100s of trout die after flows cut off to UT creek

10/28/2012 1:00 PM
By Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Anglers are expressing frustration over the deaths of hundreds of fish after flows to a creek below a Carbon County reservoir were cut off to allow spillway repairs.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said water had to be shut off to Lower Fish Creek from Oct. 14-17 to complete required work on the Scofield Reservoir spillway.

"There were dead fish everywhere. It was frustrating to have had such a great experience just the weekend before and then see all of them dead," angler Jeff Winn told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/Ro0Rp7 ).

Justin Hart, regional fisheries manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said an estimated 1,000 trout may have died and there were reports that some of the fish weighed up to 5 pounds.

Had his agency been notified ahead of time, Hart said, it would have asked for a gradual reduction in flows to allow the fish to find deep pools and improve their chances of survival.

"The kill was contained to the (creek's) upper portion below the dam for about a mile," Hart told The Tribune. "Once you got below that ... the water dropped much more slowly and fish had a chance to respond and move to pools. In that first stretch of river, when the water is turned off like a switch, the fish don't have a chance to respond and move."

Curtis Pledger, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation in charge of the reservoir's dam, said he wasn't sure if his agency contacted the state wildlife division, but "we probably should have." But he said there's no required minimum flow from the dam, and the spillway work required a full shut-off.

The fish kill will have both short- and long-term effects as brown trout, the creek's most dominant sport fish, were spawning when it happened and those potential new fish also were lost.

This is not the first time a fish kill has been associated with dam operations on Fish Creek, and Hart said the fishery is stocked to compensate for chronic low-water conditions.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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