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Utah lake management/June sucker...

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Re: [doggonefishin] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
Thanks guys, and remember that if you can't make it to this one, we're going to continue to hold these meetings monthly. The people that use the lake need to have a say in how it's managed.
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Re: [Therapist] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
Thanks for the support. Fortunately, I think if we can get as many interested parties together and come to some sort of consensus, then the outcome of this could be very positive.
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Re: [Therapist] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
Unfortunately, i work thursday evening or I would DEFINITELY attend the meeting.
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Re: [wetline] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
Thanks, I will try to make a later meeting. It's good to know that public participation is being encouraged. I just hope that public input will truely have influence in the actual decision making process rather that what some of us environmental theorists posit as a "decide, announce and defend" approach to environmental decision making. I always keep an open mind and am interested in sincere dialogue though.
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Re: [wetline] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
I have a couple of viewpoints on to share on your very interesting and informative post. Having june suckers as the main preyfish in the future Utah lake ecosystem seems a bit problematic and on the verge of utopian idealism. First and foremost.....what are the annual growth rates of June suckers? The adults are fairly large so they would not be of forage value at all. Would june suckers ever challenge the fecundity of white bass in sheer numbers of juvenile forage fish produced? A june sucker would have to be as prolific as a gizzard shad in order to feed the masses of game fish in utah lake adequately. Currently, the ecosystem revolves around white bass. Most major predators, including adult white bass, prey on young of the year white bass. The other smaller panfish are subsisting on zooplankton primarily daphnia. White bass do consume a great deal of zooplankton in all stages of life but their own young becomes a staple about August into the fall and early winter months.

You state that "as it stands, catch rates are at historic and pathetic lows for most species" in utah lake. I strongly disagree with that statement. I have personally had a historic record numbers year for sizable crappie, bluegills, and white bass. I will give one small statistic....since jan. 1, I have landed well over 4000 white bass. The average per trip is around 200 in about 2hrs of fishing time. That is clearly not a pathetically low statistic. Furthermore instead of being sporadically tied to moonphase patterns, the numbers days lasted for extended periods of time for up to 2 months on a single seasonal pattern.....spawn, summer/fall pattern, etc.

Have also landed two walleyes with incredible girth in the last two weeks. A 26 " one weekend and a 251/2" the next weekend in a similar structural location on the lake.
Catch rates are contingent upon skill levels of anglers and do not necessarily reflect fish populations on a biological level. Further if fish are educated, sometimes by me for example, when released, they may not bite again for a long while. Walleye populations are very stable again in utah lake but the overabundance of strong year classes of whites will make it very challenging to anglers as the fish are not looking hard for food at all. A white bass head was sticking out of the gullet of the 26" specimen upon close examination.
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Re: [Out4Trout] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
The most abundant white bass year class are not yearlings anymore just to clarify for you. They are in their second year of growth......from 9 - 11 inches for the majority. There are some yearlings mixed in too. Also some 12-14 inchers but those are near the maximum old age and are not very healthy for the most part. They have probably seen their last summer. The white bass can be compared to lemmings this year.......just as huge of a plague (a welcome one though) and just as suicidal.Wink I look forward to ice fishing this year too. Ice white patterns have been poor since the walleye crashed them about 3 years ago now. The end of the drought spelled immediate recovery though.
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Re: [Fin-S-Fish] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
I appreciate your concerns, as they are founded and justified. And yes, I am an idealist Fishin', but an idealist founded on science. If every angler was as skillful as you, our management techniques would be much more efficient. The catch rates that I speak of are not contingent upon the skill of the angler. They are based on objective data from 28 years of netting at the same sites and using the same methods. You're right, angling catch rates are somewhat based on skill and the age structure of the fish in lake. Like you said, a strong year class of juveniles can make it more difficult to catch more desireable larger fish. However, all anglers included, the angling catch rates determined by creel surveys are lower on the lake, than in the past. This will be presented at the meeting by one of my coworkers, but just to throw out stats over the past decade: 1995, 0.48 fish/hour, 1996, 0.39, and in 2005, 0.31. Another issue is that we don't have enough people like you out there catching fish from the lake to modify fish populations. Fishing pressure, compared to our other waters, is dismal.

Alright. Concerning the feasiblity of june suckers as forage fish, I'll admit what we don't know first. Growth rates of suckers from larval through the juvenile stage in Utah Lake isn't known, since we haven't had recruitment in decades (thus, the ESA listing). However, in our grow-out ponds (similar temps to Utah Lake), the fish grow from 6-8 inches in their first year. Suckers can never approach the fecundity of white bass and this is simply a biological fact. However, given estuary modification of the major tributaries to the lake, nursery areas will be formed that would allow juveniles of all species to survive. A note on your comment about the ecosystem revolving around white bass: a recent study by USU, constructing a food web model of the lake, found that the white bass diet consists of 60% white bass (supporting your claim), but the major component species of walleye diet was yellow perch (40%), with white bass comprising only 24%. This study also brought to light how much a dead-end the carp are ecologically, as they accounted for less than 5% of the diet of any fish in the lake, although they make up the vast majority of the biomass there. Perhaps the sharp, projecting dorsal and anal spines makes them less desirable. Now let's see, june suckers don't have any spiny projections, and should slide right down. We've even found 12-14" suckers in the stomachs of walleye.

There are many unanswered questions about all the dynamics of the fish in Utah Lake. I appreciate your input (angler input is one of our best tools), and feel that in the next few years many of these questions will be answered, and hopefully you'll be catching even more (and bigger) fish.
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Re: [wetline] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
That is truly an exciting and wonderful experience to have an intelligent discussion about this topic with you. It is refreshing to have such informative, insightful, and mutually respectful dialogues. That is truly something unique that I have experienced very marginally in this forum in the years I have participated. I can see explicitly that you are informed but open which is rare. Open dialogue and openess to learning and understanding viewpoints from a multiple array of lenses or perspectives is always key to making sound decisions of all kinds, including environmental ones. It is an enormous asset to have you working in your field and also extending your insights and positive attitude to hopefully enlighten the masses on the forum. Now that is idealistic on my part. There will always be people so biased that they will never be able to even consider hearing viewpoints other than their own.

Very interesting information you have provided. Very much appreciated. One important thing to note.......a significant key to being an above average angler is understanding that fish move with the seasons. Sampling or fishing in the same sites throughout the year is a bound to fail or yield low statistical rates. Even within a certain reach of water where I can count on a certain fish species to be at a given season........there are small specific microspots that concentrate fish to an even greater extent. The specific spots are contingent upon specific species and time of the year. I agree there is low fishing pressure on the lake for most species and that is why I have enjoyed the lake for the last couple decades. Bluegill numbers are equivalent to Mantua in certain areas of the lake but they are MUCH more aggressive due to lack of pressure. The lakes fertility grows them much faster too. To me lack of pressure is a blessing. An overabundance of game fish and lack of competition. Some would fly to remote canadian wilderness areas to experience such a phenomenon.

Interesting fact you mentioned about walleyes. Walleyes are very elusive so i have not caught them in enough numbers to get consistent stomach samples. Most walleyes that did have food ingested had whole white bass in varying states of decomposition. I was amazed that some in the 25 inch range can readily consume white bass up to 11 inches in length. I am very amazed to find that yellow perch are so important in utah lake as walleye forage. I never realized perch populations were high enough to be of more than a marginal effect on the ecosystem. They were always present in scattered numbers along with white bass but never ran into significant numbers. Not all all surprised that carp are relatively useless forage. I doubt it's the spines. It's the growth rate that deters predation. In a single summer carp can reach a size too large for most predator fish to swallow. I was thinking that the suckers would be too insignificant and grow too fast to be the sole forage of white bass. I'm in agreement that walleyes would have no problem eating suckers. Also I think it seems that largemouth bass in utah lake may also feed heavily on yearling white bass as well. Any sampling of them? I have seen them prey on young bullhead catfish to a great extent too. Crayfish are probably not abundant enough but make up a small portion of the lmb bass diet. Largemouth numbers are also very significant in the past as well as presently in utah lake. I did notice a marked decrease in size and numbers of lmb during the recent white bass crash approximately 4-5 years ago. Everything is rebounding fast within these couple of years though with the high water levels.
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Re: [Fin-S-Fish] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
I wholeheartedly concur. It's a nice relief to have reciprocating, respectful, dialogue/debate. You're right about angling skills. Some of the best anglers know more about fish biology than alot of fish biologists!

I was surprised at the walleye/yellow perch relationship as well, but that's one of the things I love about this job, science, and nature: the surprises are endless. I was half-kidding about the carp spines, but not totally. Good science never eliminates a possibility until there is a flood of evidence otherwise. I agree that the growth rates move them out of the forage range quickly, but when they are so abundant, it's surprising that they don't compose at least a higher percentage of piscivorous fish diet. As for largemouth bass, I'm not sure. We have caught relatively few in our nets over the past couple of years (I've been here 1 1/2 years). Your right about the crayfish, I don't think they're abundant enough in Utah Lake, but in Mona Reservoir we've caught numerous lmb that had eaten crayfish (where the crayfish population is higher). I'm interested to see what will happen with the population dynamics within Utah Lake as largemouth numbers increase as you and I feel they will.

Also, kudos for enjoying bluegills so much! They are definitely underappreciated around here. Growing up in Georgia they often saved me from a day of being skunked. By the way, I just got off the lake and our nets had lots of fat bluegills in them!
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Re: [wetline] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
It was a good presentation tonight. Even though attendance was a bit sparse, I feel the forum can be helpful in involving interested anglers in the process. The material regarding the food web was particularly interesting to me, especially the finding that the white bass and walleye are to a significant degree on different feeding "tracks".

Keep up the good work.





I caught you a delicious bass.
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Re: [doggonefishin] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
CoolThanks for attending and for the followup.

Do you know if they are going to publish anything or provide any kind of review or writeup? I am sure that a lot of us would be interested in the output...even if we did not make the effort to attend.

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Re: [doggonefishin] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
The food web analysis is extremely exciting to me too. This tool will greatly aid our management of the lake. Although I was surprised at the "separate tracks" that walleye and white bass seem to have, I suppose I shouldn't have been. We commonly see this in terrestrial systems, so it shouldn't be surprising that the same can occur in aquatic ecosystems as well.

I'm grateful for those that did attend, and their input. Remember that these meetings will continue, but people need to get on board sooner rather than later.

"That's it! I'm goin' fishin'." Hank Hill
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Re: [wetline] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
wetline wrote:
The food web analysis is extremely exciting to me too. This tool will greatly aid our management of the lake.

Any chance of getting you to share that information with us on here?


“There's something about the whirr and hum of fishing that casts out worry and reels in peace.”
- Cody Halvorson
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Re: [kentofnsl] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
I started a new thread on the meeting last night and I may have answered some of these questions. I am going to try and write a synopsis of the meeting this weekend and I will post that when done. I believe that they are going to publish the material from last night and I will try and get that . Some of the more interesting stuff was the parallel food web for white bass and walleye. It was also very revealing about the black hole that the carp are. Check out what I already posted.
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Re: [Fin-S-Fish] Utah lake management/June sucker meeting In reply to
CoolThanks for your comments. I've seen your posts for a couple of years now on the lake, and you seem to know it like the back of your hand, if your reports are true, and I don't doubt them. I think we exchanged a few p.m.'s last winter on the pumphouse area...

How do you normally fish U.L. (softwater). From shore, while wading out, tubing, boat, etc.? I can get into the cats there, but rarely the whities, and even more rare - the walleyes...


Skunk happens when you fish with Mike!

BRING ON THE ICE, BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!


walleye




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