There is a lot more going on at the Fisheries Experiment Station than tagging suckers.
In the early 1960’s the Fisheries Experiment Station was created to improve the health of fish and control diseases affecting the aquaculture in Utah waters.
Fish health has improved over the years. Gary Howes, the hatchery manager of the station, said their mainstay is rainbow trout. Ninety percent of the fish raised and released are rainbow trout. They also raise cutthroat, June sucker and Bluehead sucker as a part of conservation efforts to reestablish some endangered species.
Howes started raising fish in aquariums as a youngster and never lost interest in doing it.
Since 1986, Utah State research focused on several general areas, including:
- Fish diseases, such as whirling disease and bacterial coldwater disease.
- Reduction of stress and fin erosion of hatchery fish.
- Production of sterile fish for stocking in waters with native cutthroat trout.
- Refinement of aquaculture rearing techniques for both sport fish and rare native fish species.
- Evaluation of new aquaculture technologies.
- Reservoir habitat improvement.
The fisheries program was split into Research, Fish Health and Fish Culture in 1986. All three of these operate under the direction of the Fish Pathologist/Director.
The fishery management system in Utah has been showcased to 32 different states and numerous federal agencies. The Utah Department of Fish and Game fisheries management program is well-known and connected to the international fish health community.
Currently the facility is raising tiger musky and walleye on an experimental basis.
Howes, who holds a Master’s Degree in Wildlife Science and Natural Resource from Utah State University, said the Logan hatchery coverage area includes the Logan River, Hyrum Reservoir and all the local community ponds: Skyler’s Pond, Willow Park, Casper’s Pond and Wellsville Pond. Outside of Cache Valley, the station stocks Ogden and Weber rivers, Watkins Pond and the three Locomotive Springs ponds in Box Elder County, near Snowville.
Trout raised at the Experiment Station come from eggs and grow to about 10 inches before being introduced in area waters.
“The eggs are harvested from instate hatcheries like Mantua Fish Hatchery and Egan Fish Hatchery in Wayne County,” Howes said. “We trade with other hatcheries, but we don’t buy any trout eggs.”
This year, Wildlife Resources across the state are stocking larger but fewer fish. Idaho tried stocking fewer and bigger and found it to be more advantageous to fisherman.
“The pounds of fish stocked stays the same as last year,” he said.
“Bigger fish survive better and are caught more frequently.”
Howes said the endgame is to get more people catching bigger fish.
Last year he said they stocked 250,000 fish; this year, they hope to release 200,000.
The number of fish released, the place, size and day of release can be found on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website.