SALT LAKE CITY — Over 10 million fish weighing more than 1 million pounds were stocked in Utah lakes, reservoirs and other bodies of water throughout 2019, according to data released by state wildlife officials Tuesday.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources released the numbers as the year comes to a close. In all, 20 different fish species were released by the agency into 603 total waterbodies.
Of the 10,081,077 total fish released by wildlife biologists, 9.4 million were raised in Utah hatcheries.
“Our hatcheries are important because they provide the majority of the fish that we stock in Utah. Stocking is a crucial management tool that we use to provide Utahns with the numbers and species of fish that they desire — it helps ensure that the public has a great fishing experience,” Randy Oplinger, DWR sportfish coordinator, said in a news release.
Close to another 680,000 fish were brought in from other states. For example, the catfish stocked in the pond at the DWR’s Utah State Fair exhibit were brought in from Arkansas. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass and bluegill were also brought in from Arkansas. Arctic grayling eggs were brought in from Wyoming and raised in Utah hatcheries.
The number of fish released in 2019 was fewer than in 2018, when more than 12 million fish were released, DWR said; the agency announced the decision to release fewer fish in April. The division also announced slight decreases in stocking numbers in 2020 and 2021 at the time. While the agency planned a decline in fish numbers, it announced the fish released would be larger.
"Idaho made a similar switch about five years ago and found that after they started stocking fewer fish, their hatcheries started producing larger, better quality fish, and anglers started catching more fish," Oplinger said at the time.
According to DWR officials, fish have been stocked in Utah since 1871, when fish were brought in from other states via railroads. The state first opened hatcheries in 1898.