Greetings from the great State of Utah! This is Walt Maldonado, Conservation Director for the Utah Bass Federation, giving you the state of the State of Utah. The economy has put a damper in all things related to fishing. License sales have leveled off and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has introduced programs to help increase fishing opportunities, youth involvement and surveying anglers to see what is it that they would like to see that would get them back fishing. Past president George Sommer and I are members of all the major committees that make decisions on fishing in Utah. George and I have made it a priority to get to know personally the managers and biologist that work for the DWR and make sure they understand that we the Utah Bass Federation are ready to help whenever and where ever we are needed. This philosophy has worked for both groups and created a working relationship that has flourished for 10 years. Managers and biologist attend our Federation meetings and let us know first what the problem is and how we can work together to resolve it. I feel keeping the communication line open is the key to making our concerns and those of the DWR upfront and that way problems are solved quickly and both groups become part of the solution and not part of the problem.
In 2009 Utah’s major fishing concern was the threat of invasive species. Keeping the quagga mussel out of Lake Powell and all of our other waters has been a big undertaking. With the introductions verified in Lake Havasu and Lake Mead to the south, Utah implemented a proactive program that includes d ocumentation, boat inspection and boat cleaning procedures that so far have worked. But more needs to be done, most biologist feel it is not if but when the quagga will arrive. We must be diligent and be as proactive as we can which is more productive than trying to eradicate them if they become entrenched in any of our waters. The Federation has helped get the word out to anglers, boaters and boat dealers to encourage them to be concerned about this problem and let them know what devastation invasive species can cause on their favorite waters Everything possible must be done to keep Utah’s waterways from this!
Our next biggest issue is illegal fish introductions. We have a number of armchair biologists who feel they must introduce fish species into their favorite waters without thinking what the introduction will do. They fail to realize how many millions of dollars it cost to get a fishery up and going. And once the fishery is established and productive, how many more millions of dollars it will cost to treat the water with rotenone and kill the fishery to eliminate the unwanted species. With Utah having both the Colorado and Green rivers flowing though the state, we are restricted by the Endangered Species Act to where certain fish species can be introduced. Walleye have become our biggest concern and the most popular fish to illegally introduce. The Utah Bass Federation has funded a $1000.00 reward for information leading to a conviction for anyone caught illegally introducing fish into waters that they don’t belong in.