met was a Hispanic man with crooked teeth and a car that would barely run. The DWR have all the roads marked no parking and the only real place to park is their designated lot that cost $5 per day. We separated, and I watched him deposit his $5 cash into the envelope. I met up with him at the spillway where he had the prime location. He kindly offered to share his location with me so I could jig over top of his bait lines which were on the bottom. Wow! I hated to see him go empty handed after paying his $5.

I met a single mom with tattoos an two young boys. They were all sinking bait for wipers in the same large opening between the channel and spillway. She was from Ogden. I talked with her later and she was so friendly. I told her it my first time. She had been there often and freely gave me much advice on when to come and what to use.

I next met a supper nice Hispanic fellow, who was a disabled Vietnam Vet. It was his first time there as well. I listened to him tell me many interesting stories. His heart was amazingly kind and good.

I spoke with three advanced angles out in waders who were casting every jig known to man. They were nice as well. They only live 8 minutes away and come there often. They also gave me advice on how to fish the inlet. They said they had only seen 5 walleye taken in the last 5 days, but when it is hot it is hot.

Here is another interesting thing about my adventure. I watched about a thousand casts from everyone including myself. I saw a about a 20% snag rate and many lost jigs and lures (mine too). There are a lot of obstacles and debris under that water. If you are trying run Jig low off the bottom the whole time rather than keeping them a little off the bottom your snag rate may go up the 50-60%. I can’t imagine running treble hooks along the bottom. By the way the professionals I saw were snagging even more than me an sometimes getting my line. There is a lot of brush around the edges and there aren’t many openings good for casting into the head waters. From what I have heard, it was a slow day at the water hole. I can’t imagine the bank tangling that would normally be going on. Honestly there are only a hand full of prime locations to cast which are around the spillway.

In summary, all the anglers I saw seemed to be honorable law-abiding citizens. These bank tanglers were working hard for a fish. They were not even littering. I had spent the morning at freeway bay rock hopping. The entire area is covered in litter. The spillway area is fairly litter free compared to the rock dikes.

This is my report. I have no problems with this spillway being closed down at dark durring the Walleye run, but why not let the bipeds have access during the day .
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Optimizer] My recent experience at the Willard spillway In reply to
Sorry you didn't get more fishy love. And glad you were able to meet some nice folks.

Unfortunately, your experience is a negative reinforcement of the statements I have made, regarding the cycles and waves of fish showing up at the inlet. Actually, I suspect that the spawn is close to winding down and there are not likely to be as many walleyes from now on...but the wipers will be coming on strong fairly soon.

Believe me, if the walleyes had been "in" you would probably not have found a rock to stand on. Word travels fast among the regulars and they show up en mass to harvest them. But if the pickings are slim they just stay home and wait them out...until they get a call from one of their buddies.

During a full walleye spawn period, there will be periods of peak activity...followed by days with far fewer fish showing up. As with a lot of fishing, it is a combination of perseverance and luck. When the fish are more numerous, there is a better chance of catching some legally. But...as the snaggers know...it is also better for their activities.

Serious walleye chasers know that as soon as the walleyes settle down from the spawn they put on the feedbag and REAL fishing gets much better. The key...as always...is to first find the fish and then to serve them something to which they will respond.

Keep at it. You will get there.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] My recent experience at the Willard spillway In reply to
Over the past few years I have personally gone to the inlet to see what all the fuss is about with the walleye spawn. Thought that maybe I was missing out on a valid opportunity to catch walleye legally in the mouth with bait or jigs and wanted to try it since it was now legal and the fish would be stacked up.

What I witnessed each time was elbow to elbow fishermen jerking sharp jigs and spoons through the stacked walleye. In hours of fishing on each of these occasions, I saw dozens of walleye brought in. All, and I repeat all, were foul hooked, not even one was legitimately hooked in the mouth.

Snaggers had a method and certain spot they fish from, casting across the fish, letting the snagging apparel sink to the bottom then slowly bringing it in across the bottom until they felt any kind of resistance, then giving a sharp jerk, which often produced a fat spawning female walleye, tail caught and dorsal caught being the most common catch.

Using bait, I caught one fat mudcat for all this effort, my son caught one fat walleye that was foul hooked and released.

Garbage was rampant, especially beer and soda cans. We picked up as many as we could and hauled them out.

Far as I am concerned, fishing the inlet during the walleye spawn is just a practice that shouldn't happen.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [AllFish] My recent experience at the Willard spillway In reply to
"Far as I am concerned, fishing the inlet during the walleye spawn is just a practice that shouldn't happen"

The emotional side of me agrees with you. But the logical side suggests that merely adding some additional restrictions...like NO night fishing...will help a bit.

You echo what I hear from lots of other anglers with whom I maintain regular communications. Most of us who know and love Willard are apalled by what goes on when not controlled by DWR or fellow fisherfolk. The snagging DOES happen...despite what some naysayers on the board proclaim.

I have been surprised by the attitude of DWR on Willard walleye snagging. Much different than Utah Lake. In the early years of walleye fishing on the lower Provo the common belief was that walleyes did not bite during the spawn...and the only way you could catch them was snagging. And on any given day there were numerous wild-eyed "anglers" jerking their "Provo River dry flies" (large treble hooks with a bell sinker and a piece of yellow foam) through the holding holes for spawning walleyes.

DWR observations were that there was plenty of successful spawning around the lake...on rocky shoreline and dikes...so there was no need to protect the spawners in the Provo. But they wanted to offer protection from snagging, so they put a no-fishing restriction on all tributaries from March to May. Interestingly, there was still a lot of nocturnal "dredging" for walleyes...in areas not readily watched from the road. In some places there were teams that would send guys up into the trees with lights to locate the fish for shoreline snaggers.

With the recent appearance of more northern pike in Utah Lake, the no-fishing ban in the tributaries has been relaxed...but the no walleyes in possession rule remains. Again, not so much to improve spawning success but to curtail snagging.

I have fished all over the country...including many areas of the upper midwest where walleye are a religion. There are different regulations in different states and on different waters. The fisheries departments make walleyes a top priority of management. They have hatchery and stocking programs for walleyes and often have strict slot limits and possession limits.

Are there snagging problems with walleyes in other areas? Of course. But I have never seen it greater than the problems we have in Utah.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Very well said tubedude! I feel exactly the same way about it as you just explained, guess I need to be more detailed in my comments so's not to be attacked.
However, if you let your emotions get in the way it means absolutely nothing to the folks that live by the facts and only the facts. The days of catching big walleye's at Willard are definitely great memories but nearly nonexistent now.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [perchound] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
When someone claims to be right...based upon the "facts"...I always have to question the origin of those facts and how many times they have been "adjusted" to show only what the presenter wants presented. Too often the "facts" are tweaked to reflect exactly the point being made by the person divulging them. Heck, I'm married. Been know to "manipulate" a few facts myself. Self preservation.

The emotional side of any argument is often based upon personal experience...tempered with personal interpretation and personal biases. In other words, "empirical" knowledge is still subject to mental modification and may not always be 100% applicable 100% of the time either.

Bottom line is that both sides of this issue are right. Removing a few walleye from Willard at the inlet...by fair means or foul...probably isn't going to make any kind of noticeable change in overall walleye populations. But that doesn't mean that those who love to catch walleye...around the rest of the lake during the rest of the year...can't feel a little bit of pain whenever they see some doofus carrying off a bucket full of walleyes that may or may not have been snagged. To us wallieologists, each of those fish sure would have been more appreciated on the end of our lines than in that guy's bucket. Whimper whimper.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I'm with ya TD. I once took a college class titled "How to Lie with Statistics" that was dedicated to exact thing you were wrote of--how to manipulate the numbers and facts to 'prove' just about any point you wanted to make. Alternative truth if you will. A fact or two does not necessarily make the truth. Moral of the story is--don't believe everything you hear or read. But if you seen it with your own eyes then that is in fact the truth--unless of course one lies about what they saw and we know how fishermen are at times.

Yes indeed the thought of seeing or hearing about ill-gotten gains is what drives a lot of the emotion on this issue as well as others in life. Who likes a cheater?Pirate
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks fer yer support.

After I wrote the previous diatribe I chuckled as I remembered an old joke. Seems the wife of a big shot businessman made a surprise visit to his company. She zipped by the receptionist and charged right through his closed office door. WHOOPS. The guy was in a liplock with his secretary. BIG WHOOPS.

But he was a fast thinker and fired off the first round. "Yeah, I know what you think you saw. But who are you going to believe...me or your lying eyes?"

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
fishday,

Good questions. We haven't done a population survey to quantify how many walleye are running up the inlet. That said, there are creel surveys from the days when the inlet was open back in the 60's and 70's estimating annual harvest of walleye from the inlet ranging on average from about 2,000-10,000 fish. There were even a few years back in the late 60's where it up to 26,000 fish harvested from the inlet. Those extraordinary years involved a stunted walleye population and aren't the norm. In addition, even back in the years when harvest was around 2-10K fish, those were the years when walleye were the top predator in Willard. Since the mid 90's the walleye have shared their top predator status with wiper, so its likely there overall numbers year to year are lower now than before the establishment of the wiper fishery. I'm hesitant to give a estimate of how many walleye are in the inlet these days, but it seems reasonable that it would be somewhere towards the low or middle end of that harvest estimate from the 60's and 70's and depends upon the year with influence from factors like population density, weather, inflow, etc.

We've been setting a total of eight hoop nets, and all together they catch a modest number of fish, which is about 20 females and around 40 males on a good night. This is a decent catch when you multiply that by the number of nights they are fished during the spawn, but there are surely many fish that are swimming over and around the nets. For comparison, a single gill net will catch anywhere from 20-50 walleye and we've been setting up to 6 of those gill nets per night. One thing to note with the gill nets is the type we use for the walleye spawn are made of nylon and not monofilament like the ones we typically use for our trend netting. The nylon nets don't have much give to them, so fish appear to get less tangled and there is considerably less mortality and stress with the nylon nets used for the spawning program. Perhaps one of the best things about the hoop nets for us has been that we can work them in any weather since the inlet doesn't get the whitecaps and waves the main lake does. When the lake gets stormy, we can't work gill nets, so the hoop nets give us fairly consistent source of fish when bad weather hits.

It seems the inlet discussion is winding down and I'm going to try to make this my last response for a while as I've got a pretty busy schedule this week and next both at work and home, but I wanted to bring up a few items I've also noted in the historical documents about the inlet that might of be of interest. First, there was indeed a lot of snagging or foul hooking that went on prior to the closure of the inlet back in the 70's. I'm sure everyone knows this, but an interesting point I haven't heard is that while outright snagging was illegal, it was legal to harvest fish that were foul hooked back then and the creel surveys indicated around 99% of the fish that were caught back then were foul hooked. Second, during the final years before the closure of the inlet, there was actually a nightly closure. The official hours the inlet was open were from 4:00 AM to 9:00 PM. There was also a single prong hook rule as well.

Finally, while it hasn't necessarily been stated - I've gotten the feeling that there are many that feel that DWR is opposed to closing the inlet. We are quite neutral on this issue. As I stated before, we manage for the public and in the case of the inlet in 2013, there was an opportunity to provide more shore anglers an opportunity to catch walleye and more people wanting it open than closed. I've been asked my opinion on the inlet several times and my response is that my opinion does not matter. I am an angler myself and not without an opinion, it just wouldn't be fair to let that opinion dictate how fisheries are managed. Our role is to deal with the biology and use it to make the things anglers want happen. The biology of fish harvest at the inlet is sound, so the social details of the inlet are up to you, the anglers. So again, I would encourage those truly interested in seeing changes at the inlet to get involved and make your opinion heard. There are RAC this year for new regulations and sooner than that, we will be doing our annual fishing regulation survey, which has a write in and open comment area.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
You're right Pat, I have not spent tons of time at the inlet fishing during the spawn, but I have spent time there just watching for the antics. I've fished it 5-6 times is all, but gone and spent a 1/2 hour to couple hours watching on several occasions as I drive by.

I have absolutely no doubt that snagging happens, especially very late at night after the normal people go to bed, so that is why I vote for closing it at night only (as if my opinion matters anyway).

The thing is, I would hate to see a few bad apples spoil it for everybody. I probably will never Fish there's again because I'm more of a solitary type of fisherman and a sure fire way to get me to leave is to have a large group show up and screw with my peace and quiet, but I'm weird that way.

As for the wholesale snagging during daylight hours and extreme behavior I'm afraid that I haven't seen it during the times I've fished there or stopped to watch. I've fished as late as 8:00pm at the latest and honestly I thought the fishing sucked. On two occasions I've been there while people were catching a fair number of walleyes, but not many of them were snagged and with the exception of two snagged fish that I witnessed, all were returned back to the water. Most fish I saw caught were caught in the mouth.

I don't blame you for having more of an emotional response toward it because it makes sense after all of your years fishing there. Heck, I've fished Willard for walleyes since the early 80's and remember some stellar walleye fishing trips, so rest assured my friend, I am not in the slightest offended by your stance and hope I didn't get under your skin much either.

Btw, I like fishing for the walleyes more in May, june, and July than I do during the Willard spawn.....it's much easier! Also, I hit the Bear river today to try for walleyes and got 2.... and a dozen nice smallies as a bonus, so the crowds can have Willard for now and I will kindly stay out of their way, hehe!

Mike
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks for the info Chris. Over 330 limits of eyes taken out of the inlet during the spawn based on the estimates you gave! Dang that's lot of hours boat fishers would have to spend to get that many limits based on my experience. I may have fished out there about 20 times and caught a limit of walleye maybe twice. Limited sample size I know and I likely am not the best at catching them but i usually catch one or two a trip, but sometimes none. So if 20 boats catch 3 eyes a piece that's 60 fish per day 10 limits per day--that seems like a lot and probably is a high estimate. In any event, thats over 30 days to catch as many fish as bank tanglers catch in 2 weeks. What does everyone else think based on your experiences out there?

It would be helpful to see current creel numbers and be able to tell the percentage of fish taken versues the number that are using the inlet to spawn. Closing the inlet at night seems like the only practical way to get an accurate count on harvest as well as being better able to police it.

Other questions come to mind. Do you guys use a formula based on the number of fish you catch in your nets to estimate the number of mature fish in the entire lake? Is there an app for that?? If so how many mature walleye do you estimate are in the entire lake? What is the creel count for the entire lake over the course of a soft water season? People might be able to make a more informed, as opposed to a more emotional, decision on keeping the inlet open or closing it if they knew what those estimates were. No hurry on any possibly revised or more current numbers, but if any were available prior to the next RAC meeting participation might go up. I say might. If numbers aren't available this year, which it doesn't sound like they are, then maybe next year.

Thanks again for all your and your crew's hard work. There are lot of people out there that are reaping a lot of enjoyment and good eating out of your efforts.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [gmwahl] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
"Btw, I like fishing for the walleyes more in May, june, and July than I do during the Willard spawn..."

Perzactly! I used to fish the dikes during the "run"...mostly over at the NW corner. And I caught a lot of fish. But I can't remember the last time I actually fished at the inlet. Like yourself, I'm really not into making a lot of new friends while fishing. I enjoy the solitary aspect of the sport and I'm really not into full contact fishing.

You are 100% right. Fishing post spawn walleyes is a lot easier and more fun. The fish actively chomp your bait or lures and even fight a bit more. I chase them post spawn in Starvation, Willard, Utah Lake and Deer Creek. Anglers who know these lakes...and how to fish for walleyes...can usually count on scoring well after the spawn. And there are a whole lot of walleye that are caught at this time by anglers who are fishing for other species..."on accident".

I took no offense at any of your comments. You know what you experienced and that is real to you. Just the same as I have my own experiences and observations to shape my own outlook. We each have our own realities...and we are entitled to them without attack from anybody else with differing opinions.

You and I have had past communications and have even shared the water at Bear Lake a couple of times. I respect you as a knowledgeable and ethical fellow fisherman.

We're good here.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [fishday] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Keep in mind that back when those surveys conducted it was legal to keep all those foul hooked fish. That really increased the number of fish that could be legally harvested. While we haven't creeled the inlet since it's reopening, there is likely considerably less legal harvest now than back in the 60's and 70's.

Fishery biologists rarely conduct population estimates on reservoir fisheries so I don't have a population estimate for walleye on the reservoir. The reason actual population estimates are rarely done is that they involve mark and recapture, which requires collecting and marking a large number of fish and then following up on multiple occasions to collect those fish. In addition, by the time we have the actual estimate, it is assumed that the population will have changed by then. So basically there has to be a strong question for us to conduct a population estimate on a reservoir population of fish. Instead of population estimates we track populations in reservoirs through "relative abundance", which is a measure of how many fish of the species of interest we see in our trend netting catch from year to year. Basically, what we do is run a calculation on how many nets we have to set to detect a real change in the population. If we set too few nets, any changes we see might just be due to random chance or getting lucky by hitting a school of fish. If we set too many nets, than we are wasting time that we could be using sampling other waters. Basically, we look for the sweet spot of how many nets we need to actually track the population with confidence. With this in mind, if the numbers we see in our nets go up, it is assumed the population has gone up and if the numbers we see in our nets go down, it is assumed the population has gone down. Using this concept of relative abundance allows us to keep track of many fisheries in one year, where if we tried to do population estimates we would probably limit our knowledge and sampling ability to just a few waters. We definitely need the ability to keep tabs on multiple waters in a year as my office alone is responsible for overseeing Rockport, Echo, Pineview, Mantua, Willard, East Canyon, Lost Creek, Hyrum, Bear Lake, Newton, part of the Uintas, the Weber River, Logan River, Blacksmith Fork, and more.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Chris,

I really appreciate the time you take to post on here so that we can fully understand what it is that you guys do. I know you are busy, but it helps a lot to know our DWR biologists are out there and listening. I've had the opportunity to help Scott up here on Bear lake before and I can attest to all of the hard work that you guys do for us!

Mike
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Chris, thanks for the lengthy response. It reminded me what my now retired father used to say about fishing regulations when he still worked for the DWR--he used to say that he hated unnecessarily restricting anglers unless the majority of anglers wanted to be restricted.

When I was younger, I wanted restrictive regulations placed on a lot of different waters in hopes of growing bigger fish. I saw the success restrictive regulations had on the fishery at Minersville Reservoir and wanted similar harvest restrictions placed on other fisheries around. But, my father would caution this approach and explained that fisheries where anglers already were mostly pleased should be left alone. What he was trying to get me understand was the social vs. biological side of restrictions.

In the case of the inlet, I would say that biologically there is no reason to change the restrictions. Closing the inlet at night or at all is biologically unnecessary. However, if the angling public wants that change to be made for whatever reason, it should be made. I would urge any of those fishermen passionate about closing the inlet to get involved with the RAC process and get serious about letting your voice be heard. It sounds to me like the reason it is open is because the majority of the angling public wanted it left open.
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I also don't have a dog in this fight. Very rarely do I fish the inlet as I prefer targeting eyes out in the bay and elsewhere. What I will say is the only reason I would support closing the inlet to fishing during the spawn is if scientific evidence showed a decline in overall numbers related to the inlet being open for fishing.

The fact is folks who snag fish will do so until the existing laws are enforced. We have laws and limits for a reason! This reminds me of banning the sale of firearms so we can keep them out of the hands of criminals when such laws already exist.

The fact is most of us are self regulated and law abiding. The few who are not...well that is why we have laws. Sometimes a good hefty poaching fine goes along way in helping implement change.



Lund Pro V 2025/225 Optimax/Bigfoot Kicker/105lb XI5/HDS-7/HDS-12 Carbon...Fish On!
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks for all the info Chris.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Chris I really feel the best alternative is a night time closure, what are your feelings on this idea?
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Someone should ask Tom Pettengill about Walleye fishing the inlet during the spawn. After all the professional biologists of his era turned Willard Bay into a world class fishery.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wild_blue] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Last I heard Tom P. retired around 15 years ago and moved out of state. Here is a link to Tom's profile page, you can read some of his post there.
http://www.bigfishtackle.com/...w.html;username=TomP


BFT administrator and moderator

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wiperhunter2] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Doug Miller announced Pettengill's retirement in November 2005. Sad to see them both go.

http://www.bigfishtackle.com/...orum.cgi?post=227219
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Bassin_Blitz] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Thanks for asking, but as stated above I don't think my opinion matters on the inlet. A night closure is a fine idea, it's just a matter of whether or not there are other anglers that feel the same way.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
"it's just a matter of whether or not there are other anglers that feel the same way."

Probably a wise idea for you to stay neutral. No matter which side you choose, there will be plenty of opposition.

Unfortunately, if you leave it up to "other anglers" I am guessing that the ones who fish (and plunder) the inlet are likely to be in the majority. Most guys I know who really "fish" for walleye in Willard do not ever go near the inlet...mostly for the reasons we state for closing it.

If you would like an "informal" survey, I have been in communication with quite a few Willard regulars who spend many hours on the lake and who devote a lot of time, money and energy to catching walleyes. With few exceptions, most are in favor of either closing the inlet during spawn time...or at least making a nighttime closure. For the record, I have not talked to anyone who likes to fish the inlet for walleyes...or who adamantly wants it to remain open. I guess I fish in the wrong circles.

I'm afraid I am not your greatest ally when it comes to promoting RAC attendance. I used to go...and even made a few of my own proposals. Without going into too much detail, I was largely disappointed in the process and the results. Granted, many of the issues of the past have been modified or eliminated with the changes in people at the top of the Division. It is gratifying to all of us anglers to see the new proactive approach and the new open-mindedness in exploring new horizons.

A large part of the problem with getting people to attend and participate is the "Utah Syndrome". That is that 10% of the people are willing to do all the work...and the other 90% are willing to let them. The corollary is that those who do nothing are usually those with the most complaints.

(This post was edited by TubeDude on Apr 12, 2018, 9:23 AM)
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [cyprinus_23] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I participated in the RAC process after the opening of the Willard inlet. Attended several late night meetings and the few people that attended were able to convince the RAC members to take the issue to the Wildlife board for a vote. The Wildlife Board meeting was held during the week and very few people attended. The Wildlife board voted to leave the inlet open and the lead member stated "That just because of a few poachers we don't close deer season!" In my opinion, it was a total waste of time and I see why not many people participate in the RAC process.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Sirfilletalot] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Sirfilletalot wrote:
The Wildlife board voted to leave the inlet open and the lead member stated "That just because of a few poachers we don't close deer season!"

Sounds about what the WB members would likely say.


I don't fish Willard much, but we have the same identical thread every year. I have no reason to dispute what the biologists have said regarding the impacts of the snaggers/harvest at the inlet. I applaud the egg collection efforts and the stocking program. As for some mortality with the egg collection, it is a small price to pay for a program that pays handsome dividends.

That said, I have always been baffled that the DWR and WB allow a situation to be present that requires the almost constant attention of the Northern region conservation officers. Considering that our CO's are already stretched thin as it is, having a situation present where they have to constantly babysit the anglers at the Willard bay inlet, they are certainly less available to enforce the law in the rest of the region. Were one inclined to poach a big game animal or commit other violations elsewhere, the walleye spawn would be the right time to do it. As others have said, even closing the inlet at night would ease the burden of enforcement a fair bit.





I caught you a delicious bass.
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [Sirfilletalot] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
This is one of those damned if you do and damned if you don't situations. The DWR gathered feedback via surveys and the RAC process, took that information to the RACs and the Wildlife Board, and now we have regulations in place that represented the majority of the opinions expressed....

....and some are mad about that and claim the process is a sham, so they refuse to be a part. To me, that is like voting for a candidate for a political position and then being so mad that that candidate didn't win that you quit voting. Not every fishermen gets his wish, not every idea should be followed, the DWR did the absolutely right thing with the inlet in keeping it open because it is what the MAJORITY wanted. Getting mad about the process because your side lost sounds like the tantrum a little kid pulls when he doesn't get candy at the grocery store.

The process is in place so that those who express opinions at the RACs are heard...it sounds to me like they were. IF you want to be heard, you have to express your opinion. How often do we hear of people complaining that they weren't heard?
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [wormandbobber] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
Logical...but subject to human weirdness. When a group of anglers with an agenda (being able to snag walleye) gets together to flood the meeting and slant the outcome they can get their vote over the paltry few who show up for the other side. That is what happened.

In recent communications with Chris Penne we discussed how poor the turnouts are for the RAC meetings. He readily recognizes that even after the hunting and fishing RACs were split...and we can go to either one we wish...there is still poor turnout. He admits that having to drive a long ways for a long winded meeting on a weekday night is not attractive to many folks...no matter how passionate they are about the single issue they want addressed.

Howsomever, based upon the much better rate of response to online surveys they are going to put more effort into getting the word out on these and encouraging anglers to chime in...and to also use the special options available to communicate in a non-survey format.

My personal prediction is that there will be a new set of regs for the inlet by the end of this year. It may be only a nighttime closure but whatever they can do to reduce wholesale walleye slaughter will be an improvement.

Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
You may be right about a new set of regulations. But, like Chris also said, when the inlet was opened it was based on two things: 1) those who did show up to the RACs and 2) the survey which showed overwhelming support to open it.

I have hard time believing that a bunch of law-breakers showed up a the RAC and pushed the RAC to change a law so that they could continue breaking the law. I could believe, though, that a bunch of fishermen who knew that the walleyes stacked up in the inlet showed up because they wanted to catch those vulnerable fish. I think there is a difference there and your wording is very presumptuous and offensive.

Personally, I never liked the RAC process and the power of the WB from the day it was first instituted in Utah. I believe it gave a small number of people way too much power and decision making authority. BUT, it is the system we have. Our choice is to either work within it or deal with the consequences of not. Like my analogy of voting, I don't think it is right for someone to complain about a politician when that same person didn't vote. The process is what it is. Surveys can help the DWR gather input and I, too, am glad they are using them more and more. It is also interesting to note that more and more often committees are being formed to come up with management plans of fisheries...like with Yuba, Panguitch Lake, the Boulder Mountain, and others. I think these are good tools that managers are beginning to use more and more. My suggestion would be to push this type of thing for Willard as a way to steer regulations.

Like others, I really don't have a dog in this yearly fight because I don't fish Willard. My interest in the subject is based on my interest in regulations and the whys and why nots behind changing them. I believe strongly that fishing regulations should reflect first and foremost the biology of a particular water. In Willard's case, the biology says we don't need to close the inlet. But, I also understand that social issues can and should be a part of fishing regulations. I just do not want fishermen to be unnecessarily restricted at too many waters. To me, this could open up a can of worms and set a bad precedence. I don't want every water across the state have season or day time closures because of spawning fish. This could be bad both biologically and socially!
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [TubeDude] DWR Response...Dead Walleyes at Willard In reply to
I am with TubeDude (and others) arguing for the wholesale slaughter theory. Let's throw the whole success of the inlet spawners debate aside for a minute and look at the sheer numbers of keeper sized walleyes (and wipers, but since they weren't ever protected there, I'll just stick to walleyes for the purpose of this post) that get removed from the reservoir during a very short time. I can't imagine what fishing would be like during the rest of the year if all those fish were still in there. They really haul bucketloads out of there all day long every day. It's like a conveyor belt of dead fish coming out of Willard Bay. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Do the math people.

The vast vast majority of my time spent at Willard is trolling and casting out of my boat. Nevertheless, I have made several trips to fish the inlet. Last year I fished it twice, and caught 2 inside the mouth, that actually bit my lure. This year, I fished it three times (afternoons on March 24, 29, and 30) and caught 1 in the mouth that actually bit my lure. I hooked 2 others that were snagged, and caught enough scales to make a nice pair of boots. One of the 2 that were foul hooked appeared to be hooked underneath the lower jaw (on the outside of its mouth), but I do not believe that it bit my lure.

I consider myself to be an above average walleye fisherman, and I was in constant astonishment that there could be that many walleyes in that thing, and that I wasn't just catching them left and right. But for the most part, walleyes were getting caught left and right by everyone else. In my observation, it was an absolute rarity that I witnessed a fish landed that was hooked in the mouth. I witnessed foul hooked fish that were landed and reduced to possession. And most fish landed away from the direct observation of the crowd were also reduced to posession. In all fairness though, I did witness many foul hooked fish that were released. I can't imagine what goes on there at night though, and that's when the crowd shows up! I don't know about you, but I have a hard enough time getting a good enough presentation to trick a walleye into biting in good enough light that I can see my line, where it's going into the water, and how much slack is in it, let alone complete darkness!! Apparently those walleyes can see a heck of a lot better than I take them for!

Anyway, I had my license checked 2 out of 3 trips this year. During the second check at the parking lot, I mentioned to the Officer that there was a tremendous amount of fish being harvested illegally over there if he was interested in that, and he didn't even bat an eye. In fact, there wasn't any indication whatsoever that he even heard one word of my statement. Weird.

I have fished for spawning walleyes plenty and I rarely snag fish or bring scales in on my hook. They ususally eat my lures. Bite them. Strike them. Whatever you want to call it, but they take them in their mouth. But they sure don't seem to bite very much at that inlet, I'll tell you that.
(This post was edited by Got_Bait on Apr 13, 2018, 3:37 PM)