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Anglers - Fish in Utah Lake Need Your Help (pike)

Northern Pike
Northern Pike

Introduced illegally, Northern pike could harm the lake's fish populations

Provo – When fish are taken from one body of water, and placed illegally in another body of water, bad things can happen.

Utah Lake is a prime example.

Mike Slater, regional aquatic manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says a population of northern pike, placed in Utah Lake illegally, is rapidly growing in size. And that could spell trouble for sport fish and endangered fish that live in the lake.

Despite the news, Slater says there's still hope. "If anglers will help us gather the information we need," he says, "we might be able to get on top of the problem before it gets out of hand."

Here's how you can help:

- If you catch a northern pike at Utah Lake, kill the fish. Then, record the date and the location where you caught it. Coordinates from a Global Positioning System device are especially helpful. After you've recorded the date and the location, bring the fish to the office at Utah Lake State Park. A freezer you can put the pike in is available at the park office, 4400 W. Center Street in Provo.

Also, on weekdays—from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.—you can drop pike off at the DWR's Central Region office, 1115 N. Main St. in Springville.

- If it isn't convenient to travel to the park or the DWR office, you can place the pike in your freezer at home. Then, call the DWR at 801-491-5678. A DWR biologist will make arrangements to get the fish from you.

Slater says recording the date and location will help biologists determine where the pike are spawning and what areas in the lake they're using. Donating the fish will allow biologists to pass the fish along to a researcher at Utah State University. His research will help biologists learn more about pike in the lake, including which fish the pike are preying on and how many they're consuming.

"To complete his research," Slater says, "the researcher needs 500 pike. Any pike you catch and donate will help the study immensely."

If you catch a northern pike, and you don't want to donate it, please remember that you must kill it. "By law," Slater says, "pike caught at Utah Lake may not be returned to the lake alive. Every pike that's caught must be killed."

Why the concern?

Slater says pike sit at the very top of the food chain. "They eat anything they want," he says. "Adding a predator like this could hurt the bass, walleye, catfish and panfish populations that are already in the lake."

In addition to the many sport fish in the lake, June suckers—a fish listed as endangered on the federal Endangered Species list—also live in the lake.

Slater says Utah Lake is the only water in the world where June suckers live. "The illegal introduction of northern pike could negate much of the work that has been done to recover the June sucker," he says. "Work to help June suckers has also helped sport fish in the lake. Whoever put northern pike in the lake did a very selfish and thoughtless thing."

If you have questions or need information, call the DWR's Central Region office at 801-491-5678.