Emily Wright shows a lake trout caught and released at Bear Lake with a gillnet in 2019.
BEAR LAKE —Utah and Idaho wildlife agencies want to let all Bear Lake sportsmen know about a collaboration of a lake trout extraction project in June. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Idaho Department of Fish and Game want to capture and relocate some 400 Bear Lake sterile lake trout to Stanley Lake in Idaho.
Sportsmen may see a boat with large gillnets working in the lake as part of the joint relocation project.
Bear Lake is known to be a unique trophy lake trout fishery. The 109 square miles of fresh-water lake is the home of 13 different species of fish, four of which are found nowhere else in the world.
“The lake trout being removed represent less than 10 percent of the population at Bear Lake, and we do not anticipate any biological or angling impacts associated with this project,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Sportfish Coordinator Randy Oplinger said. “We stock 17,000 sterile lake trout into Bear Lake each year, and we will receive valuable information from the sterility assessment of this research project.”
The large predator species was introduced to Bear Lake in 1911 as a sport fish. Although lake trout can grow up to 70 pounds in the more northern states and Canada, the record caught on the Idaho side of the lake was 19 pounds.
A commercial fisheries research contractor will deploy large-scale gillnetting equipment around the lake for roughly 10 days in early June. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources began stocking sterile lake trout at Bear Lake in the early 2000s to help control their population.
“The large nets and short timeframe will allow us to collect more fish, while minimizing any impacts to the lake trout collected, as well as to any other fish that we may catch in the nets,” Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Fisheries Manager Greg Schoby said. “Aside from the 400 lake trout being relocated, all other lake trout will be released back into the lake after the project so anglers can continue to fish for them.”
The research project will assess the effects of 20 years of stocking sterile lake trout on the size distribution, age and fertility of the lake trout population in Bear Lake.