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Warm water temperatures killing off Utah trout

Brown trout caught in Utah's Uintah Basin. Utah wildlife officials are increasing fishing limits on state waterways because of the drought and low water levels.

Brown trout caught in Utah's Uintah Basin. Utah wildlife officials are increasing fishing limits on state waterways because of the drought and low water levels. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)



CEDAR CITY — Just over four dozen rainbow trout were found dead around the water at Lake at the Hills near Cedar City.

The group that found the 50 fish reported it to authorities as poaching. But, that wasn't the case. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said it's actually due to warm water temperatures.

And it turns out, finding dozens of dead trout during the summer season isn't abnormal.

"It happens every year," said Richard Hepworth, aquatics manager with the DWR Southern Region office.

Warm water threshold for trout

Hepworth said rainbow trout don't like warm water. Once the water temperature reaches 70 degrees, they will begin to die off.

"The drought, low water levels and exceptionally hot temperatures made this annual process faster this year," Hepworth explained.

DWR stocks multiple species of fish so people can enjoy the pastime year-round. Hepworth said bass and catfish can survive the warmer weather, but don't do well in the cold.

"The idea and hope is most of those fish get harvested before we hit these temperatures," Hepworth said.

Hepworth believes someone found the fish dead or dying and laid them on the shore. Another party found them last and reported it as poaching.

"That's what the public is supposed to do," Hepworth continued, "let our law enforcement do the investigation."

He encouraged people to call local authorities if poaching is suspected. They can also call the DWR's "Help Stop Poaching Line" at 800-662-3337 if they see illegal activities.

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Heather Kelly

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