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War on Pike at Utah Lake

Provo — As part of an ongoing study launched last year, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is still asking anglers to report and release any tagged Northern pike caught in Utah Lake. However, because the invasive fish were placed in Utah Lake illegally, anglers should kill any non-tagged Northern pike.

Northern pike on ice

DWR biologists first started tagging some of the Northern pike in Utah Lake and its tributaries in February 2020 as part of a study to learn more about the seasonal locations and movements of juvenile and adult pike in Utah Lake, the Provo River and Hobble Creek. The study will last for at least five years.

Since Northern pike typically spawn when the ice begins to melt on Utah Lake, anglers may catch more of the invasive fish this time of year.

The tagged Northern pike have thin, red pieces of plastic attached to the fish, indicating transmitters have also been implanted in the fish so biologists can track them with GPS technology.

“We are asking anglers to release pike with these tags because the transmitters will enable us to track their movements, which will help us develop a monitoring and control program in the future,” Keith Lawrence, DWR Central Region native aquatics biologist, said. “As in the past, if anglers catch a pike without one of these tags, they are still required to remove the fish from the water and kill it. In that case, we request that they either bring the fish to the DWR office in Springville, if possible, or that they freeze it and call the DWR so that arrangements can be made to pick up the fish. If a tagged pike inadvertently dies, we would still like to recover the fish in case the transmitter can be reused.”

If you catch a tagged northern pike in Utah Lake or one of its tributaries, please do the following:

  • Contact the DWR at 503-730-9424 (Dale Fonken)
  • Report the date and exact location where you caught the fish
  • Report the tag number
  • Release the fish unharmed

Northern pike were illegally introduced to Utah Lake around 2010. Due to their ability to rapidly reproduce and their predatory nature, DWR biologists are worried about the effect the pike will have on other fish species, especially the June suckers. This species, which is only found in Utah Lake, was recently downlisted from endangered to threatened. Its continued recovery and eventual delisting could be jeopardized by proliferation of pike.

“Northern pike can do great harm both to the endangered June sucker and to some of the sportfish species in Utah Lake,” Lawrence said. “For that reason, we are asking anglers to assist us when they catch these fish, notifying us when they catch a tagged one, and if possible, providing untagged fish to us for diet analysis. That information will be extremely helpful toward our efforts to document their impact and control their spread.”

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