GREEN RIVER - Researchers with Utah State University (USU), in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, will be conducting a burbot research project on Flaming Gorge Reservoir during fall 2012 and winter 2013. The department wants anglers to be aware of the research efforts and asks that they do not disturb any nets they may encounter.
“Often when research projects are being conducted, numerous reports are received from concerned anglers about suspicious sampling gear in the water,” said Green River Fisheries Biologist Craig Amadio. “The project begins in late October and anglers may observe nets in the water until the reservoir freezes. This is an important research project that will help us learn more about the illegally introduced burbot population and will ultimately assist with burbot suppression efforts and future management of the fishery. Any disturbance or damage to the nets will hinde rthe project.”
Amadio said the goals of this research project are to identify the extent of seasonal movement by burbot and evaluate the primary prey that constitutes its diet.
“Seasonal movements of burbot will be determined by radio telemetry tracking of fish that are implanted with ultrasonic telemetry tags,” Amadio said. “Each burbot that receives an internal telemetry tag will also have a green external tag on their back with USU contact information. Anglers need to look for these tags and release any tagged burbot they may catch this winter. Typically, we encourage anglers to harvest and remove all burbot they catch from Flaming Gorge, but this is a unique situation and any tagged burbot needs to be released immediately.”
“In addition to the information gathered from the research, each telemetry tag costs $500, so they are very expensive,” Amadio said. “If an angler happens to inadvertently harvest a tagged burbot, we are asking that they retrieve the internal telemetry tag and return it to the Green River Game and Fish Office so it can be used on anotherf ish for the study.”
Amadio said burbot will be tagged at eight different locations throughout the reservoir and will be tracked through next spring. By identifying when and where burbot spawn in the reservoir, biologists and anglers will be able maximize removal efforts in those areas to limit burbot reproduction.
“The diet portion of the research project will help biologists better understand the current and potential future impacts burbot may have on other fish species in the reservoir,” Amadio said. “Burbot are very aggressive predators and feed on anything they can catch. Crayfish appear to be their main prey source, but we have confirmed that burbot also feed on kokanee, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass. Another disturbing trend observed in recent years is burbot feeding on both kokanee eggs and lake trout eggs while those species are spawning during fall. We are very concerned about the impact burbot predation might have on these important sport fish populations and this research project will help us assess the extent of the problem.”
For more information about the burbot research project, call the Green River Game and Fish office at (800)843-8096 (in-state only) or (307)-875-3223.
(Contact: Lucy Diggins (307) 875-3223)