DWR Requesting Anglers to Continue Reporting Illegal Walleye Caught at Strawberry Reservoir


Photos courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

DWR News Release

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is working to determine if there are any remaining walleye in Strawberry Reservoir after they were illegally introduced last year and are asking anglers to continue reporting them.

The DWR was contacted on Dec. 21, 2023 by an angler who reported catching a walleye at Strawberry Reservoir. The DWR verified the report and believes that someone illegally introduced the fish species. Only one walleye has been reported thus far, but the DWR is asking anglers to continue to report any that they may catch or see at Strawberry Reservoir.

“The ice just came off of Strawberry Reservoir recently, and we have started setting some shoreline walleye nets to monitor for any additional adult walleye that may be trying to spawn right now,” DWR Fisheries Biologist Alan Ward said. “We have not caught or detected any walleye in our netting and monitoring efforts so far, but we plan to continue this activity for a few more weeks during the timeframe when the water temperatures are ideal for walleye spawning activity. We will also be collecting water samples to look for walleye DNA that may be present, if more walleye are indeed in Strawberry Reservoir.”

In addition to the current netting efforts, the DWR also plans to do some electrofishing surveys and spawning trap operations at Strawberry Reservoir this spring to determine if any additional walleye remain in Strawberry Reservoir.

“However, we are still asking anglers to report any walleye — or any other illegally introduced fish species — that they may catch at Strawberry Reservoir,” Ward said. “We’d like anglers to provide us with the fish and any information about the catch: the specific location of where it was caught, pictures of the catch, and the date and time. We are taking this illegal introduction very seriously, as walleye would undoubtedly negatively impact the trout and salmon fisheries we have established at the reservoir if they were to start reproducing.”

Strawberry Reservoir is a Blue Ribbon Fishery and provides some of Utah’s most exceptional, high-quality fishing experiences. Each year, the DWR stocks cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon at Strawberry Reservoir.

In Utah, it is illegal to move live fish from one waterbody to another or to take them home alive. It is also illegal to dump unwanted aquarium fish into a waterbody. All of these actions can result in a class A misdemeanor which can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail.

When a fish is illegally introduced into a pond, stream or lake, it can have several negative effects on that fishery, including:

  • Illegal fish species can prey on and outcompete other fish species, including sportfish, native fish and endangered fish species.
  • The new fish can introduce disease because they weren’t properly tested before being dumped into that waterbody.
  • The new fish can negatively impact water quality, depending on the species.
  • Illegal introductions will always impact the current fishery and often in unpredictable ways.

“The Utah Anglers Coalition has been concerned about the practice of illegal fish introductions for many years, and we are deeply troubled about the recent report of a walleye caught at Strawberry Reservoir, one of Utah’s premier coldwater fisheries,” Utah Angler Coalition Chairman Roger Wilson said. “Many of our members fish Strawberry often, and the Utah Anglers Coalition has been very supportive of the innovative fisheries management program implemented at the reservoir, which has produced exceptional fishing for more than 25 years. If walleye populations become established at Strawberry, fishing success will undoubtedly be impacted. Walleye will simply not meet the angler demand at Strawberry, as walleye catch rates are typically much lower than trout and salmon catch rates, and very few anglers target them relative to the 1.1 million angler hours we currently see at Strawberry. It is disturbing that a few selfish anglers continue to engage in this illegal activity, impacting us all.”

Anglers who catch any walleye at Strawberry Reservoir should immediately kill them and report it by:

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife are also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever illegally introduced walleye into Strawberry Reservoir.

Learn more about the negative consequences of illegal fish introductions by visiting the “Don’t Ditch a Fish” page on the DWR website.

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