Fisheries management programManagement approach
A new fisheries management approach was adopted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) after the 1990 chemical treatment to address new challenges and opportunities at Strawberry. This management plan was developed by the DWR in consultation with other state and federal agencies and angler groups. Management objectives developed during this process include:
- To maintain cutthroat trout as an integral component of the Strawberry Valley Fishery Complex
- To provide a minimum sustained output of 1.2 million hours of recreational angling yearly
- To achieve an average catch rate of 0.4 fish (12 inches long)/hour
- To produce 10 million cutthroat trout young-of-the-year from Strawberry Valley Tributaries each year
- To rehabilitate and restore Strawberry Valley spawning tributaries
- To collect 6 million cutthroat trout eggs yearly from spawn taking operations for use elsewhere in the state
Three game fish species are currently stocked in Strawberry including the Bear Lake strain of Bonneville cutthroat trout, sterilized rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon. Generally, between three and five million fish are stocked in the reservoir and tributaries annually. All of these fish come from state operated fish hatcheries. Strawberry receives about 38 percent of the state's production in numbers and about six percent of the state's production in pounds. Fish production in hatcheries is a crucial component of the management of Strawberry's fishery. Without these stocked fish, natural reproduction in the system would not be able to support the intense fishing pressure Strawberry receives each year.
Strawberry is stocked primarily with fingerling (2–4 inches) and advanced fingerling (4–6 inches) trout and salmon under a "put-grow-take" program. Strawberry is a very productive system, and fish can grow very fast if the conditions are favorable. After being stocked, it generally takes fish 1 year to reach a catchable size of 10–12 inches, and 3–4 years to reach the large size we are accustomed to at Strawberry (16–20 inches). However, with the numerous large cutthroat predators in Strawberry due to the 2003 regulations, we have altered the stocking program to avoid predation on these fish. We are currently stocking more of the larger fish (6 or 7 inches) than we ever have. This means that fewer numbers may be stocked, but the higher survival of the larger stocked fish will, we hope, give anglers more fish to catch.
To maximize survival of stocked fish in Strawberry, the DWR utilizes a stocking barge to distribute fish around the reservoir. Fish are loaded directly from hatchery trucks onto the barge, and then applied to weedbed areas along the shoreline. These areas provide excellent juvenile fish habitat and afford protection from predators (both birds and fish).
Note: If you see hatchery trucks at the ramp and/or stocking barges at Strawberry, please assist the DWR hatchery personnel and biologists by being courteous at the ramps and staying well clear of barge operations.
Biological and habitat monitoring
The DWR conducts a variety of biological and habitat monitoring activities at Strawberry to track the status of the sport fishery, monitor nongame fish re-invasion, and assess aquatic habitat conditions in the valley. Activities include gill netting, fish disease monitoring, juvenile fish sampling, trapping of spawning fish, water quality monitoring, creel census, angler opinion surveys, stream surveys, etc. Information obtained through these activities is analyzed and used to better manage the fishery in Strawberry.
Stream rehabilitation & natural reproduction
Stream rehabilitation and natural reproduction of game fish are important components of the Strawberry Valley management plan. Strawberry Valley streams have the potential to produce millions of young-of-the-year cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon to supplement stocking programs, provided habitats are rehabilitated and adequately protected. Habitat conditions in a number of tributary streams have improved dramatically over the last ten years due to improved range management and habitat rehabilitation. However, much still needs to be done to bring the streams up to full potential.
Biologists estimate that natural reproduction in the streams has been responsible for producing as much as 60 percent of the adult cutthroat trout population in Strawberry. Without this natural reproduction fishing would obviously not be as good as it has been.
Game fish spawning operations
Each year in Strawberry Valley, millions of kokanee salmon and cutthroat trout eggs are taken, fertilized, and transported to various hatcheries. Fish hatched from these eggs are reared and subsequently returned to Strawberry Reservoir as fingerling fish.
If you have questions regarding the management of Strawberry Reservoir or would like to provide voluntary assistance to management personnel, please contact us at the following address:
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Strawberry Project Office
777 SR 319, Box 5
Heber City, Utah 84032