Trout vs. chub
Dueling it out in Scofield Reservoir
Shauna Leavitt is a guest contributor to the DWR blog. She writes for the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University and has written for many regional and national wildlife magazines including, The Mule Deer Foundation, The Wildlife Professional and People, Land & Water.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and Utah State University (USU) are working together to determine the affect that the Utah chub has on trout populations on Scofield.
Scofield Reservoir (a 2,815-acre man-made lake), south of Price, Utah has, “Historically [been] the most important trout fishery in Utah’s southeastern region…” says Dr. Phaedra Budy with the Quinney College of Natural Resources.
The trout (tiger, cutthroat and rainbow) now share the reservoir with the unwelcome Utah chub that has made the reservoir its home. The reservoir is thick with chub: carp-like fish that mature quickly and are extremely prolific. In fact, chub currently outnumber trout in Scofield Reservoir nine to one.
The main questions for fisheries managers are whether or not the growing population of chub will compete with sport fish for food and/or space, as has been observed elsewhere, or whether chub can be effectively controlled by trout populations. In an effort to answer these questions, UDWR commissioned a multi-year research project with Dr. Phaedra Budy’s Fish Ecology Lab in the Department of Watershed Sciences (Quinney College of Natural Resources) at USU to determine the predator and forage relationships between the trout and chub.
Based on the USU research, one observed benefit of the chub is the impact it has on the growth of trout that eat it. After stocked tiger and cutthroat trout reach a certain size (usually a year after being stocked in the reservoir) they switch to a diet of fish and begin eating the chub. Once they begin eating chub, trout grow extremely rapidly, said Gary Thiede, fishery biologist in the Department of Watershed Sciences.
The chub may, therefore, be beneficial to the reservoir’s ecosystem if the numbers can be controlled. DWR managers hope to use the results of the USU research to develop the best management plan for trout and chub populations in Scofield Reservoir.
DWR managers hope to use the results of the research to develop the best management plan for trout and chub populations in Scofield Reservoir.
You can read the project completion report on Scofield Reservoir Predator-Prey Interactions online. Also, check out this article on restoring balance in Scofield.