Wildlife officials continue to track for fish species illegally introduced at Utah reservoir

A walleye caught at Strawberry Reservoir Dec. 21, 2023. Utah wildlife officials said Tuesday they are still tracking Strawberry Reservoir for the species.

A walleye caught at Strawberry Reservoir Dec. 21, 2023. Utah wildlife officials said Tuesday they are still tracking Strawberry Reservoir for the species. (Sam Broderick via Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)


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HEBER CITY — No additional walleye have been found at Strawberry Reservoir since the fish species was illegally introduced into the reservoir last year, but Utah wildlife officials say they are still tracking the reservoir, especially as temperatures warm up.

Alan Ward, a fisheries biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said Tuesday the agency is setting up shoreline nets, conducting electrofishing surveys and using spawning trap operations to monitor the reservoir for walleye. An angler reported catching the species in December, which state wildlife biologists confirmed.

The race is on because the species' spawning period is in the spring.

"We have not caught or detected any walleye in our netting and monitoring efforts so far, but we plan to continue this activity for a few more weeks during the time frame when the water temperatures are ideal for walleye spawning activity," Ward said in a statement. "We will also be collecting water samples to look for walleye DNA that may be present; if more walleye are indeed in Strawberry Reservoir."

State wildlife officials are also asking anglers to report the fish species — or any other fish species that don't belong — if they come across them this year. Any angler who catches walleye at Strawberry Reservoir should immediately kill the fish and report it, either by calling 801-455-2010 or emailing strawberryreservoir@utah.gov.

The division asks anglers to provide photos and the specific location where the fish was caught, plus the exact date and time of the catch.

Strawberry Reservoir is a popular fishing spot for cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon, all of which could be at risk because of walleye.

That's why moving a fish from one body of water to another or taking a fish home alive is illegal and can result in a class A misdemeanor. The Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction in the Strawberry Reservoir case.

"We are taking this illegal introduction very seriously," Ward said. "Walleye would undoubtedly negatively impact the trout and salmon fisheries we have established at the reservoir if they were to start reproducing."

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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