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Ice fishing angler survey under way at Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Posted: Friday, Jan 25th, 2013

Courtesy photo

GREEN RIVER — Anglers hitting the ice this winter on Flaming Gorge Reservoir will notice a lot of activity by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The WGFD recently initiated a two-month ice fishing creel survey at Flaming Gorge to collect information from anglers that will help biologists with future management of the fishery.

Green River Fisheries Biologist Craig Amadio says angler creel surveys are an important tool for collecting information used to adjust fishing regulations and stocking programs.

“The creel survey data we collect from anglers allows us to assess catch and harvest rates, meaning how many fish of each species anglers are catching and, of those, the proportion of fish being harvested or released,” Amadio said. “The data also provides information about species composition, size structure, and body condition. Once all the data is analyzed it helps provide insight into how the fishery is performing and allows us to adjust management strategies accordingly.”

Amadio says it has been ten years since a large-scale creel survey was conducted at Flaming Gorge and the fishery has experienced substantial changes since then.

“The most notable change has been the invasion of illegally introduce burbot and impacts the predator is having on other sport fish in the reservoir,” Amadio said. “Additionally, the harvest limit for small (fewer than 28 inches) lake trout was increased following the last creel survey in 2003, due to concerns over the escalating number of lake trout and potential impacts to other sport fish like kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. One goal of the creel survey is to determine if the increased limit has resulted in reduced catch rates for small lake trout. The creel survey also gives us the opportunity to look at how certain species may be affecting others from a predator-prey relationship perspective. That information is valuable when deciding whether changes to regulations or stocking strategies may be needed.”

Anglers should not be surprised if they are occasionally visited by both creel clerks and game wardens on the same day.

“All anglers need to be aware of current fishing regulations and are strongly encouraged to use caution and good judgment while on the ice,” Amadio said. “Ice fishing is a great winter activity, but there are also risks involved. Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid dangerous areas around pressure ridges and open water. Make sure to have appropriate cold weather and safety gear and never ice fish alone.”

For more information about the winter creel survey or the Flaming Gorge fishery, call the Green River Game and Fish Regional Office at (307) 875-3223.

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